Thursday, October 3, 2013

Video Devotions Available!

Video devotions are available on my Daily Bible Devotions blog. I will continue to write Teen Devotions after my break. I hope you will take advantages of the video devotions until then. Please note that they are addressed to Christian women, but are still suitable for everyone (even teens).

Here is the first video devotion from Psalm 1, entitled, "First Love."










God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Temporary Break!


Hello to all of my faithful readers. I wanted to let you know that I am taking a temporary break from writing my daily Bible devotions. During this time I hope you will take advantage of my archives, for I have literally several hundred devotions in the archives.

I am currently working on a video project for my Psalms devotions; when completed both video and audio options will be available. As I complete each Psalm and have them published to the web, I will put links in both this, my Devotionals for Teens blog, as well as my Daily Bible Devotions blog. 

Once that project is progressing well, I plan to continue writing both my Daily Bible Devotions and my Devotional for Teens blogs.

Thank you for your on-going prayer support. May Jesus Christ be praised!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Have No Fear!


 24The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
 25It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
 26Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 

Have No Fear!

What things are you afraid of? As a teen, unfortunately, one of our greatest fears is that of not being liked. Even worse, we fear being ridiculed. Jesus words to His disciples directly challenged this very fear!

The words of Christ are blatantly clear in these verses from Matthew 10. Spoken to a people who are overly concerned about what others think, as we also tend to be, He was saying, "If they hate me, the perfect Son of God, then they are going to hate you, too, if you are truly seeking to live in a manner which is pleasing to me."

That really is a difficult issue for us, is it not? We think that, as a Christian teen, if we are faithful to God, and live according to His Word, that everyone will love us. However, just the opposite is true. The closer we align ourselves with the Word of God, the more odious are we in the eyes of the people of this world. Our "righteous" living causes them a great deal of discomfort, for it tends to be a mirror, reflecting their own sin back to them. People of this world are much more comfortable being with others like themselves, for they do not have to feel guilty about their own thoughts or lifestyles.

Consequently, we tend to live as a closet Christian. We are teens who love the Lord, but we do not make an issue of it, trying to hide our real feelings when we are with our peers.

We, as Christians, must seriously considers the words of Christ from verse 26: "Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known."

What is Jesus saying here? Jesus is reminding us that we need to remember the reality of life. For, in the end of time, everything will be set straight. Nothing that happens today will be covered at the end of time. All things will be revealed before a holy and righteous God who will miss nothing. We may try to live a "hidden" life, living for the Lord sometimes, and living for the world at others. Will God see those compromises we make with this world? Oh yes! Let us live in a manner which is pleasing to the Lord, for in the end, all things will be revealed! May we stand before the Lord with no reasons for guilt or concern. Truthfully, a "half" believer is no believer at all!

When we think of it, it really is fear that causes us to compromise our faith, is it not? Our fear of what others will think or say about us is far too important to us! Jesus said, "Have no fear." By His grace, let us seek His help to live in a manner pleasing to Him. When we fail, let us come before Him seeking His forgiveness, and seeking His grace to help us in the future.

Let us also seek out the fellowship and friendship of other likeminded Christian teens, that we may have others to encourage us during the difficult circumstances of life. God has designed churches to guide and direct us. He has given us Godly pastors who faithfully teach and instruct us from His Word, and He has provided the opportunity to grow in Him through our fellowship with other believers. It goes without saying that we need to seek out churches which faithfully proclaim His Word as the only Guide for faith and practice. Admittedly, it seems harder and harder to find churches which have not compromised with this world, but they are still there. 

If you do not have Christian teens as friends, then pray that God will bring them into your life. Pray that God will give you at least one very close Christian teen whom you can encourage and who will encourage you. 

Go this day, and have no fear! Rest, instead, in the grace and help of the Lord Jesus Christ, and pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you this day to remain faithful to God!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, September 9, 2013

Persecution


 21And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
 22And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
 23But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. 

Persecution

As a teen, are there things in your life that are so important to you that you are willing to die for them? We probably do not often think about such things, but for the Christian, we must always understand that this world hates Christ, and thus it hates us. Though we may not suffer persecution now, we certainly may in the near future!

