Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31: God Our Strength

The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father's God, and I will exalt him.

Exodus 15:2, New International Version

May 31: God Our Strength

Moses and the Israelites just saw an amazing thing. After crossing the Red Sea on dry land, Pharaoh and his army followed. However, once the Israelites were safely on the shore, God let the water flow back on its course. The entire army, including Pharaoh, was killed.

In amazement and joy, Moses led the people in the song we read in Exodus 15. What does Moses say about God in this song?

*He is my strength.
*He is my song.
*He has become my salvation.
*He is my God.

How does Moses respond to this?

*I will praise Him.
*He is my father's God.
*I will exalt Him.

For the last 7 days we have been looking at the traits of God. I think it is very fitting to end with, God Our Strength. Being our strength seems to sum up all of the attributes together.

Who is God?

*God is our defense.
*God is our deliverer.
*God is our hiding place.
*God is our protector.
*God is our refuge.
*God is our rock.
*God is our shield.

Yes, indeed, God is our strength!

Go, today, in the power and strength of the Lord your God. Do not try to lean on your own abilities, but rather draw strength from the God of strength.

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, May 30, 2010

May 30: God Our Shield

4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands?
Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and the name of his son?
Tell me if you know!

5 "Every word of God is flawless;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Proverbs 30:4-5, New International Version

May 30: God Our Shield

In our day, we do not often think about shields, do we? As a matter of fact, we would think it rather silly if our soldiers clothed themselves in armor, and carried shields.

However, in the day in which this Proverb was written, a shield was a very necessary part of a soldier's armor. To lose one's shield in battle meant almost certain death.

As a Christian teen, you carry an invisible shield with you constantly. Of course, I am speaking of God our shield. Look at the manner in which the writer of this Proverb describes God.

Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands?
Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and the name of his son?
Tell me if you know!

Does God qualify to be our shield? Yes! It is God who has gone up to heaven and come down, gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands, wrapped up the waters in his cloak, and established all the ends of the earth.

As you go about your busy day, I would encourage you to think about the shield of God which goes everywhere with you.

We may not be strong enough to resist temptation, but God our shield is!

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, May 29, 2010

May 29: God Our Rock

1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.

2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.

Psalm 18:1-3, New International Version

May 29: God Our Rock

What does it mean to be a rock? When we speak of a person being a rock, we are thinking of one who is unmoved by the influences around him or her. Wouldn't it be nice, as a Christian teen to have a Christian friend who is a rock?

Actually, you have something even better than that. The Bible tells us that God is our rock. If you will notice in verse 2, from Psalm 18, the Psalmist further explains:

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Why then are we Christians often so weak that a little puff of the wind of discouragement or depression will totally incapacitate our faith in Christ? It is not because God is not there, but rather we do not lay hold of our Rock to keep us from falling.

How do we do that? For starters, I would recommend that you not only start each day by reading the Bible and praying, but I would also recommend that you spend some time meditating upon God. Take about 5 or 10 minutes and just quietly think about God. Each time your attention is diverted, bring it back to God.

For years I did not do this, and I was amazed at the strength it gives. You see, as you meditate upon God, He brings your mind into focus on Him; assuring you that no problem we face is too great for Him.

I know, that is a rather simplistic answer, but I challenge you to give it a try!

Later on, in verses 31 and 32 of Psalm 18, the Psalmist says:

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

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


God Bless You,

Linda

Friday, May 28, 2010

May 28: God Our Refuge

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Psalm 91:1-4, New International Version

May 28: God Our Refuge

When I was a teen, I chose Psalm 91:1 as my life verse; it has been a great comfort to me through the years, however I do prefer it in the King James Version.


He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

What better place is there for us to seek refuge than under the shadow of the Almighty? The Psalmist agreed.

I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."

That all sounds good and well, but how does that help me today? I can hear your question. Do you think that the Psalmist is only speaking of protection from our enemies in battle?

Absolutely not! Because we live in a world that is in many ways so foreign to Bible times, have we reached the point where we are beyond the help of God? Never! We can never reach that point. As Christian teens, you can cling to the promise: God is our Refuge.

What does He do for us?

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Isn't that beautiful!

God Our refuge; don't leave home without him!


God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May 27: God Our Protector

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Selah

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Selah
Psalm 46, 1-7, New International Version

May 27: God Our Protector

We live in a very troubling time. As a teen, that is certainly not new news to you! We have troubles in our families, troubles with our friends, troubles in our country, and troubles in the world. Several years ago I went to a play entitled, "Stop the World." It was a comedy with the idea that when troubles became too great we could just yell, "Stop the World."

