Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bear the Yoke?

 25The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
 26It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.
 27It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. 
(Lamentations 3:25-27, King James Version)

Bear the Yoke?

What an interesting choice of words is found in Lamentation 3: It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Now, I will bet that in all of the words of advice and wisdom you receive from others, you have never been told that it is good for you to bear the yoke in your youth.

I thought that youth was a time to have fun and enjoy all the love, affection, and things poured upon you. Life need not be taken too seriously, as this is a time for innocence and fun? Right? No! Perhaps that seems to be a prevailing attitude among the youth of our day, but for the Christian teen, that is certainly not the advice given to you by God.

I know it is a scary thought, but the attitudes, habits, and patterns of life you establish now, while in the days of your youth, will accompany you all of your days. Somehow we think that a magical day is coming when we will set aside all of the things of our youth and become adults. Do not tell them that I told you, but adults are really just "youth" a few days, years, or decades from now. In other words, the insecurities you feel now will follow you all of the days of your life.

What are you to do? Now is the time to establish habits and patterns that will build up your faith in the Lord and be a positive influence on your Christian life. Remember, many of the greatest Psalms of David were written when he was but a youth, keeping watch over his father's sheep. How about Daniel? While still a youth, he was torn from his family home and taken to live in the courts of the king of Babylon. Yet, refusing the riches of the kingdom, he chose to eat only the foods God called clean. From his youth, he remained faithful to God.

If the rest of your life depends upon the type of Christian you are today, what will your life be like? Do not wait to get serious about the Lord, for the opportunities you face today may well be gone tomorrow.

What Christian traits does God value? The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is not our talents or our good looks that impress God--it is our hearts. Seek Him today with all of your hearts, and He will remain your Lord forever!

So, bear the yoke now in the days of your youth. Now is the time to reach out to God; now is the day of salvation!

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Called by God

4 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:
       5 “ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
      Before you were born I sanctified you;
      I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
6 Then said I:
      “ Ah, Lord GOD!
      Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.”
7 But the LORD said to me:
      “ Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
      For you shall go to all to whom I send you,
      And whatever I command you, you shall speak.
       8 Do not be afraid of their faces,
      For I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD.
9 Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me:
      “ Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
       10 See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms,
      To root out and to pull down,
      To destroy and to throw down,
      To build and to plant.”
(Jeremiah 1:4-10, New King James Version)

Called by God

The above Bible passage from Jeremiah 1 is one of the most amazing examples of God's calling of His servant. Hearing God's call upon Him, Jeremiah said, "Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth." His pleas were useless as evidenced God's Words to Jeremiah. How does this Bible passage apply to us as teens in the 21st century? Let us look through these verses and see how God spoke to Jeremiah, realizing that God speaks to us in the same way today.

Jeremiah was first approached by God who said to Him: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." How amazing is that? The next time someone tells you that a baby is not a person while still in the womb, you read Jeremiah 1. Jeremiah was a person in the eyes of God even before he was in his mother's womb. You are not here by accident, but your life was planned by God before time began, and you have a God-ordained job to do while you are here! Is that too big of a stretch to gain from these verses? No! God is so much bigger than we can even imagine!

No wonder Jeremiah's feeble excuse was ignored by God. When he complained that he could not speak because he was but a youth, how did God respond? "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak."

Can we then look at God and say, "No!"? Like Jeremiah, God does not call us to do what we are not able to do, but, rather, He equips us with all of the abilities, including our likes and dislikes, that make us perfectly suited for the job He has planned for us to do. If we need to speak before rulers of this world, we are not to worry about what we will say, for He will put the words in our mouths. We are not to fear what they can do to us, for God will protect us.

You may ask, "But what of those who are martyred for the Lord? Where was God's hand of protection for them?" Those who are martyred for the Lord are exactly where God has purposed for them to be. We will live exactly the number of days that God has planned for us before time began, and when our day comes to be taken to live with Him forever, we will go to Him. As a believer, do you think that when you die you will be disappointed to find yourselves wrapped in the arms of Jesus? I think not! We may be missed by family and friends, but we will not be disappointed. However, until that specific day ordained by God before time began, you are safe no matter where you are or what you are doing.

It is time that you as today's Christian youth look beyond your limited existence and see the bigger picture. You have a job to do--that is why you are here. What are you doing today to prepare yourself for a lifetime of service for God? No matter what career field you enter, as a believer, you are called by God, foremost, to live that life to the honor and glory of God, alone. He will use you to be a light to those all around you who walk in darkness.

