Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 31: Judgment of Israel

17 I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.
Leviticus 26:17, New International Version

March 31: Judgment of Israel

I find it interesting that under the topic of "Last Days," we find this verse from Leviticus 26. What in the world does this have to do with teens in the 21st century? That was my first thought. After thinking about it, though, I find it rather appropriate.

Who was Israel, anyway, and what was their relationship to God? Israel was God's darling child! Nurtured from the seed of Abraham, God's light continued to shine through His care of this nation. Did Israel deserve such tender care?

Let us take just a step back and think about the timing of this God-given warning to the nation of Israel. Soon they would be taking their first steps of "adulthood" as they entered the promised land without the leadership of Moses. It is not so unlike the teen years. Soon you, too, will be taking those first steps of adulthood as well. How will you do?

I must admit, I really don't like warnings, such as the one given in Leviticus 26:17. I much prefer to hear the benefits of serving God than to hear the warnings of what will happen if I do not serve Him. The sobering truth, though, is that we have history laid out before us. What was the future for the children of Israel, is ancient history to us. The warnings all proved to be true!

So, how should we properly view Leviticus 27:17 in light of the 21st century? Being the positive person I am, I like to think of this verse as saying, Love and serve God faithfully, and you will be surrounded by God's continuing care all of the days of your life. His face will be set toward you, and no enemy will be able to tear your soul from Him.

Go with God, so that you will not have to face the judgment of Israel. Instead, immerse yourself in God's Word and let His love shine through you.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 30: Judgment for Our Works

24 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

30 As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield
for all who take refuge in him.

31 For who is God besides the LORD ?
And who is the Rock except our God?

32 It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect.

Psalm 18:24 & 30-32, New International Version

March 30: Judgment for Our Works

Somehow, the word "judgment" seems to bring up negative feelings. I was really glad to note that the verses used from Psalm 18 for this topic show us the positive side of judgment--the rewards and not the punishments.

Psalms 18:24 is a good reminder to us that all of the works we do, both good and bad, are eternally recorded. (That is a sobering thought, is it not?) This is good to think about when you become disappointed because you did some wonderful things for the Lord or for others and no one noticed. No one gave you a "high five" or a "thumbs up" for what you did. God sees everything that you do, and that is all that matters.

However, as we honestly review our works before the Lord, what must we admit?

It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect.

How did we accomplish these unselfish things? God armed us with His strength and perfection!

So, what of the future? What is a worthy goad for you as a Christian teen--a goal that you can set before you for all the days of your life?

As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield
for all who take refuge in him.

Take refuge in Him! Learn to discern the Spirit of God within you leading you in the way you should go, and always take refuge in Him alone--never in the things of the world.

For who is God besides the LORD ?
And who is the Rock except our God?

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 29: Judgment by Fire

24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.
Genesis 19:24-25, New International Version

March 29: Judgment by Fire

The people of Abraham's day often viewed God as a fearful God just waiting to rain down judgment by fire upon them for their sins before Him. If we think back to our early childhood days, how often did we (and maybe still do) view our parents in the same light?

What was God's motive, and what are our parents' motives? God, acting as a perfect, loving Father, used events such as this to shepherd His children, and guide them away from dangerous paths. Now we know that our parents are not perfect, but just perhaps, their actions are guided by their deep love for you and their desire to see you live life as a faithful child of God.

A small child may scream with anger when his father will not allow him to run into a street to play, but he never noticed the car heading right for him. Is this how we view God as well?

I would challenge you today to think of this amazing God we have. No matter how hard we try, we will never be able to fully understand the depth of His love for us. As you look at Bible passages such as this, pray that God will give you the wisdom to see the entire picture when it seems as though God's harsh judgment is upon you.

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28: Judgment at Hand

1 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming.
It is close at hand-

2 a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was of old
nor ever will be in ages to come.

12 "Even now," declares the LORD,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning."

13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.

Joel 2:1-2 & 12-13, New International Version

Judgment at Hand

What sober words at the hand of the prophet, Joel! Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming.

A good title for this devotion would be, "Repercussions." Being a teen is a wonderful thing--it is a time that you will look back on with mixed emotions. Will you have regrets? Probably! Will you have memories of great times! Most likely!

It is hard, when we look around ourselves at others, to think of our actions as having repercussions, but we all know they do. Whether our actions are good or bad, or a mixture of both, they will have a profound affect on our future.

