Friday, December 30, 2011

Strong Refuge

 7I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge.
 8Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day.
 9Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.
 10For mine enemies speak against me; and they that lay wait for my soul take counsel together,
 11Saying, God hath forsaken him: persecute and take him; for there is none to deliver him.
 12O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help.
 13Let them be confounded and consumed that are adversaries to my soul; let them be covered with reproach and dishonour that seek my hurt. 

Strong Refuge

We are again reminded in Psalm 71 that though thousands of years have passed since this psalm was written, the words are true and relevant just as much today as they were then. For the Christian, God is still our strong refuge.

In this day of self-reliance and self-help, as a teen, where do we turn to find a refuge? Some trust in their governments, in money, in power, in prestige, and many other "secure" things, yet where do they find security apart from God? 

In this past year we have seen governments crippled by rebellion from within, natural disasters, nuclear threats, and huge national debts. With the rise of hunger, famine, and even persecution, how secure is our own safety net provided by our government? As the psalmist cries, Cast me not off in the time of old age, we are reminded that our governments certainly do not promise help in old age. In the United States, where social security is in force, one wonders how many years it will be until the system is broke and abandoned. As teens, you must wonder what kind of a world will exist for you in 20, 30, or 40 years?

What about money, power, and prestige? How secure are our financial holdings, or positions of power, or even fame and prestige? With international economic instability on the rise, no one dares to trust in their wealth. Power, in the form of government offices, is only somewhat stable until the next election; fame and prestige in the hands of fickle people are only there until the next public scandal.

The psalmist understood the reality that, in this life, nothing is certain. How sweet, then, to understand that the Lord God, our First Love, is indeed a strong refuge. What He declares in His Word is true; we can rest firmly upon the promises He has made to His people. 

For centuries upon centuries, people have trusted in the name of the Lord God Almighty. Where are these people today? They are resting securely with the Lord Jesus Christ, waiting until the day when God will declare that time shall be no more! 

When considering these things, we realize that there is nothing that man can do to us. Though oppressed on every side by our enemies, we can rest safely in the arms of our own strong Refuge, the Lord Jesus Christ. He walks beside us day by day, until that time when God has foreordained that we have finished our walk on this earth, and then He will safely escort us into the arms of God forever!

Amen, so come quickly Lord Jesus!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Hope!

 1In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.
 2Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me.
 3Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.
 4Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.
 5For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.
 6By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee. 

Our Hope

As we near the end of another year, what a great psalm to read and ponder. Reflecting upon the past year, and looking forward to the next, we must agree, with the psalmist that God, alone, is our hope!

On an international level, 2011 has been a year of great uncertainties. Economies have tumbled, wars have raged on, nuclear threats have continued, and national leaders have fallen, with great uncertainties just on the horizon. How, as Christian teens, are we to view such calamities and uncertainties? Is God's arm shortened that He cannot intercede?

Like the psalmist, as Christian teens we can all assert,
By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.
No matter what the international scene may reflect, God is still our hope, indeed our only hope. What appears as uncertainties to us are events and occurrences that are safely nestled in the plans of God. Though we are unable to see clearly, for we see as through a glass darkly, we can be assured that our God is the one and only God.

Through Him nations rise and fall, and through Him will all things come to pass just as He has ordained they will. We live in a time when God patiently waits for His children to come to Him, but when that last child has come home, He will return exactly at the moment He has preordained from before time began!

We cannot imagine such things for we are so earthly bound and filled with sin, which clouds our understanding. Yet, the day will come when we shall see Him as He is, our eyes will be opened, and we shall behold Him. Oh was a glorious day that will be.

Let us then take up the banner proclaimed by the psalmist over 3000 years ago,
For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.
May God bless you for the remainder of this year and in the year to come, and may God, our Hope, be your hope as well!

God Bless You,
Linda


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hurry!

 1Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O LORD.
 2Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt.
 3Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha.
 4Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified.
 5But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying.

Hurry!

In this psalm of David, we sense David's urgency when pleading with God for help.
Make haste (hurry), O God, to deliver me; make haste (hurry) to help me, O LORD.
Few of us, as teens, have had to spend much of our lives fleeing from our enemies as did David both in his earlier and then later years. Yet, even in his frustration and weariness David knew that unless his help came from God it would be of no effect. It was certainly in God's power to confuse and shame the enemy to the point they would cease to seek David's life, or to overpower them and bring David safely back to his home.

Knowing he faced such hardships helps us to understand his great faith and trust in God. David learned while still a youth that the battle was not his, but was the Lord's! From his heart of hearts he encouraged those who loved God's salvation to continually magnify the name of God. Though he was king, before God he knew that he was poor and needy; if victory was to be his, it would be at the hand of God.

What are we to learn from the words of David as shown in Psalm 70? How can we apply this psalm to our own daily lives? No matter what our circumstances, and no matter who our enemies may be, as Christian teens, our true help will come from the hand of God. It is to Him we must continually go for help and strength to go through each day He grants to us on this earth.

We serve an amazing God who knows us, loves us, and keeps us; He is never too busy or too far away to come to our aid. And, in desperate times, it is not wrong for us to say, "Hurry!" God has put many resources at our disposal, but none will have any affect apart from Him.

