Friday, September 30, 2011

Salvation from Zion

 6Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad. 
(Psalm 53:6King James Version)

Salvation from Zion

Psalm 53 ends with a longing for the salvation of Israel, a salvation from Zion! Being written by David, this Psalm was actually written centuries before Israel actually went into captivity, but already the knowledge that God will bring the people back from captivity is being presented.

What a reminder to us that God is not a God of time. We see all of history as a succession of years, but God sees His entire plan, from creation to the end of time as we know it, as one finished tapestry. As Christian teens, it is good for us to look beyond the immediacy of our daily lives and view a larger perspective of life as we know it to be.

We must not forget that God is God; He is our help from ages past and our hope for years to come. Nothing that has happened to us, is happening to us, and will happen to us, is removed from God's sight. Everything fits together just as God has planned it to be.

We are not always comfortable viewing life in this way; it is hard to admit that we really have so little to do with the details of our daily lives. As a matter of fact, we will never truly understand these things until we are with the Lord. How is it that we have a free will--we make our choices based upon the information we have--and yet, God in is sovereignty is never overruled by our own wills? In our arrogance, we think we must understand everything, but in truth, we will always be limited by our humanity.

Centuries have come and gone since David penned Psalm 53, yet the truths taught in this Psalm are timeless. Just as in the time of David, men foolishly declared, 
"There is no God!" so do we teens hear the same sentiments echoed today. The eyes of the world are darkened from their own sin. Yet, salvation from Zion still remains as our only hope and light. In Christ a way to God has been paved, that we may live and fellowship with Him.

What an amazing God we serve! How rich a love He manifests to His children!

God Bless You,

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Teen Answers

I have been receiving several submissions from my readers and have been very remiss about answering them, so I am hoping to do "Teen Answers" blogs every two or three days, as I think you will really benefit from these. Here is a submission I just received this week.

I'm going to apologize in advance becaue I tend to ramble.So there's this boy, of course there's a boy, I'm a teenage girl! So Bob and I have become best friends this past summer. I only met him 4 months ago, but I feel like I know him better than I know people who I have known for 4 years.  Bob and I went to a week long Christian camp that changed both of our lives. We grew so close at camp, and we grew closer to God too. One evening we were sitting on the porch of the dining hall, watching the sunset (I would wake up at 5 everyday to watch the sunrise, so he wanted to see the sunset)and we talked about EVERYTHING! we talked about our families, our relationship with God, I told him how thankful I am to have him as a friend, we talked about how we have both experienced heartache. Even when we sat there in silence, it wasn't awkward. I really think when I'm with him. The last day of camp I was crying just scared to go home because my home is "Christian" but it doesn't seem like it. I was crying and he ran over to me,didn't ask me what was wrong, but just hugged me and literally let me cry on his shoulder. So then we got home and we started going to teen Bible studies together and enjoying fellowship together. When I'm with him I feel safe, I feel like God is shining through him. I live by the saying "A young girl should be so lost in God that a boy has to seek Him to find her." He is truly my best friend, and I can talk to him about anything. He has helped me learn a lot, and has changed my outlook on life, for the better. I don't exactly know if I have feelings for him...and I'm really confused about that. I pray for him every night, and for us. Bob is so in love with the Lord that I don't think he wants a girlfriend right now, and I for sure don't want a boyfriend, but should I tell him how much I care about him?

 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, New King James Version)

I really enjoyed reading through these comments from this dear Christian teen girl, and was greatly encouraged by her maturity. I love the saying,

"A young girl should be so lost in God that a boy has to seek Him to find her."
How many problems could be solved if Christian teens simply followed such wise advice?

I also want to comment on the question this girl asked, because I think it is a key to understanding what God expects of us as Christian teens, as well as understanding how affected we are by the attitudes of the world.

Bob is so in love with the Lord that I don't think he wants a girlfriend right now, and I for sure don't want a boyfriend, but should I tell him how much I care about him?
In a sense, you already answered your own question.What you need most from your relationship with Bob, you already have. You have a close friendship with each other based upon your great love for the Lord. As such, each of you encourages the other to walk faithfully with the Lord. You did not give your age, so I would encourage you, unless you are of an age where you would seriously contemplate marriage in the near future, I would not pursue any other type of relationship.