What kind of a future do you want? The opportunities for you are endless. As Christian teens, it is so important that all decisions be tempered with a desire to worship and serve the Lord all of the days of your lives. It is one thing to have repercussions for the decisions we make while on this earth, but what of the eternal repercussions?

As judgment was pronounced upon the people in Joel 2, so was the cure for the evil they had done.

Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.

We always come back to the matters of the heart. Where do you stand before the Lord? He holds the keys to your future, and yet, what an amazing God we have. He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.

Pray, today, that God would be gracious to you and lead you in the way you should go. If that has not been the case in your life, remember that judgment is at hand. Return to the Lord your God, with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your strength.

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 27: Last Days



Then Jacob called for his sons and said: "Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come."

Genesis 49:1, New International Version

Last Days

We will finish off the month of March with five devotionals on the topic, "The Last Days."

As humans, we have always had an uncanny interest in knowing the future. As we begin Genesis 49, that is exactly what Jacob is preparing to do for his sons. But, look at some of the things he told them; perhaps they would have been better not knowing!

Verses 5 & 7:
"Simeon and Levi are brothers—
their swords are weapons of violence. . . . .
Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
and disperse them in Israel."

Of course, not everything was bad news as we see in Jacob's words to his son, Judah.

Verses 8 & 10:
"Judah, your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father's sons will bow down to you. . . . .
The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs
and the obedience of the nations is his."

From a Biblical perspective, we are in the last days. What does that mean? How does that influence your life as a teen? Hopefully the next four devotions will give us some insight as to what the Bible says on this topic.

Regardless of whether the news of our own future is good or bad in our own eyes, we know that as Christians, our steps are guided by the Lord. We seem to do a lot of things to mess up God's plans, but, thankfully, nothing we do can overthrow God's ordained plans for our world, or for us as well.

What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Living Sacrifice!

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
(Romans 12:1-3, New King James Version)

A Living Sacrifice!

As a teen, how are you to view your Christian life today? As a Christian, does your life have to change from that of other teens around you who do not know Christ?

We understand the word sacrifice; in a true sacrifice one offers his or her life in place of another. That involves death, so what, then, is a living sacrifice?

It is important to understand our true state. We, apart from God, are dead! We are dead to truth, and reality, and we live to satisfy our own wants and desires. In Christ, we become alive; we suddenly view everything from a different perspective, and we sacrifice the desires of the world to serve God with all of our heart.

If this is true, why, then, are we so anxious to live like the world and crave the same things the world craves? God calls His children to be a living sacrifice! Let us sacrifice our lives to the Lord; may all of our desires, our hopes, our plans, and our futures be sold to the Lord. Let us go to Christ and ask for grace to shed our desires for the things of the world, and ask God to replace those cravings with joy and peace in Him.

As a teen, you are at a crossroads. The decisions you make in the next five years will impact the rest of your life. Pray to God that the decisions you make will be a living sacrifice for Him!

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, March 21, 2010

By Faith Into This Grace

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
(Romans 5:1-5, New King James Version)

By Faith Into This Grace

"As a Christian teen, I have faith, so therefore I have peace with God." That is what is says in Romans 5:1, right? You may say, "So, why then does peace seem so far removed from my life? What is the good of being a Christian anyway?"

Just like the Jewish people of old, we have the wrong idea of peace! What does it mean to have peace, and how should that affect every moment of every day of our lives?

We are on a journey--a journey to seek God. God, by His grace, has sent us His Son to show us the way. Unfortunately, it seems to take our entire lives to come to the understanding of the meaning of peace. Even after we accept Christ and become believers, we are constantly entangled in the web of this world.

You must ask yourself, "What is reality?" Is reality the things you see happening around you every day--is that it? Is that all there is to this world? No! We are called to live above the world; we are called to face the true reality of life. Is life just about the things we see everyday? No! We are in a war! This war is true reality!

Sin consumes us as Satan battles for our souls. As we draw nearer and nearer to God, we understand more and more of the true battle being fought for our souls. God uses the things of this world to lead us to Him. Paul expresses it in this way.

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

True peace is available to us, but only through Christ! When our eyes are focused upon Christ and our mind is determined to do the will of God, we are bathed in the peace of God which passes all understanding.

By Faith Into This Grace! That is where you will find God, and that is where you will find peace!