May we, then, like David fall before the Lord our God, daily, seeking His help to run with patience the race that He has set before us.

Let God be magnified!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Zion

 34Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein.
 35For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession.
 36The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein.

Zion

To what is Psalm 69, verses 35 and 36 referring?
For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession. The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein.
It has been about 3000 years since David penned these words, and yet we do not see His posterity in possession of modern day Zion. Neither do we see peace in the country of Israel today, but rather, we see a continual warring between the descendants of Abraham and Isaac, as well as the descendants of Jacob and Esau.

Was this language just figurative, or was David actually speaking of a time when these verses would be physically fulfilled? I suppose that is the age-old question, is it not? There are those who would see the Biblical writings as wonderful prose, and yet not to be taken too seriously, and there are those who are still waiting for the fulfillment of these verses to come. Are those who are waiting for God's salvation of Zion waiting in vain?

It is important for us to realize that God is not a creature of time; there is no time in eternity. Because we are creatures of time, we see great perplexities in the passing of 3000 years with no literal fulfillment taking place. To a teen, 3000 years is a very long time, but to God it is as a vapor.

Make no mistake, every single thing (every jot and every tittle) of God's prophecies as given in His Word, the Bible, will come to pass exactly as He has said they will. God will save Zion, He will build the cities of Judah, the seed of His servants will inherit Zion, and those who love His name shall dwell therein forever!

There is a dual fulfillment of these verses, for He is not only speaking of the literal Jerusalem as we know it today, but He is also speaking of the New Jerusalem built in the new heavens and on the new earth. That Jerusalem will be the seat of Christ's kingdom which shall last forever!

As Christian teens, let us not be discouraged when we look around us and see the rampant wickedness of our day. Satan is having his final fling with this earth, but the time will come when he will be defeated forever, and the new heavens and new earth will be filled with those who love, honor, and serve, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The beauty of God's Word is the consistent message that is taught from Genesis 1:1, to the last verse in Revelations. Even now, Christ rules over this earth while sitting at the right hand of God, Almighty. Satan plays havoc with the hearts and minds of men who are foolishly led astray, but his time is short.

By the grace of God, let us sing the songs of Zion and look forward to God's final victory upon this earth. What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Living Heart

 29But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.
 30I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
 31This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.
 32The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.
 33For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners. 

A Living Heart

Christmas is over, the presents are unwrapped, and the paper and ribbons are all stashed away for another year, so what is left? What is left that really matters? There is one gift with eternal consequences that never diminishes through the annals of time, but lives for all eternity. What is that gift? That gift is a living heart!

What is the secret of a living heart? How does a teen obtain such a thing? David tells us, in Psalm 69,
Let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high . . . and your heart shall live that seek God. For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners.
The New King James Version states,
And you who seek God, your hearts shall live. For the LORD hears the poor, and does not despise His prisoners.
In retrospect, nothing else really matters. No matter what we may gain or accumulate in this lifetime we have been given, all is lost if one has not obtained Christ. 

Is is any wonder that God chose to send His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to a poor, but Godly man and his wife? Jesus was not raised in a palace among wealth and splendor, but lived with a poor carpenter, learning the family trade. We, who are so enamored with the rich and famous, would not be able to see beyond the wealth and majesty of His life had He been raised in a palace.

God, chose the weak and foolish ones of this earth to confound the wise, even to the point of sending His only Son to a poor Jewish family. The Lord Jesus Christ, through His earthly life, death, and resurrection, provided something for us that no amount of money could buy. Through His sacrificial death on our behalf, we are heirs to all the eternal riches and glory of God, Himself.

No story could have a richer theme or a better ending. However, this is not just a story. This is the truth! As teens, there is no greater gift God could grant to you than a living heart!

Let us then, like David, praise the name of God with a song, and magnify Him with thanksgiving!

God Bless You,
Linda



Friday, December 23, 2011

Blotted Out

 22Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.
 23Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake.
 24Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them.
 25Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents.
 26For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded.
 27Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness.
 28Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. 

Blotted Out

OK, I have to admit, as a Christian, I have great difficulty dealing with verses such as we have in today's devotional from Psalm 69. Because we are commanded to love and pray for our enemies, how can we reconcile David's words, especially from verse 28? Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.

In dealing with questions such as this, we must look at the bigger picture presented in the Bible. Though we are commanded to love and pray for our enemies, we must also understand that the heart of man is only evil continually. Though God showed great patience with the nations of Israel and Judah, the time came when the only recourse left was one of punishment due to the greatness of their sin in rejecting God.

Perhaps these verses would be easier for us if we were undergoing the suffering experienced by David. Though we live in what we deem a civilized society, persecutions against Christians have not slacked off through the years. As a matter of fact, the 20th century was known as the greatest century of persecution against Christians known to man!

In our heart of hearts, we desire that all men should come to the saving knowledge of Christ, but realistically, we know that only a small number will truly embrace Christ. What of the great majority? We are assured by God's Word that all men will receive their just reward, whether it be eternity with Christ, or eternity separated from God. Those who do not come to Christ will, indeed, be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.