The whole world of Christian dating is sadly defined by the standards of this world. Consequently, Christian couples often get themselves into situations which quickly compromise their testimony for the Lord. Believe me, Satan would like nothing better to do that to you and Bob. 

Christian teens would do well to consider limiting their relationships to friendships until such time as they are ready to enter into a marriage relationship. I know that sounds "corny" in light of the world's attitudes today, but you would certainly find it to be consistent with Biblical teaching on the subject.

Thank you so much for your submission. I hope this humble advice is helpful to you. May God continue to bless you and Bob, and may you grow even closer to Christ.

God Bless You,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Despised by God!

 4Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon God.
 5There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them. 

Despised by God!

I cannot think of more chilling words than, "Despised by God!" Sadly, those who are despised by God are those who are least aware of their state. Indeed, with the Psalmist, we must ask the question, "Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge?"

It is no secret that nonbelievers have no qualms about carelessly tossing words of criticism against the people of God. Even worse, Christians continue to be widely persecuted, even unto death, in many parts of our world today. The greatest sin, however, that these unbelievers commit is their sin against God: "They have not called upon God."

Yet God has written His Law upon the hearts of every man, woman, and child who has ever lived. God has given to each person a conscience, that they may understand what the animal kingdom cannot, the difference between right and wrong. They may choose to ignore their conscience, and their conscience can become so seared that it is no longer effective, but they stand before God without a viable excuse for their sin.

What is the result? They are despised by God, causing in them a great fear, where no fear needs to be! The true Christian puts the unbelievers to shame, for this life is but a fleeting breath in the realm of eternity. Sadly, the few years spent here will have a devastating affect for all eternity upon those who choose to ignore God, the Creator and Ruler of all the earth.

It is so important that Christian teens keep these things in mind as they traverse through this world that is truly foreign to them. The years of our trouble on this earth are really few in number compared to the eternity that stretches out before us. 

It is also important that Christian teens remember their true calling. We have not been placed here to enjoy life to its fullest and heap great wealth and pleasures upon ourselves. We are here as servants of God to do the work that He has called us to do? As we make plans for the future, no matter what our specific vocation may be, our heavenly calling must take priority, for God is God, and we are not!

Pray for the unbelievers around you, and ask for opportunities to share Christ with them. By God's grace may we not only look forward to eternity with our Lord and Savior, but may we also bring many others with us through our faithful walk with the Lord.

"Despised by God!" May that not be said of us!

God Bless You,

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No, Not One!

 2God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.
 3Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 

No, Not One!

It is no wonder the world is in such a state, when one considers the words of Psalm 53:3, There is none that doeth good, no, not one. We are helpless before God; nothing we could ever do or say could appease a holy God who demands perfect righteousness.

In reality, man does not really appear all that bad, does he? Look at the great humanitarian deeds that many do for one another. How can that be bad in the eyes of God? We are guilty of comparing humans with humans; we must, however, compare fallen man (which includes all men from the beginning of creation to now, except for the Lord Jesus Christ), to a righteous and holy God who cannot even look upon sin.

We are guilty of thinking of greater and lesser sins, but God sees all sin as corruption! Is there, then, no hope for all of mankind. Even in the Old Testament, God already promised a coming Redeemer who could take on Himself the sins of man. Look at these verses from Isaiah 53:4-5.
 4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
No, there is none that doeth good, no, not one, but in Christ there is hope. Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, came to this earth, was wounded for our transgressions and was bruised for our sins, so that with His stripes we are healed.

Therein lies our hope. Before God we are altogether filthy, but in Christ we are a new creation, showing forth the beauty of Christ. While on this earth, we will still wrestle with our sin nature, but when we are released from the bonds of this earth, we will bear the perfection of Christ for all eternity. How amazing is that! What God is there who gave so much for a people, expecting nothing in return except their undying love and devotion?

How then, as teens, can we neglect so great a salvation? Go to Christ today, and cast yourself upon His mercy, and He will save you now!

God Bless You,

Monday, September 26, 2011

No God!

 1The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good. 

No God!

Psalm 53 could come right out of the pages of todays' newspapers. Has there ever been a time when man was more prone to disbelief that there even is a God? Man does not want God, because he does not want to answer to anyone but himself; He does not want a God to rule over him!

Nevertheless, what a person does or does not want will not change the reality of what is true. Sadly, in their foolishness, lack of belief in God leaves people without support when everything around them begins to cave in. And, cave in, it will!