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Faith-Who Cares?


13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
(Romans 4:13-16, New King James Version)

Faith--Who Cares?

It is easy to get bogged down in Bible passages such as Romans 4 and say, "Faith--who cares?" Faith--Grace--what do these have to do with living life everyday? Where is the evidence of faith or grace?

You know, the Jewish leaders felt the same way! They looked at the hard facts of life all around them and said, "It's simple. Just obey the law of Abraham." Is that what life is all about? Do we read the Bible and study it so we can, like a robot, eke out our lives in some semblance of obedience to the Bible?

Why DO we have the law of God? As teens, what does the law of God have to do with us? If all we have to do is to obey it, why is there any need for faith or grace?

That is the whole point! If we COULD obey the law perfectly, there would be no need for faith or grace. The problem is, we cannot! There are only two classes of people in the eyes of God--the believers and the unbelievers. Grace has been offered to all so that anyone who would have faith in God becomes a believer.

Simple? Yes! Profound? Even more so!

As a teen, take just a moment to look outside of yourself. Stand in the heavens and look down upon your world. What really matters? What is really important?

Faith--Who Cares? God cares. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son so that we might know God and do the will of Him who sent us here to this world.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blessed!

1 What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
7 “ Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”
(Romans 4:1-8, New King James Version)

Blessed!

What does it mean to you, as a teen, to be blessed? Hm - let's see. Unlimited money, your own car to drive, tons of good friends -- shall I go on? But, is that what the Bible tells us? Romans 4 gives quite the opposite picture.

“ Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”

We are back at yesterday's devotion, in a way. Look at the question that is asked in verse 1 and then the answer in verse 2.

What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

We are blessed in Christ, but that does not mean that we can boast. Surely if Abraham could not boast, then neither can we. As we stand before God, we realize we have nothing in which we can boast.

Why do you think the writer of Romans keeps coming back to this same point? Do you find it common for teens to boast? Do you think they are often overcome with themselves? Do you think this is just an attribute of teens? I hope your answers were yes, yes, and no!

Pride is a subtle thing; the minute we become proud of the fact that we are not proud, what has happened? Remember, when Satan attacks believers, he does not come in the front door with his guns blazing! He sneaks in through the cracks, and before we know it, we are in a mess!

Ah, but God is gracious. The same God who has saved us by His grace alone, is the same God who loves, protects, and guides us, and is ready to forgive when we stumble. Let's remember that with others as well. By the grace of God, let us show grace when those around us stumble, and always be ready to forgive.

Oh how blessed we are in Christ!

God Bless you,
Linda

Monday, March 15, 2010

What's the Difference?


21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
(Romans 3:21-26, New King James Version)

What's the Difference?

You have really arrived! As a Christian, you are above all of those wicked people in the world; you are set on a pedestal, right? I cannot think of anything farther from the truth! These verses from Romans 3 are so precious to the believer. These would be great verses to set to memory, lest you are ever tempted (as we all are) to have a big head!

Look at verses 22 & 23. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Are we any different or better than the next person? No! Before God, we have all sinned; we all fall short of God's glory! So, what's the difference between you as a Christian teen, and those around you?

Christ! Christ is the only difference! Are we justified before God by our own goodness? Was there something in us that made God want to choose us over others? No! It is all of God's grace, and none of us! The John 3 continues in verses 24-26,

being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

That's a lot of fancy words - but what does it mean for you as a teen? Let's look at the main points.

1. We are justified - redeemed from our sins - through Christ.
2. God declared that Christ's blood shed for us would cause Him [God] to pass over our sins.
3. God is the One who justifies us from our sins, when we have faith in Jesus.

That is the Gospel! When you are wondering how to share Christ with others, Romans 3:21-23 (or 23-26) is a good place to turn.

When you think of what it means to be a Christian - points 1 through 3 lay it out plainly. So, is there room for us to boast? No! We can only boast in the Lord! It is the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed His blood to pay the price of our sin. And, it is the grace of God, that He allows Christ's shed blood to cover our sins.

What an amazing God we have!

What's the difference? Christ is all the difference. As a teen, go to Him. He is the One who saves us and keeps us, and in the end, is our only real source of joy and peace.

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Who Cares?

1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. 5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Romans 1:1-7, New King James Version)

Who Cares?