Because we are not able to see into the depths of a person's heart or soul, it is prudent that we do pray that God would be gracious to them and save them. However, it is not evil to desire that God save us from the hand of the wicked and bring upon them the judgment they deserve. 

What an amazing God we serve! No one deserves the righteousness of Christ, yet God has purposed to save a people for Himself. What a time of rejoicing that will be when we reach the gates of heaven and enter in to an eternity of love and perfection with Christ.

As Christian teens, pray, today, for those you know who are unbelievers that God would bring them to Him and that their name will not be blotted out of the book of the living!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Suffering Saints

 19Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee.
 20Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.
 21They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. 

Suffering Saints

Years ago there was a massive movement in some Christian circles, which I am sure still exists today, embracing the idea that if one lived faithfully for the Lord he would experience the abundant life. Nothing bad would happen to him or her, and their lives would be filled with untold blessings. Therefore if one's life was filled with difficulties, it must be related to their sin.

As Christian teens, we must be very careful about the expectations we place upon the Lord. On one hand the Bible does promise great blessings, sometimes even physical blessings, to those who remain faithful to God. Yet, the Bible is also filled with examples of suffering saints who, though they remained faithful to God, experienced all kinds of griefs and difficulties.

How do we reconcile these two seemingly opposing ideas? The best place to look is at the Lord Jesus Christ, who interestingly is referred to in verse 21 of Psalm 69. Jesus did not seek any sort of material wealth; His purpose for being here was always set before Him. Yet, before He began His ministry on this earth, He worked in the family's carpentry business. 

Is it wrong for us to seek wealth and success while on this earth? Absolutely not! God gives many examples, as in the case of Abraham, where physical wealth and honor followed him all of the days of his life as he faithfully served God. The important thing to realize is that Abraham did not allow that wealth and prosperity to come between him and God.

However, as in the example of Christ, we must remember that we are not on this earth by chance. God has a specific purpose for each and every one of His children. We have all of the interests, abilities, and characteristics we have by design, and we are to use what God has given to us to faithfully fulfill the purpose for which He brought us to this earth!

We must also remember that that purpose may include times of reproach, dishonor, and even shame due to the adversaries God sends against us. As David expressed in Psalm 69, this reproach broke his heart; he looked for comforters and found none! In spite of all of his wealth, fame, and glory, David was truly a suffering saint. Yet, this suffering caused him to continually return to God.

In the end, true success in this life for the Christian involves our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, no matter what comes our way, whether great success and honor, or discouragement, despair, and suffering, we are continually drawn closer to the Lord. In our heart of hearts, God, our first love, brings joy, peace, and contentment to the innermost part of our being. 

As Christian teens, we are to be pleased, if God so chooses, to be suffering saints, living out our lives for the honor and glory of God, alone. Only in Him can we find complete peace, joy, and contentment. After all, we must remember, this world is not our home; we are just passing through to our true home in Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ.

May God's peace be with you!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Deliver Me!

 13But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.
 14Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.
 15Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.
 16Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.
 17And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily.
 18Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies. 

Deliver Me!

In reading today's Bible passage from Psalm 69, I noted that when David plead with God, "Deliver Me," he never said, "Deliver me because I deserve it." Rather, contained within these verses is the understanding that first, God had the power to deliver him, and second, that power was not based upon the worthiness of David.

David understood God; frequently he had tested the waters and found his deliverance in God. Many times he found himself surrounded by enemies, yet God always saw fit, in an acceptable time, to deliver him out of his difficulties. Historically, he understood that this same God had been faithfully delivering His people for years. From little on, David would have been familiar with the stories of God's delivering the people from the hands of the Egyptians and safely bringing them into the Promised Land.

He also understood that the timing of God's deliverance was also in God's hands. What a difficult lesson for us to learn! In our impatience, we want deliverance right now, and probably have also decided just exactly what it is that God should do! In time we begin to understand that God's ways are not our ways, and often His deliverance comes from the opposite direction. In fact, we may be the one who needs to change directions!

David knew, too, that God did not owe him. In other words, God would not deliver him because he deserved God's favor.
O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. . . turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.
We, too, have every right to go to God and plead deliverance, not because we are worthy, but because God is merciful. He first demonstrated that mercy to us through the salvation offered to us through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. None of us deserves salvation! 

As Christian teens, we do not deserve God's continued mercy to us, but God's mercy will be available to us all of our days on this earth, and of course, into eternity beyond this life. Why is it, that though we know this to be true, we tend to think of prayer last? After we have exhausted all possible means of help, we turn to the Lord and cry, "Deliver me!"

Go today in the confidence of the Lord; He is a merciful God, and He will deliver you!

God Bless You,
Linda




Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Strumbling Block!

 5O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.
 6Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel.
 7Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face.
 8I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children.
 9For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.
 10When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.
 11I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them.
 12They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards. 

Stumbling Block!

When we think of David, the king of Israel, we envision a mighty king, a great leader in battle, and a man humbled before God. These are things we gain from the pages of the Old Testament, but we did not have the privilege to walk and talk with David as we would a friend or even just an acquaintance. The concern David voices in these verses from Psalm 69 are concerns that each of us, as Christian teens, face every day. Knowing that his life was filled with sin, David was concerned that he would not be a stumbling block to the people.
Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel.
It is true that for many people, the closest they will ever come to the Word of God is through the testimony of God's people around them. That is a frightening thought, is it not? Which of us could ever truly undergo the criticism and scrutiny of the world 24/7?