Because of the fallen world in which we live, no person ever has the privilege of living their entire life without sadness, grief, despair, illness, and untold miseries that come their way at the most inopportune times. How does the world cope at such times? There are plenty of ways, especially in our "advanced" societies to escape from the troubles of life, but how sad when escaping is the only answer people have to their difficulties.

Such is the life of the fool!

However, it does not need to be that way. In His Word God reveals Himself to us, including His purpose in creating this world. In spite of Satan's attempt to abolish mankind from the face of the earth, God did not allow His creation to suffer defeat, but provided a way to overcome the horrors of eternal death.

It is true, that God's children still suffer the agonies of this world, but rather than seeking to escape from the horrors of life, they find peace and consolation in the Lord Jesus Christ. Death is not eternal separation, but rather, the death of believers is an advent into God's greater Kingdom. Christian loved ones who have gone before will be waiting with outstretched arms to receive us and introduce us to God's Kingdom of Light.

But, even before that, when ushered into Heaven, we will come face to face with our Lord Jesus Christ. The love that compelled Him to come to this earth, suffer the pain and rejection of His own people, and then suffer a horrible death at their hands, just to win a people for Himself, is more than we can ever hope to comprehend. Imagine the joy of feeling His hand in ours as we enter the gates of Heaven! May the Lord hasten the day.

Yes, indeed, the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God! As a teen, I pray that you are not numbered among the fools of this world!

God Bless You,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Thy Name is Good

 8But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
 9I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints. 

Thy Name is Good

Psalm 52 ends on a glorious note when the Psalmist proclaims, Thy name is good! Gone is any sense of doubt.

As a Christian teen, what are the benefits of trusting in the mercy of God? The Psalmist compares himself to a sturdy green olive tree. He is not just a branch that is easily swayed in the wind, but he is a strong, mature tree that can face the storms of life, but yet remain strong. It is good for us to reflect upon the Psalmist's words and compare them to our faith.

In the end, faith is all of God and none of ourselves. We are weak, like the branches of a tree, but God is our strength and fortress. In Him, alone, we can walk through the storms of life unscathed. As we ponder these things, how can we help but agree with verse 9.
I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.
As we think of the contrasting natures of the wicked and the righteous as found in Psalm 52, who do you resemble most? Are you more like the wicked who slays people with his tongue and trusts in his riches, or are you like the righteous who puts all of his trust in the Lord? 

Let us take some time today and meditate upon the attributes of our loving and holy God. Who is like unto God, perfect in holiness, and filled with an incomprehensible love for His people? This is the God we love and serve. We may be easily deceived by the riches of this world, but God is not. Let us put our trust in Him, and ask Him to help us to see beyond the fantasies of this world, so that we would live our lives in a manner pleasing to Him.

Truly, Oh God, Thy name is good!

God Bless You,

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Trusted in Riches

 5God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah.
 6The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him:
 7Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness. 

Trusted in Riches

Psalm 52 continues with its discussion of the man who, with a tongue like a razor, loved evil more than good. Why did this man not fear the Lord? He did not fear the Lord because he trusted in riches. Though we live in a time of great discoveries and advancements, some things never change. In our day, we still exalt the rich.

Psalm 52 is a sobering reminder that God sees all things. This rich man thought he was secure living right in the middle of the righteous, but God rooted him out of the land of the living. Though he may be befriended by many, none could protect him from the hand of God.

As Christian teens today, could we be guilty of the same thing? Where do we put our trust? Are we like this man who trusted in riches, or are we like the righteous of Psalm 52 who put their trust in God?

Do you sometimes wonder if you truly are a Christian? This Psalm gives us a subtle test of our true faith. How do you view those who are rich? How do you view your own riches?

According to this Psalm, the true righteous understand that though riches may make life easier, their strength lies in God and not in the things they may possess. We must be careful that we do not just give lip service to this thought, but that we truly ponder our own hearts. It is not easy in this day of consumerism to turn our backs on the things the world most desires and put our trust in God, whom we cannot see.

As we think on these things, it would be good to meditate upon these verses from Psalm 33.

 11The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
 12Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
 13The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. (Psalm 33:11-13King James Version)

God Bless You,

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Sharp Razor

 1Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.
 2The tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.
 3Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.
 4Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue. 