The very word sends chills down our backs, does it not? Jesus said, "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake." At this very moment, there are those in this world who are experiencing this very thing--right now! However, for many of us, the words seem somewhat foreign. It is true that it is not necessarily popular to be a Christian, but unpopularity is a long way from the type of persecution spoken of by the Lord Jesus.

As Christian teens, each of us needs to ask the question, "Would I die for my faith?" Is my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ just a preference, or is it life itself?

We all like to be liked, but persecution goes far beyond the matter of whether we are liked. We are not only not liked, we are hated, and we are hated to such an extent that our live is not considered to be worth living any more by our enemies.

God has given to each of us a natural sense of self-preservation, and we understand that as believers, we are here to do a work for the Lord. However, no matter how wonderful our life may be, and no matter how valuable we may determine our work for the Lord is--nothing is worth trading our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ! Truly, Christ is all!

Matthew 16:26 poses the question, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"

By God's grace, as Christian teens, let us lift our eyes to the Lord Jesus Christ, and look beyond the things of this world. This world is not our home, for our true home is in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ. By His grace we will soon pass through this vale of tears and enter into His joy forever!

Let us, then, not fear what may come to pass while we walk upon this earth. Though many unpleasant things will undoubtedly occur, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Jim Reeves wrote a wonder hymn about this very thing:

This world is not my home I'm just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore
Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you
If heaven's not my home then Lord what will I do
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

I have a loving mother just over in Gloryland
And I don't expect to stop until I shake her hand
She's waiting now for me in heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore
Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you
If heaven's not my home then Lord what will I do
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Just over in Gloryland we'll live eternally 
The saints on every hand are shouting victory
Their songs of sweetest praise drift back from heaven's shore
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore
Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you
If heaven's not my home then Lord what will I do
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, September 6, 2013

Spirit of Your Father


 16Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
 17But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
 18And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
 19But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
 20For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. 

Spirit of Your Father

From the time we were little children, we were identified with our fathers. Have you ever thought, that as a Christian teen, you are identified with God, Himself? How should knowing this affect our lives?

Matthew 10 continues with a very sober warning: "But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake."

Jesus precludes this with the words, "Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." In other words, we are called to understand the true heart of man; in dealing with the people of this world we must not be naive! That is not to say that we are to have any sense of superiority, pride, or arrogance, thinking that we are better than the people of this world. Why? Our pride is in Christ, and not in ourselves!

The only thing that makes us different than the people of this world is that, in the words of Christ, the Spirit of your Father is in you! We see and understand everything in this life from a different perspective because the Holy Spirit lives within our hearts. Understanding the difference, we should not expect the people of this world to understand the things of God. No wonder they reject the Bible, and even the very words of Christ, assuming Him to be but a man.

We must remember, therefore, that it is not our job to convince people of the truths of God's Word. We are to pray, instead, that God would open their hearts of understanding. For, unless God opens their hearts, nothing we do will convince them of the truths taught in the Bible.

How, then, should we approach the people of this world? We must understand that the difference is: the grace of God. We should pray for our unsaved friends, relatives, and neighbors--pray that God would open their eyes to see the truths of His Word and to see their need of the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. We should pray that God would graciously move in their hearts and lives so that they would humbly bow the knee before Him, and receive Christ.

Knowing that not everyone comes to Christ, we must not be naive in our dealings with the people of this world. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is one! The very ones who turned against Christ happened to be the religious leaders of the Jewish people. Often, the greatest antagonists to true believers are those who are very religious, but have never truly turned their heart to the Lord. 

Then, too, there are those who openly reject Christ. Often these are the very ones who are leaders of cities, countries, and nations. Should we fear their reprisals against us, especially if we live in nations where Christians are openly persecuted? Christ encourages us to put all of our confidence and trust in Him, not worrying about what we would say if we are brought before the ungodly. For, in our hour of greatest need, He will surround us with grace and strength, and give us the very words we should speak.

This world is antagonistic to God, so we should not be surprised when it is antagonistic to His children. As Christian teens, let us pray that, should we be required to take a stand for the Lord--even at the cost of our life--we would be found faithful to God!