The nature of teens is such that criticism is just a way of life. Rather than patiently accepting the differences we find in other people, it is easier to criticize. Even among believers there is rampant disagreement and criticism. No wonder people of the world have so little desire to follow the examples they see of Christians they have known.

Like David, let us pray that, in spite of us, people would desire to love and follow Christ. May they understand that there will always be inconsistencies in our lives, but in Christ there is no inconsistency neither shadow of turning. In Christ all hopes are met and satisfied!

There is another lesson in all of this as well. As Christian teens, we must not become overly discouraged by criticism from others. We must remember that the world hates God, and often vents that hatred through Christ's followers. Even Christ experienced the hatred of the world, and especially the religious world, which eventually led to His death. Yet, without that death there would be no salvation!

However, unlike Christ, we are not without sin. The sin which so easily besets us can easily be used by Satan to tarnish and destroy our testimonies. Sometimes we just need to fall before Christ, asking His forgiveness, and then go on. In our own power we will always fail, but with the power given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ, we can go on and live to and for His glory.

We do not want to be a stumbling block to others, but even then, God will use our experiences for His glory and eventually bring honor and glory to Himself through them. We are reminded in Matthew 6:33: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda



Monday, December 19, 2011

Hopeless!

 1Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.
 2I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
 3I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.
 4They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away. 

Hopeless!

David, the King and the sweet psalmist of Israel, was a man of many passions. Though king for 40 years, his life was plunged into times of great danger and despair. While we, in our own personal lives, cannot appreciate the challenges he faced as a king, we have most likely had times of great discouragement, even to the point of being overwhelmed by the floods of diversity.

Most people, even by their teens, understand the feeling of life becoming completely hopeless. It is one thing to be in such a situation because of our own bad decisions, but what if we are facing untold troubles through no fault of our own?

That is exactly where we find David in Psalm 69. His enemies hated him without a cause and sought his very life. Though he had restored to them things he did not even take in the first place, they were not assuaged from their anger. His discouragement was such that he felt the floods of adversity coming in to the very depths of his soul.

God has given to us a precious treasure in the psalms of David. At best, this life is filled with difficulties, but in times of great despair it is easy to become completely overwhelmed. At times like this, we are greatly encouraged by reading the Psalms. In the depths of passion presented in them we learn that we are not alone in our grief. Others have suffered as well and have found great peace and joy by resting in God.

Our God is not like the gods of this age. He is not untouched by our grief, He is not selfish or vain, and does not require our unreasonable devotion. In His great love for His children, He has sent His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who not only saved us, but walks beside us through all of the difficulties of this life. He is never too busy to help, neither are we too unimportant for Him to notice.

Yes, we all will face times when life seems to be completely hopeless, but when we come into the presence of God, we remember that God is our help. He will never leave nor forsake us; what an amazing God we serve!

It is easy to feel left out and lonely, especially in a holiday season such as we are in now. Go to Christ; His love will never fail. He will never abandon His own!

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blessed Be God!

 30Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the people, till every one submit himself with pieces of silver: scatter thou the people that delight in war.
 31Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.
 32Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord; Selah:
 33To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old; lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice.
 34Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds.
 35O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.

 Blessed Be God!

What a fitting end to a glorious psalm!
The God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.
David, one of the greatest kings of Israel, a man after God's own heart, continually encouraged the people to return to their First Love, saying, "Blessed be God, for He, alone, gives Israel its strength and power."

What of today? One would think it strange if a leader of a country made such a proclamation today. Indeed, in the United States one is not even allowed to hardly speak the name of God, much less make such a bold assertion. The strong leaders of this world (strong in their own eyes), actually believe that they have the strength and power within themselves to be great.

The real question each one of us must answer, while still in our teens, is, what do we believe? Do we mouth the words of David, shown above, while living exactly the opposite? Are we driven to succeed, believing that in our own strength we can amass riches and honor in this life, thus obtaining great happiness? Is that not the American Dream?

I would say we must look at David's admonition in verse 30.
Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the people, till every one submit himself with pieces of silver: scatter thou the people that delight in war.
Why? We must rebuke those who follow the ways of this world because, in the end, all will sing praises unto the Lord. In the end, the reality of this life will be made known to all people, but for some it will be too late!

I cannot say it better than David did.
Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord; Selah:  To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old; lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice. Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds. O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.
As Christian teens, go today in the strength, power, and glory of the Lord! Blessed be God!

God Bless You,
Linda


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bless God!


 24They have seen thy goings, O God; even the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary.
 25The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the damsels playing with timbrels.
 26Bless ye God in the congregations, even the Lord, from the fountain of Israel.
 27There is little Benjamin with their ruler, the princes of Judah and their council, the princes of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali.
 28Thy God hath commanded thy strength: strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us.
 29Because of thy temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto thee. 

Bless God!

In the verses shown above from Psalm 68, David is describing a processional into the temple. From the least (little Benjamin) to the greatest (the princes of Judah and their council), and every tribe in between (the princes of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali), he encourages the people to bless God, even the Lord.

