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

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

God's Holy Word


 45And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.
 46I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
 47And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.
 48My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes. 

God's Holy Word

As a teen, do you look around you at times and wonder, how can I really know who is telling the truth? Everyone seems to have an answer to the secrets of life and many of them seem to be plausible. How can one really know the truth.

The Psalmist, in trying to answer those same questions found that the truth is exposed in these verses from Psalm 119:  And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.

Christ, when speaking to His disciples described the kingdom of heaven in the following way:
 44Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
 45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
 46Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46King James Version)
For over 2000 years the Word of God has stood the test of time. Written so that a common person can easily understand its truths, it opens the doors to all of the secrets of life. Using its pages as a litmus test can quickly dispel the many myths that man would bring forth as to the secrets of life. Christ described the kingdom of heaven, as revealed in the Bible, as the pearl of great price, which pointed to Him as THE Pearl of Great Price! 

The writer of Psalm 119 seems to express that same sense of precious love and delight for the commandments of the Lord. Why is that? The Psalmist found the truth that rises above all other truths. In God's Holy Word do we find the Pearl of Great Price. In God's Holy Word do we find Christ, the only One who can take away the sins of the world, revealed. He is the Pearl of Great Price!

It does not take a very long time in this world to be come wearied with the great sin and wickedness of man. It seems that no matter what way one turns, one sees nothing but deceit and deception. Is there no hope for man? Only in Christ! There is no other hope for mankind.

As Christian teens, you will be kept on God's safe path as long as you carefully evaluate all you learn by the truths of God's Word.

Will new discoveries bring a message of hope? Will great riches bring a message of hope? Will great knowledge bring a message of hope? No! All of these utterly fail, for man is steeped in sin and wickedness and cannot stand uprightly before a Holy God. In then end, all of these things will pass away.

Shall we then spend our lives seeking after vain pursuits which can bring no eternal hope or joy, but will all be cast off at the end of the age as useless, filthy rags? No! Let us, rather, lift up our hands unto the commandments of God; let us meditate upon His statutes. For only in His Word do we find the true and only secret to eternal life, joy, peace, and happiness. Only then can we walk in liberty before kings.

As Christian teens, let us bow before God our Father, our only true Lord and King! Let us build our lives upon the foundation of God's Holy Word!

God Bless You,
Linda



Monday, October 8, 2012

According to Thy Word


 41Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.
 42So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.
 43And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.
 44So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. 

According to Thy Word

According to Thy Word, and that makes all the difference!

How do you, as a teen, know what is right and what is not? With so many belief systems in our world today, how are you to know which one to believe? In a sense, that is the theme of Psalm 119, for the answer lies in God's Holy Word. God introduces Himself to His people as, "I am." In other words, at a time when each nation had their god or gods, how was one to know who to believe? God stated to Moses, "Tell them that 'I Am' has sent you."
 13And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
 14And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
 15And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Exodus 3:13-15King James Version)

In other words, in a world of many gods, He, alone is God who is above all others. In Him we can rest our assurance and find our completion. By saying He was, I Am that I Am, He was saying that He exists before and above all others. There is none but Him!

A study of God's Word reveals our God who created all things from nothing, created man and placed him in His beautiful garden. Man, however, listening to the voice of Satan fell from that beautiful estate. Because he desired to be like God, he entered into an estate of sin and misery, which would end in death. Was there no hope?

As a teen, you are at a crossroads. The choices seem to reach out endlessly before you. Will you, too, trust in the God of all Gods, or will you fall into the chasm of worldliness which so permeates our culture today? How can you know the truth? Look to God's Holy Word, the Bible, for in its pages you will find revealed the One and only true God who sent His Son to rescue man who was hopelessly lost without Him.

Yes, our hope is in Christ, the perfect man, the God Man, who took upon Himself the humiliation of this world, subjected Himself to the cruel torment and death at the hands of mockers. Christ, the Son of God, the God Man, submitted Himself to death upon the cross so that He might do what no mere man ever could--He took upon Himself all of the sin of His people and brought them before God as holy and clean.

All of that is encompassed in these few verses, for upon studying the Word of God we learn all of the truths of God. Where do we go for an answer to those who reproach us? We trust in God's Word.

As teens, let us, then, like the Psalmist cry out to God our Father that He would not take His Word of truth utterly out of our mouths, but rather continue to give us hope in His judgments. This is the only way we can hope to conclude with the Psalmist: So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.

God Bless You,
Linda


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Teach Me


 33Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
 34Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
 35Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
 36Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
 37Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
 38Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
 39Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
 40Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness. 

Teach Me

It's great to be a teen. Finally you have reached the point of understanding the responsibility of adulthood. You are on the brink of being on your own, and how good it feels! The Psalmist discovered an important lesson that you would do well to consider, for its success is phenomenal, and its failure is devastating!

The verses shown above are from the fifth section of Psalm 119, beginning in Hebrew with the letter He, the emphasis of the entire section is on, "Teach Me, O LORD." In other words, the psalmist understood that he could not, in and of himself, make a grand effort to live for the Lord successfully. The emphasis is not on what the psalmist planned to do, but rather on what he implored God to do for him.

Each line contains a plea:

*Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes.
*Give me understanding.
*Make me to go in the path of thy commandments.
*Incline my heart unto thy testimonies.
*Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.
*Stablish thy word unto thy servant.
*Turn away my reproach which I fear.
*Quicken me in thy righteousness.

How do we approach the Lord? Are we confident in our own ability to do things right, but just want God to give us an, "Atta boy?" Are we self sufficient in our walk with the Lord, and doing a pretty good job of it?

The Psalmist understood the secret of a faithful walk with the Lord. He understood that he could not, in his own strength and power, successfully live the Christian life. Instead, he turned his heart completely to the Lord and said, "Teach me." 

