Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teen Answers

Our post today is from a parent of a 16 year old. As this subject really affects most teens at some point in their teen years, I thought you should consider it. Perhaps you may even have some comments you would like to send regarding this parent's questions.

You may post your comments by going to my Teen Answers page on my Devotional Reflections web site.

I have a 16 year old son that has wrecked one vehicle and just recently received a speeding ticket for 87 in a 55. He goes to church and helps lead our small youth group, he is very active in school and attends 2-3 church camps per year. How can I get through to him on what he is doing to his life when he is driving?

What does the Bible say about breaking the speed limit? What commandments are we breaking when we speed?

Before you respond, "The Bible does not address either of these questions," perhaps you should consider the 5th and the 6th commandments.

12 “ Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
(Exodus 20:12-13, New King James Version)

When God commands us to honor our father and mother, does the commandment end there? Considering other Bible passages we realize that this commandment includes all of those in authority over us. Our fathers and mothers are the first authorities God has places in our lives, but that is greatly expanded as we grow into adulthood.

That is pretty straightforward, but why would I include the 6th commandment, "You shall not murder."?

How and why are speed limits imposed? Are they there just for a source of revenue for our police?

The following sentence is from an article entitled, "Did the 65 MPH Speed Limit Save Lives?" I would encourage you to read the entire article.

This indicated that the new speed limit had produced a 5.1% decline in the fatality rate.

5.1% does not seem like very much, however in terms of lives saved it is phenomenal. Thinking in reverse, as we increase our speed, especially driving over the speed limit, we increase the likelihood of killing or maiming another person(s) for life. "Thou shalt not kill," is not just reserved to intentional killing. Manslaughter, killing others unintentionally, is still breaking the 6th commandment!

As Christians, then, how are we to think of this? Christianity affects every single area of our lives. Nothing we think, say, or do is outside the bounds of God's commandments. Nothing passes the eyes of God unseen.

Why is that important? As a teen, you must begin to understand that true Christianity involves obedience to God. Because we love Him, we seek to live in obedience to Him. Because God places authorities over us, if the laws given to us through them do not call for us to disobey God, then we must think of those laws (yes, even speed limits) as coming from God, himself.

It is pretty sobering, is it not? There is one other problem we all face. As Christians, we soon learn that we are not able to obey God's law perfectly. What, then, are we to do? Go to God. Seek His grace and help that you may be obedient to Him. Yes, this even includes obeying speed limits.

I am looking forward to your comments - from both teens and parents.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, August 27, 2010

Forbearance and Longsuffering

1 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.

12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
(Romans 2:1-16, New King James Version)

Forbearance and Longsuffering

The Jewish believers had a problem, not unlike problems we see in our lives every day. The Gospel of Christ belonged to them; they were the chosen race. When they saw
gentile believers being brought into the church they did not understand forbearance and longsuffering. As a matter of fact, many of those who judged the Gentiles did not understand the true Gospel of Christ. They were guilty of hearing without obeying the Word of God.

Whose right is it to judge? As Christian teens, do we understand the implications of that question. Do teens have a propensity to be judgmental? Just observe what happens when one person leaves a group of teens. Whether that person is considered a friend or an enemy, the majority of those in the group will begin speaking against the one who just left.

Of course teens are not the only ones guilty of having a judgmental spirit. Unfortunately, we see that same reaction in almost any group of people, no matter what age they may be. The problem was so bad in Christ's day that Paul gave the following warning to the people.

5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.

Paul called those who lacked forbearance and longsuffering, impenitent people who were treasuring up for themselves the wrath and revelation of the judgment of God.

Did God care if the new believers were Jews, Gentiles, men, women, rich, or poor? No! Verse 11 tells us, "For there is no partiality with God." What does that mean for us today? If there is no partiality with God, then there should be no partiality with us.

Let us pray that we will not be guilty of living a self righteous, judgmental life, filled with pride over our own goodness. Rather, let us pray for a spirit of impartiality. Even our own worst enemy has a heart and soul. Is it possible that that person will not come to Christ because of our judgmental treatment toward them?

Forbearance and Longsuffering! It is a tall order, is it not? Only in Christ can we find the ability to walk humbly with our God.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Parable of the Sower

18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
(Matthew 13:18-23, New King James Version)

Parable of the Sower

As we continue our devotions on Hearing without Obeying, we come to this very interesting Bible passage from Matthew 13 where Jesus tells the parable of the sower. The truths we must understand lie in understanding what happens to the seed sown by the sower.