Do you ever have days where you just reach the point where you say, "Who cares?" Who cares about the grace of God? What does it really mean for my life? My life seems to go on and on; every day is just like the one before. What does grace have to do with anything?

Believe it or not, as a Christian, you will have many of those days! Sometimes we get so absorbed in living our lives that we cannot see the forest for the trees. Especially during difficult days, it is hard to see that God's grace applies to our lives at all.

I thought of all of this as I was reading these verses from Romans 1. If you would like a concise definition of who Jesus Christ is, and what effect His grace has in your life, read these verses from Romans 1.

Look at all of the things we are told about Jesus Christ.

*Born of the seed of David according to the flesh.
*Declared to be the Son of God.
*Was resurrected from the dead.
*Gives grace to live obediently before God.
*Calls His children to Himself.
*Assigns a special purpose to each one of His children.

That is a pretty impressive list, is it not? How does Paul apply Christ to His own life?

*He is a bond servant of Christ.
*He is called to be an Apostle.
*He is separated to the Gospel of God.
*He is called to be a man of faith among all nations.

Let's look at these things in light of our own lives. How does this affect you as a teen?

First of all, all of the attributes of Christ are yours to claim. If you are a Christian teen, Christ was, did, and does every one of these things for you! Second, just like Paul, we can make all of these claims for ourselves.

What does it mean to be a Christian teen? How is your specific life different than those teens who do not know the Lord?

You have a specific calling which is unique to you. Paul was called to be an Apostle. What about you? Where is God leading you? What is His specific calling for your life?

Remember, as Christians, we are called to live above the world. This applies to us even in our teen life. Our desires should not be to be somebody in the world, but rather, we should desire to be a nobody for Christ! Does that sound strange, or even disappointing?

Do not be deceived by the lies of the world. Joy, peace, and happiness does not come from being somebody in this world. Joy, peace, and true happiness can only come from the Lord Jesus Christ. Do we deserve this from the Lord? No! That is where grace comes in. We are not given what we deserve, but are given a better choice that anything the world can offer to us.

Who cares? The Lord Jesus Christ cares.

Go, in Christ. As a teen, take on the mantle God has given to you, and seek to live and serve the Lord Jesus Christ with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your might!

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Savage Wolves!

28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
(Acts 20:28-32, New King James Version)

Savage Wolves!

What do savage wolves have to do with grace? It seems an unlikely combination, does it not? Do you know what is even worse? The savage wolves appear in sheep's clothing.

The teen years are wonderful years of discovery. As you shake off the bonds of childhood, you see the freedom of being an adult looming before you. How will you handle that freedom?

Paul, with great reluctance, is about to leave the people to whom he has been ministering. He sees them as "teens" about ready to plunge into life without him. What else does he see?

For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.

How strong is your faith? Are you prepared for the onset of savage wolves (in sheep's clothing) who will seek to drive you away from Christ? But, there is something even worse!

Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

Often your very dearest friends and family will rise up against you, trying to draw you into their way of thinking. The difficult thing is that these things are very subtle. They may not intentionally be doing anything wrong, but the end result is often the same.

Now, let us reverse the tables. What about your relationship to others, especially to your Christian friends? Do you encourage them in their faith? Is your life a glowing testimony for the Lord, or do you unknowingly discourage them in their own Christian walk?

Though you may be a Christian, Satan will think nothing of using you for his purposes. Savage wolves! Yes, they are there, and they will not wait until you are an adult to attack!

How do we protect ourselves from them? We go to Christ, read His Word, spend time in prayer with Christ, and in fellowship with other solid believers. God is so good--He never leaves us to flounder on our own!

I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, March 12, 2010

What Moves You?

24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
(Acts 20:24, New King James Version)

What Moves You?

What moves you? What gets you excited?

Our local high school show choir is going to the Bahamas over Spring Break--now that moves them! You can imagine how excited they are.

What moves you to fear? Some people love scary movies. As a teen, I didn't dare watch a horror movie, or even read a horror story, or I would not be able to sleep for a week.

The very point that Paul is making in Acts 20:24 is that nothing moved him. Even though several people had prophesied his doom, and even eventually his death if he went to Jerusalem, did that stop him from going? No way! Why was that?

Paul recognized that God's will for his life was to teach the Gospel of the grace of God. Paul had turned over his entire life to God. Whatever God had planned, even his death, would not stop him from sharing Christ. As a matter of fact, he would count it joy to die for Christ.