If one studies the history of David's kingdom, especially later when it was divided into a northern (Judah) and southern (Israel) kingdom, one understands the necessity for David's admonition to the people. Even by the end of the reign of David's son, Solomon, the people, led by their king, began to dabble in the religions of the nations surrounding them. Oh, they never completely left God (at least in their minds), but rather, they added the religious practices of their neighbors to their own worship of God.

David reminds his readers, "Thy God hath commanded thy strength." What a wonderful reminder to us today to remember to bless God, our First Love, for He is the One who gives us the strength to go on each and every day. In His power we can accomplish much, but without Him we will surely fail.

However, there is more! The greatest temptation for us is to do the same thing that Judah and Israel did. As Christian teens, we must remember that all of our strength, hope, and power comes from God, alone. We must be so very careful that we do not add the gods of this world to the mixture, incorporating them into our everyday life and practice--and even into our worship.

The things of this world are tools God grants to us, and it is not wrong to use them and receive comfort from them. However, the day these things take the place of God, or even come alongside of God, we are in danger of doing the same thing that the children of Israel did.

Think of Jesus conversation with the young rich man. When asking Jesus what he needed to do to follow him, Jesus told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor. The young man went away sorrowfully, for he had great riches. Is it wrong to be rich? No! But those riches are not, even in a small way, necessary for life, joy, happiness, or peace. It is God, alone, who grants life, joy, happiness, and peace to His children.

Two of my favorite verses are found in Proverbs 30, verses 8 and 9.
Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me; lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
Go today and bless God, for He alone provides everything we need for life, joy, happiness, and peace!

God Bless You,
Linda


Friday, December 16, 2011

No Hiding Place

 21But God shall wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses.
 22The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea:
 23That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same. 

No Hiding Place

As I read through these verses, thinking of God's judgment upon His enemies, it occurred to me that there is no hiding place for the wicked. Yet this principal goes even deeper than that. Not only is there no hiding place for the wicked when the hand of God is upon them, but there is no hiding place that the wicked can find when God's protective hand is upon His children. Neither is there any hiding place for God's children when they walk in disobedience to Him. 

In a sense, one could say that, in the eyes of God, this world is transparent. Nothing done on this earth is hidden from God, and nothing is found on this earth if God has not allowed it to be found. Remember, we are not just speaking of actions, but also our inner consciences as well, for God knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts.

For the Christian teen, what a precious truth this is! We are securely held in the hand of God all of the days we spend on this earth. In addition, His hand is not just a hand of protection, but also a hand of guidance. Life seems to be filled with numerous chance occurrences, but in Christ, nothing happens by chance. Also of these seemingly haphazard events are directly ordered by the Lord. 

Does that mean that God is at fault when bad things occur? No! The wickedness on this earth comes from the hand of man, not the hand of God. Yet God does not always prevent the wickedness from occurring by, for, or to His people. Instead, God uses these things to sharpen our faith and bring us into a closer relationship with Him. The obvious lesson for us is that there is nothing--nothing--in this world that is greater or more important to us than Christ. Christ is all!

That is the assurance that God has given to us in His Word; in Him everything consists, and without Him, nothing consists at all! All of the things we perceive are necessary to bring us peace, joy, and happiness come to nothing before Christ. They are filled with emptiness, and when received only leave us longing for more.

Happy is the Christian who learns these lessons while still in their teens! Sadly, each and every child of God must come to this realization themselves, which tends to take most, if not of all, of their lifetimes to actually understand these truths. I would encourage you to spend some time with the Lord pondering these truths, asking God to make them part of the inner fabric of your being. 

There is no hiding place from God, nor is there any hiding place God uses that can be found by men. How amazing is that? Indeed, when the end of time comes, God will bring His people from the depths of the sea; Christ will not lose one of those given to Him by the Father.

Go today in the peace, joy, and comfort of the Lord. He is all you need!

God Bless You,
Linda





Thursday, December 15, 2011

God of Salvation

 19Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.
 20He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death. 

 God of Salvation

What amazing verses David has tucked into the middle of Psalm 68. We would do well to make a huge banner so that these are the first verses we would see every day when we get out of bed. You may ask, "If He is the God of Salvation, why is my life filled with difficulties? Why do I seem to be overcome daily by the troubles of this life?"

We are so comfortable in this world in which we live that we cannot see the proverbial wood for the trees. The effects of the fall of man, not only on man himself, but on all of nature are so much a part of our everyday lives, that we cannot imagine a truly perfect world.

It is good for us, as Christian teens, to remember that God is not a part of this world. God is Holy, Righteous, and filled with goodness and truth. In Him is no darkness at all. As such, the salvation offered to us is not just a free ticket from all of the bad things of this life, but is rather a free ticket to the halls of eternity where there is no evil present!

We live in a world characterized by death, and as such constantly see the effects of that death displayed in man, animals, and all nature. Everything is dying! That is the significance of David's words, Unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death. God is the only One who can free us from the chains of death which grip us from the time of our conception!

Not only is this the world in which we find ourselves, we are also embroiled in a war between good and evil, between God and Satan. This is not just the stuff of fiction, but it is the reality of the world in which we live. While on this earth we will be constantly bombarded by this war of which we became a part on the day of our birth. 