We are the seed. The question we must answer is, "What happens to us after the seed (the Word of God) is sown into our hearts. Look at the what happened to the seed.

Some seed was sown by the wayside. The wicked one came and snatched the seeds from the very heart of the man before it could even take root.

Some seed was sown on stony places. This represented the one who received the Word of God with great joy. However, when troubles came, the seed was not rooted in the truth, and the person stumbled.

We could say that this is an example of the person who is guilty of hearing without obeying.


Some seed fell among the thorns. This represented the person who heard the Word of God, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choked the Word, preventing the seed to grow and mature.

Some seed is sown on good ground. What happened to this person?

But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

As a Christian teen, I ask you, which seed are you? As you are entering the world of adulthood, this is one of the most important questions you should ponder.

When you are dealing with problems, I pray that you represent the seed sown in the fertile field of God's Word.


God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

House of Sand

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
(Matthew 7:24-29, New King James Version)

House of Sand

Our Bible passage today ends what is known as Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Sitting on a mountainside, with crowds gathered around, Jesus taught the people. I think it is important to note that the last things Jesus taught in this passage is regarding hearing without obeying.

He does this by telling a story. First he says that he who hears the Word of God and obeys it is like the wise man who built his house on a rock. When the rains and storms beat against the house, it stood firm.

The foolish man, the one who is guilty of hearing without obeying, however, is like the man who built his house upon the sand. When the rains and storms raged against that house, it's foundation washed away and the house fell. Jesus even emphasizes the fall by saying, And great was its fall.

As a Christian teen, this is the time to establish life patterns that you will take with you for the rest of your lives. Disobedience to the Word of God may seem like a small thing; after all, God loves us anyway, right? This is a dangerous and slippery slope. Disobedience in the small things now will develop into a pattern of disobedience in greater things later.

We are not to presume upon the love of Christ. Yes, Christ died to save a people for himself. The question we must ask ourselves is this. If I am comfortable living a life of disobedience to Christ, what foundation have I used to build my house? Have I really built upon the rock of Christ, or have I built on the sands of deception?

Satan has no greater victory that persuading unbelievers that they really are believers.

What does it mean to be a Christian? Being a Christian is not a matter of believing that God is God. The devils believe also and tremble! Becoming a Christian involves a putting away of our past sins, and out of love for Christ, seeking to live a life of obedience and commitment to Him.

Is your life a house of sand? Pray that God would open your heart and mind that you may truly build your life on the rock of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Lovely Song

28 For I will make the land most desolate, her arrogant strength shall cease, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that no one will pass through. 29 Then they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed.”’

30 “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’ 31 So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. 32 Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. 33 And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”
(Ezekiel 33:28-33, New King James Version)

A Lovely Song

'"For I will make the land most desolate, her arrogant strength shall cease, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that no one will pass through. Then they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have made the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed.”’

What did the people of Israel do to receive such a rebuke from the Lord? The answer given in Ezekiel 33 is rather surprising. Listen to what the people were saying.

'They speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’

What could possible be wrong about this? Are we not commanded to encourage people to come and hear the words of the Lord?

So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.

Does this sound familiar? It should, for I cannot think of a better way to describe our world today. In spite of our government tearing down symbols of Christianity, a large percentage of people in the United States claim to be Christians.

Ezekiel continues with these words from verse 32.

Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.

As a Christian teen, what is your relationship to the Lord? Is He only a lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument?

That is a question we must all ask ourselves, whether we are a teen or not. Who is God? Even more, who is God to me? How seriously do I take His Word, and by His grace, obey His commandments?

Are we just mouthing the words? Is Christ just a lovely song? This attitude destroyed an entire nation!

What a sobering thought!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hear, You Deaf!

18 “ Hear, you deaf;
And look, you blind, that you may see.
19 Who is blind but My servant,
Or deaf as My messenger whom I send?
Who is blind as he who is perfect,
And blind as the LORD’s servant?
20 Seeing many things, but you do not observe;
Opening the ears, but he does not hear.”
(Isaiah 42:18-20, New King James Version)

Hear, You Deaf!

To whom is the prophet referring when he says, "Hear, you deaf; and look, you blind."? Are these people professing Christians or non believers? We make a great mistake when we read verses such as these and assume that the deaf and blind are unbelievers.

Think about this. As a Christian teen are you blind and deaf to the things of the Lord? Do you hear the words of the Lord, but live as though you never heard God's Word? Do you see the beauty of a life lived to the glory of God, but instead, immerse yourself in the attitudes and actions of the world?

