Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Longing Soul


 17Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
 18Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
 19I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.
 20My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times. 

A Longing Soul

Being from the Midwest, when I see the word, "bountiful," I think of a bountiful harvest. The clear, dry, weather we are having is giving the farmers plenty of time to harvest their corn and soybeans. Whether the crop is bountiful or not remains to be seen. Many famers were drastically affected by a lack of necessary rain during the growing season. One friend of ours said that the ears of corn in his fields were only about half full, but trusted that God had more for him to learn from a lean harvest than a full harvest.

As a teen, what do you think of when you hear the word, "bounty?" As a Christian teen, thinking of God dealing bountiful with you, what would you desire most?

Is the Psalmist, here, speaking of crops or of money, when he said, Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word? No, he is not speaking of crops or of money. What, then, does he mean? He answers that question in the next verse: Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Because he recognized that he was just a stranger in the earth, the Psalmist understood that the most important things he could gain while on this earth were related to the things out of God's law. As a matter of fact, he so yearned to understand and apply God's law to his life that he said, My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.

Do we have a longing soul for the things of the Lord? How does one acquire such a thing? It is not unusual in life to find that the more we do something, the more we enjoy doing it. I am a pianist, but like most pianists do not always practice as much as I should. I have determined lately that I am going to spend more time each day practicing. That is something I never not done well before--or have even had the time to do before. I find that it is difficult to get going, but once I am practicing, I have found that it is hard to stop.

As a Christian teen, how would you rate your love for the Lord? How would you rate yourself, based upon the time you spend worshiping the Lord, studying His Word, and praying to Him?

We know that we should pray and study God's Word, but it is often hard to get ourselves started, and then motivated to keep up a regular habit of fellowship with the Lord. However, the more faithful we are in spending time with the Lord, the more we love those times, even to the point of often longing so much for the Lord that it seems that our soul would break. 

It is time that we, as believers, realize that we, too, are strangers in this earth. This earth has been cast into sin and darkness; as believers, we are not in sync with the general attitudes of the people of this world. As a matter of fact, it is hard to believe how far the world runs away from God. Should we, then, struggle so hard to be accepted by the world, or should we understand that we will never, as Christians, be accepted by those who love the world?

Let us, as Christian teens, turn our hearts and our faces to heaven, for that is our true home. One day, we will be citizens in God's new heavens and new earth. Would it not be better for us to spend our time in this life in preparation for that life to come?

Let us pray that, like the Psalmist, we would have a longing soul--longing for the things of the Lord. 

God Bless You,
Linda


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Your Money or Your LIfe?


 13With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
 14I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
 15I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
 16I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. 

Your Money or Your Life?

Years ago there was a famous comedian named Jack Benny, who was known on stage for his love of beautiful women and his love of money. A gunman would walk up and say, "Your money, or your life?" Rather than hand over his money, he would stand there and think about it, first.

As teens, you stand on the precipice of the rest of your life. The decisions you make today will determine the direction of your life decades from now. Will you, like the Psalmist, make the right choices now?

Our Psalmist equated the way of God's testimonies with having great riches: I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. Given those two choices, God's testimonies or great riches, what would we choose? Would we have to stop and think about it before making our choice?

The answer to that one question alone, gives validity or lack of validity to our profession of faith. In other words, being a Christian means more than just saying we are a believer. How do we compare the things of God to the things of this world? In Matthew 19, a young man came to Jesus asking what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life. After a short discussion, Jesus said, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. We are told that the man went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Was Christ saying that if we sold all we had, and gave it to the poor we would gain eternal life? Was Christ saying that it is sinful to be rich? The answer to both questions is, "No." Salvation comes through faith in Christ, alone. What Christ meant was that those who love their money more than they love Him will not inherit eternal life.

Remember, the Bible does not say that money is the root of all evil, but rather, the love of money is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10, KJV)

Each one of us, at some point in our life needs to answer the question: Your money or your life? In other words, do you love your money more or your life in Christ.? Will you spend your years on this earth with the goal of amassing as much money as you can, or will you spend your life amassing treasures in heaven?