In other words, everyone--at least every true believer--is called by God no matter what their future holds. Like Jeremiah, even as a youth, you are being equipped to fulfill the God-given purpose for which you were created.

Pretty cool, don't you think?

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rejoice in Your Youth!

    9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth,
      And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth;
      Walk in the ways of your heart,
      And in the sight of your eyes;
      But know that for all these
      God will bring you into judgment.
       10 Therefore remove sorrow from your heart,
      And put away evil from your flesh,
      For childhood and youth are vanity. 
(Ecclesiastes 11:9-10, New King James Version)

Rejoice in Your Youth!

There is a saying, which I am sure you have heard: Youth is wasted on the young. Unfortunately, it takes about four or five decades before you will see the true humor in that statement. Solomon, writing in Ecclesiastes 11, seems to be saying much the same thing.

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth.

Is it just me, or does it seem that there are very few teens today who actually seem to be rejoicing in their youth? Why not? What has happened that has created such cynicism, such anger, and such depression during these days in which you are to be rejoicing?

One can point to many reasons, I am sure, but perhaps what we see is symptomatic of a false impression regarding the way to find happiness or peace. Where do most teens turn to find happiness? I can think of a few things, and I know you can think of even more: sex, drugs, friends, possessions, and the list goes on. The difficulty in all of these things is that true happiness and inner peace cannot come from others or from things which we possess.

As Christian teens, how are you to reach your lost peers? Are you struggling with the same issues they are, or have you found the answer to true peace, joy, and happiness? For answers, let us turn to God's Word, for only there will we find the truth!
 3Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
 4Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: (Isaiah 26:3-4, King James Version
 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.
 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6, King James Version
 1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2, King James Version)
What does the phrase: "the chastisement of our peace" mean? Here is Isaiah 53:5 in the English Standard Translation: But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

You see, we are under the curse of sin, therefore peace is impossible. However, the Lord Jesus Christ, when He died on the cross for our sins took upon Himself the chastisement we deserved. The result: peace for the believer! How amazing is that?

Going back to Solomon's words in Ecclesiastes, we are given both a warning and a charge.

Warning: Walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.

Charge: Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity.

How do you remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh? By the grace of God, look beyond the days of your youth, not just in this life, but consider where you will be when the days of this life are over. True happiness, peace, and joy are found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Go to Him now, while you are still in the days of your youth. Only in Him will you find, not only peace, joy, and happiness, but also truth!

So, go, and rejoice in the your youth, but do so with the blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ! In Him is no darkness, neither shadow of turning!

God Bless You,
Linda







Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Youth and the King

    13 Better a poor and wise youth
      Than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more.
       14 For he comes out of prison to be king,
      Although he was born poor in his kingdom.
       15 I saw all the living who walk under the sun;
      They were with the second youth who stands in his place.
       16 There was no end of all the people over whom he was made king;
      Yet those who come afterward will not rejoice in him.
      Surely this also is vanity and grasping for the wind. 
(Ecclesiastes 4:13-16, New King James Version)

The Youth and the King

Remember, as you read the Bible passage shown above from Ecclesiastes 4, that the writer of this book was King Solomon. We do not know his age when he wrote this proverb, so we do not know if he was equating himself with "the youth" or with "the old and foolish king." He was both--you know.

Perhaps Solomon was still just a youth, himself, when he wrote these words. As a youth in the kingdom of David, I am sure he had plenty of opportunities to view his father, the king, in both wise and foolish situations.

We know that Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba. Though David sinned grievously against God when he made Bathsheba his wife, yet God forgave him of his sin and blessed he and Bathsheba with the birth of Solomon. Even as a child, Solomon was especially loved by God.
  24 Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Now the LORD loved him, 25 and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD. (2 Samuel 12:24-25, New King James Version)
Notice those words at the end of verse 24, "Now the LORD loved him." We must be especially careful that we do not disdain our own youth! Even when he was but a baby, God loved Solomon.

I fear that we often think we can do anything while still a child as we are not responsible for our actions until we reach adulthood. That attitude may be part of the fabric of our society, but it is certainly not the case with God. The two greatest kings of Israel, David and Solomon, were both known to love the Lord passionately from the days of their youth.

None of us will probably have the opportunity to become a king, but, should God grant us the years, we will all have the opportunity to live to an old age. What kind of a person will we be when we are old? Will we be like the old and foolish king, or will we still be living a life devoted to the God we love? The answer to that question is being formulated right now while you are still in the days of your youth.