As Christian teens, the more we determine to faithfully serve God, the more we will feel the assaults of Satan. By the grace of God we must continually turn to the God of salvation and draw strength and hope from Him. God has graciously given to us His Word which reveals these things to us. In the strength of the Lord we can face the assaults of Satan and win, because we know, that in the eyes of God, the battle is already won!

What an amazing God we serve! He is the God of salvation, and unto Him belong the issues from death!

God Bless You,
Linda





Wednesday, December 14, 2011

God Lives among Us!

 15The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan; an high hill as the hill of Bashan.
 16Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the LORD will dwell in it for ever.
 17The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.
 18Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them. 

God Lives among Us!

Psalms such as Psalm 68 can seem somewhat obscure to us because we do not have the understanding that the contemporaries of David's day had. For example, what is the significance of Mount Bashan? Commentators seem to have varying opinions, but it seems that in this case, God is comparing Mount Bashan to Mount Sanai. 

For God's own purposes He chose to give the law on Mount Sinai and not Mount Bashan; in a sense, God has blessed Mount Sinai rather than any other mountain, using it to dwell among the children of Israel when Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness. The thing to note here is not what specific mountain God chose, but rather the fact that God made the choice of which mountain He would use to live among His people, and even to this day God lives among us!

We may not have the opportunity, as did the children of Israel, to see God's presence on Mount Sinai, but we can be assured that God lives among us today just as assuredly as He lived among the children of Israel. Our God is actively involved and aware of every facet of our lives. How amazing is that?

From the moment of Adam's sin (actually even before Adam's sin) God had a plan to redeem a people for Himself! The Old Testament tells of God choosing a people to serve and worship Him. Unfortunately, they often seemed to rebel against Him, continually trying to serve the gods of the nations, incorporating their worship into the worship of God Almighty. Still, this did not stay God's hand.

As promised, He sent His only Son, the Lord Jesus to literally live among men and accomplish, in the only way possible, His plan of salvation for man, even opening the way of salvation for those not descended from Abraham. Do men respond by falling before this Almighty God in worship? Only a few! Why is that? Just as the children of Israel were tantalized by the world around them, so are we, too, tantalized today. 

The way to God is so simple, yet so profound. Even to this very day God lives among us. What does He desire of His people? God desires that we worship Him, and Him alone! The world is filled with tantalizing compromises, but partially serving God is to not serve Him at all. God knows us even to the depths of our hearts; He knows whether He is truly our God or just one of many gods that rule our lives.

As teens, we must go to Him today, for He is the only answer to all of our needs!

God Bless You,
Linda



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Lord Gave

 11The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.
 12Kings of armies did flee apace: and she that tarried at home divided the spoil.
 13Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.
 14When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Salmon. 

 The Lord Gave

David continues Psalm 68 with some general comments that are not surprising coming from a man of war. He understood that, no matter what the outcome may be, the Lord gave the victory or allowed the defeat. When armies fled, it was due to the power of God, and when kings were scattered, the victory was again the Lord's victory.

The question we should ponder is, how aware are we today of God's specific leading in our own lives? Do we realize that we have the blessings we have because the Lord gave us those blessings? Do we realize that we have the trials we have because they, too, were given to us by the Lord?

It is so easy for us to become so immersed in our daily lives and troubles that we forget the basics of our Christian lives. God rules in the lives and hearts of his people today just as He led in the lives of the Old Testament saints. Just as in the time of David, God has a specific plan for each and every one of His children, and He will do whatever is necessary to keep us on the road He has planned for us.

There is a great deal of comfort in that thought. In a time when there are so very few certainties in life, that is a certainty that we can hang onto! As life continues to rush by, God is deeply involved in the innermost thoughts and intents of our hearts. He, alone, deserves our worship and praise, for He, alone, guides us and leads us through life and then safely brings us to live with Him forever.

With Christmas almost upon us, what a good reminder that Christ came for this very purpose. Without a Savior, there would be no possibility of perfect communion with a holy and righteous God. Christ came for one purpose and He spent His earthly life fulfilling that purpose.

God has brought us to this earth for one single purpose as well, and even though we may just be teens, we would do well to ponder what the Lord gave to us. As we understand the specific gifts He has given to us, we will better understand the role He has chosen for us to play for these few short years we live upon this earth.

Imagine, God Almighty has a specific plan for each His children. How amazing is that?

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, December 12, 2011

Goodness of God

 7O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah:
 8The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
 9Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary.
 10Thy congregation hath dwelt therein: thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor. 

Goodness of God

It must have been an incredible time! The children of Israel, as many in number as the stars in the sky, marched through the desert for 40 years! In all of that time God appeared to them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The earth shook with His presence, at His command manna fell from the heavens, and even Mt Sinai itself was moved by the God of Israel.

In such a time as this, how could they ever forget the goodness of God? When they were thirsty, He provided water; when they were hungry, He provided food; and He stood before them in great splendor as a visual reminder that He would always care for them, the rich and poor alike.

We know all of this; it is plainly written in the pages of the Old Testament. Why then are we so prone to forget the goodness of God? Why are we so quick to charge God foolishly when things do not go in a way that would seem right in our own eyes? How do we dare raise our fists before God and ask Him to give us a reason for the decisions He makes?