According to the Psalmist, what is the believer called to do?
I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
The Christian life is an active, busy, life. It takes purposeful time meditating and studying God's Word, delighting in and memorizing His Word. Rather than leaving our "leftovers" for God, we need to approach our walk with the Lord as the most important thing in our lives--even more important than family, friends, and careers. Setting your priorities correctly now will have a profound effect on your future.

Jesus said, in His sermon on the mount: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33, KJV)

What will it be, your money or your life with Christ?

God Bless You,
Linda



Friday, September 28, 2012

God's Word


 9Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
 10With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
 11Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
 12Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. 

God's Word

As a teen, how much would you pay for a manual which would guarantee a life of peace, joy, and happiness? Most of you, probably already own it, for only God's Word can make such a guarantee as well as deliver on its promises.

How important is God's Word to us? In this section of 8 verses from Psalm 119, the subject or theme is God's Word. The Psalmist begins with the question, Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? The answer given by the Psalmist: by taking heed thereto according to thy word

Though the answer to the Psalmist's question may sound simple, it really is not that easy, is it? The answer first presumes that we know God's Word, but how do we do that? It takes more than just a cursory reading of the Bible to really know and understand the depth of meaning found within its pages. It always comes back to the heart. How much do we really love God? Is He truly our First Love? The Psalmist sought God with his whole heart, memorizing much of what he read.

We have all experienced those glorious times when we felt so close to the Lord that we were lifted above the daily hum drum of this world. Yet, it only takes a short time to find ourselves immersed again in the things of this world. Knowing this, the Psalmist pled with God, O let me not wander from thy commandments . . . . that I might not sin against thee.

There is an obvious correlation between the amount of time we spend reading the Bible, as well as our attitude toward it, and our daily walk before the Lord. We may truly desire to live a life pleasing to God, but if we are not spending time in God's Word, studying and memorizing its glorious truths, our life will pretty much go on the same as it always has. 

However, when we reach the point in our lives that we are truly tired of our own sin, and turn to God's Word for help, it will truly become a necessary part of each day. Many books have been written about the secrets to wealth, health, and happiness, but only the Bible gives the necessary information about how we actually achieve such goals. That does not mean that the Bible is a talisman that will guarantee good fortune throughout all of our days on this earth, but rather, the Bible helps us to understand who we are, what our great needs really are, and the solution to all of life's problems which are found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh, that we would find the love and joy of studying God's Word and commit our hearts to incorporating its truths to every fabric of our being. It really is an impossible task, but with God nothing is impossible. If we, like the Psalmist, cry out to God to help us, God will open our hearts and minds to the wealth of information contained within its pages. It is a life-time process, but the Word truly will change us so that we will become more and more like Christ.

May we all join the Psalmist today and say, Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.

God Bless You,
Linda


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Direction


 5O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
 6Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
 7I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
 8I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly. 

Direction

As a teen, how often do you take some time to stop and evaluate the direction of your life? If you were to stop for a moment and evaluate your present course of life, in what direction would you say you were going? As the Psalmist considered that very question, he seemed to be somewhat uncertain of its answer, or at least somewhat dissatisfied. 

This group of four verses seems to be the result of the Psalmist's self examination. In verse 4, he is not quite happy: O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes. As Christian teens, we all go through times when we think, "Why did I do that? If only I had been more obedient to God's commandements, I would not be in the mess I am in." Yet, no matter how desirous we are of living a life pleasing to the Lord, we continually seem to fall short. 

Unfortunately, we will wrestle with our sin natures all of our lives. So, what do we do when we examine ourselves and are not happy with the results? The Psalmist determined, I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.

Like the Psalmist, we must first resolve to make a change in our lives. Then, understanding that we do not have the power to make that change ourselves, we must go to the Lord Jesus Christ, admitting our sin, and pleading for help to live our lives in a manner pleasing to Him. Like the Psalmist, we must learn what God's righteousness requires. How do we do that? We do that by studying God's Word.