A Sharp Razor

The Psalmist, in Psalm 52, compares the tongue to a sharp razor. Can anything be more true that this in the 21st Century. What do people love more than anything? People love to cut others to shreds with their tongues. More than one life has been ruined by the deceitfulness of someones sharp tongue.

What about Christian teens? Surely this is not the case, is it? Sadly, many a Christian has been devoured by the sharp razor of another Christian's tongue! Why is that? What causes us to be so thoughtless of one another?

In the end, it always comes down to the root of pride, does it not? Is not this the same sin which caused the downfall of Adam and Eve? As a matter of fact, is this not the sin that caused the downfall of Lucifer? In our foolish pride we condemn the actions of others so that we might look better in the eyes of those to whom we are speaking. Yet, in doing so, we are showing that we, too, love evil more than good.

The book of James addresses this very topic:
 4Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
 5Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! (James 3:4-5King James Version)
As Christian teens, let us pray for the grace of God to keep us from using our tongues as a sharp razor. May we, instead, use our tongues to praise Him for the great things He has done in our lives. This reminds me of a song we used to sing when I was young.
Oh be careful little tongue what you say.
Oh be careful little tongue what you say,
For the Father up above is looking down in love.
Oh be careful little tongue what you say.
May the Father up above find us loving and praising Him with our tongues!

God Bless You,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Broken Spirit

 14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
 15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
 16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
 18Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
 19Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

A Broken Spirit
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
As I read this verse, I thought of a passage from Ecclesiastes 7:
It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
Sadness and grief are not necessarily bad things. As a matter of fact, in the large scheme of life, good character is built from times of great affliction. 

As Christian teens, what does God desire the most from us? Does God desire most our sacrifices--our good works? No, and that is the point the Psalmist is making. God does not need our great talents, our wealth, or our good works! God desires most a broken spirit: i.e. our broken and contrite hearts. 

The children of Israel were filled with pride, but where did that pride lead them? They did not want God to rule them, they wanted a king. However, just as God predicted, their kings became filled with pride and arrogance and left off serving God. Did God need them? Were His plans ruined forever when His chosen people rejected Him? No, of course not! 

In just the same way, there is no room in the Christian's heart for pride or arrogance. Are we any better than the unsaved around us? Do we have a special corner on God because we believe? No! 

When we look at the those around us, rather than being filled with pride, we should be overcome with humility. Salvation is all of Christ, and none of us! We can do nothing better than spend our lives praising and worshiping God. With the Psalmist, let us cry out to God, O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

As Christian teens, what does God desire most from us? A broken spirit!

God Bless You,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Restore the Joy

 10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
 11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
 12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
 13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. 

Restore the Joy

We must often ask ourselves the question, "In a country such as the United States, where there are so many professing Christians, why do we see such widespread corruption?" Going a step farther, why, among these professing Christians, do we see so much depression and discouragement? Why are Christians so unhappy? What about Christian teens? Why are Christian teens so unhappy?

It appears that this is not so very unusual; even the Psalmist cried out to the Lord, Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Backing up just one verse, the Psalmist pleads, Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Are these two thoughts related?

We are all so busy with our lives that we often neglect the more important task of maintaining a right spirit with the Lord. How do we do that? Just look at our daily schedules. How would we add one more thing? Does the Bible give us any examples?

Of the many examples given in the Word, the one that always seems to come to my mind first is that of Daniel. Was Daniel an important person? Did he have a busy life? Considering the fact that for several rulers he was one of the chief counselors, do you think he had a busy schedule? Did his busyness and importance lead to a corrupt lifestyle? No! As a matter of fact his enemies could not find any fault in him.

However, they knew that Daniel loved the Lord God above all, and that was where they hoped to bring him down. No matter how busy he was, Daniel took time out three times a day to spend time in prayer and meditation with God. 

As Christian teens, how much time each day do we spend in prayer and meditation? How much time in a week do we spend in prayer and meditation? Do you think there is a correlation?

Do you desire to have an effective testimony before the unsaved around you? Do you desire to lead others to Christ? As Christian teens, these desires should be at the top of all of our lists. It was during this time of meditation that the Psalmist plead with God knowing that when God renewed a right spirit within him, and restored the joy of his salvation, he would be in a position to teach transgressors Gods ways and sinners would be converted to Christ.

Go to Christ and pray these verses to Him. May Christian teens today rise up and be the light and salt to this world that they are meant to be! You are the future! What will that future be like as a result of your walk with the Lord?