How frustrating! Even adults do not have the power in themselves to faithfully walk with the Lord. Only those who continue to approach the Lord as children, find the great peace and happiness He can grant to them.

Yes, the Psalmist delighted in the commandments of the Lord, but only after God made him go in the path of His commandments. Yes, he observed God's law with his whole heart, but only after God gave him understanding. We never truly begin to walk faithfully with the Lord until we come to the understanding that we are not able, in and of ourselves, to do so. It is God who saves us, it is God who keeps us, and it is God who faithfully takes us over the hills and through the valleys of this life, into the arms of our Savior.

If you find yourself despondent, and unhappy with your walk with the Lord, it is a good thing! Only when we finally give up on ourselves and truly turn to the Lord do we find that sweet and wonderful fellowship with Him.

It was a lesson the Israelites learned over and over again, and yet continually forgot. Who won the battle at Jericho? God! Who gave them success from their enemies? God. Who failed when they tried to do it in their own power? The Israelites! 

As you face the threshold of being an adult, is this a lesson you will remember, or will you have to try it on your own first. Most of us start with failure, sad to say, but it is through our failure that we understand God's great and sufficient power given to us. When we fail, we learn to draw upon His strength, and therein lies our success!

Go to God today and say, "Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes." Only then can you say, "And I shall keep it unto the end."

God Bless You,
Linda




Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lying


 29Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.
 30I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.
 31I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame.
 32I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart. 

Lying

Remove me from the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.

What a wonderful aspiration, but just how do we, as teens, accomplish such a thing? We may not be guilty of out and out lying, but we are all certainly guilty of stretching and bending the truth, or even just letting someone believe an untruth without correcting their false view. As a Christian teen, is there a time when we should either lie, or at least not correct someone's false assumption?

We have some specific examples of lying in the Bible which would lead us to the view that sometimes a lie is better than the truth. A classic example is Rahab, in Joshua 2. Perhaps you remember the story. Joshua had sent spies to Jericho, who lodged in the home of Rahab, the harlot. Though she had hidden the spies in her house, she told the king that she had no idea which way they went. Her bravery saved her life as well as the lives of her family members. Are we to understand from this story that sometimes lying is the best way? Can we correctly say that the ends justifies the means? 

To view God's commandments from this vantage point is called situational ethics. If we believed in situational ethics, we would say that to lie in this case is good, but at others times it is bad. It all depends on the situation involved. However, the Bible does not encourage situational ethics. Rather it says, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Could God have saved the spies from harm even if Rahab had not lied? We certainly limit God, do we not? 

Knowing his own propensity to lie, the Psalmist implored God to help him. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me. I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame. Let us, by the grace of God, choose the way of truth. Let us pray that God would give us wisdom, and care in choosing our words to keep us from lying.

Let us pray that God would enlarge our hearts, or as the New International Version states: broaden my understanding. How can we broaden our understanding? As we read and study the Word of God faithfully, it is true that we will incorporate its truths more and more into every aspect of our daily lives. By the grace of God, we can learn to think as God would think, and do as Christ would do.

In all of His conversations with the people, whether just common people or the religious leaders of that day, Jesus never lied. Even when tempted by the devil, himself, Jesus did not tell one lie, and as a boy when He stayed in Jerusalem to visit with the scribes, 12 year old Jesus did not lie to Mary and Joseph.

May God grant to us truth-filled hearts that are so in love with the Lord, that we will not fear to speak the truth at all times.

God Bless You,
Linda




Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Laid Low


 25My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
 26I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.
 27Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
 28My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word. 

Laid Low

In our teens, we seem to experience the greatest emotional highs and lows possible. When things are good, they are very, very good, but when things are bad, they are horrid! As we continue our devotional series, First Love, we find the writer of Psalm 119 experiencing one of those very deepest of valleys. 

The New International Version of verse 25 says, I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word. One cannot get much lower than the dust, can he? Suddenly we find ourselves in a situation where there is no direction to go other than up. 

Can spiritual problems really lay us that low? Can it really be true that we can find help for ourselves without going to the doctor for a prescription, or without a visit to our Psychiatrist? There is nothing wrong with seeking medical help, taking prescriptions, or visiting a mental health professional, however, I think we often forget that our problem may be one that cannot be helped by any of these means. It may be that we need to go to the source of our difficulties: the state of our soul.

The writer of Psalm 119 had certainly reached that point; his soul was laid low in the dust. Understanding his true need, he went to the Lord: Quicken thou me according to thy word. I fear we do not begin to understand the power of God's Word; if we did we would hardly be able to put it down. Our entire universe is governed by its Creator God, and it continues to exist according to the natural laws He has instituted. Understanding the relationship between the physical laws of our universe and the God who created it, helps us to see that God, who created our bodies, understands us more than we could ever understand each other.

Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14, KJV). We have made some wonderful advancements in the field of medicine, but in doing so we have discovered that there is so much more that we do not understand, especially in the understanding of how our emotional health affects our bodies physically, or even more, how our spiritual health affects our physical bodies. 

Realizing that God had heard his pleas, the Psalmist implored God: Teach me thy statutes. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts. Is there a correlation between our knowledge of the Word of God and our physical health? Yes! Our very attitude toward life in general and our physical bodies specifically is tempered by our understanding and acceptance of this amazing God we serve. It is right that we seek professional help for our physical ailments, but we do so understanding that God controls all things.

When we reach the point that our soul melts for heaviness, let us cry out to God, as did the Psalmist, Strengthen thou me according unto thy word. Then let us immerse ourselves in reading and studying the Word of God given to us by God to help us understand who He is and how He aids us in fighting our three greatest enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Could it be that simple? No, not simple, but definitely profound!

God Bless You,
Linda