However, we have something even better, because we know that God is our protector. Look at the confidence asserted by the Psalmist in Psalm 46.

God is our refuge . . . an ever present help . . . we will not fear. Then look at verses 6 and 7.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Look at our world today. Are nations in an uproar? Are we beset on all sides with the threat of wars between the nations--nuclear wars. Should we be afraid. No!

No matter what our troubles, whether they are personal or whether we are thinking globally, the Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

God is our protector; we have access to the greatest power that ever has and will exist. So, let us rise up and throw off the shackles of depression and discouragement that so often rob us of our Christian joy, and look to God our protector.

He hears, He listens, and He helps--24/7!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 26: God Our Hiding Place

4 One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
Psalm 27:4-5, New International Version

May 26: God Our Hiding Place

When you were younger, did you ever have a special hiding place? Maybe it was not really a hiding place, but it was a special place where you felt safe and secure from the world all around you.

As teens, you have not outgrown this need. Did you know, that even as adults, we still need that special hiding place?

Becoming an adult is a mixed blessing. (I know, you'll just have to take my word on this one.) Finally, we have reached the place where we can make our own decisions. What freedom, right? Wrong. There is no freedom! We are slaves to sin, or we can become slaves to Christ.

Yes, of course, we do have freedom, but it is important that we choose to live as slaves of Christ. Though adults face unbelievalble pressures and responsibilities, God our hiding place, is always there.

As a Christian teen, I pray that you would learn to cozy up with God in this hiding place frequently. The hiding place, according to Psalm 27 has two purposes.

Our hiding place is a place of worship. In our hiding place let us gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and seek Him. He fills our hearts with joy and peace that far surpasses any other joy or happiness on this earth!

Second, our hiding place is a place of protection. In the day of trouble, God will keep us safe in His dwelling; He will hide us in the shelter of His tabernacle.

Let us all go this day, and rest in God our hiding place. He will never fail or forsake us.

What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May 25: God Our Deliverer

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might becojme a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 2:14-18, New International Version

May 25: God Our Deliverer

What an amazing God we have. How is God our deliverer, and what does that mean? We, who were born in sin, face the results of our sinful ways: death. But, Jesus conquered death!

How could anyone conquer death? Jesus, the righteous Son of God, came to this earth as a human. He lived and breathed among us, and then died a cruel death. That death conquered the hold of sin and condemnation that was cast upon us.

I love the point that the writer makes in verse 16. Jesus did not come to help angels; He came to help the children of Abraham. Who are the children of Abraham? Every single person who comes to Christ becomes a child of Abraham!

OK, so how does that affect you as a Christian teen? You already know all of this, right?

In answer to that question, I will ask a question. Are you ever tempted? Do you ever give in to those temptations? (By the way, the correct answer to both questions is: yes and yes!) We have all been tempted, and we all carry the scars of giving in to those temptations.

The amazing thing about Christ is that He was tempted, too! He understands exactly how it is!

The more amazing thing about Christ is that He loves us anyway! He not only loves us, but He will help us grow in Him and learn to resist the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

God our Deliverer, delivers us from the temptations that lead to sin and death.

Go to Him, He is there 24/7.

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, May 24, 2010

May 24: God Our Defense

11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy,
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
12 For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Psalm 5:11-12, New International Version

May 24: God Our Defense

For the next several days, we will be going through a section entitled, "More about God." In this first devotional of this series we will be considering, "God our Defense."

As a teen, do you ever feel like there is no one on your side? Does it seem to you that the whole world is against you? I do not know about you, but I remember thinking both those things, especially when I was around 14.

As I think back on that time, I wish I had understood Bible passages such as Psalm 5 much better. I was just a "baby" Christian and did not know where to turn for help. Have you ever thought that perhaps God is taking you through this time to help you loosen the strangle hold of the world upon your life?

The teen years are so important; the decisions you make will often be with you for the rest of your lives. What can you do? You must pray that God will turn you toward Him. As a Christian teen, you have a job to do! Your chief purpose, for your entire life, is to learn to know and love Christ more and more every day. As you grow in Him, He will teach you to love others just as much as you love yourself.

Boy, that is a tall order, is it not? What can we do to prevent the world from overtaking our lives? We must take refuge in God; He will spread His protection over us, and will surround us as a shield.

We are never alone; God our defense is always there. When it seems as though the whole world hates us, let us turn to God for help and strength, taking refuge in Him.

Oh what love God has for us!