Of course, these are not questions just for teens; these are questions we should frequently ask ourselves all throughout our lives.

God was weary with the Israelites; they were his chosen people and yet they lived and acted more like the heathen nations that surrounded them.


To proclaim ourselves as Christians is not difficult, but to live as Christians in the middle of a society that shuns and ridicules Christians is a whole different matter. Thinking about this, I would ask the question, "What does it mean to be a Christian?" Put another way, "Is every person who claims to be a Christian a true believer?"

As Christians we must ask ourselves, "How does God perceive me?" Does he see a genuine heart that yearns to be obedient, and yet struggles against sin, or does he see one who claims to love the Lord and yet is not concerned about his testimony before God and before the world.

With the prophet, Isaiah, I ask you to hear, you deaf; and look you blind, that you may see.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, August 19, 2010

To Hear or Not to Hear

17 “And the LORD said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. 18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
(Deuteronomy 18:17-22, New King James Version)

To Hear or Not to Hear

Today we will begin our last section on Dealing with Problems by considering, Hearing without Obeying. Deuteronomy 18 deals with an interesting question. How do I know if it the Lord speaking to me? How do I know whether to hear or not to hear?

And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.

It is obvious that God takes seriously our attitude of hearing without obeying. Each Christian, we are told above, is responsible, before God, for his refusal to obey the words of God. God anticipated our question.

‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’

He then answers the question in this way.

When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

In other words, truth will always be revealed eventually. It is easy for us to get caught up in the attitude of the world thinking we are living in obedience to God. We must always ask, what is the end result of this attitude or these actions? Is it truly honoring to God? Is it consistent with the teaching of God's Word.

Of course, that brings up a very valid point. How can we know if it is consistent with God's Word if we do not know God's Word? If God has given us the ability to read, and if there is a Bible written in our language, we have the responsibility to read and study that Bible. How will we know if our pastor teaches the truths of the Bible if we do not understand the Bible.

Yes, I know, your pastor has had more teaching in the Word of God than you, and he is much older than you. How can you possibly know if he is preaching the true Word of God? The Bible is an amazing book; it is both simple and profound. The basic truths of the Bible are not hard to understand. For example, if your pastor tells you that Jesus was a good man, but not the Son of God, you only have to read Luke 2 to understand that he is not speaking the truth. If he tells you that Mary was not a virgin, you only have to read Matthew 1 to know that he is wrong.

To hear or not to hear, that is the question! Pray that God will give you a discerning heart so that you will recognize the difference between truth and error, so that you will not be found guilty of hearing without obeying.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rebellion

12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said:



“ Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

(Hebrews 3:12-15, New King James Version)

Rebellion

Rebellion! If there is anything that characterizes today's average teen, it is the word, rebellion. Why is that? In the teen years, one is trying to stretch out one's wings and fly, and it seems as though we often want to try to do everything we were told not to do, first.

Part of hardness of heart, is that very same idea. We have been taught many things, but how true are they? Why have we been given so many restrictions? These are the thoughts that lead to rebellion.

Christian teens are not exempt from these same thoughts. After all, Christians are sinners, too. The Israelites rebelled, and the results were devastating. We, as Christians, need to understand that to rebel against those in authority is in actuality, rebelling against God. Think about that! We may not have a problem with rebelling against the foolish rules and regulations given to us (and sometimes, they really are foolish), yet we really do not want to find ourselves rebelling against the Lord God of heaven and earth.

How can we avoid rebellion? The writer of Hebrews gives us some great advice on that regard.

First, he encourages us to exhort one another. As Christians, one of the greatest duties we have is to guard and protect one another from sin. If you see a friend going astray, talk with him or her. And, if you are the one going astray, do not be offended when others challenge you, but understand that it is through their love of you and their desire that you remain faithful to God that they would dare to challenge your actions.


Second, the writer encourages us to remember that we are all partakers of Christ. Through his power we hold fast the beginning of our confidence in Christ steadfastly until the end of our lives. Thankfully, we are not left in our own power to fulfill this faithfulness to Christ. When we see sin enter our hearts and lives, we must go to Christ. Only through Him will we have the power to reject and forsake sin.

It is a tall order for the Christian teen. Pray, today, that you will faithfully follow the Lord, and that He will give you the strength to overcome the natural tendency of rebellion in your heart.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

You Will See!

57 And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58 But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.
59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, 60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”
62 And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
(Matthew 26:57-64, New King James Version)

You Will See!