We know from history, that Paul did give his life for Christ. His joy was complete!

I encourage you to continually go to Christ; let Him move you! Peace, joy, and happiness, even in the middle of extreme danger, are gifts from the Lord.

What an amazing Lord we have who grants to us the Gospel of grace!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Arguments


6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
(Acts 15:6-11, New King James Version)

Arguments

Why is life filled with so many arguments? Even Christians are not exempt from fights and divisions. Why can't Christians just get along together, have fun, praise the Lord, and live in joy? If you think arguments are there just because you are a teen, you will find, unfortunately, that is not true!

I know that, sometimes, as a teen, it seems that everybody disagrees with you. Your parents do not understand you, your teachers do not seem to relate to you, and even your friends seem to be going in a different direction. Why is that?

In our Bible reading today, we find that is exactly what Peter was facing with the Jewish believers. They were still stuck on the idea that Christianity was for the Jews, so if Gentiles became Christians, they expected them to adopt Jewish ideas and customs.

Look at the powerful argument Peter used to support his point.

"So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

Think about that when you see arguments and disputes arise among your Christian friends. It is human nature to think that everyone else should see things the same way we do, but that is seldom the case. Remember, that God allows for many differences among Christian believers.

Be patient with your Christian friends, pray for them, and treasure them! They are truly a gift sent from God. Do not let Satan win by letting arguments cause divisions among you.

Above all, remember, that their is a friend, the Lord Jesus Christ, who sticks closer than a brother (or sister).

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let Go and Let God!


21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” 23 So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed. 24 And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 25 Now when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed.
(Acts 14:21-26, New King James Version)

Let Go and Let God!

Have you ever been involved in a project that your feel is "your baby" and you have a hard time letting go? You are sure that if you are not involved, it will all fall apart. I wonder if the Apostles ever felt that way when they traveled throughout Asia preaching the Word of God, and building churches.

I don't know about you, but I never really thought about that as being an aspect of grace. As a Christian teen, I am sure you spend time thinking about where God will lead you in this life. What purpose does God have for your life? It's rather amazing, is it not, to think about God having a specific purpose for you that no one else can fulfill?

How do you figure out the leading of God? What can you do now to prepare yourself? Understand that God gives you your likes and dislikes as well as your abilities and talents. These are clues as to where God is leading you.

This is the time in your life when you can try your hand at different things as the opportunities are opened to you. But, always remember, no matter where God is leading you, He is not expecting you to go alone! You are never removed from His grace! How amazing is that?

Just as Paul, the Apostle, had to let go and let God, by His grace, yield the fruits He would yield in the wake of Paul's ministry. So, too, we must remember, that things we do, very often do not turn out the way we expect. Our duty is to be obedient to God; He is the One who will bring the results, whether they are good or bad, in our eyes.

I have seen many people judge missionaries by the number of converts they have in their ministry. Does that mean that the one or two converts of another missionary are not important in God's eyes? What if that one convert was you?

As you contemplate your future, let go and let God lead, and then praise Him for the results. There is no failure for the Christian faithfully serving the Lord!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Grace Refused!

1 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. 3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

4 But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. 5 And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, 6 they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region. 7 And they were preaching the gospel there.
(Acts 14:1-7, New King James Version)

Grace Refused!

I thought grace always produced repentance? What happened, then, in Acts 14? Even as teens, we must realize that it is more normal for the grace of God to be spurned than it is to be accepted. We must not be naive about the world in which we live.

Notice that even though God was revealing His grace through signs and miracles, the unbelievers were stirring up the Gentiles and poisoning their minds against the believers.

What do you, as a teen, expect from your friends--both the believers and unbelievers? As a piano teacher I am blessed to work with several teens. I am always surprised at their expectations of their friends. They seem to set high, if not impossible, expectations upon their friends, and are often very intolerant of mistakes they make.

As Christians teens, you should have a better "take" on the true nature of people, especially those who are non-believers. How quickly we can become offended by the sins of others, especially if they are saying unkind things about us behind our backs.

Yet, knowing the true hearts of people, apart from the grace of God, we should be more surprised when they actually treat us well! What bad things were the apostles doing in Acts 14? Yet, the crowd was so stirred up against them, that they were about to be stoned.