By the grace of God, let us determine to increase our knowledge of God's Word through consistent prayer and Bible study. When you consider the lives of saints through the ages, it is rather amazing that most of us have ready access to a Bible. What we take for granted was forbidden at the cost of lives just a few centuries ago. Even as late as the 1500's, the common people did not have access to their own copy of the Scriptures. 

Let us, by the grace of God, treasure His Word and make it a daily practice to spend time in prayer and Bible study. It is a sad commentary in our day that Satan does not have to forcibly take the Bible away from the common person, he just encourages apathy, until the common person no longer cares to read the Bible.

What direction are you going? Are you part of the next generation who is going to say, "Enough. Now is the time to turn this world back to the Lord."? 

O forsake me not utterly!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Undefiled


 1Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
 2Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
 3They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
 4Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. 

Undefiled

As we continue in our series, First Love, we will be looking at the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem with 22 stanzas. one stanza for each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Within each stanza, each of the 8 verses begins (in Hebrew) with that letter. The main theme of this chapter is the Word of God is all-sufficient for all matters of life.

As a teen, are you undefiled?

In verse 1, the Psalmist begins with a blessing to the undefiled, which begs the question, "Who are the undefiled?" Though it is true that no man, apart from Christ, is undefiled, or perfect, all true believers are considered the undefiled, for their sins are covered by the perfect blood of Christ. Though, as a believer, we are still tainted by our sin nature, in our heart of hearts we desire to love and obey God perfectly. In the natural course of sanctification, we should expect to become more and more like Christ through our advancing years.

What, then, does the Psalmist recognize as attributes of the undefiled? 

The undefiled:

* Walk in the law of the Lord
* Keep His testimonies
* Seek Him with the whole heart
* Do no iniquity
* Walk in His ways

The undefiled seek to do all of the above because God has commanded us to keep His precepts diligently. As you read through the above list, how does your Christian walk compare?

As I read through the list shown above, I realized that we cannot walk in the law of the Lord or keep His testimonies if we do not know what the Word of God commands us to do. Neither can we walk in His ways if we do not know what those ways are. 

As Christian teens, it is not just a good thing for us to read and study God's Word, but, rather, we are commanded to do so. As we become more and more familiar with the Bible, we find that we love its teachings more and more. In other words, the more we learn of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, the more we love God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

If we find that our own Christian walk has seemed to stall out, perhaps we need to be spending more time in God's Word. No matter how busy we are, it is essential for our faith that we set aside time each day for prayer and Bible study. The result of doing so has a dramatic effect upon our own personal walk with the Lord.

Usually the first argument we give for our lack of regular Bible reading and prayer is our lack of time, but as in many things, the busier we become, the more important it is that we take some time each day to spend with our Lord. 

Daniel was known to pray morning, noon, and at night. Knowing that, his enemies sought his death by tricking the king into making it illegal for anyone to pray to anyone except the king. Yet God miraculously protected him. John Calvin spent at least two hours every day before daylight meditating upon God's Word, memorizing Scripture, and praying. By the end of his life he had memorized large portions of the Bible. 

In truth, it is not really a lack of time, but rather a lack of priorities that prevents us from having a quiet time with the Lord each day. May I challenge you, as a teen, to set aside a certain time each day that belongs to you and the Lord. Make it a regular habit now, and you will most likely continue to do so the rest of your life!

As God's undefiled, let us learn to treasure the law of the Lord, to keep His testimonies, to seek Him with the whole heart, to do no iniquity, and to walk in His ways.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

God is the Lord


 25Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
 26Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.
 27God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
 28Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.
 29O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. 

God is the Lord

Today's devotional in our series, First Love, concludes Psalm 118, and comes right on the heels of yesterday's devotional. The Psalmist rightly understood that all of our health, joy, happiness, and even prosperity comes from the hands of the Lord. Yesterday we learned that Jesus Christ is our chief cornerstone; He it is who has saved us, and it is He who will keep us close to Him all of the days of our lives.