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May 23: Tithes

8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How do we rob you?'
"In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.
Malachi 3:8-12, New International Version

May 23: Tithes

Are you a robber? Do you rob God? That is the topic of the Bible passage shown above from Malachi 3. Who are the robbers in this passage?

8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How do we rob you?'
"In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me."

Those are some pretty harsh words; surely they do not apply to us in the 21st century! Oh, but they do! Like the Israelites to whom Malachi was speaking, we rob God by withholding our tithes and offerings from Him.

God requires so little: just 10 percent. Even our government requires more of us than that, and they take it out of our paychecks before we even see it. We pay closer to 25 or 30 percent of our wages to our government here in the United States. So, what do we get back from the government? Is it worth that much of our income?

That is exactly the point in God's Words shown above. God is not a severe taskmaster. Have you ever heard the statement, "You cannot out give God." Look at what God said in verses 10 and 11:
"Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.

What an amazing God we have! When will we learn to trust Him? It takes our entire lifetime to even begin to understand God as we should.

I encourage you, while you are young, to test God. Give Him your tithes and your offerings and just see what happens.

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May 22: Sacrificial Giving

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Luke 6:38, New International Version

May 22: Sacrificial Giving

What in the world is sacrificial giving? I suppose it would be helpful to understand the word sacrificial.

Webster's Dictionary defines sacrificial as: of, relating to, of the nature of, or involving sacrifice.

Now, what does that mean? This time, let's look up the word, "sacrifice." There are two definitions that are applicable.

1. an act of offering to a deity something precious
2. destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else

As a teen, how do you think sacrificial giving applies to you?

You know, by our very nature, we are not good at sacrificial giving; we do not mind giving to the Lord, but usually what we offer to God is just a pittance of what we really have to offer. We think, "You can have that old jacket, I do not wear it anyway, but do not even think about taking my new one!" Or how about this, "What, you expect me to give up my Saturday to help with spring cleanup at the church?"

By its very meaning sacrificial giving means giving until it hurts. Is God being unreasonable by expecting this of us. Not at all. Christ gave up His very life for us!

One of the amazing things about giving to the Lord is that you can never give too much without receiving more back. That is the message we find in Luke 6. "Give and it will be given to you."

You may ask, "How much?"

"A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

In the end, then, I guess it was not much of a sacrifice after all. The blessings we receive in giving to the Lord come back to us in ways we could never have imagined.

What does God truly require?

Sacrificial giving should be a standard part of our Christian walk for the Lord.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, May 21, 2010

May 21: Managing God's Gifts

1So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
1 Corinthians 4:1-5, New International Version

May 21: Managing God's Gifts

As a Christian teen, you would do well to consider what Paul is teaching us in verses 1 - 5, in 1 Corinthians 4.

I am a person who loves the praise of others. My parents used this to their great advantage when I was young. They could get me to do more work when they lauded me with praises rather than demanding work from me.

As an adult, I came to realize that this was not a good trait. In just a short amount of time, I learned that there is no way to please all of the people all of the time. In pleasing one person, another would often be displeased. Often I was caught in the crossfire between two opinions. What was I to do?

At some point in my adult life, I finally understood the wisdom of Paul's instructions in 1 Corinthians 4. You see, God has entrusted us with the secrets of His kingdom. In managing God's gifts, we must be careful that our fear of what others will think or say does not keep us from using those gifts wisely.

Look at what Paul said in verses 3 and 4.

I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.

It does not matter what others think of us or say about us. We are all sinners, so even as Christians we give others plenty of opportunity for criticism. However, we are not here to be judged by others, or even ourselves. The only judge who matters is the Lord Jesus Christ!

As we live our lives with the goal of pleasing God, alone, we are demonstrating the truth of Paul's words. Do not fear others or even the courts of man! As we are active in managing God's gifts to us, let us do so only in the fear of God.

Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13, King James Version)

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 20: Giving to the Poor

1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:1-4, New International Version

May 20: Giving to the Poor

Where better to gain instruction for living the Christian life than from the words of Jesus, himself? With that in mind, we return to the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus is sitting on the mountainside teaching a large group of people.

His words were shocking to the people, and are often shocking to us as well. How easy is it to follow the simple teachings of Jesus? Actually, it is impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit within us.

We are basically very selfish people. Just think how good it feels when you have done something good for someone and you receive public accolades for you actions. It does feel good! However, Jesus said that is all the reward we will get!

We are instructed that Christians should be busy giving to the poor. However, in so doing, we must do it quietly, or even secretly. As a matter of fact it should be so secretive that even our left hand does not know what our right hand is doing! Now that is secretive!