Devote your heart and life to God, right now, and pray for His grace to keep you close to Him. Go to Him, for in the end, it is God's power that saves us, it is God's power that keeps us, and it is God's power that will one day bring us into His courts to live with him forever!

As you think of the youth and the king, I pray that you will set your heart to be God's devoted servant all of the days of your life. Someday in heaven, perhaps we will have a chance to talk about how God blessed your life and mine.

To Him be all the honor and glory forever. Amen!

God Bless You,
Linda




Monday, November 26, 2012

Sins of My Youth

 6 Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses,
         For they are from of old.
 7 Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;
         According to Your mercy remember me,
         For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.
         
 8 Good and upright is the LORD;
         Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. 
(Psalm 25:6-8, New King James Version)

Sins of My Youth

Are we responsible before God for the sins we commit in our youth? Are we not excused because we have not yet reached full adulthood?

The difficultly when we start asking questions such as these, is that we are constantly comparing ourselves with one another. After all, we are not really any worse than anyone else, are we? In reality, each and every one of us, no matter what our age, needs to compare ourselves with God.

Now, that is an entirely different matter, is it not? Not one of us can compare ourselves to God, for God is perfect, holy, righteous, and good. We have never truly been any of those things. What, then, are we to do? What did David, the writer of Psalm 25, do?

David turned his eyes upon the Lord.

Are we good? No!
Is the Lord good? Yes!

Are we righteous? No!
Is the Lord righteous? Yes!

Are we holy? No!
Is the Lord holy? Yes!

Are we perfect? No!
Is the Lord perfect? Yes!

Even now, in the days of your youth, do as David did: turn your eyes upon Christ. Only with Christ in our hearts will we ever be righteous, holy, good, or perfect before God. For, when God looks upon Christ's children, He sees them covered in the righteous blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, you are responsible before God for the sins you commit in your youth. The only covering for those sins has been provided by Christ. Go to Him, for He, alone, can and will save you from the condemnation of death that has been upon you since the day you were conceived.

Over 2000 years ago, David turned his heart to the Lord. Oh, he was certainly not a perfect man or a perfect king, but he was truly redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ just as Christians are redeemed today.

I am looking forward to spending some personal time with David in Heaven. What a glorious time it will be to hear from him his own personal account of God's victory in his life on this earth.

God saved David from the judgment of the sins of his youth. Has God save you?

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, November 23, 2012

Youth is No Excuse!

 32 Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”  
33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.”  
(1 Samuel 17:32-33, New King James Version)


Youth is No Excuse!

He had an out. Sure, his vow was hasty--he spoke before he had time to think about what he was saying, but now he had a way out. Of course it was ridiculous to think that a mere shepherd boy, barely even 6 feet tall could face a giant, more than 9 feet tall, who was an experienced man of war. No wonder Goliath laughed when he saw what Israel had done. They were such cowards that now they sent a mere boy to face him. Well, no matter--he would soon finish off this mere child, and today the Israelites would be his slaves.

Have you ever found yourself in a position where you spoke before you really thought about what you were saying. Oops! Now, you were stuck. Were you able to claim ignorance or be excused because you were, after all, only a child?

That is the amazing thing about the teen years, is it not? One minute you can claim adulthood and make your own choice, and the next, you can claim to be just a child, not responsible for the decision you have just made. According to the Bible, however, that will not work. Youth is no excuse!

 11Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. (Proverbs 20:11, King James Version)

But, let us get back to our story. Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth." How did David respond?

 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 Moreover David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”  
And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”  
(1 Samuel 17:34-37, New King James Version)

Though he was but a youth, David had discovered the secret to life. David said, "The LORD . . . will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."

Who will deliver you from the Philistines in your life? Where do you turn for help, support, and comfort? As a teen, no one is more important in your life than your friends, but there is one Friend who needs to be more important than all of your earthly friends combined.

Christ is not only our Savior, He is our best friend, our comforter, our peace, our joy, and our greatest love. He needs to be our constant companion wherever we go. That was the secret to life that David had discovered. It mattered not that the giant was more than 9 feet tall. He could have been 29 feet tall, and it still would not have mattered, for David knew that his strength was in the Lord and not in himself.