Though you may live in a peaceful country, do not be fooled. There is an active war going on all around you, between the forces of Satan and the forces of Christ. This is a war to the death, and it involves you! Satan will use whatever and whoever He can to destroy your testimony before the Lord. He especially delights in separating Christian friends.

Go this day in the strength of the Lord, and pray for a gentle and understanding heart toward others, especially those who seem to delight in tormenting you. As you see grace refused, pray all the more for them!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, March 8, 2010

Privileged


42 So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us:


‘ I have set you as a light to the Gentiles,
That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’

48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
(Acts 13:42-48, New King James Version)

Privileged

Have you ever thought, as a Christian teen how privileged you are to be a Christian? Especially in the United States, we often take our faith, as well as our freedom to worship God, for granted. Many of us have heard the Gospel for as long as we can remember, having been taken to church by our parents from the time we were born.

That was certainly not the case for the people in Acts 13. It may have been true of the Jewish people, but certainly not of the Gentiles. Being Jewish themselves, Paul and Barnabas always went to the established Jewish synagogue first. When the Gospel message was rejected, they sought out the Gentiles.

I find it interesting to note that the Jews seemed to accept the message brought by Paul until they became envious of the number of people who responded to Him.

As Christian teens, we need to understand our own shortcomings, and be careful that we do not let our sinful passions interfere with the spreading of God's Word. This is a battle we face for our entire lives.

How frustrating to see churches torn apart by what began as little disagreements among Christians. Understand, that your own difficulties with other professing Christian teens can reap the same results. How often are unbelievers turned away from the Gospel when they see the manner in which professing believers treat one another?

We are privileged to have heard the Gospel of Christ. Let us pray that God would graciously help us to spread this precious Word to those not so privileged.

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The "In" Crowd

22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
(Acts 11:22-24, New King James Version)

The "In" Crowd

The Jews were the "In" crowd; if you were not a Jew--too bad--salvation was not for you! At least, that was the mindset of the early church. Do you think that was the mindset of God? Was Christianity to be a private club, just for those of a certain race of people?

Jesus could certainly not be accused of racism! He was not afraid to talk to all people, whether they were Jewish or not. We are reminded of this when we read of the account of Jesus' visit with the Samaritan woman in John 4.

I know that during your teen years, it is a really big deal to be part of the "In" crowd. How should you think about this as a Christian teen? It is true that God places us in different circumstances so that we may reach all classes of people for Christ. So, is it wrong to be in the "In" crowd? It is neither right nor wrong--that is not the real issue.

If you are driven to be popular and accepted by others, you should rethink your focus. Where is Christ in all of this? As a Christian our priorities change. That does not mean that it is wrong to be popular. God may have placed you in that crowd to be a faithful testimony of Christ.

No matter where God puts us in life, the most important "In" crowd is the crowd of those living faithfully for the Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you to be faithful to Him no matter where you are.

It is important, then, to understand that the question is not where are we in the status quo, but rather, how faithful we are to God! If our Christian life is compromised because we want to be accepted, we are living on very perilous grounds!

It is interesting that the early church had to learn this very same lesson. Barnabus, a men sent to check out these "foreign" Christians, was happy to come back and report that God was even bringing people to Him from among the Gentiles (all non-Jews). As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul was chosen by God to minister to
Gentiles.


Go, serve the Lord wherever you are, and praise the name of God that He counts you worthy to be a testimony of Christ to all of those around you.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, March 5, 2010

Great Grace


32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
(Acts 4:32-35, New King James Version)

Great Grace

By now, our study of the word, "grace," I hope, has given you, as it has me, a much greater sense of the depths of grace, and its impact upon our lives. In Acts 4, we find an example of the results of grace.

And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.

How much unity do you, as a teen, see in the world around you? Do you see unity among your friends, at school, at home, or even in your church? Mostly due to our own pride, it is common to see groups of people fracture, and fracture, and then fracture again.

I live in a small town of about 8,000 people which was settled in the 1800's by a Dutch reformed group. Now, 125 years later, this small town has at least 10 reformed churches in it, plus numerous other denominations. What happened to the unity? Though these churches mostly profess the same God, and the same Bible, they have fractured and fractured over and over.

Look at this group of Christians in Jerusalem. The Bible tells us that great grace was upon the apostles and the group. What was the result of that grace? Unity! The people were so unified that they even pooled their resources so that they could more faithfully spread the Gospel to the non-believers around them.