Part of leaving the things of the world means leaving the recognition and the rewards of the world as well. As Christian teens, remember, you are not of this world. When you came to Christ you already laid claim to a new home. No longer being a citizen of this world, you became a citizen of heaven. With that new citizenship, came new responsibilities.

Giving to the poor is not just something that Christians do; many people are led to offer help to the poor whenever they can. So, what is the difference? It is all in your attitude, is it not?

Ask God to help you in your service to Him, including giving to the poor, that you will do everything quietly and in secret, not seeking the praises of men, but only seeking the praises of God.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 19: Giving to God

38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Matthew 5:38-42, New International Version

May 19: Giving to God

Jesus was sitting on a mountainside addressing a large group of people. He had just given them the beatitudes and was now explaining their meaning in greater depth.

In Jesus' words from Matthew 5, we are led to understand the spirit of living the Christian life. As a Christian, we must constantly work on loving others more than ourselves. That would be an impossible task apart from the Lord, but it is still difficult to achieve.

Vengeance! That is certainly a word that describes our culture today, does it not? We all want to be treated fairly, and while that is not wrong, the Christian must understand that Christ went way beyond expecting to be treated fairly by others. Of course, the most obvious support of that statement is his death upon the cross. That certainly was not fair, was it?

So, then, what does God expect from us in our giving to God?

If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

That just does not seem fair, does it? What could possibly motivate us to live this way? Lost souls! If we as Christians suffer quietly when we do something wrong and deserve punishment, what good is that? Even the world can do that! However, if we suffer quietly when we have done nothing to deserve punishment, then are we given the opportunity to show that we are not like the world, but like Christ.

As you think about giving to God, I would challenge you to seek help from the Lord in loving others more than yourself, especially when they have hurt or harmed you in some way.

God Bless You,
Linda


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 18: Give According to Your Means

10And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.
2 Corinthians 8:10-12, New International Version

May 18: Give According to Your Means

In this letter to the Corinthian believers, was Paul just talking about money? I must admit, when I first saw the subject for today, I thought, now how is it appropriate that teens consider the topic of how to give according to your means, when most probably do not even have money to spend? But, then I realized that this subject is not only speaking of money.

Can you think of other things that apply, besides money? I can think of two very important things to consider, especially for teens. How about your time and your abilities?

Time! Who has enough of it? If your life is anything like mine, it is hard to find the time to do anything. Yet, as Christians, God certainly has something to say about how we use our time. Though I have never been a particularly organized person with my time, I must say it would certainly be an advantage to be one of those people.

Several years ago, I was working with a class of young teens. As an assignment, I asked them to read the Bible every single day for a week. Most of them objected that they did not have time. I said, "Just read one verse; that does not take much time." At the next week's lesson, how many of them do you suppose had read the Bible every day that week? You are right, not one of them!

Their problem, however, was not lack of time; their problem was lack of priorities. They just did not have time to fit Jesus into their busy lives. It was a sad commentary on the state of their hearts.

What about your abilities? How has God made you? What are your likes and dislikes, your strengths and your weaknesses? You are at the time in life when you are considering what you will do with your future. Did you know that the single most important factor in choosing a career, is knowing how God made you?

Is making a lot of money a good factor in your decision making? You will need enough money to be able to provide for your basic expenses, but beyond that, money is not a good factor in making your choice. I say that, because, as a Christian teen, God has given you exactly the likes and strengths you have so that you may use them to serve Him.

We have many sad, wealthy people, who did not follow this advice. We, as Christians, should not be in that number, because God has told us, "Give according to Your means." How can we give according to our talents and abilities if we do not seek to train ourselves according to our likes and strengths?

It is something to think about, is it not?

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 17: Giving Presents

7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."

9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2:7-12, New International Version

May 17: Giving Presents

We all like the idea of giving presents, do we not? In all honesty, we all like the idea of getting presents, too! When I thought of Biblical examples of giving presents, I immediately thought of this Bible passage from Matthew 2.

Why did the Magi bring presents to Mary and Joseph?

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

It was customary to give presents for many reasons, especially giving presents to honor one who was greater than ourselves. When the Magi saw Jesus, they bowed down and worshiped Him, and gave presents of gold, incense, and myrrh.

Can you think of a way in which this was helpful to Mary and Joseph? Remember, they were just a poor couple. What were they to do when God told them that, for the safety of Jesus, it was necessary for them to leave Bethlehem. Travel in those days was expensive, just as it is today.

I find it very interesting that before Mary and Joseph even received the command to flee, God provided them with the means to obey His command.

What an amazing God we have! And, He works continually on our behalf as well, fulfilling the plans that He has for our lives. What a good reminder.