This Psalm is amazingly relevant to us as teens. As we gaze upon all of the enticement available in the world in which we live, how will we respond as Christian teens?

God, even in the pages of the Old Testament, pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ who would come as the Light and Life for all who believe. How else can we respond, but as the Psalmist did? Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

When will we as children of God finally come to the same conclusion as did the Psalmist? Why is it that we spend so much time, effort, and money on the things of this world so that we might be happy, healthy, or wise? Why have so many Christians become immersed in the entrapments of the world?

The answer is quite simple; we have taken our eyes away from the Lord and feasted on the tantalizing temptations of the world. Yet, in our heart of hearts we know that peace, joy, and happiness are not things that we can gain from this world. Oh, we can receive a real rush if we find ourselves to be the recipient of a large amount of money, but that "happiness" we think we have achieved is only elusive. In just a little while the joy we experience is turned to emptiness, and sometimes even bitterness.

It is not easy to convince ourselves of these things, is it? It just seems that so many of our daily problems would be fixed if we had just a little more money. It is a dizzying and endless circle that Satan sets before us. If we are focused on what we can have or get in this life, then our focus is not on the Lord. That does not mean that we cannot be prosperous or rich. It means that the Lord Jesus is the chief cornerstone of our lives. He matters more to us than any person, place, or thing!

It is a hard thing, in the modern industrialized nations of this world to really be happy, peaceful, and content in the Lord. Can we really say with Paul? Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (Philippians 4:11-12King James Version)

As Christian teens have we learned to be full and hungry, or to be abased and to abound? Have we learned that our happiness and joy rests only in Christ and not in the many things offered to us in the world? Let us take some time and read the verses shown above from Psalm 118. Then, let us fall down before the Lord and ask Him to show us how to make those words a reality in our own hearts and lives.

God Bless You,
Linda

Join me tomorrow as we begin one of the most amazing Psalms ever written: Psalm 119. Expect to be blessed by the Lord as we slowly walk through this Psalm.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Cornerstone


 22The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
 23This is the LORD's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
 24This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. 

The Cornerstone

Hang onto your hats, for today we are going to talk about doctrine, but wait, this will not be boring, for this doctrine is the foundation of everything we believe, and it comes to us from Psalm 118.

Tucked away in this wonderful Psalm is some very significant doctrine. Sometimes I wonder at how little the Old Testament believers must have understood about God, for Christ had not yet come and the New Testament books had not yet been written. Then I read verses like these from Psalm 118, and I realize that though their understanding was somewhat darkened, God revealed much of His truths to them in the Old Testament.

Just as an aside, we must be careful that we do not neglect the Old Testament, for our greatest understanding of who God is and how He works in the hearts of His children comes to us from the pages of the Old Testament. As a teen, you may be tempted to grab a few verses from the New Testament and be on your way, but I hope you will take the time to read through the entire Old Testament frequently.

I am not a builder so I do not even pretend to know the ins and outs of structures, but I do know that when a block or brick building is constructed it all begins with the cornerstone. The strength of that one block determines the strength of the entire building.

What or to whom is the Psalmist referring in verse 22: The stone which the builder refused is become the head stone of the corner (or the cornerstone)? Jesus quoted from this very Psalm in Matthew 21:42:
 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? (Matthew 21:42King James Version

Who is this cornerstone? Our question is answered by Paul in Ephesians 2:20: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (Ephesians 2:20King James Version)

Jesus Christ, Himself, was the stone whom the builders refused, and it is He who has become the chief cornerstone of the entire church of God from the time of Adam and Eve to the present. The rabbis in Jesus day rejected Him, but He came to this earth for the very reason of bringing salvation to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Did the Psalmist know that he was referring to the Messiah? We do not really know, but the Holy Spirit inspired him to write the words he did, and the Lord Jesus quoted from verse 22 in the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. 