Go this day, in the strength and power of God, and faithfully serve Him, remembering that a crown of glory awaits us when we enter the gates of heaven, and the first face we see will be that of our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tolerance!


 11And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
 12And when ye come into an house, salute it.
 13And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
 14And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
 15Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. 

Tolerance

As a Christian teen, how are you to view the attitudes of those around you? Is it true that we all worship the same God and that we really all have the same life-goal in mind? No! Believe it or not, there are really only two views: people either believe in the God of the Bible, or they do not! That is it!

Tolerance! The word has a nice, satisfactory ring to it, does it not? We live in an "I'm OK, you're OK" world where what you do is good for you and what I do is good for me. However, is that truly the attitude that Jesus was promoting to His disciples? Is that the attitude that Christ desires to see in His church today? Is His chief concern that we do not offend one another in our zeal for being faithful to the Lord?

These are serious questions that every Christian teen needs to ponder. As we look at Matthew 10, we see that Jesus' words were not words encouraging compromise. He commanded His disciples to faithfully proclaim the message of salvation as they traveled from village to village, with a stern warning in verse 15:
Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
Not only was Jesus not promoting tolerance of other views, He was warning that God, Himself would administer swift justice upon any city that rejected Him! We need to be careful that in our zeal to not offend others we do not find ourselves in the position of offending God! It is God we serve, and it is His will we must obey.

This is not a popular attitude in the world in which we live. As the world continually moves to a one-world church (and, yes, it is moving in that direction), it is not the God of the Bible who will be worshiped. It will be a god of man's invention!

These words of Christ are especially pertinent in our 21st century world. In the last decade we saw modernism creep into the church. Denominations which had faithfully proclaimed God's Word since the time of the reformation were suddenly waffling on such tenants of the faith as the virgin birth, the miracles of Christ, the atonement, and even questioning whether Jesus was any more than just a good man. 

These "new" ideas did not come in overnight, so to speak. They were brewing in these churches for decades before denominations actually split. So, we must be careful in this, the 21st century, that in our desire to be casual and to present God as the tender loving Father who is most loving and kind, we do not forget also His hatred of sin, and judgment against evil doers. Let us not redefine sin! Let us remember that it is God, and not man who defines the true meaning of sin.

God is tender, loving, and kind. However, His loving kindness is manifested in the salvation He has provided through the Lord Jesus Christ. He will not simply, "Understand and say, 'Well done!'" to those who hold other views than those presented in His Holy Word, the Bible. What, then, is sin?

Any lack of conformity against God and His laws is sin! Even one, what we may view as tiny, sin is enough to keep us from God for all eternity! God is perfect, righteous, and holy. It is not our goodness or even our earnest desire to please Christ that makes us believers. It is the shed blood of Christ, shed on our behalf that saves us. It is our going to Christ and pleading His forgiveness that brings us into a righteous state before God.

Let us not, then, in our desire to be tolerant of our culture find ourselves at odds with God, Himself. Read and study His Word; spend time in prayer and fellowship with Him. It is through the guidance of the Holy Spirit who dwells within every true believer that the truths of God's Word are revealed and understood. 

Let us, as Christian teens, be the light that shines in a sin-darkened world. By the grace of God, may our lights so shine before men that they may see the righteousness of Christ, and be moved to come to Him for salvation. There is salvation in none other than in Christ! That is the Gospel we must send to this 21st century world! Not a Gospel of tolerance, but a Gospel of God's love and holiness given to us through the death of His only Son!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Go!


 5These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
 6But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
 7And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
 8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
 9Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
 10Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. 

Go!

As a Christian teen, when Christ speaks do you listen? When Christ spoke as He did here in Matthew 10, was He speaking to you today, too, or was He just speaking to His disciples?

Twelve fledgling disciples! Inexperienced and clueless as to what would be coming in their lives, Jesus gave them the simple command, "Go!" However, He added this postscript: "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not." Why would Jesus give such a command? Why would He prohibit them from reaching all of the lost?

There is much we do not understand of the ways of God, but we must understand that His plans are perfect and His timing is perfect! This restriction would not be in place forever! After the death of Christ, God would raise up Paul and others, whose specific command was to go to the Gentiles.