Do remember what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes? "There is nothing new under the sun." Though God walked right there beside the children of Israel, when it came time to go into the land, they shrunk back in doubt and fear, refusing to enter the land of the giants. In His anger against their lack of faith, they wandered for 40 years until that entire generation had passed away. 

We have the whole Word of God before us, both the Old and New Testaments. We understand how God revealed Himself through His chosen people, Israel. Time and again He saved them from enemies, yet still they dabbled with the foreign gods, adding them to their own religious practices. In the New Testament we are shown our Savior, who came to this earth to save us from the sin which would cast us into eternal condemnation forever.

With God's plan laid out before us, we still dare to rebel against Him. We still have a tendency to dabble in the things of the world, adding its wicked pleasures into the mix of our service to God. Satan, the great deceiver, would have us believe that as teens, we live in an enlightened time; God does not work the same way today as He did in Bible times.

Just as God was not pleased with His people then, so He is not pleased with us today when we reject the goodness of God for the things of this world, no matter what our age may be.

God desires a holy people, set apart from the temptations of this world, who love Him from the depths of their hearts. To these He does, indeed, show His goodness. From a worldly standpoint, God's people often seem to have the most difficult lives, however, the joy, peace, and contentment they experience is worth more than all the treasures of this earth. 

As we near the end of another calendar year, as Christian teens, let us reflect upon the goodness of God that has and continues to be poured upon us through Jesus, our Priceless Treasure. May we resolve to live this next year for the glory of God, alone!

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda




Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holy Habitation

 5A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
 6God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land. 

Holy Habitation

What an amazing God we serve! He sits in His holy habitation and brings justice to His children. To the fatherless He is a father, to the widows He is a just judge, He grants families to the solitary, and He sets free those who have been imprisoned unjustly. However, those who rebel against Him dwell in a dry land.

How can these things be true when we look all around us and see the opposite. We see orphans and widows treated cruelly, loneliness seems to abound, people are unlawfully imprisoned, and the rebellious seem to live in the best of circumstances. As teens, we face so many impossible situations that it is a wonder anyone makes it through these teen years unscathed.

In a world steeped in sin, it is often difficult for us to see God at work among His people. Yet we must remember that what often appears to us is really an illusion of reality. In faith, we know that God does, indeed, take care of His children. He may allow them to undergo severe circumstances for a time, but He only does so to purify them and make them more like Him. We are so consumed by the values of this wicked world, that God often has to work for years and years to bring us gently to Him.

Our God, who so loves us, His children, only gives us trials that we can bear, and when the difficulties come, so also comes His abundant grace to sustain us through the deep waters. He does not sit in His holy habitation unmoved by our present circumstances, but is actively at work in our hearts and lives bringing grace, comfort, and joy.

What of those who rebel against God? We must remember that if it seems as though the circumstances of the wicked are so much better than ours, we only need to come into the sanctuary of God and understand their end. The good things of this world are the best that they will ever have. For the Godly, however, nothing on this earth will begin to compare with the joys that await us in eternity.

So again I say, what an amazing God we serve. He sits in His holy habitation as a father to the fatherless and a judge to the widows, setting the solitary in families, and freeing those bound with chains. Why? He does this because we have been bought with a price--the blood of His own dear Son. We are a priceless treasure to Him! 

How amazing is that?

God Bless You,
Linda









Thursday, December 8, 2011

Presence of God

 1Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.
 2As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.
 3But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice.
 4Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.

Presence of God

David begins Psalm 68 with an illustration that would be very familiar to him.
Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.
I always marveled at the way my children would react when Daddy came home. They were so delighted to see him, and the improvement in their behavior was amazing! I sometimes wonder how differently we might act and think as Christians teens if we really lived as though the Lord Jesus walked right beside us. We know He is there, but how easily we forget His presence in the middle of the daily activities of life.

The Israelites were frightened by the presence of God; even Moses' shining face resulting from His contact with God made them uneasy. However, for the righteous, the presence of God is a wondrous thing. We rejoice in His awesome power and might, and are cloaked in peace when surrounded with His perfect righteousness.

That is not so for the ungodly. Being in the presence of God brings their every evil deed to the forefront. No matter how comfortable they may be in their sin, all comfort flies away when the light of God reveals every wayward thought. Except for the righteousness of Christ which He miraculously imputes to us, we would experience the same thing.

We are comfortable in this world of darkness, but when the new day appears and the effects of sin are removed, oh what a wondrous world that will be. It is truly beyond our imagination. No wonder David, as he pondered the righteousness of God, proclaimed:
Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.
 Imagine how different your teen years would be if everyone realized that all of their thoughts, words, and deeds were displayed in the presence of God Almighty. It is something to think about, is it not?

God Bless You,
Linda


Monday, December 5, 2011

Peace on Earth

 5Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.
 6Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us.
 7God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him. 

Peace on Earth

These verses seem to come right out of a fairy tale, do they not? Is the psalmist really saying that a time will come on this earth when all of the earth shall fear Him? Yes, that is exactly what the psalmist is saying! 