Indeed, this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. When we consider God's great gift of Jesus Christ, His own Son, given to us as our cornerstone, we have to fall before Him in amazement. Everything that is made available to us, has come to us through Jesus Christ. He is our Head, and He is the very foundation of everything we believe. We have been bought with a price: the blood of the Lord Jesus.

No wonder the Psalmist said, This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. As a teen, if you are looking for happiness and joy, you will not find it in your friends or family. True joy, peace, and happiness only comes through Christ.

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Open to Me!


 19Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD:
 20This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter.
 21I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. 

Open to Me!

As Christian teens, what assurance do we have that we are really a Christian. The Psalmist seemed very sure that the Lord would open to him the gates of righteousness. Are we equally as sure that God will open the gates of righteousness for us?

It is all about the Lord, is it not? To whom is the Psalmist speaking when he said, Open to me the gates of righteousness? Who has the power to open the gates? The Psalmist makes it clear in verse 21 when he said, I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. Just as the Lord was the only one who could become his salvation, the Lord was the only one who could open the gates of righteousness.

We cannot open the gate, but God can. If we are depending upon ourselves it never will happen. But, what is impossible for us is possible with God. Let us place our hope, our faith, and our trust upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and not upon ourselves.

Can you not picture that glorious gate through which we may enter the courts of heaven and the New Jerusalem? Can you not see the Lord Jesus, Himself, standing there with open arms waiting to welcome us home. It is good for us to ponder that great and glorious day.

The Psalmist, who penned those words, has been with the Lord now for over 2000 years. Our days on this earth may seem to stretch out forever, but they are only but a vapor compared to all eternity. We become consumed by the things of this earth, but the Psalmist understood that our faith is much more precious than anything this world has to offer to us.
 23Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
 24For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
 25But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. (1 Peter 1:23-25King James Version)
As we are reminded by Peter in 1 Peter 1:24-25, All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord endures forever. Let us, then, put our trust, as teens, in something that really does endure, and not on anything related to this world which will all pass away.

Though our life seems to stretch out before us, even as a teen it is really just a little time until the gates of righteousness will open to all those living now who love the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us spend our lives serving, honoring, and glorifying the name of Christ, until we can say to Christ, "Open to me the gates of righteousness."

God Bless You,
Linda





Saturday, September 22, 2012

Life or Death!


 15The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.
 16The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.
 17I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.
 18The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. 

Life or Death! 

Though this Psalm was written over 2000 years ago, it has pertinent applications to today's teens. In many ways, we are not unlike those who have lived so long ago.

In Psalm 118, we find ourselves entrenched in the middle of a Psalm which is filled with double meanings as we ponder the choice we must all make: Life or Death! It would seem to be a simple choice to make, and yet most choose death! Surely that would not still be true of us today, would it?

The Psalmist begins this section with abundant praise and honor for the Lord who works valiantly on behalf of His children. True rejoicing and true salvation are only possible as gifts from the Lord; He alone is to be exalted, for it is He who grants us life or death. Though the Lord chastened the Psalmist grievously he understood that the chastening of the Lord was not unto death, but rather was sent to drive him to God. 

I am sure that among your peers, you have discovered the common attitude that God owes something to mankind. Because it is in His power to prevent evil and to do good, we seem to think it is His responsibility to continually prevent evil--especially to ourselves, and to only do good to all of humanity. This attitude shows our total lack of comprehension of good and evil, and of justice or lack of justice. 

Does God owe mankind anything? God granted everything to Adam and Eve: a perfect environment, perfect health, and a fulfilling responsibility. Along with all He granted to them, God gave them the opportunity to continue as they were or to choose to disobey. They foolishly listened to the voice of the serpent who dangled the temptation of knowing good and evil--like God--before them. Upon their disobedience they did understand good and evil, but their choice had been made and the repercussions of that choice have been thrust upon all mankind.