This is not out of character with the way God had always dealt with mankind. Centuries before, God spoke to Abraham, and from him raised up a people for Himself. Other than a few exceptions, salvation was only sent to the descendants of Abraham. Was God being unfair? No! Were the ungodly nations surrounding Israel complaining because God had not come to them? No!

With our foolish pride, we are so often quick to call God into account because we believe He is being unfair to us! As Christian teens, we must be very careful to avoid this trap, for a trap it is! In everything we do and say, let us seek to bring glory to God, and desire that His name is not offended. He is God, and we are not! He does not run His train on our track!

For God's chosen purposes, He determined to work among the descendants of Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob. What an amazing testimony we have in the Old Testament of God's mighty works among His people. How did God's people respond? 

The history of the nation of Israel is a sad one, indeed! Though there were times of great faithfulness to God, most often we see them running away from Him, rebelling against Him, and chasing after the gods of the surrounding nations. By the time Jesus came to this earth, only a few recognized Him and received Him as their long-awaited Messiah. Most turned against Him, not just in antipathy, but in outward hatred, leading to His crucifixion.

Yet, this was all a part of God's plan. Jesus came to this earth for the very purpose of purchasing salvation for His children. And, when the exact time came for that salvation to be fulfilled, Jesus gave up His life to purchase a people for Himself. 

As Gentiles, we bow before God in amazement. Rejected by the Jewish people, God opened the door for salvation to all peoples of the world. From the time of Peter and Paul, we see the early beginnings of God's church expanded to the point that now, God's people come from all lands and nations. 

Has Jesus' command been made null and void because Gentiles have been included in His kingdom? No! The command of Jesus is given to all of His children: "Go!" We are still called to go and preach the Gospel of the good news of salvation. That "preaching" does not necessarily mean actual preaching. God calls some to preach, but He calls all to present Christ by their very own testimonies. Each of us is called to be a living sacrifice for the Lord. 

Everything we think, say, and do, is to be done to the glory of God. Let us, then, as Christian teens continue to be busy building His kingdom. Let us pray for our unsaved friends and acquaintances, and let us live faithfully for Him so that others may see Christ in us. How is that possible? Truthfully, none of us can live perfectly before God, but we must pray for His grace and His help that we may be faithful to Him, and present Christ to a world that is lost apart from Him.

Let us then obey the command of Christ, and "Go!" Yes, go, and spend your life for Christ!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sheep Having No Shepherd


 36But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
 37Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 
 38Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:36-38King James Version)

Sheep Having No Shepherd

Do sheep need a shepherd? Most of us have little experience with sheep, and therefore do not understand how vulnerable they really are. A serious sheep herder knows that there is no replacement in terms of watch-care for his sheep than a good shepherd. 

As Christian teens, we love to think of Jesus as being filled with love and compassion, and so He was and is, but to what end is that compassion aimed? Did you know that there is some disagreement among certain churches of our day as to the true aim or objective for sending missionaries to foreign lands.

The famous author, Pearl Buck, who herself was the daughter of a missionary, believed and promoted the idea that the purpose of missions was not to go to foreign lands and change the religious beliefs of the natives of that particular country. Rather, the purpose was to provide good, medical, and humanitarian aid to the people. Her ideas caused a sweeping change in the 1920's and 1930's among many prominent denominations. Was she correct?

As teens, we need to develop the habit of going to God's Word for answers. When ideas, for example, are promoted in school, we must, of necessity, always say, "Is this really what God teaches in His Word?" For, as Christian teens, it is God we serve, and though our non-Christian teachers may be ever so nice and seem to care for our proper training, they are schooled in the wine of this world. We, as Christians need to understand that this world promotes humanism--not Christianity!

To answer the question of whether Pearl Buck was correct, let us look at today's passage from Matthew 9. Was Jesus moved with compassion because the people were in need? Was He moved because they were simply hungry or needed physical healing? No! Jesus was moved with compassion because of their lost estate. What He saw was a multitude of people who were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

The religious leaders of the day had so lost focus on what it meant to be followers of God, that they were only teaching them traditions of men--they were not teaching them how to come to God. Jesus, the Chief Shepherd came to give life to His sheep! In His three years of ministry on this earth, He was not just reaching people with the message of salvation. He was also training men to take up the office of shepherds! He was training the future leaders of His true church!

