Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Teen Answers

I have liked this guy for about three years on and off and i was very immature about how i handled it. i would constantly try to talk to him and always told him i liked him. it had to be very annoying. i just liked him so much, he was such a devoted christian. he was and is still so in love with the Lord and that is so attractive. well i decided to take a "boy fast" because i was dating all of these boys from school who were unbelievers and i would always fall away from God. i decided that 6 months without worrying about boys would do me good. so far i have learned a lot. well about a month into this "boy fast" this boy that i have liked for a long time decided he liked me now. i knew this was a test of my faith and my promise to God. i explained to him how i was on this "boy fast" and he respected me for it. my "boy fast" is over in two weeks and we have been talking in a non boyfriend girlfriend kind of way since he told me that he liked me. i feel like now that my "boy fast" is almost over i have learned a lot but maybe god is still wanting me to be single. i really like this guy. he is my best friend. i don't know if God really wants me to do this or its just my nerves.

As I was reading through this submission I thought of a couple of questions that I would ask of this person. First, what is the true purpose of dating? Second, what are the dangers of dating a non-Christian? To think of this, let us consider this passage from 2 Corinthians 6.

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
(2 Corinthians 6:14-15, New King James Version)

Considering the second question, the answer appears in this person's submission. Admittedly, dating non-Christians caused her to fall away from God. This, of course, does not apply to just dating situations; unbelieving friends can do the same thing. Why then is it more critical to not date unbelievers than having unbelieving friends?

The answer to that lies in the first question I asked. What is the purpose of dating? In a dating situation, we are in reality looking for a life partner. I know, I laughed at that idea when I was a teen, but I came to understand that it was really true. Why? A dating relationship leads to a sexual relationship, which is only permitted in marriage.

I would encourage teens today to think about this question. Am I ready for marriage? If not, perhaps I would do well to have "boy fasts" and/or "girl fasts." Seek Godly friendships, especially with those of the opposite sex; get to know one another in a non-threatening environment.

I know this is not a popular view, but at least give it some consideration. It is God we seek to serve, and not ourselves.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teen Answers

I have a friend who is a Christian. He really loves the Lord and is amazing to his fellow peers. However things aren't perfect.

In high school, he got involved in gangs and fights. That changed when he got a girl and met the love of his life. But in his first year of college, she moved to Canada and they broke up. Then he moved to hostel accomodation where he started smoking. Soon he was into drinking (which are strictly forbidden in the hostel) and he once got caught but very nearly escaped.

His dad is a reknown pastor who has high expectations from him, and I as a personal friend believe that he does have the capability to live up to those standards. But he cannot get over the fact that he's smoking, and that he's not supposed to be. He's tried MANY times to quit, and repents bitterly before God, which usually lasts for a month or two, and then he's back to his old ways.

Sometimes he blocks everything and without thinking smokes/drinks but when he regains the thought process, it guilts him all the more. He always blames himself for not being a good witness to others, and he knows he has to quit, but he can't.

I tried encouraging him with scriptures that say God's doing a plan in his life, and that maybe he's going through this so that he can help someone else once he's outta this. But he's convinced that he's sinning, and that there's only so much pardon before God gets mad. Which I partly believe is true.

He's a great guy behaviourly; he churches every week, he lends a ear and advice to anyone who needs it. He's always willing to help and tries real hard to pray everyday and read Bible (but fails there most of the time, or so he tells me). But sometimes it just doesn't work and he goes into one of his "what a mess I am" moods.

I'm also afraid that if I pacify him too much, he might conclude that smoking and drinking are part of God's plan and never come out. However, it tears me apart to see him in condemnation.

How can I help my friend?

I must begin my comments by saying, I do not have all of the answers, however I do have some thoughts that may be a help to your friend. The disciple Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive others. Do you remember how Jesus answered his question?

21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
(
Matthew 18:21-22, New King James Version)

If God asks such things of us, what does that tell us about the forgiveness of God? Does there come a point when God is so tired of forgiving us that He refuses to forgive us again?