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, May 16, 2010

May 16: Generous Giving

43Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."
Mark 12:43-44, New International Version

May 16: Generous Giving

You may wonder why we are doing this short series of devotions on giving. Why do you, as a teen, even need to consider these things? As I look back on my teen years, I am amazed at how many habits and patterns that I set in my teen years still influence me today, several decades later.

In Mark 12, Jesus gave the most interesting lesson on generous giving. As Jesus and His disciples were sitting outside the temple, they had the opportunity to watch people put money into the temple treasury. Upon noticing a widow woman, who only put a small amount into the treasury, Jesus commented,

"I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

Think of it; the offering of this widow woman is still known today, because it has been recorded in the pages of the book of Mark.

What is the real lesson that Jesus is teaching? Jesus is teaching us that generous giving does not have to do with the exact amount we give, but it has to do with our love for God! This woman so loved God so much that she was willing to put all that she had into the temple treasury.

Do you think this principle applies only to money? As a child, I remember learning that giving involves three things: our time, our talents, and our treasures. Are we willing to give all that we have because of our love for the Lord?

Generous giving! Where do we rate? How much do we give to the Lord?

It is something to think about, is it not?

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, May 15, 2010

May 15: Generosity

1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

7All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' "

8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."

9Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."

Luke 19:1-10, New International Version

May 15: Generosity

What a great story! And, best of all, it is true! Zacchaeus was a tax collector, who became wealthy collecting a little more than was due and pocketing the difference. Then, he met Jesus. His change of heart was obvious by His words to Jesus. Look at the generosity he displayed.

"Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."

That is the thing about being a true Christian--it causes a change in our hearts. We are not consumed by the greed of this world, not caring who we step on to get to the top. We are already at the top! No money can purchase anything or anyone greater than Christ! That is exactly what Zacchaeus learned. He, who once stole from the people, was now willing to pay four times as much back to them, and he was willing to give half of his wealth to the poor.

As a Christian teen, do you display an attitude of generosity. When someone steals your favorite jacket, are you willing to say, "Here, take my hoodie, too."? Does your jacket mean more to you than the Lord Jesus Christ?

That is not an easy question to answer. Oh, we can answer it quickly enough, but, in our heart of hearts, do we really love Jesus more than all of the possessions we own on this earth?

No matter how old you get, you will most often struggle with the spirit of generosity. Pray that God will cause your love for Him to grow so much that your love for Christ consumes everything you have, and everyone you love.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, May 14, 2010

May 14: Acceptable Offerings

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2, New International Version

May 14: Acceptable Offerings

For the next ten days, we will be doing a series of devotions on the topic of giving. I could not think of a more appropriate Bible passage than Romans 12:1-2 for today's devotion.

As a teen, dealing with money is probably a rather new experience. You have not had to pay for your rent, your food, or probably even your clothes, and if you have a job, you are probably able to spend most or all of it in whatever manner you choose. So, what do you think of when we talk about "giving" or "acceptable offerings?" Do you think this is only referring to money?

According to the Apostle Paul, offerings to the Lord, although they may involve money, are not really about money at all! We are urged in Romans 12:1, Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

What in the world does that mean? The answer is found in verse 2.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I cannot think of a more appropriate life's motto to establish right now, when you are on the brink of adulthood. I warn you, it is not easy, but it is the path that will bring you the greatest peace and joy that you can know in this life.

How do we do it? Not by ourselves! That is the beauty of being a Christian. Christ, who lived on this earth as a human, understands the pressures and temptations that we face. He does not ask us to try to live for Him alone. Instead, He promises that He will be with us, through His Holy Spirit, 24/7, leading and guiding us in the way we should go.

I challenge you today, as a Christian teen, to memorize Romans 12:1-2, and make it a motto for your life, praying that God will lead and guide you in the way you should go. Only through Christ can you present acceptable offerings unto God.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May 13: Suffering of Mothers

1 The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the LORD. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves."

2 Elisha replied to her, "How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?"
"Your servant has nothing there at all," she said, "except a little oil."

3 Elisha said, "Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don't ask for just a few. 4 Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side."

5 She left him and afterward shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 6 When all the jars were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another one."
But he replied, "There is not a jar left." Then the oil stopped flowing.

7 She went and told the man of God, and he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left."
2 Kings 4:1-7, New International Version

May 13: Suffering of Mothers

Perhaps you are one of those who presume to think that the suffering of mothers only refers to childbirth. I am appalled when I sense this attitude. As a mother of six, I will tell you that the suffering of mothers does not refer to childbirth. Any suffering in childbirth is soon forgotten over the joy of bringing a new person into the world.