I cannot think of a greater example of man's hardness of heart than that given in this passage from Matthew 26. It looked as though it was all over for Jesus. Even though Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, the religious leaders of the day would not give in. They thought they played their trump card in verses 63 and 64.

Knowing that Jesus would not lie, they asked Him directly, Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

Jesus answered them, but in doing so left them standing empty handed.

It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

You see, in spite of their hardness of heart, Jesus was telling them that the day would come when they would see Jesus sitting at the right hand of God. At that time, they would acknowledge who He truly was, and would bow the knee before Him.

I am a very impetuous person; it is hard for me to wait for anything. Perhaps you have a similar problem. However, it is imperative that we understand that the day will come when all of those who ridicule and mistreat Christians today will one day stand before the Lord of Glory. They will see Him sitting at the right hand of God the Father, Almighty, and they will bow the knee before Him.

So, let us be patient, and wait for God's timing.

He is God, and we are not!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, August 16, 2010

God Sees!

10 Also He said to them, “In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. 11 And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”
(Mark 6:10-11, New King James Version)

God Sees!

In the last few devotions we have been speaking of our own hardness of heart. Today we will focus on the fact that God sees when others harden their hearts against us because we are Christians.

It does not seem that way, does it? It seem as though the wicked go on unpunished, and those who ridicule us for our faith seem to grow in number each day. Sometimes the difficulties that surround us seem so great that we cry out, "Where is God in all of this?"

It is at times like this that we must look beyond our own little world. We know, that, yes, God sees! Not only does He see, but He will deal with all of the injustices that have been done to His people through the hardness of heart of the unbelievers.

But, why does He wait so long? Why does it seem as though He does not hear us? I love this passage from Romans 11.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
34 “ For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?”
35 “ Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”

36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36, New King James Version)

These would be great verses to commit to memory. We do not know the mind of God, but we do know that of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.

Amen, so let it be!

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Calamity!

14 Happy is the man who is always reverent,
But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
(Proverbs 28:14, New King James Version)

Calamity!

Calamity! Now that is something we would rather avoid, if possible. Tucked away in Provers 28 is this little verse that gives us amazing insight into one of the causes of calamity.

It seems that some people just seem to go from one problem to the next. Perhaps as a teen, you may have experienced some of this yourself. As a Christian, it is important, throughout our entire lives, that we continually examine ourselves to see that we are in the faith.

Does that mean we can lose our salvation? No, I do not believe that is the message here. I believe that Solomon, in Proverbs 28:14, is telling us to look beyond our circumstances and ask the question, "Is there something that I am doing which is causing these problems?"

Why would God allow His children to suffer so much while on this earth? I have learned a long time ago that God is God, and I am not. I also know, that we are continually taught in the Word of God that God chastens those He loves. Why? God chastens His children to keep them, or bring them back, to the safety of His path.

When you think of that, it is rather amazing! God cares so much for every single one of His children, that He guides them, often through unpleasant means, to keep them on a faithful course for Him.

What if we do not abide His chastening? What if we have such hardness of heart that we will not listen? Solomon warns us that ignoring the chastening hand of God will bring calamity to our lives.

Let us pray today that we would be sensitive to the leading of God, that we will not harden our hearts when we find our circumstances directing us away from our own evil intents.

Praise God, that He never leaves of nor forsakes us!

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hardness of Heart

8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.
10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
11 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”
(Psalm 95:8-11, New King James Version)

Hardness of Heart

What is hardness of heart? In my mind, I like to think of it as the opposite of a teachable spirit. How teachable are you?

As a teen, I did not like to be told what to do, especially if I had other plans. I also did not like to be told how to do something, especially if I viewed it as criticism. In other words, I had serious difficulty with hardness of heart, or a lack of a teachable spirit.

This situation really becomes serious when we approach God with a hard heart. How open are we to the things of the Lord? How open are we to reading and studying the Bible with an open mind--willing to change our views if we find our views oppose the plain teaching of God's Word?

The Israelites had great difficulty with hardness of heart. In Psalm 95, the psalmist is referring to the time that spies were sent into the promised land to discover any opposition they might have in taking over the land. All of the spies, except Joshua and Caleb, brought back a discouraging report, saying there were giants in the land. Even though Joshua and Caleb insisted that God would give them victory, the people bitterly criticized God, refusing to go any farther.

How did God deal with this problem? Because of their rebellion against God, the Israelites were forced to wander in the desert for 40 years. When they again reached the promised land, only Joshua and Caleb, of the original adults involved in the rebellion, were allowed to enter.