Even in our churches, we need to show discernment! Are our pastors truly teaching God's Word, or are they mingling it with the popular ideas and trends of our day? You, as a Christian teen, have an obligation before God to know the difference!

The very men (disciples) Jesus trained, as we learn in subsequent books of the New Testament, reached out to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, traveling into the lands of Asia spreading the Gospel of Christ. Were they simply giving humanitarian aid? No! They were teaching the people that the only way to God was through Christ. Christ was not just a good man! He was and is our Savior, who came to this earth for the sole purpose of saving a people for Himself.

Did Christ accomplish that goal? Yes! Even today, the only way for anyone to come to God is through the Lord Jesus Christ. His death on the cross was sufficient to save a people for Himself! By claiming the shed blood of Christ as complete payment for our sins, our lives are transformed. Once we were servants of this world, living for our own pleasures. Now, we are servants of the Living God! We are servant of our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Does that characterize your life?

As believers in Christ, gone is the love for the simple pleasures of this earth which are here today and gone tomorrow. Instead, they have been replaced by the joy and peace of Christ. In Him we put our complete trust, for we know that according to Romans 8:28, "All things work together for good, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

That is why we are here, and that is why we send missionaries to foreign lands. We send missionaries to foreign lands with the good news of the Gospel of Christ. For the greatest need of all men, women, and children is not food, healthcare, and humanitarian aid, but it is Christ! Yes, let us reach out to those in other lands with food, healthcare, and humanitarian aid, but let us use these as tools to teach them about their greater need--their need of Christ!

It is important for us to remember that even today, the people of this world are going about as sheep having no shepherd to guide them. How is God using you, as a Christian teen, to fulfill that need? That is the question we must each ask ourselves, and before God, answer! That is why we are here!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Father's Glory


 27 When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”
28 And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”
29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, “See that no one knows it. ” 31 But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country. 

The Father's Glory

Who is the most important person in your life? Well, if you are honest, and if you are like most teens, you are! As a Christian teen, should that be the case? No! First, and foremost, as a Christian teen, you should be seeking the glory of God.

As we read this account from Matthew 9, we must marvel, that though Jesus was the Son of God, He did not seek glory for Himself. In His entire earthly ministry He continued to seek the Father's glory. How do we see that from this passage?

After healing the blind man, Jesus gave the stern charge to him: "See that no one knows it." Why do you suppose Jesus said such a thing? There may be several reasons, but first, and foremost, Jesus was not seeking glory for Himself for what He had just done. As always, He only sought to glorify God in all of the works He did. 

Secondly, Jesus understood His purpose for being here, and was careful to maintain the schedule He was on. He knew, not only that He was to die for His people, but He knew that there was a perfect time for that to happen. With that in mind, He was careful to not bring unnecessary attention--especially negative attention to Him. Sadly, the more He healed the sick, and raised the dead to life, the more anger He aroused among the religious leaders, who were jealous of the attraction of the crowds to Him.

How said, and yet the same is often evident even among Christians today. As God blesses the ministries of His children, often it brings criticism and even persecution upon them by the "religious" people who profess to love the Lord, but do not truly know Him as their personal Lord and Savior. 

Because Satan is vigorously working to oppose the kingdom of God, he continues to plant "religious" people in faithful churches, who, though not necessarily by their own design, often cause schism and contention among God's people. Even among teens, a teen who supposedly loves the Lord, but does not really know what that means, can cause a lot of problems among Christian friends! We should not be surprised when this happens, but should pray earnestly that God's people would remain faithful to Him, and that those who may profess Christ, but do not actually know Him, would come to a saving knowledge of the Lord.

By the grace of God, perhaps God is giving you the ability to turn a negative situation in to a positive one. Perhaps God has brought that very person into your life so that you may show Christ to him or her through your own actions. Pray for their salvation, and pray that God will help you to be that walking "Bible" to them, so that they could understand what it really means to be a Christian teen!