However, a mother's love and concern lasts for the entire life of her children. That deep and loving concern brings about many circumstances that cause a great deal of suffering for the mother. Such was the case in our Bible passage today from 2 Kings 4.

A widow woman rushed to Elisha with the news that her creditors were coming to take her two sons as slaves because she was not able to pay her debts. Do you think that this same widow woman would have come to Elisha with her troubles if it did not involve the suffering of her two sons?

A mother's love is unique; there is no other love like it. As a teen I had no appreciation for the love of my mother. I actually thought she did not love me at all. That thinking did not change until the day I held my firstborn son in my arms. Then I knew, that my mother had to love me.

It's tough being a teen; there are so many circumstances in life yet to be experienced that will make great changes in your thinking. Oh, it does not seem like it, I know. As a teen, you may feel that you have arrived, and that your understanding, as it is today, will never change.

I would challenge you with this thought. No Christian, no matter what their age, should ever believe that the views they have right now will never change. As we grow closer and closer to the Lord, our thinking will change as we become more and more like Christ.

As a last thought, because of the suffering of mothers, should women choose to not have children? No! What a great privilege God gives us to have children and to raise them to the glory of God. The joy that results overpowers any suffering that may ever take place.

In a sense, to love anyone gives occasions for suffering! By God's grace, let that suffering bring us closer to God.

Let us then, love God more than any other, including ourselves.


God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May 12: Gentleness

3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.
1 Peter 3:3-4, New International Version

May 12: Gentleness

I find it interesting that "Gentleness" is included in this series of devotionals about mothers. Why is that? I suppose we think of gals as being of a more tender mindset than guys. But, do you think only girls should show the characteristic of gentleness? Hm, it is something to think about.

In 1 Peter 3, Peter is also speaking of women, when he encourages them with the words shown above. I do not believe it is wrong to wear jewelry or fine clothes; I think the lesson here is that we are not defined by our outward beauty, jewelry, and fine clothes. The world disagrees with that, does it not?

We have beauty contests which are all about outward beauty and fine clothes. Who are the people we often look up to the most? The rich and famous always seem to catch our eyes, and what is the first thing we seem to notice? We judge them by their outward beauty and what they are wearing!

So, this advice was not only rather timely in Peter's day, but it is timely in our day as well. As Christians, which kind of beauty is more important? What does Peter say in verse 4?

Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

So, I encourage all of us to look for the right kind of beauty. Gals, by the grace of God, strive to develop that inward beauty and gentleness of the heart. Guys, do not be so naive as to look only at the outward beauty, but look for girls who have the unfading beauty of a gentle and quite spirit.

Why? Inward beauty is of great worth in God's sight. That is our true purpose, as Christians, in this life, is it not? Pray by God's grace that, as you seek to live your life for the glory of God, you would value gentleness more than outward beauty.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 11: Concerns of Mothers

11 Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon's mother, "Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, has become king without our lord David's knowing it?

12 Now then, let me advise you how you can save your own life and the life of your son Solomon.

13 Go in to King David and say to him, 'My lord the king, did you not swear to me your servant: "Surely Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne"? Why then has Adonijah become king?'

14 While you are still there talking to the king, I will come in and confirm what you have said."

15 So Bathsheba went to see the aged king in his room, where Abishag the Shunammite was attending him. 16 Bathsheba bowed low and knelt before the king.
"What is it you want?" the king asked.

17 She said to him, "My lord, you yourself swore to me your servant by the LORD your God: 'Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne.' 18 But now Adonijah has become king, and you, my lord the king, do not know about it. . . .

28 Then King David said, "Call in Bathsheba." So she came into the king's presence and stood before him.

29 The king then took an oath: "As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, 30 I will surely carry out today what I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place."

31 Then Bathsheba bowed low with her face to the ground and, kneeling before the king, said, "May my lord King David live forever!"

1 Kings 1:11-17 & 28-31, New International Version

May 11: Concerns of Mothers

I know this is a rather long Bible passage, but I hope you will take the time to read it all, as a matter of fact, it would be very beneficial to go to 1 Kings 1 and read the entire account. When I thought about Biblical examples of concerns of mothers, this is the first passage that came to my mind.

We all know of the story of David and Bathsheba, but I think it is important to also understand Bathsheba's love and concern for her son, Solomon. Because David was getting old, his son, Adonijah, gathered a crowd of loyal followers and declared himself to be king. Now, if Adonijah became king by trickery, it was obvious that the first thing he would do would be to kill all of the loyal followers of David, as well as Solomon, David's son.