God Bless You,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Whiter than Snow

 7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 8Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
 9Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 

Whiter than Snow

In a world filled with untold filth, is it really possible to be clean? Millions of dollars are spent each year on cleaning products; just trying to keep a small home clean is an almost impossible job. Even more important, however, is the question of spiritual cleanness. 

As a teen, one can feel pretty confident about oneself when looking around at others. In this "I'm OK; you're OK" world, the bar is set pretty low. The problem arises, however, when we look at God; God requires perfection! No man can stand before a righteous and holy God and feel clean. It was right, therefore, for the Psalmist to go to God and say, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."

Does sin carry a price tag? Our world is so corrupted by sin that we cannot imagine what this world would be like if sin had never entered it. Neither can we imagine what our bodies would be like, both physically and spiritually, if they were not corrupted by sin. In his heart of hearts, the Psalmist understood that there is no spiritual cleanness possible apart from God.

We will never be able to experience true physical cleanness for our bodies on this side of heaven, but by the grace of God, we can experience spiritual cleanness. Just as hyssop was used in ceremonial cleansing rites, the blood of Christ is the fulfillment of that hyssop. In other words, what the hyssop could not actually do, Christ's blood does! Complete spiritual cleansing comes from Christ, and Christ alone!

Does that mean that we can really experience perfection, or sinlessness in this life? No! Unfortunately, sin will plague our hearts and lives until we reach our last breath on this earth. However, the blood of Christ covers our sin, so that God's sees Christ's perfection when He looks upon us.

How can this be? It is certainly beyond our comprehension, is it not? God loves us in a way that we cannot possibly understand; He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to purchase a salvation for us that is full and free!

We must go to Christ today, for He alone can save us the sin that would condemn us for all eternity.

Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

God Bless You,

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shaped in Sin

 5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
 6Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 

Shaped in Sin

Some of the greatest truths of God are nestled in the Psalms. As a Christian teen, do you doubt that you actually sin? Do you see your life as no worse than your neighbors, therefore free from guilt. Psalm 51:5 states, Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

We are without hope! We were conceived and shaped in sin! Even before we drew our first breath, God looked upon us and saw our sin. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, they brought death to all mankind. Satan truly thought he gained a great victory that day. However, though we may be plagued with sin, and wrestle with it every day we live in this world, the final victory belongs to Christ.

Though Christ had not yet come and offered up His life in payment for his sins, David already understood that there was forgiveness in God. Before that first sin even occurred, God had already planned a solution.

Our difficulty comes when we compare ourselves to others, when we should, instead, be comparing ourselves to God. Compared to others, we will usually find ourselves no worse than our neighbor, and maybe even better! However, no one can truly stand before God and believe to be His equal.

In God, there is no darkness at all, neither shadow of turning. He is the Light of all lights, existing in perfect holiness. Even the angels of heaven, though they have never sinned, are not to be compared to God! How, then, can we hope to find any help apart from Him?

I think, perhaps, David had this in mind in Psalm 51:6.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
In his heart of hearts, David understood that only God could make him to know wisdom. What an amazing God we have. He has revealed Himself to us in His Word, so that we do not have to live this life in ignorance. As a matter of fact, even more has been revealed to us than had been revealed to King David. In the New Testament, we are given the rest of the story.

Christ has come, bringing to us salvation, full and free! Yes, we are shaped in sin, but through Christ we have been made alive again before God. That is the good news of the Gospel--and it is free!

God Bless You,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Against Thee, Thee Only!

 1Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
 2Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
 3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
 4Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. 

Against Thee, Thee Only

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. (from A Tale of Two Cities)

For David, King of Israel, times could not be better; his kingdom was well established, and wars were nothing more than small skirmishes against neighboring nations. 

Why is it, that at times when everything is going well, we are the most vulnerable to sin? 

Such was certainly the case for King David. Looking out his balcony one day, he observed a most beautiful woman; after inquiry, however, he learned that this was none other than Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of his most mighty men in battle.

That should have been the end of the matter, but we know that is was not. He was the king, after all, and he could have whatever he wanted; that included Bathsheba. Of course, we know what happened; Bathsheba became pregnant with David's child. Seeking to cover up his sin and guilt he arranged to have Uriah come home from the battle so he could be with his wife. Uriah did no such thing, but slept outside his door. So David committed an even worse sin: he arranged to have Uriah killed in battle, and then took Bathsheba as his wife.