We hear a lot of talk about peace on earth, especially this time of the year, but it hardly seems possible that such a thing could ever happen. However, these verses are dealing with more than just peace on earth; these verses are speaking of a time when all of the people on the earth will fear God. 

What an amazing time that will be! Not only will all people worship and fear God, but they will all agree, theologically. For a people who have known nothing but disagreements, dissensions, and church splits even among those who profess to believe the words of the Bible, this seems like an impossibility. What of all the other religions in the world? Is it really true that all people will fear God and worship Him in unity?

It is good for us, as Christian teens, to ponder these things, and to understand that this is the future that is coming. Nothing is too hard for God. We may have many opinions as to how we will get from where we are today to that time when peace on earth is the norm, but all who believe the Bible do understand that such a time is coming.

How, then, should that knowledge affect our everyday lives? We, who love and believe God's Word, can and must faithfully trust Him to not only bring to pass all that He has prophesied through His Word, but also to faithfully lead us even in the seemingly unimportant things of life.

Because Jesus lived on this earth, we have a Savior who was touched with the feelings of our infirmities. He understands the temptations we face daily, and is right there beside us encouraging us to faithfully trust in Him. We see the time of peace on earth as sometime in the distant future, but God sees all of time in one, completed package. 

Let us then trust in this God we serve, for we are on the winning side. We know that, indeed, a time will come (may it be soon) when Christ will reign on this earth and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, December 2, 2011

Judge Righteously

 3Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.
 4O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah. 

 Judge Righteously

How would you describe a perfect government? Many things come to mind, but perhaps the most critical attribute of a perfect government would be a perfect judicial system. We have a lot of fun at lawyers' expense, but our jokes sadly express our low expectations for lawyers. We do not even expect an honest judiciary.

God judges the nations righteously. We do not often think about the consequences that nations will pay for their ungodly actions; even as Christians, we seem to forget that God does hold the nations in account for their actions. In response to their actions, He allows some nations to rise and others to fall.

In the Old Testament we have many examples of God allowing nations to successfully war against Israel and Judah, and then we see God's judgment brought upon those very nations for their atrocities against His people. God does not overlook one thing; all nations will be held in account for their actions.

In this self sufficient world, we often forget that God has a plan for this world--a plan which is being carried out perfectly. Nothing in this world happens apart from God's knowledge, and nothing that man can do will stay the hand of God. 

From the beginning Satan has determined to upset God's plan, but his efforts have all been overridden by God. Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, hoping to destroy the entire human race, but God already had a plan of redemption in place. 

As Christians we can indeed say,
O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth 
Though while on this earth we only see through a glass darkly, we can be assured that God's Word is true; everything He has ordained will come to pass. God does, indeed, judge the nations, and He will judge righteously. We are on the victorious side; God rules both now, and forever more!

So, how does this affect you, as a Christian teen? In your busy life, the things happening on the other side of the world really do not seem to have much of an effect on your day-to-day life. When we look at the bigger picture, such as we looked at in today's teen devotional, we are always reminded that, just as God has a plan for the nations, so, too, does He have a specific plan for each and every one of His children.

Even now, in your teen years, you can be busy training yourself for the life God has purposed for you. I know that it is hard to imagine, but the God who created this world and controls the entire universe, cares about you, and has a specific plan for your life. How awesome is that!

Go, today, and live your life for the glory of God, for in every single detail of your life, He will judge righteously!

God Bless You,
Linda




Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thy Way

 1God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.
 2That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. 

 Thy Way

Tucked in between two much longer Psalms, is this short Psalm, just seven verses long, but filled with great depth and encouragement. The psalmist begins by pleading for God's mercy, His blessing, and that His face would shine upon us.

What is the value of life apart from the Lord? In truth, there is no life apart from the Lord. Unless our life is filled with God's mercies and blessings, it becomes just a bleak subsistence! Unfortunately, most of us tend to struggle for years, sometimes even decades, before we come to that understanding. In fact, some people never do come to that knowledge. Why is that?

The allures of this life are so tantalizing that we are convinced that our true happiness is just around the corner. Surely more things, more prestige, more power, more honor, etc. are all we need to satisfy the longings of our hearts. If this life is all there is, that would be true, but there is so much more than just our years of existence on this earth. What a valuable lesson to learn while still in our teens!

We are created beings with souls that long for fellowship with God, our Creator. That longing fills our life with emptiness until it finds its completion in Christ. However, when God is merciful to us, blessing us with the knowledge of Him, that emptiness is filled with all the blessings of Christ. When God's face shines upon us, we come to the understanding that Christ is everything. All of the needs of our souls are met in Christ.

Oh that the whole world might be filled with the knowledge of Christ! We speak of world peace, ending poverty, and conquering diseases, but none of these things are possible apart from Christ. None of these things can be accomplished politically, because man's sin will always allow greed, envy, and pride to intervene!

As Christian teens, let us take up the banner introduced by the writer of Psalm 67. Let us pray for the healing of the nations as the Word of God is proclaimed to all mankind. We may not have the ability to preach the Gospel in foreign lands, but God has given a personal ministry to each of us right where we are. That ministry to our families, our friends, and our neighbors is the whole reason for our existence. 

What an amazing God we serve! Oh, how He loves us with a love beyond our comprehension!

God Bless You,
Linda