We presume upon God, in that we often think of Him from our perspective; we think He reacts in the way we would react. God's forgiveness is unlimited. Why is that true? That is true because our salvation is all of God, and none of us! God knows our weaknesses and our limitations; He does not judge us by our actions, but rather from what He sees in our hearts.

The second thing I would say is that we have a very limited view of God and our salvation. We think that, yes, God saved us, but now we have to keep ourselves saved by living in obedience to Him. In response I would ask, why do we live in obedience to God? We live in obedience to God because we love God, but we understand that in this life we will always face the affects of sin in our own hearts.

Every one of us will battle our own sins until we are ushered into God's kingdom to live with Him forever. This is a great grief to us. However, knowing this, let us live in the joy of Christ, who grants us salvation, and keeps us saved for all eternity.

I will end with one more thought. We must be careful what we call a sin. If the Bible condemns an action, then so must we, however, if the Bible does not condemn it, then it is an area of Christian liberty.

In conclusion, encourage your friend to share his heart with the Lord. Go to Christ and admit his failures, and then leave it to God to grow him so that he becomes more and more like Christ.

Every Christian fails! The question is, what does that person do with the failure? What should we do? Go to Christ and tell Him that we cannot do it! We cannot serve Him perfectly; only in the power of God can we accomplish anything for Him.

What a great God we have who is always ready to forgive! How amazing is that?

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lawful or Helpful?

12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them.
1 Corinthians 6:12-13a, New King James Version

Lawful or Helpful?

As Christian teens, how are we to view the do's and don'ts of life? In college, I was in a singing group that traveled to many different churches; it was interesting to observe the characteristics of each individual group of Christians. Though all professed the same doctrinal beliefs, the practical way in which those beliefs were carried out was often quite varied. What was viewed as a sin in one group may very well be tolerated without comment in another.

How then are we to view the freedoms God has granted to us? This is exactly the question that Paul is asking in 1 Corinthians 6. His answer to that question is very thought provoking.

All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

At what point does something that is lawful become a sin? Of course it is not unlawful to eat, but what happens when we are consumed by the "joys" of eating? It is not unlawful to have money, but what happens when that desire for money turns us to greed? It is not unlawful for us to have fun, but what happens when that fun becomes detrimental to our neighbors?

In our teen years, the habits we establish become the patterns we follow for the rest of our lives. How do we view the do's and don'ts of life? Do we ask ourselves the question, is this lawful or helpful? Unless both are true, by the grace of God we must avoid those things which will lead us away from Christ.

In our journey to more self control, let us take some time to evaluate the things we do and say, asking the question, "Is it lawful or helpful?"

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, September 17, 2010

Reign of Sin

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
(Romans 6:12-14, New King James Version)

Reign of Sin

What is the difference between believers and unbelievers in Christ? Can you look in a crowd and immediately spot the Christians? Of course not!

We are encouraged in Romans 6 to not let the reign of sin rule our lives. But, how is that possible? Just because we are Christians, does that mean we are not tempted by sin? Even more, just because we are Christians does that mean we do not sin?

These are good things for us to ponder in our teen years, for the answers to these questions will rule our spirits for the rest of our lives. Maintaining self control is a life-long project.

There are two important points to consider in answering these questions. First, what is our attitude toward sin? Second, what are our personal expectations regarding sin in our own lives?

As believers, we are to hate sin, especially sin in our own hearts and lives. We have the same temptation to sin as do those who are not believers, but we have Christ, our Advocate who helps us to keep from sin and to live a life more and more like Him. By the grace of God, we should "pray without ceasing" that God would give us self control over the temptations we face each day.

How do we view sin in our own lives? One of the most tragic mistakes of Christians is to redefine sin. That is exactly what we see in our culture today? How does the world view sin? They do not even believe that they do sin, because sins listed in the Bible are redefined as character traits. As a matter of fact a spunky hero is much more popular that one who lives within the boundaries of authority, or even of the laws of the land.