It would seem to be the perfect cover-up, however nothing is hidden from the Lord. It did not take long for Nathan the prophet, being sent from God, to confront David. You can just see his finger pointing at David as ye proclaimed, Thou art the man. Indeed, it was the worst of times; that one sin of David brought untold grief upon him for the rest of his life.

There is good news, however. In spite of his sin, David was a man after God's own heart. In agony over his sin, David penned the words of Psalm 51. You see, Christians do sin, sometimes even grievously. The true heart of the person is shown by what they do when confronted with their sin. David could have made excuses for himself, but he knew that, in truth, his true sin was against God.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight; that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
That really is the truth today as well. When we sin against family, friends, or neighbors, or even ourselves, the greater sin is our sin against God. As Christians, we desire to live obediently to God's Law, but not so that we can be honored by men. It is God we serve, and it is Him we must please. We can hide much of our sin from others, can we not? However, we cannot hide anything from God. There is no perfect crime!

Though this was a devastating time for King David, God chose to allow David to commit such a grievous sin, and had it recorded in Scripture, that He might show to us the power of His forgiveness. God desires that our first love be to Him, and shows us that, when we come with a truly repentant heart, He always forgives. We may still have to suffer the results of that sin, as did David, but we can be assured of complete forgiveness by God.

I cannot think of a greater lesson to grasp in your teen years. As you are on the brink of the rest of your life, remember that everything you think, say, and do is recorded in the annals of heaven. Seek to please God, above all others, all of the days of your life, and He will bless you abundantly.

Like David, let us go to God with our sin and confess, Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned. He alone has the power to forgive!

God Bless You,

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Salvation of God

 16But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?
 17Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee.
 18When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.
 19Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.
 20Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son.
 21These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.
 22Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
 23Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.

Salvation of God

 16 But to the wicked God says:
         “What right have you to declare My statutes,
         Or take My covenant in your mouth,
 17 Seeing you hate instruction
         And cast My words behind you?
            (Psalm 50:16-17New King James Version)

Can I be a Christian teen and act anyway I want to act? If one only has to believe to become a Christian, then Christ died for my sins even if I choose to not obey Him, right? In other words, what does it really mean to possess the salvation of God?

The Jews were under the misconception that they were children of God just because they were part of the Jewish race. They may have been disobedient Jews, but they were still Jews. In Christian circles today, this question is still hotly debated. If salvation is totally of God and not of ourselves, then does it matter how we act, or how obedient we may or may not be to the Bible?

The Psalmist fully addresses this idea in Psalm 50. He is speaking to the religious Jews when He asks, "What right have you to declare My statutes . . . . seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you?"

It is true that salvation is entirely of God, and not of ourselves; i.e., our works cannot save us. However, it is also true that genuine salvation of God is evidenced by a change in our hearts which leads to a change in our actions. Though we will always wrestle with sin, this side of heaven, as Christians, our sin is a grief to us. In our heart of hearts we desire to love and obey God so much that breaking His Law causes untold misery in our hearts. Consequently, this grief leads the normal Christian to become more and more like Christ in their thoughts, words, and deeds.

This is not true of the unbeliever. When is that last time you have heard people of the world grieving over their sins? When is the last time you have seen people of the world even believe they are sinners? Most of the time, if sin is even addressed, people of the world are proud of their sin.

Look at the main characters in books and movies today. Even in animated Disney movies, the main character, whether male or female, is usually vain, selfish, and totally lacks any kind of submission to authority. Families are portrayed as largely dysfunctional, with the kids being the only ones who seem to have any semblance of wisdom or intelligence.

Is that the way the Bible portrays the ideal family? No! However, we have lost all sense of God's order in our society today. It is time that Christians reclaim Biblical standards in their lives and in the lives of their families.

It is a sobering reality that not all who claim to be Israel (Christians) are really the Israel of God (true believers.)  The true believer understands that there is nothing they can do, in and of themselves, to become right with God. Their sin will always separate them from a holy, righteous God.

The true salvation of God is granted to those who humbly fall before Christ, confessing their own unworthiness, and claiming Christ as the only One Who can pay the debt of their sins. As they cry out to Christ to save them, He becomes the true Lord of their life. From that moment on, they set their hearts to love and serve Him forever!
Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.
God Bless You,