Go, today, and live in the strength and power of the Lord. Through Him, you are invincible!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, November 16, 2012

According to His Youth

32 So they set him a place by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves; because the Egyptians could not eat food with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians. 33 And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth; and the men looked in astonishment at one another. 34 Then he took servings to them from before him, but Benjamin’s serving was five times as much as any of theirs. So they drank and were merry with him. 
(Genesis 43:32-34, New King James Version)

According to His Youth

The story of Joseph, as recorded in the book of Genesis, is probably one of my favorite Bible passages. It is good for us to reacquaint ourselves with this familiar story, as we get a clear picture of the way God works in our own lives today.

What was so amazing or astounding to the brothers of Joseph in the Bible passage shown above, that they "Looked in astonishment at one another"? By the time we reach the passage shown above from Genesis 43, the brothers of Joseph were now on their second trip to Egypt. A severe famine in their country had driven them to Egypt looking for grain to purchase for their families and their cattle. Yet, in Egypt, they found the taskmaster to be rather severe and demanding of them. They did not realize that, in answering his questions, they were laying a trap for themselves.

Neither did they realize that they were actually in the presence of their very own brother, Joseph. When they reached his house, they found places already set for them at his table in the exact order of their birth, beginning with Reuben, the oldest, and ending with Benjamin, the youngest. No wonder they were astonished. How could this man not only know their names, but know the order of their birth?

Let us zoom the camera out for a minute and see this scene from God's perspective. God had set apart, from the descendants of Abraham, a people for Himself. For now, they were still a small group, yet they were under the protecting hand of God. From the time of Adam, Satan was busy trying to extinguish God's people. Yet, God, in His Almighty hand of providence, continually kept them from danger.

That is exactly what was happening here. Now, a famine in the land threatened the very existence of God's little group of people. In preparation, God allowed the brothers of Joseph to follow their evil inclinations and sell him to a group of people going to Egypt. As a slave, how could he possibly be of any use in God's kingdom?

God prospered Joseph in the land of Egypt. Sold as a slave and falsely accused of adultery, he spent years in the prison of Pharaoh. God then raised him up so that he was second only to Pharaoh himself. Now, his brothers appeared, with his own brother, Benjamin, to buy grain. Though his brothers did not recognize him, Joseph knew who they were. In time, he came to realize that God allowed all of the evil circumstances of his life just for this time; now, in God's providence, he was able to bring them into the land of Egypt and preserve their lives.

None of them, however, could see the even bigger picture that we can see. For, as we read God's Word, we understand that God was preserving the line of Christ. Centuries later, through the descendants of Judah, the brother of Joseph, Christ would come to this earth through his mother, Mary. Conceived by the Holy Spirit, the Messiah would give His life that He might save a people for Himself.

How does all of this apply to us? We cannot see the big picture, can we? We only see the daily circumstances of our lives, and often what we see is not very pretty. Yet, God, in His Holy providence is working in the lives of His people today, bringing about His plan for this world. Even in the smallest details of our lives, He is accomplishing His perfect and holy will.

How do we, as teens, fit into God's picture? I do not know! However, the Bible assures us that God is accomplishing His will, and He is accomplishing it through His people--you!! As a child of God, you have a specific reason for being here. Nothing happens to you by chance.

Go, today, in the strength and power of the Lord, and live this day for His honor and glory. Do not let the discouragements of this life detour you from living and serving God. In Him are all of the blessings of this life and the life to come. Just as God had a specific purpose for Joseph and his brothers, so He has one for you as well.

How amazing is that?

That, dear friend, is the God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Youth

 20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
 22 “While the earth remains,
      Seedtime and harvest,
      Cold and heat,
      Winter and summer,
      And day and night
      Shall not cease.”
(Genesis 8:20-22, New King James Version)

Youth

What is so special about the days of our youth? I thought it would be interesting to do a series of devotions on the word, "youth." After all, you are only young once, so how will the decisions you make right now, in the days of your youth, affect you for the rest of your life? As we answer that question, let us look in God's Word and seek to glean some wisdom that may point us in the right direction, and perhaps save us from detouring down the wrong path.

It was finally over! For almost a year, Noah had been shut up in the ark with only his wife, his sons, and their wives. All of the rest of humanity was gone--wiped out by the devastating flood which covered the entire earth. Stepping out onto the fresh, new grass, and looking up into the clear blue sky, Noah was overcome with thankfulness to God. Building an altar to the LORD, Noah offered burnt offerings of thankfulness to God.

How did God respond? The Lord smelled the soothing aroma and said, "Never again! Even though the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth, I will never again curse the ground for man's sake." As a matter of fact, God punctuated His words with this promise,

"While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease."