Should God have prevented them from their fatal choice? Should God have made them like puppets who would live eternally in a perfect environment? No! Though every person born has stamped upon them the sin nature (and knowledge of good and evil), every person still must make a choice to continue in their sin and rebellion against God, or to come to Him and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. In other words, everyone must choose life or death.

As believers it is our responsibility to present the truth to all those we meet and to pray that God will open their eyes that they might comprehend the truth and come to Christ. Sadly, left to ourselves we do not have the power to make that choice, but God, who is rich in abundant grace and mercy can open our eyes and minds to the truth of His Word. You have the unique opportunity of praying for your friends and acquaintances, and of reaching other teens for Christ.

God owes mankind nothing! Yet, in His great and wondrous love, He uses the trials, the difficulties, and even the tragedies of our lives to bring us to Him--or closer to Him. As our eyes of understanding are opened, we understand what the Psalmist meant: The LORD has chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over to death. God may even send you trials so that other teens can observe how you respond. You may be the only "Bible" they will ever read! 

Not only did God protect the writer from physical death, He also protected him from eternal death.

Life or death! The choice is yours to make.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Strength and Song


 10All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them.
 11They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
 12They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
 13Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me.
 14The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. 

My Strength and Song

In Psalm 118, the writer of this Psalm gives a glorious tribute of praise to the Lord. Surrounded in battle by his enemies, he called upon God, who delivered him from the sure grasp of the enemy.
They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. . . . The LORD is my strength and son, and is become my salvation.
As Christian teens do we have such confidence in the Lord our God? Is the Lord our strength and song? Is He the first one to whom we turn when we are surrounded by evil? For most of us, I fear that we tend to view God as our last hope, and not as our first and only hope.

Why would we put our trust in God who we cannot see, when man has made so many advancements, especially in the last 100 years? In this age of scientific advancement in which we live, man seems to have an answer for everything. It seems as though there is almost nothing that man cannot solve! Is that really true? Have we somehow evolved to a status where God is no longer necessary?

Sadly many do view that to be the case, but they are wrong. Even when we have reached our most magnificent achievements, our knowledge is paltry compared to our Creator God. The more we learn about this universe in which we live, the more we realize that we do not know. As more and more medical discoveries are made, more and more questions appear.

Our teachers would have us believe that we are evolving into better and better creatures. However, as we look back into the annals of time, we discover that it is quite possible that man reached greater advancements in the past than we have achieved in the present. What happened? In the period of time that has elapsed, those great secrets have been lost, and are yet to be "discovered" again. So much for evolution!

God, however, has never changed. From eternity past to eternity future, God has always been, and will always be the Supreme God over all man, over all creation, and even over all of the universe and beyond. 

Let us, as Christian teens, raise our voices in praise to God who is truly "My Strength and Song."

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Misplaced Confidence


 5 I called on the LORD in distress;
         The LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.
 6 The LORD is on my side;
         I will not fear.
         What can man do to me?
 7 The LORD is for me among those who help me;
         Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
 8 It is better to trust in the LORD
         Than to put confidence in man.
 9 It is better to trust in the LORD
         Than to put confidence in princes.

Misplaced Confidence

As a teen in whom do you trust? Do you trust your friends, your parents, or your teachers? Is your trust secure, or is it misplaced confidence? The Psalmist called to the Lord when he was in distress, and God answered his prayers, causing him to declare, The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? 

Thinking over his circumstances, the Psalmist determined that it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man, or in princes (the government). Do we trust the leaders of our countries to do what is best for us? In today's cynical society, no one really trusts in the government, do they? It is a given understanding that the government does what is best for the government, and not what is best for the people.

As we face another national election in the United States, we are being inundated with campaign promises. The leaders of both parties stand up and boast in their leadership skills, telling us they truly care about the people. No one really believes them, do they? Telling the people what they want to hear may go a long way to getting them elected, but we are so used to broken campaign promises that we hardly expect them to do even half of what they promise.