As we view this passage, did the blind men obey Jesus? No! Verse 31 tells us, "But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country."

We must remember that it was an extraordinary time. Jesus, throughout His entire earthly ministry remained focused upon His purpose for being there. Often He told those He healed to not tell anyone, yet seldom did they follow His advice. Yet, no matter the difficulties it created, He remained intent upon doing the Father's will.

Does that mean that today, we are not to tell people when God works miracles in our hearts and lives? No! 

There are two lessons we are to learn from Jesus' example. First, when God does wonderful things in our lives, we are to remember and confess that these are the works of God. We must be careful that we do not take glory for ourselves, but give the glory where it is due--to God. As a matter of fact, everything we accomplish in this life is done so in the strength and power of the Lord. There is no room in the heart of the believer for vainglory or self-praise. If we have great abilities, those abilities were given to us by God, so there is no room for us to glory in ourselves.

Second, it is important that we fulfill the great commission that Christ gave to His disciples, and thus to us as well. We are to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, beginning first in our own neighborhoods. So, as God grants wondrous blessings to us, and does great works in our lives, we are to proclaim to the world the greatness of God, sharing what He has done on our behalf. Our testimonies, by the grace of God, should be glowing examples of how a faithful and loving God works in the hearts and lives of His own people.

Is it not amazing that God continues to use us, weak though we may be, to spread the Gospel to other teens? Pray for His help and strength that in all your actions, Christ may be seen in you!

Go, then, this day, and by your thoughts, words, and deeds seek the Father's glory!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Who Gives Life?


 18 While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.” 

  23 When Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, 24 He said to them, “Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him. 25 But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26 And the report of this went out into all that land. 

Who Gives Life?

As a Christian teen, how do you respond to the miracles of Christ? Have you considered that the miracles He performed over 2000 years ago have a direct affect on your life today? Our devotional today from Matthew 9, is a perfect example of this.

How was Jesus able to raise this girl from the dead? What miraculous power did He possess so that even the chains of death could not prevail over Him? Seeing Jesus standing there before them, the people could not see beyond His humanity to realize that He was not just a human, but rather, He was the God Man. It was He would created the heavens and the earth, and it is He of whom Isaiah 44 speaks.
 2  Thus says the LORD who made you  
      And formed you from the womb, who will help you:

      ‘ Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
      And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
       (Isaiah 44:2New King James Version)    

24  Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer,  
      And He who formed you from the womb:

      “ I am the LORD, who makes all things,
      Who stretches out the heavens all alone,
      Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;
Could it be that we, as teens, have the same problem today? Could it be that we see Jesus as a great man who once walked upon this earth instead of God incarnate--very God and very man!

This Jesus, who lived and died on this earth over 2000 years ago, is alive today, sitting at the right hand of God the Father. He was resurrected in the presence of His disciples, and is very much alive today, interceding for His people--interceding for you, as a Christian teen!

This same Jesus, who raised this ruler's daughter from the dead continues to work on behalf of His people. Do we, as Christian teens, live as though we believe and understand this, or are we so consumed by the worries of life that we can hardly walk through each day without a great deal of doubt and discouragement? Are we so drawn to the daily events of life, that we hardly reserve even a thought for God?

It is time that we, as the people of God, live this life we profess to have. It is time that we take up the mantle that God has placed upon us and go forth in His strength and power. Can we do it in and of ourselves? No! But, the cross that God has placed upon our lives is easy to bear in the strength and power of the Lord Jesus who willingly bears it for us! 

Isaiah continues the narrative begun in chapter 44 with these words of encouragement in chapter 45:
 11  Thus says the LORD,  
      The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker:

      “ Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons;
      And concerning the work of My hands, you command Me.
       12  I have made the earth,  
      And created man on it.
      I—My hands—stretched out the heavens,
      And all their host I have commanded.
This is the Lord God that we serve! He made the earth, and created man on it. His hands stretched out the heavens, and all their host is under His command. Cannot this same God, then, direct and order the events of our life? Yes! He can, and He does. Not only does He order them, but He has a specific plan for each one of us!