What are we to do? As we spend time with our Lord, we must ask for help to see ourselves as God sees us. That really is the answer, you know! It does not matter how we are perceived by others, or even by ourselves. Only God is the One before whom we all will be called to give an account of our lives.

Let us ask, then, from God's view, does the reign of sin control our own lives?

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Anger!

9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
(Ecclesiastes 7:9, New King James Version)

Anger!

Why does the Bible seem to have so much to say about anger? Think about it! How many people do you interact with each day who are ruled by their anger? Even worse, how many people do you interact with each day who rule others by their anger?

As Christians, we have the same temptations as those in the world; anger seems to slip right into our actions without a thought being given to it. Even worse, we think that because we are Christians, we have a right to be angry with others, especially those who are unbelievers.

Nothing could be more untrue! Anger, according to Ecclesiastes 7:9, rests in the bosom of fools.

How serious is the sin of anger? How does it compare the the gross sins mentioned in the Bible? Is not anger more of a personality trait than a sin? What if we just cannot change?

I must clarify the word anger. There is righteous anger. However, that is always related to upholding the righteousness and name of God. Righteous anger never involves anger against those who would speak or take action against us.

Can we really control anger? No, we cannot! If we try and try to keep from getting angry, we will soon find that we do not have the power to change! Does that excuse us, then, from the sin of anger?

Of course not! In and of ourselves, we do not have the power to live a life pleasing to God. However, God does not leave us to ourselves. As Christians, God has sent the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the way we should walk before God.

How, then, can we overcome the sin of anger? We must pray diligently that God would give us the grace to control our own spirits--to maintain self control. It will take time, but as in all other sins, God will graciously help us to live more and more like Christ.

What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Broken Walls

28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city broken down, without walls.
(Proverbs 25:28, New King James Version)

Broken Walls

In order to understand this verse a little better, we need to take our thoughts back several centuries, to a time when city states ruled the land. A city with no walls was left totally unprotected. All right, if you want to think of a more recent time, what about the settling of American Midwest in the 1700 and early 1800's? It was always prudent to live near a strong fort.

Bible times, of course, were like this; each city was surrounded by a wall. The strength of the wall determined the strength of the city. If you lived outside the city, and marauders were on the way, you had better hope the city you ran to for protections had strong walls.

I think it is interesting to think of self control from that same perspective. What do you think the writer is trying to say in this verse?

As Christians, we are vulnerable to all of the forces of evil surrounding us. I do not think that is any more apparent than what today's teens face every single day. Temptations that were non-existent in my teen years are everyday experiences for the teens of this day.

The question, then, is, how do we avoid broken walls? How do we keep the walls of self control strong in our own lives? Are we to join together with other believers and form a separate colony away from all other people?

No! God intends for his people to live for Him right where they are, that they may be a testimony of the grace of God in their lives. But, it is helpful to have good Christian friends, and be a part of a good Christian youth group. However, the most important thing is to develop a closeness to the Lord.

Only by maintaining a close relationship with the Lord, can we maintain self control. Even then, we may find ourselves struggling. We must go to Christ, seek His wisdom and help, and, by his grace, build a close relationship with Him.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Shut Your Lips!

28 Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace;
When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.
(Proverbs 17:28, New King James Version)

Shut Your Lips!

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Here it is in the King James Version.

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. (Proverbs 17:28, King James Version)

In other words, shut your lips!

Try this experiment, when you are in a group of people, teens, children, or adults, it does not matter, just listen without commenting. Or, observe someone else who listens without commentating.


I remember experiencing this very thing in college. As a matter of fact, I learned a whole lot more by just remaining silent than by entering in certain conversations. The amazing thing was that others thought I already knew what was being said. I really had no idea, but I was not about to let them know that!

Do not think that this is a difficulty just for teens; unfortunately, we deal with the foolishness of "loose lips" all of our lives.