Here we are, thousands of years later, still experiencing seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night. And so will we continue to do so until the day God says, "No more!" There is a great deal of comfort in that thought, is there not? It is not up to man to continue this earth on its journey; it is God who created this earth, set it upon its courses, and will continue to maintain it until the end of time.

God gave us that promise in spite of those chilling words: "All though the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth." That sounds pretty bleak, does it not? Just because you are still in the days of your youth, you are not exempt! God already holds you responsible for the thoughts and inclinations of your heart, and those thoughts and inclinations, in and of themselves, are not good!

What is the answer? Is there no hope? Yes, there is hope, and it is found in Genesis 8:20-22. Our hope, not only in the days of our youth, but for all of the days of our lives, is found in God. It is He who sustains this earth, and it is He who will sustain us.

Like David, set the pattern right now, in the days of your youth, of going to God for everything. Go to Him in your days of sadness, your days of pain, your days of affliction, and also in your days of joy. He is always there; His promises are eternal. He, alone, is the only Source of love, joy, peace, and happiness. You will find it in none other, but Him!

Today, when you step out in the cold, morning air, remind yourself that cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night will not cease because God sustains them, and it is God who sustains you!

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wineskin in Smoke

 83 For I have become like a wineskin in smoke,
         Yet I do not forget Your statutes. (Psalm 119:83, New King James Version)

Wineskin in Smoke

All right - I know you are going to ask, "What does this title have to do with relationships?"

In my Daily Bible Devotions blog, I am continuing the series we were doing titled, "First Love." I was captivated by the phrase, "Wineskin in Smoke," found in Psalm 119:83. What in the world does that mean anyway? The web is a wonderful source for information, and I discovered some interesting comments regarding this verse.

I'll just give a short version of regarding the Psalmist's reference in verse 83 of Psalm 119.

In Old Testament times, wineskin was put in new leather pouches or "bottles." Because new leather is soft and supple, the wine was allowed to grow or mature without bursting the wineskins. Those who lived in tents would often hang their wineskins filled with wine from the top of the tents, keeping them secure, but out of the way. However, on cold chilly days, when a warm fire was lit inside the tent, smoke would rise to the top and then curl back down into the tent, covering everything, including the wineskins, in warm, smokey air. After a period of time, the wineskins would become cracked and dry, and were no longer useful for keeping and preserving the wine.

As a teen, if you are anything like I was, it seemed that many days--maybe even most days--my Christian life felt like that wineskin in smoke: dry and brittle. I think the teen years always remind me of that little nursery rhyme: When she was good, she was very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid. Does that not describe your life most days?

What happened to all of those days in the middle? It seems as though life is either very, very good, or it is horrid. However, this devotion is about relationships, is it not? How does wineskin in smoke refer to relationships?

The wineskin, then, was not the perfect means of preservation for the wine, was it? No matter what we do, what we say, or how we act, we never come out perfect, do we? Even at our very best, sometimes it seems as though everything we touch is ruined.

The writer of Psalm 119 shares some very interesting verses with us later in the Psalm.

 113  I hate the double-minded,
         But I love Your law.
 114  You are my hiding place and my shield;
         I hope in Your word. (Psalm 119:113-114, New King James Version)

When it comes to relationships, there is one relationship that we as a Christian must never neglect. That is our relationship with Christ. The Psalmist, when beat down and suffering, always returned to God; he always found comfort in God's Word.

Are we any different today? Is God's Word still able to bring comfort to us in the 21st Century? Oh yes!  Go to Christ, pour out your soul to Him, and you, too, will receive comfort and joy that will sustain you even in the worst of times.

Is your life dried and brittle like that wineskin in the bottle from verse 83? Christ will shed that dry and brittle life and make it pure and glorious as you reflect His glory, and not your own.

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Relationships!

 5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 
(Philippians 2:5-8, King James Version)

Relationships!

For the past several months we have been doing a series of devotionals called, "First Love," from the book of Psalms. I have actually been following this series in two blogs, one called Daily Bible Devotionals and in this blog: Devotionals for Teens, writing mostly the same devotional, but adding and emphasizing points in this blog that are more closely related to you, as teens. If you would like to continue that series, I encourage you to follow the link shown above.

In this blog, I would like to begin a new series exploring relationships: boy/girl, parent/teen, friend/friend, etc., with an emphasis on the most important relationship we can have in this life, and that is with the Lord, our God. As believers it is imperative that we base our thoughts, words, and actions upon the instructions given to us by God in His Holy Word.