You see, we do have free will. We can choose to harden our hearts and disobey the Lord, but the consequences may be devastating--affecting us for the rest of our lives.

How do we avoid hardness of heart? We must go to the Lord, praying that He will grant to us a teachable and loving spirit toward Him all the days of our lives.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, August 13, 2010

Whole Heart

10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the LORD.
(Jeremiah 3:10, New King James Version)

Whole Heart

As we continue our section on halfheartedness, let us talk about having a whole heart. In Jeremiah 3 the Lord chides Judah for not turning to Him with her whole heart, but only in pretense.

What is pretense? The Free Online Dictionary gives seven meanings for the word, "pretense."

1. The act of pretending; a false appearance or action intended to deceive.
2. A false or studied show; an affectation: a pretense of nonchalance.
3. A professed but feigned reason or excuse; a pretext: under false pretenses.
4. Something imagined or pretended.
5. Mere show without reality; outward appearance.
6. A right asserted with or without foundation; a claim.
7. The quality or state of being pretentious; ostentation.

Are we guilty of pretense in our service for the Lord? This is a question that we can only answer for ourselves. The very nature of pretense means that, though a person appears to love the Lord, they may or may not really love the Lord with all their heart. We are the only ones (besides God, of course) who can see into our own heart of hearts.

As Christian teens, this is a great time in your life to examine your own heart. Do you really love the Lord God with all of your heart, all of your soul, and all of your mind. As a teen, the tendency is to believe we are true Christians because our parents are Christians. However, as a teen, this is the time to ask the question, "Do I really love the Lord God in my heart of hearts, or am I just going through the motions?"

Though others cannot see the inner workings of our heart and soul, God can! Not only can God see our heart of hearts, but He demands that we serve Him with a whole heart, free of all pretense.

Go to Christ today and ask Him to help you to truly love Him with your whole heart.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Halfheartedness

28 Thus Jehu destroyed Baal from Israel.
29 However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan. 30 And the LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.31 But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin.
(2 Kings 10:28-31, New King James Version)

Halfheartedness

As we continue our teen devotions on the subject of dealing with problems, we are going to look at the problem of halfheartedness. What does it mean to be halfhearted? Can we not serve the Lord even if we also love the things of the world as well? After all, not everyone can actually devote all of themselves to the Lord, can they?

Today, as we look at this Bible passage from 2 Kings 10, we observe the actions of Jehu, who became the king of Israel after wicked King Ahab. Seeing the error of Ahab's ways, one of the first things that King Jehu did was to destroy all of the prophets of Baal. It is a very interesting story which you might want to read (2 Kings 10:18-27).

Was God pleased with his actions? Yes. Jehu was certainly used by God to destroy the worshipers of the idol, Baal.

And the LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.

God even rewarded Jehu for his deeds.

Does that mean that Jehu was a Godly king? Look at verse 31 from 2 Kings 10.

But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin.


What a sad commentary. Jehu was guilty of the sin of halfheartedness. In his zeal for the Lord he destroyed the house of Ahab and killed all of the prophets of Baal. However, he did not walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart. He did not depart from the sins of wicked King Jeroboam.

To be halfhearted toward God means that we are also halfhearted to the ways of the world. If we try to serve both God and the world, then we are in actuality serving the world.

Pray today that as a Christian teen, your heart and your life will be solely dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that you will not be guilty of halfheartedness.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Teen Answers

In my mail today, I received the following submission from girl in New Zealand.

i am very confused with my life. whenever i try do anything, it goes wrong. satan is taking over my head and telling me to just kill myself kos im nothing and no one cares bout me. i am a christain, :) and know that god is with me, but i cant seem to get satan out of my head. :( how do i??

I do not want to give you mere platitudes in answer to your questions. What you are experiencing is a very real battle that to some degree or another every single Christian faces. How do you get Satan out of your head--you cannot! This is something that only God can do.

Here are some suggestions that I hope will be helpful to you. When I am facing some real battles with temptations I cannot seem to handle, I like to turn to the Psalms. Mostly written by King David, the Psalms show the constant struggle within the heart of David against the forces of Satan.

Look at David's plea to God in Psalm 7.

1 O LORD my God, in You I put my trust;
Save me from all those who persecute me;
And deliver me,
2 Lest they tear me like a lion,
Rending me in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
(Psalm 7:1-2, New King James Version)

Continuing in the book of Psalms, look at the words of David from Psalm 13.