So, my advice to you today is very simple. Shut your lips! Who knows, you may be esteemed a man/woman of understanding!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, September 13, 2010

Teen Answers

Hi, Okay so I've been in church all my life. Well when we moved we stopped going. So I fell away from God & his word. I went off the "right path". I've been feeling quite funny lately like I need to pick up a bible & start reading it. It's strange. I really want to go back to the life that I left. I was wondering if you had any advice on how I could get there. I really want God back in my life.

Here is a note I received last week; I really wanted to share this with you, my teen friends, as it is so pertinent to every one of us. No one, in and of themselves, can stay faithful to God; only through the power of God do we remain faithful to Him.

As I read through these comments, I thought of the following Scripture from Deuteronomy 31.

6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:6, New King James Version)

We may leave God, but He will never leave us. That is exactly what this person is experiencing. We may leave the things of the Lord for a time, but we will feel that "pull" to return to Him.

Why is that? When we become believers, the Holy Spirit comes to live within our hearts and souls. He will be with us for all eternity! How amazing is that?

So, what advice do you think I should give this person?

As a teen, friends are really important. I would encourage you to pray that God would bring a Christian friend into your life. It would also be good to find a good youth group to attend, which of course is also a good place to find the right friends.

Is that all? No. Those are good steps to take, but nothing is more important than rebuilding your fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Try starting your day or ending your day with some Bible reading and prayer - just you and the Lord. There are many good Bible passages - both in the Old and New Testaments to read. Two of my favorite books are 1st and 2nd Peter. I have always been able to identify with impetuous Peter; perhaps you will find that to be true of you as well.

Here is a portion from 1st Peter 1 to get you going:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:3-9, New King James Version)

I am so very pleased you wrote, and I hope you will write again and let us know how you are doing!

In Christ,
Linda Croft










Sunday, September 12, 2010

Slow to Anger

32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
(Proverbs 16:32, New King James Version)

Slow to Anger

How would we describe a teen hero today? Hmm! Well, first, he or she would have to be good looking - hot would even be better. What else? Spunky! Yes, that sounds good, after all we do not want a wuss, right? Rich would be an added plus as well - or an athlete, which would of course make them rich. If not an athlete, what about an actor or actress. Oh, yeah - they move high up in the ranks.

How about, slow to anger! What? How can they be slow to anger and spunky at the same time. After all - they cannot be a push over. But, is that what the Bible says? No! Solomon tells us in Proverbs 16, that he who is slow to anger is better than the mighty (and the heroes, I might add). Even better than one who is slow to anger is one who rules his own spirit; he is even better than one who takes a city.

As Christian teens, this is not an easy problem to face. We want to be liked just like everyone else, but we find that Godly heroes are not worldly heroes. As you are already discovering in your teen years, living for Christ often puts us at odds with the world.

So, how do we handle it? What are we to do? The answer you decide will affect the rest of your life. At some point, every single Christian, teens included, must come to the point of answering those questions. The questions are directed at you as an individual; your friends, family, or society in general cannot make the decision for you.

God is calling a special people for His army, and those people are ones who exhibit self control, they are slow to anger, and they rule their own spirit.

As a teen, making a decision to stay faithful to God no matter what the world decides, is a decision you will never regret -- for eternity!


God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Teen Answers

Self Control

Today we will begin a series of devotions on the word, "Self." I can think of a lot of "self" words that are important to teens, but perhaps the most important is self image. Keeping this in mind, our next few devotions will cover the subject of self control. What does the Bible say about self control, or lack of self control? How does self control affect our image?

36 But the people held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.” 37 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.
(2 Kings 18:36-37, New King James Version)

Self Control

I am really amazed at the people in this passage from 2 Kings 18. They were busy rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, when the Rabshakeh from Assyria appeared and began to taunt them in Hebrew, their native language. It was not easy to remain silent, yet, that is what the king commanded and that is what the people did.