Most people, including Adonijah, knew that God had already chosen Solomon to be the next king of Israel. When Nathan, the prophet, heard the news, he ran to Bathsheba and implored her to appear before King David and ask him to declare Solomon to be the new King of Israel.

Why did Nathan ask Bathsheba to go before the king first, before he, too, would come with the same news. Nathan knew two things. He knew that David truly loved Bathsheba, and he knew that Bathsheba's love for Solomon would cause her to plead with David for quick action on David's part.

Do not underestimate the love of your mother. As a teen, it seems that the parent/child relationship is often more strained than it has ever been. As you, the teen, are seeking to try out your independence, Mom seems to hold you back all the more tightly.

It is hard to understand the true love and concerns of mothers, who desire that everything turns out perfectly for you. It is so very hard for mothers to see their sons and their daughters fail or suffer.

Be patient with your mother, it is amazing how wise she will become just a decade from now. Go give your mom a hug and tell her that you love her. I would not be surprised if she would be willing to give her own life to save yours.

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 10: Godly Women

1I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. 2I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.
Romans 16:1-2, New International Version

May 10: Godly Women

In the Bible, there are many examples of Godly Women, but I thought I would draw attention to one who is perhaps unfamiliar to you. In two short verses, from Romans 16, the Apostle Paul draws attention to Phoebe.

Not much is said about her; as a matter of fact we are only told the following.

She has been a great help to many people, including me.

Think about that! Her acts of kindness were so important to God, that she is mentioned by name in God's Holy Word. When you think about it, our true natures come out in our actions. If we are truly Godly women and Godly men, it will show forth more loudly in our actions that even in our words. A person can speak like a Christian, but their true nature cannot be hidden in their actions. They may fool others, or even themselves, for a time, but sooner or later their true natures will come through.

What does that mean to you as a teen? I think there are two important lessons to take away from this.

First, be genuine. Do not try to live with one foot in the world and one foot with Christ; it will not work. Sadly you many find that you really have no part of Christ.

Second, be wise in viewing others. Do not be taken in by flowery words of love for God; look beyond the words into the heart of the person. Give it time, and their true nature will either shine forth for the Lord, or turn away to the things of the world.


Godly women and men! That should be the true desire of our hearts, and when the temptations of the world come sneaking by -- run!

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, May 9, 2010

May 9: Godly Mothers

3I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
2 Timothy 1:3-5, New International Version

May 9: Godly Mothers

I thought of the many examples we have of Godly mothers in the Bible, but decided to use this Bible passage from 1 Timothy to consider the topic of Godly mothers.

Paul, in speaking to Timothy, penned the words shown above from 2 Timothy 1. Especially relevant is verse 5.

I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

As teen girls, what kind of influence will you have on your own children? As teen guys, what kind of wife will you choose to be the mother of your children? Nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important when looking ahead to marriage, than considering, first, your own relationship to God, and second the relationship to God of your future spouse.

What kind of a mother do you have? Do you, like Timothy, have a godly mother who encourages you in the Lord? Do you have a mother who does not know the Lord?

Thank God, especially today (Mother's Day), for the mother He has given to you. God has chosen this mother just for you, and God has chosen you to be her child. What kind of a child are you? Do you constantly argue and resist your mother in everything she says and does, or do you encourage her by your own Godly living?

Pray that God would help you to love and appreciate your mother, and that you would encourage her to be faithful to God. She needs your prayers just as much as you need her prayers.

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, May 8, 2010

May 8: Godly Households

14 "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
Joshua 24:14-15, New International Version

May 8: Godly Households

As seems appropriate for this time of the year, we will be spending six devotions on the topic of Mothers. It may seem strange to begin a series of teen devotions on the topic of Mothers with the book of Joshua. After all, Joshua was not a mother! However, he taught us a powerful lesson.

Have you ever thought about the fact that the type of household you will have, whether you are a guy or a gal, when you are on your own begins right now! You may be heavily influenced by family and friends, but in the end, the One to whom you must be faithful is God.

All influences for the Christian, especially the Christian teen, must be weighed in the balance of God's Word. That is exactly the situation faced by Joshua.

The children of Israel were ready to go in and take possession of the land given to them by God. Did Joshua say, "Check your weapons to make sure you are ready to go to war."? What was Joshua's battle cry?

"Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.

He was not kidding, either. In effect, he was saying, "If you do not choose to serve the Lord, then leave now." I love the wording of verse 15 from the King James Version.

Choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

As a Christian teen, you are right where the Israelites were. You are on the threshold of adulthood. Will you have Godly households?