1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God;
Enlighten my eyes,
Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4 Lest my enemy say,
“I have prevailed against him”;
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
(Psalm 13:1-4, New King James Version)

It sounds, from your own words, that you feel very much like David did in Psalm 13. It is interesting to note how David finished this Psalm.

5 But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
(Psalm 13:5-6, New King James Version)

Again, I hope that you do not feel like these are mere platitudes. I am praying for you, that you may go to Christ and find the same comfort and hope that David found in verse 5 and 6 of Psalm 13.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Washed His Hands!

24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.
25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
(Matthew 27:24-26, New King James Version)

Washed His Hands!
Bold
Can you think of a better example of a man evading responsibility than Pilate? Being unable to persuade the Jews not to demand the death of this innocent man, Jesus, Pilate washed his hands before the people and said,

“I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”

That was easy! Does that mean that Pilate was no longer guilty before God? Does that mean that the sin of putting Jesus to death only rested in the hands of the Jewish people calling out, "Crucify Him. Crucify Him."?

No, it is never that simple. Even though we know that God used Pilate to accomplish His will, that Jesus might die for our sins, Pilate was still guilty. He was still in authority over the Jews, and they would not have been able to crucify our Lord without his approval.

In our teens (actually in all of our lives) it is so tempting to find ourselves evading responsibility in this way. When we see wickedness, it is so much easier to look the other way than to say something, or try to stop the wrong doing. As a matter of fact, it is so easy for us, that we do not realize that we are being just like Pilate, who washed his hands of guilt in the death of Christ.

It is not easy to stand up for that which is right--it is certainly not very popular. Often, we will find ourselves standing alone! I think the real issue we must consider is this.

Would we rather find ourselves disapproved by our peers, or disapproved by God?

Only by the grace of God can we find the strength to stand against sin so prevalent around us. Pray for God's strength to help you to do what is right!


God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, August 9, 2010

Disobedience

22 So Samuel said:

“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
He also has rejected you from being king.”
(1 Samuel 15:22-23, New King James Version)

Disobedience

Have you ever thought about disobedience being a form of evading responsibility? In 1 Samuel 15, we find that King Saul was guilty of only partially obeying the commandment of God. Because he had mostly obeyed, he believed that God would accept his efforts.

However, when Samuel, the prophet, came to Saul, what did he say? Samuel told Saul that God was displeased with him. To disobey in part is to disobey in all. As a matter of fact, God was so displeased with King Saul, that Samuel told Saul that God would tear his kingdom from him.

Does God love our praises to Him? Does He love our worship? Absolutely! But, to praise without obedience is abhorrent to God. What causes us to be disobedient when we know of our great love for God. Disobedience is a form of rebellion against God's laws, and stubbornness in our hearts. Unfortunately, we will struggle with this all of our Christian lives.

We know that as we call out to God, He will help us so that we will not be overcome by our own propensity to sin.

As we go through our activities of this day, let us be sobered by these words from 1 Samuel 15:

23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
He also has rejected you from being king.”

As Christian teens, set your hearts to abhor disobedience, and lean upon the grace and power of God to keep you from sin.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Golden Calf

19 So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it. 21 And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?”
22 So Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.”
(Exodus 32:19-24, New King James Version)

Golden Calf

I cannot think of a more classic example of evading responsibility than this story of the golden calf. Moses had been in the mountain with God for so many days, that the people began to believe that he would never return. Fearing the worst, they pleaded with Aaron to allow them to make a golden calf to worship.

When Moses returned and saw what they had done, he was furious, and immediately demanded an explanation from Aaron. Now, Aaron could have said, "I have sinned in allowing the people to do this thing." Instead, we find him evading responsibility by saying,

And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.”

What a story! They just cast gold into the fire, and lo and behold, a calf came out! Did Moses say, "Oh, OK. Well that explains what happened." No. We find that 3,000 people died that day because they sinned against the Lord God.

We are just like Aaron in so many ways. Our first inclination is to place the blame for our sinful actions on someone else or on some other thing. Is God fooled! Absolutely not!

As teens, you are setting the pattern for your lives that you will follow for the rest of your lives. This is the time to decide whether you will continue your lives as children, or rise up and take the responsibility handed to you as Christian adults. Some adults never move past their childhood actions. Will you?

Pray today that God would grow and mature you so that you will take on the mantle of Christian maturity, humbly going before God, taking responsibility for your own sinful deeds. Do not be crippled by the golden calves that will come into your lives.

God Bless You,
Linda