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