What is the secret to having a Godly household? I cannot word it any better than Joshua did.

Choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, May 7, 2010

May 7: Encouragement

13 Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."
Exodus 14:13-14, New International Version

May 7: Encouragement

As teens, you need tons of encouragement from all of those around you. Unfortunately, you are more likely to get "torn down" by your peers, acquaintances, and even friends, than to get encouragement.

How can we change that? Maybe I should ask, "Can we change that?" I think there are several good answers to that question.

I do not mean to bring forth platitudes, but the most obvious answer is found in Exodus 14. The only encouragement we really need comes from understanding who we are, and what our relationship is to God. That seems like a strange answer, does it not? However, when you think about it, as Christians, we need to focus our lives on the Lord Jesus Christ. The more we are able to do just that, the more we will sense the encouragement that is always there from God, our Father.

It is our Father who will fight the battles for us! The Israelites were surrounded by water on one side and the Egyptian army on the other. They certainly had good reason to be afraid. Were the words spoken by Moses in Exodus 14, just useless platitudes? No! We know that God did, indeed, do just what Moses said. God opened the sea so that the Israelites could pass through the sea on dry land, and God destroyed the entire Egyptian army.

Now, I know I just said that we really do not need the encouragement of those around us, but we do know that it does help. I believe the key to receiving encouragement from those with whom we come in contact each day, is to first be an encouragement to them--especially the outcast.

We, by the grace of Christ, should be no respecter of persons. Whether people are rich or poor, no matter what is the color of their skin, and even their own treatment of us should not prevent us from showing encouragement to them whenever we are able to do just that.

As we grow in Christ, we should see the mellowing of our prejudices, because we know there was no prejudice in Christ. He presented the Gospel to rich and poor, alike. Let us pray that God would endow us with the gift of encouragement.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, May 6, 2010

May 6: Evangelism

5 Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.

6 He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:5-6, New International Version

May 6: Evangelism

Evangelism! Sometimes just the very word seems to bring fear into our hearts. How can we evangelize those around us without seeming to be weird? As a Christian teen, that was exactly the way I felt, and perhaps you do as well.

In Bible college we had to pass out tracts at the airport and go door-to-door telling people about the Lord. That was never, to say the least, my comfort zone. I suppose I cared too much about what others thought, but I do not think that was the only problem. I have tried several jobs in sales, and though I did very well, I hated it. I just did not like forcing people to buy my product.

I am not opposed to handing out tracts and going door-to-door sharing Christ, but I do not believe that is the only way to share Christ with those around us. I would even venture to say, that it is not the most effective way, either.

Evangelism simply means sharing Christ. But, how do we do that? I believe the most effective types of evangelism are those done in natural everyday settings. How do our friends and acquaintances perceive us? We have the most powerful evangelistic tool of all: ourselves! As we live more and more like Christ, those around us will see the evidence, and many will ask why we are different.

That is the best opening for sharing Christ!

Is it necessary that we share Christ? We will not win our salvation by sharing Christ, but sharing Christ through our lives should be a natural outcome of growing in the Lord. And, the rewards, as shown in Psalm 126, are many.

He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.

Let us, too, go out weeping (that means we care about the lost around us), carrying the seed of the Gospel to sow around us. Then, we too, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves (those who have come to Christ) with us.

What a wonderful promise!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May 5: Entrusted with the Gospel

7 "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.
Ezekiel 33:7-9, New International Version

May 5: Entrusted with the Gospel

This has always been a rather fascinating Scripture passage from Ezekiel 33. Have you ever thought about what it means to be entrusted with the Gospel? It is so easy to take our Christianity for granted; and it is so easy to minimize the responsibility we have before God of sharing the Gospel with others.

When I was a girl, I thought everyone was a Christian, especially those who lived in the United States. Imagine my surprise as I grew older and discovered how many people, even in the United States, were not Christians.

In this passage, God is speaking to Ezekiel, telling him that he is a God-appointed watchman for the house of Israel. If you will remember, the watchman stood at the highest point of the castle, constantly looking for enemies so that the castle would receive the earliest warning possible if they were under attack.

In reality, even as a Christian teen, God has placed you as a watchman, entrusted with the Gospel, so that you may share Christ with both your words and actions to those all around you. The sobering challenge God gave should not be ignored. If Ezekiel warned people of their sins, then God would not hold Ezekiel responsible for their sin, but if Ezekiel did not warn the people, then their blood was upon his hands.

The question, then, is, as people entrusted with the Gospel, what will we do?

God Bless You,
Linda