My decision to do this is based upon the correspondence I have received from you. Most questions posed to me from you, are related to problems or questions involving relationships you have, with the preponderance being boy/girl relationships. Your questions are good, and the difficulties you experience are real and often painful. Working through these situations now will help you to continue to grow and mature as a believer, and learn how to face the difficulties of living in a fallen world which is truly at war with Christ and His followers.

I will not be writing a new devotional every day, but hope to write three or four each week, and continue to welcome your questions. I will also continue to include some "Teen Answers" entries as I have done in the past, based upon correspondence you send to me.

As we approach this new subject, I thought of the passage shown above from Philippians 2, especially verse 5: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. That is really what this is all about, is it not? Not only do we find ourselves at odds with the world, we often find ourselves to be in a battle with ourselves. We have a desire to love and obey God, but find ourselves doing the very things we hate, and failing to do the things we love.

Paul, the writer of Philippians, also wrote some very interesting verses about this inner battle we face in the book of Romans.
 14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
 15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
 16If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
 17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (Romans 7:14-17, King James Version)
Let us then, pray for one another as we seek to honor and glorify God in our relationships with others, and let us pray that we would, like Paul, desire to have the same mind in us that we saw in the Lord Jesus Christ. He, who is very God, not considering it robbery to be equal with God, humbled Himself, taking on the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Why? So that He might save a people for Himself.

May we, then, be willing to submit our lives, our hearts, and our wills unto Him who gave so much for us, and may we honor Him, above all, in all of the actions and decisions we make. For He is God, and we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

God Bless You,
Linda


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Faithful Afflictions


 73Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
 74They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.
 75I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
 76Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. 

Faithful Afflictions

As we continue our devotional series on "First Love," from the Psalms we hear the Psalmist thanking God for His faithful afflictions. What great faith is this? When in the middle of the trials and difficulties of this life do we remember to thank God for His faithful afflictions? Most of us are too busy crying out to God to end our afflictions to even think of thanking Him for them.

It is not easy, from the perspective of a teen, to have the depth of understanding shown by the writer of Psalm 119. Very few of us, in our teen years, can honestly say, "Thank you, God, for faithful afflictions!"

Look at the depth of understanding shown by the writer of Psalm 119. Understanding that no one knows Him like his Creator, he cries out to God, Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. The secret to a successful life, according to our writer lies in our abilities to learn and apply the commandments of God to our lives.

Should we not then diligently apply ourselves to the study of God's Word? If the secret to a successful and happy life lies in our knowledge of Scripture, then nothing should be more important to learn! Unfortunately, Christian teens have been too guilty of flying to the world's understanding, seeking knowledge in the foremost colleges and universities. One can hardly expect to have any sort of success without at least one degree, can they?

While seeking out the knowledge of the world and applying it to our vocation for this life is not a bad thing, to do so, apart from God's Word, is devastating for the believer. No worldly knowledge can replace the pure, unadulterated, living Word of God! No matter what our worldly estate--whether great or small, may we find ourselves returning again and again to the Word of God, seeking out its meaning and applying its truths to every fabric of our being.

Our time one this earth, though it seems endless while we are still in our teen years, is actually just a breath in time--a vapor. In contrast, eternity stretches out before us. Christ came to this earth, spent Himself for us, and suffered the agony of our sins so that we are not bound to the corruption of this earth, but have a way of escape which leads us to life everlasting.

Let us, in our desire to gain everything we can from our life on this earth, not escape the greater eternal life that awaits all who fall to Christ for life. He is our Hope, our Joy, our Comforter, and our Redeemer. In Christ alone dwells all the riches of life everlasting. No matter where God leads you, as a Christian teen, be sure to take Christ with you, wherever you go. Never neglect the study of His Word because you do not have time. You do not have time to not study God's Word!

Thank God for faithful afflictions which turn our hearts away from the things of this earth and point them to Christ our only true God and King.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Good Affliction


 69The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
 70Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.
 71It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
 72The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. 

Good Affliction

How willing are we to speak of good affliction? How can affliction be good? We would all much rather face 1000 beautiful days that one day of affliction, and yet that one day of affliction can produce more than 1000 beautiful days! How can that be?

How willing are we as teens to face the future without our dearest friends? How willing are we as Christian friends to even abandon our faith for the sake of our friends. Oh how careful we must be, for there is no friend greater to us than the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother!

The Psalmist understood the pure, unadulterated treasure he had in the law of God, for he understood, The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. That is the voice of maturity speaking. 