Where does unity come from? Unity comes from our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan has effectively filled the world with unbelievers, and, unfortunately, even among believers He has spread discord.

So, what can you do about it as a teen? Seek the Lord while you are yet young? Read and study the Bible; make it the very center of your life. Fellowship with the Lord in prayer and build a close personal relationship with Him. Then, pray! Pray that great grace will be poured upon you from God above.

This is one of the great secrets of life, and yet so few apply it to their lives. What about you? Will you?

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Grace and Truth!


14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”
16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
(John 1:14-18, New King James Version)

Grace and Truth!

Truth! Some spend all of their lives searching for truth and never find it! As a teen, you have reached the point where you need to embrace Christ, the Truth; you can no longer ride on the coattails of your parents' faith.

These verses from John 1, are verses you should meditate upon, as they are rich in meaning. Notice how the writer compares Christ with the Law. The Law can point us to sin, but it cannot save us, as we are helpless to keep it perfectly. A piece of the puzzle is missing!

Christ, the Word, came to supply that missing piece. Christ, the Word, willingly took on the form of flesh that He might bring the truth to us! He was begotten of the Father, and was full of grace and truth! The Law condemned, but Christ gave grace and truth to free man from the condemnation of the Law.

We were not there, but by God's grace, we have the Bible to reveal these same truths to us. Look at verse 16.

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.

There it is! There is the truth! Christ fills His children with grace, unmerited favor, that their sins are covered by the shed blood of Christ. Oh, what a Savior! Embrace this Christ, and your life will never be the same again!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Grace Upon Christ


39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
(
Luke 2:39-40, New King James Version)

Grace Upon Christ

It is often hard for us to truly understand the Lord Jesus Christ. How can we comprehend His humanity along with His Godhead? What kind of a child was Jesus?

The Bible gives us very little information about Jesus, the Child, except the verse shown above from Luke 2.

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

As I read this verse, one thing caught my attention. Grace is not unique to us! In other words, even the Lord Jesus Christ needed the grace of God upon Him. Now that may seem rather redundant, but think about that for a minute.

How do we so presume that, as Christians, we can live a successful Christian life in our own power and might, when the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, was bathed in the grace of God. Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man, continually sought God's grace throughout His entire life.

Don't do it! Don't live another moment without crying out for the grace of God to help you live a pure and holy life, which is an impossible task for us, except by the grace of God.

That is not easy to admit, is it? Your teen years are all about stretching your wings and taking test flights into the world of adulthood. Go for it! But in the midst of your transition between childhood and adulthood, remember that, except for the grace of God, there go I! In other words, the successful Christian life can only be lived by the power of God. Without the grace of God, our lives will closely mirror the lives of the unsaved world around us!

It is a strength, and not a weakness, to understand our helplessness in this world of sin in which we are so immersed, that we cannot even breathe the air of righteousness apart from Christ.

Go to the Lord; cry out to God above for His grace in your life!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mourning


10 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
(Zechariah 12:10, New King James Version)

Mourning

What an interesting verse! How many of us like to go into the house of mourning? And yet, look what the Bible says about mourning.

Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart. . . The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. (Ecclesiastes 7:2 & 4, New King James Version)

When God poured His spirit of grace upon Israel, they mourned their own sin. By God's grace, they suddenly saw the reality of life, and their own sin before God.

What do teens like to do? Teens like to get together with others, and especially love to laugh. Is that wrong? Of course not, as long as their laughter is tempered by Word of God. We live in a vulgar culture, where laughter is often pointed at others, or is making fun of sin.

So why, then, does God tell us that the house of mourning is better? You do not have to become very old, do you, to realize that life can be a real bummer? Why does God allow that in the lives of Christians? Why can't Christians just be happy, happy, happy all of the time?

The answer is really quite simple. Unless we see sin for what it really is, and the effects of sin on our world and in our own personal lives, there is no need for grace! Unless we come to the point that we mourn our own sin, we do not see the need of a Savior to deliver us from that sin.

In Zechariah 12, when God was gracious to the people, they saw their own sin and mourned that sin before God.

So, though it may not be perceived as that much fun, as a teen, spend some time in the house of mourning--mourning for you own sin and crying out for the grace of God! Oh, how sweet is the deliverance of God!

God Bless You,
Linda