As a teen, it is hard to even take the election very seriously, is it not? How can we even know who is the better candidate. We can compare their words to what is required of us in the Bible, and we should, but we do not know if even those with the best intentions will actually do what they say they will do.

That, however, is not the case when it comes to God. God makes many glorious promises in His Word, the Bible, and every single promise He has made will come to pass, exactly as He has said. He, alone, can make promises regarding the future, for He controls the future. 

Man can make promises, but man does not have the power to make those promises happen. Why, then, are we more apt to put our trust in our fellow man than in God? Why are we more apt, as teens, to trust in our friends than in anyone else, including God? It really is a matter of faith, is it not? Through faith we read God's wondrous promises, and through faith we rest in those promises, confidently knowing that God will bring all things to pass just as He has said.

How do we get that kind of faith? Faith is a gift from God; it is not something we can manufacture within ourselves. When we find ourselves lacking faith, we must turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, asking Him to grant us faith. 

In Mark 9 we are told the story of a man whose son was controlled by an evil spirit which would try to cast the boy into the fire or into the water to destroy him. Jesus looked at the man and said, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. How did the man answer Jesus? He said, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. God answered the prayer of this dear father, rebuking the spirit, causing it to come out of the boy.

So, you see, it is not about us, or about our friends! It is about God. Even the faith we need is not something that we can conjure up, for it is the Lord Jesus Christ who grants us the faith we need to believe. 

We must be so careful as children of God that we are not guilty of misplaced confidence. Let us not be guilty of placing our trust in man, but let us, by the grace of God, place all of our hope and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

God Bless You,
Linda




Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mercy Forever!


 1O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
 2Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
 3Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
 4Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever. 

Mercy Forever!

Four times the Psalmist tells us that God's mercy endures forever, but is God's mercy for everyone? The Psalmist begins in general terms, then to Israel, then the house of Aaron, and finally to them that fear the Lord. There is some logic in this progression from all to just a few.

How is the the mercy of God manifest to us today? Is everyone a recipient of God's mercy? Generally, God's mercy is abundant and shown in all of the blessings we see on this earth. Most importantly, His mercy is shown in His offer of salvation from the penalty of sin that came upon every single human being due to the sins of Adam and Eve. God could have let man self-destruct, but instead showed great mercy in sending His only Son to pay the debt of sin we cannot pay, that we might have eternal life.

So why is this important to us as a Christian teen? How are we to view verses such as Psalm 118:1-4?

God's gift of eternal life is available forever, however it is not available to everyone forever. As we follow the progression above, we note that in verse 4, the conclusion of this progression is given: Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever. Only those who fear the LORD are recipients of the Lord's mercy shown by His salvation granted to them, and that salvation does, indeed, last forever.

For those who do not love the Lord, God's door of mercy is shut upon their physical death. No longer is the door of opportunity open to them. It is a sobering thought to think that God has offered such a great salvation, and yet, in the end, so few receive it.

How should we who are saved by God's grace view God's mercy? Do we have any responsibility to God? Yes, we do! God has granted to us His great salvation and has left us here to point others to Christ. Knowing that the days are short, we must pray that God would grant us love for the lost and diligence to present the Gospel to them. Jesus, speaking to His disciples in John 4, said,
 35Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
 36And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. (John 4:35-36King James Version)
As Christian teens, God has chosen us to be the bearer of His good news to our fellow friends and acquaintances. For many of today's teens, you are the only "Bible" they will ever read? Do they see God's grace evident in your life? Do they understand why you are different from them?

Will there be mercy forever for our fellow teens? Only for those who fear the Lord. Let us, by the grace of God, lift up our eyes, and look on the fields that are white already to harvest, and pray that God would send us forth boldly to proclaim the good news of salvation to the lost.

Nothing is more important! God has given to each of us our own personal "mission field" among our families, friends, and acquaintances. Go, today, in the strength and power of the Lord, and present God's mercy.

God Bless You,
Linda