One of the most difficult concepts for true believers to understand is the true wickedness and deception of the ungodly. As we model the character of Christ we must do so wisely, always understanding the true heart of man. For man, apart from Christ, is only evil continually. The Psalmist experienced this first hand when he stated, The proud have forged a lie against me . . . their heart is as fat as grease (their hearts are callous and unfeeling, NIV), but I delight in thy law. 

Facing the lies of others, especially former friends, is probably one of the most difficult experiences for teens. We depend upon our friends for everything, and when they turn on us, where can we go?

Oh how important it is for the children of God to constantly find themselves pouring over the Word of God, memorizing it, meditating upon it, and making it their standard of life, for the law of God protects us from the wiles of the wicked. Even when we can make no sense of our circumstances, especially when going through great afflictions at the hands of those we once loved and trusted, we know that our God, who loves us with an unsurpassed love, measures our afflictions so that we grow in them, but are not discouraged or undone by them. 

Rightly, the Psalmist turned away from the actions of those who lied against him and set his heart upon the Lord. What a golden example for Christian teens today. We have so much more than the Psalmist had, for Christ has come, He has paid the debt of our sins, and He has sent His Spirit to dwell within our hearts and lead us in the way we ought to go. Christ is the greatest and dearest friend we will ever have!

The next time we experience affliction, let us turn to God and thank Him for the good affliction He has sent, for He desires that we become more and more like Him. Only through these means can we gain that wonderful peace that passes all understanding; only in Christ will we find all of the the joy and peace that this life can offer. Only in Christ can we look forward to a greater life to come when we will live with Him forever!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teach Me Good Judgment


 65Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.
 66Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.
 67Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
 68Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes. 

Teach Me Good Judgment

As a Christian teen, I cannot think of a better passage to claim as your own. 

What a prayer! Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. How much pain and grief could we avoid if we consistently walked with the Lord using good judgment and knowledge? How much pain and grief could we avoid if we consistently went to the Lord for help and wisdom rather than choosing to do things our way.

It is important that we understand that, even as Christian teens, we are so prone to sin and wander away from the Lord, that we need to constantly pray for His wisdom. How often do things seem to be right in our own eyes, but we discover later that we were led astray.

The Psalmist understood that the secret to a successful walk with the Lord is to keep ourselves in His Word continually, praying always that He will keep us from straying from His truth. Paul spoke of the inner turmoil we face as believers, in Romans 7. I know this is a rather long passage, but take a moment to read through these verses as they so accurately portray the daily struggle we face against sin in our own lives.
 18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
 19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
 20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
 21I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
 22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
 24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:18-25King James Version)
Let us, like the Psalmist, cling to the Lord Jesus Christ, and seek to spend time daily pouring through His Word. For, how can we keep His Word if we do not know His Word!

May you go today in the the strength and power of the Lord and pray, with the Psalmist, Teach me good judgment!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, October 12, 2012

Companions


 57Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.
 58I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.
 59I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
 60I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
 61The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.
 62At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.
 63I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
 64The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes. 

Companions

Who are our companions? As teens, we are at the time in our lives when our friends mean everything to us. We are told that we can learn much about a person based upon the companions he or she keeps. How would others view you based upon the friends you keep? The Psalmist of Psalm 119, in verse 63, placed an emphasis on the importance of keeping the right companions. 

As the Psalmist recounted his faithfulness to keeping the Word of God, he recognized the danger of the influence of the wicked: The bands of the wicked have robbed me. "Not to worry, though," he said, for I am a companion of all them that fear thee, of of them that keep thy precepts.

One of the greatest challenges facing Christians not only in our day, but since the beginning of time, has been living in this world, rubbing shoulders with the lost, and yet maintaining a faithful testimony for the Lord. 

We often miss the significance of what the Lord did with the nation of Israel to keep them from integrating the gods of their enemies into their own spiritual lives. While Jacob was still alive, God used the a famine and the events surrounding Joseph to preserve the newly developing nation from integration with the Canaanites or the Egyptians. Due to the severe famine, Jacob and his descendants, then numbering 70, moved to the land of Egypt. 

How did God keep them from integrating the Egyptians gods into their lives? By profession they were shepherds, but shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians. So, the family of Jacob, by the authority of Joseph, moved to the land of Goshen and remained a separate people. By the time 400 years had passed, they were a people still faithful to God, and mighty in number.

Even as teens, we face similar challenges in our day. Often it is easier to incorporate worldly ideas and influences into our belief system than to remain faithful to God's Word, especially if we fear negative retribution from those around us. Like the Psalmist, we would do well to maintain some close relationships with other Godly people who desire to love and please the Lord above all.