I do not know about you, but one of the hardest things to do is to remain silent when someone is jeering at me or yelling at me. I especially hate the yelling, and I really hate the yelling when I am innocent of their charges. Even worse, we can be branded as a coward if we do not engage in the argument at hand.

Do you think the words of the Rabshakeh frightened the people? Do you think they feared the King of Assyria would, indeed, come and attach them? Absolutely, they were frightened!

It is not an uncommon theme in the Bible - especially in the Psalms and Proverbs to warn us that there is much sin in an abundance of words. As a matter of fact, I cannot think of a single thing that will get us in trouble more quickly than our tongues.

Hard though it may be, self control is one of the fruits of the Spirit. In other words, as Christians, we should be seeking to gain more and more self control. As Christian teens, you already know that you are not invincible. Sometimes it seems as though the harder we try to serve the Lord, the more we fail.

Yet, I encourage you, as we look through these passages on self control, to pray that God would lead and direct you, and help you to gain more self control in your own Christian life.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
(James 1:22-24, New King James Version)

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Have you ever wondered how people ever lived without mirrors? Teens are absolutely helpless without their mirrors! (Psst: so are adults!) How do we know how our hair, or make-up, or clothes look on us without a mirror?

James uses the example of a mirror to talk about our relationship to God. What do we do when we look into the mirror of God's Word? Do we hear it, then promptly forget what we have heard, and live as we choose to live? He compares that to a person who looks in the mirror, and then goes away forgetting what he saw in the mirror.

When I was a teen, we gals used to sleep with humongous curlers in our hair; there were no curling irons, or even electric curlers then. (I know, it was practically the stone ages!) What if we had gotten up one morning, looked in the mirror and said, "Oh yeah, I have to get these curlers out of my hair." However we left the mirror and totally forgot they were there. What kind of reaction would we have received at school that day?

Of course, that never happened, and yet we are prone to do that very thing to the Lord every day of our lives.

James tells us that if we only hear the Word of God, but do not do the things God commands, we are deceiving ourselves. That deception is catastrophic! If that is the pattern we set as teens, it is likely the pattern we will follow all of the days of our lives. What then, makes us think that God will receive us into His heavenly glory?

Yesterday we spoke of God understanding even the thoughts and intents of our hearts. Playing with having a true and faithful heart before God is to live the life of a fool.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall! What do you see in your mirror?

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Come Boldly to the Throne

1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:

“ So I swore in My wrath,

‘ They shall not enter My rest,’”
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
(Hebrews 4:1-3, New King James Version)

11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

14
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:11-16, New King James Version)

Come Boldly to the Throne

As we continue to think about those who are guilty of hearing without Obeying, Hebrews 4 is an amazing chapter to consider. I know the passage above is rather long, but I hope you will take the time to read it. Better yet, read the entire 4th chapter of Hebrews.

This chapter begins with an admonition to consider our own station before God. Many people have and continue to hear the Word of God, yet so few enter His rest. What about us?

As teens, this is the time in your life when you should deeply ponder such things. So far, you have pretty much followed the beliefs of your parents, and the teachings of your church. However, have you ever really made these beliefs your own, or are you actually hearing without believing these things yourself?

Look at verses 12 and 13. What do these verses mean to you personally?

12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

God understands the very thoughts and intents of our hearts. We may live in a cloak of good deeds and supposed love for the Lord Jesus Christ, but that cloak is cast aside before God. Before Him our hearts are naked and open to His eyes, and it is to Him we must give an account.

We know we will never live perfectly before God, but our Lord Jesus Christ understands this. He lived on this earth and was also tempted with sin; He knows its power. What then can we do?

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

There is our answer. We cannot successfully serve God in our own power, but we have an advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ, who understands our weaknesses, and goes before the throne of God in our behalf.

Let us then, take some time alone with the Lord and come boldly to the throne of grace, and pray that our hearts and souls are and will remain faithful to Him.

God Bless You,
Linda