However, above all, we need to seek help from the Lord, as did the Psalmist when he said, "The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes."

Go, then, in the strength and power of the Lord, thinking on His ways, and turning your feet unto His testimonies (hopefully with a few great Christian friends)!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gripped by Horror!


 53Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.
 54Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
 55I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.
 56This I had, because I kept thy precepts. 

Gripped by Horror!

As a Christian teen, how concerned are you about the spiritual estate of your family, friends, and acquaintances? The Psalmist, when considering the wicked, was horrified!

What a contrast the Psalmist shows between the wicked and the righteous! As the writer contemplates the true estate of the lost he is gripped by horror. How can it be that the wicked can so utterly forsake the Law of God, and yet be so clueless as to their true estate?

In contrast the Psalmist remembers that God's statutes have constituted his songs of praise, as he finds himself remembering the name of the Lord in the night. What is significant about the night? It is one thing to find peace and rest in the day, but in the darkness of the night our true estate is often demonstrated. Even when the light of day did not shine upon him, the Psalmist remembered his songs of praise to the Lord. 

Does the Psalmist put us to shame? Do we really care about the spiritual estate of others or are we too busy keeping up with the world's standards? As we look to the future, what are we hoping to accomplish in this life? Amass a great deal of wealth, travel, make a name for ourselves? These would be top priorities for those of this world, but should they be top priorities for believers?

To what does the Psalmist attribute his consistency? He has found his hope in the Law of God, and through the help of the Lord, his ability to keep the Law. It would seem that the word, "horror" is a rather extreme word to use: Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.

How affected are we by the lack of belief and the actions of the ungodly? How concerned are we about those who forsake the Law of God? How much time do we actually devote to our lost friends and neighbors either in praying for their salvation or in bringing the good news of salvation to them?

I fear that often we are content to just let the lost be lost! As long as our hearts are right with the Lord, we are content to allow the world to go right on its way careening through their life of terror that will only end in their destruction! Rather than face possible rejection or embarrassment, we look the other way.

Yet, what did Christ tell us was the greatest commandments? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thy self. (Luke 10:27, KJV)

That is the difficulty, is it not? How do we truly love our neighbor as ourselves? Let us pray that God will grant to us such a great love for the lost that we will spend our lives working and praying for their salvation. 

That may seem like an impossibility to us, but let us remember Mark 10:27: And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

That is the reason we are here; with God's help, we are here to share Christ with our friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. No matter what our vocation may be, God will give us plenty of opportunities to share Christ through our own faithful walk with Him.

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Remember the Word


 49Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
 50This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
 51The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.
 52I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself. 

Remember the Word

As a teen how much do you remember? You may be like me: good about cramming for a test, but not good about remembering it later. In terms of what things from your schooling you will want to carry with you for the rest of your life, nothing is more important than the Word of God. Pray that God will help you to remember the Word--that it will keep you faithful to Him all of your days on this earth, whether they be many or few!

As we slowly walk through Psalm 119 in this series of devotions called, "First Love," we are reminded by the writer of the powerful place God's Word has in our walk with the Lord. It is through the study of the Bible that have hope in the darkest of hours, and it is in God's Word we receive unlimited comfort in our days of affliction.

To those of the world, ours is a foolish hope; in their pride and arrogance they scoff at God's children. Their life is filled with meaningless conquests and love of more and more possessions.

Yet, in all these things let us as Christian teens, like the Psalmist, cling to the promises of God's Word and let us be reminded that God is always our First Love. The Bible is filled with messages of hope from its beginning to its end. Here are just a few examples from the pages of the New Testament:

 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3King James Version)

 27To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Colossians 1:27King James Version)

 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Titus 2:13King James Version)

 17Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
 18That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
 19Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; (Hebrews 6:17-19King James Version)

Though the Psalmist did not have the rich blessing of the New Testament as we do, still he understood that all of his comfort and hope was in the Lord. Throughout the pages of his Torah, God's mighty acts on behalf of His people was displayed again and again. 

Let us, then, lift up our hands in praise and honor to this amazing God we love and serve. Truly the world does not understand the rich blessings they are missing. Let us faithfully proclaim God's Word to all those we meet with the prayer and hope that many will come to Christ. As Christian teens, that is your true mission in this life!

Yes, remember the Word, and rejoice in the sure and stedfast blessings God has granted to you.

God Bless You,
Linda