Let us go forth boldly, knowing that God created us specifically to do a work He has ordained for us to do. He created us, and He will equip us to do that work. Let us not buy into the foolish notions of this world, believing that we, in our own strength, can order our lives. Yes, we need to educate and train our minds and bodies, but we do so knowing that we are honing the skills God created in us. It is these very skills that we need to train so that our lives may be lived for His honor and glory. That is why we are here!

The 21st century worldview is man-centered. Man is at the center of his universe and controls and orders his own life. That, however, is a foolish lie of Satan. Let us, as the Christian teens, rise up and serve our Creator. He who created this world and all of the starry host, is the only One who can order and maintain our lives according to His perfect will.

Who gives life? God! Who maintains and controls the affairs of this world? God. For a time, Satan has been allowed to create great havoc on this earth, but that time is short-lived. Whose servant will you be? Will you be the servant of Satan or the servant of God? The day will come when God will destroy sin and evil forever, and reign in perfect righteousness and holiness. 

May God hasten the day!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Faith of Faith!


 20And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
 21For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
 22But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. 

Faith of Faith!

As a Christian teen, how would you measure your faith? How much confidence do you have in the Lord Jesus Christ as you walk through the daily events of life? We are given an example, in Matthew 9, of a woman who showed an extraordinary amount of faith.

It was certainly a remarkable time! Jesus walked on earth, and though the religious leaders of the day rejected Him, the common people had no such difficulty. Our passage today from Matthew 9, tells of the incident involving a woman who was diseased with an issue of blood for twelve years. Seeing Jesus, she came up behind Him and touched the hem of His garment.

We are told that she thought within herself, "If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole."

Just as an aside, how do we know what this woman thought? Certainly Matthew, the writer of this Gospel did not know her thoughts, but Christ did! Even her thoughts, as known by Him, are recorded for us in this 9th chapter of Matthew. As teens, do we think about the Lord Jesus Christ even knowing our thoughts? What changes might that make in our lives? What change did it make in the life of this woman?

Having no doubt, she did touch the hem of His garment and was, indeed, made whole. Immediately, Jesus knew what happened, and said to her, "Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole."

What measure of faith do we, as Christian teens, have? Would we, like this woman, have been confident that to just touch the hem of His garment was all that was needed? How confidently do we face the daily circumstances of life? Do we walk about in fear that evil times will fall upon us, or do we rest confidently in the guiding and supporting hand of the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we concerned more about what our peers think than what God thinks of us?

These are important questions for us to consider. As believers, faith and trust are virtues that should be commonplace in our lives. Even in the difficulties of life, we should rest in God's kind and supporting hand, knowing that even in the hard times, He is working great peace and joy into our hearts and lives. Of course, that is a foreign way of thinking for most of us, but what a change it makes in our lives when we actually begin to walk in faith!

Interestingly enough, it is our very knowledge and understanding of the things of this world that often get in our way. We tend to trust so completely in the knowledge of mankind, that we often forget that God, who established all of the laws of nature, is not bound by those same laws as we are! Just has Jesus healed this woman, so can God reach down and still the angry waves of misfortune that may fall upon us.

Can God work miracles among the sick today? Yes! It is not wrong, when sick, to pray for God's healing mercies upon us. Of course, we understand that He often does not extend those healing mercies. Why is that? We rest confidently in Him knowing that all things that come into our lives work together for good, as we are reminded in Romans 8.
 28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28King James Version)
Is this just a mere platitude that we offer up when we do not understand why we are suddenly thrust into the middle of some great difficulty? No! It is truly with confidence and joy that we, as children of God, understand that He does, indeed, guide and support us. By His loving hand of grace, He walks with us all of the days of our life on this earth, and will also hold our hand when we are ushered into the eternal gates of heaven to live with Him forever!

Now that is truly faith of faith! Go, then, as Christian teens, and walk in faith!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Form of Godliness


 14Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
 15And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. 

Form of Godliness

How do you, as a Christian teen, appear to others? Do they see you as someone quietly and faithfully serving God, or do they see you as a bold, obnoxious person, arrogant in the knowledge that you are righteous before God?

Matthew 9 continues with an interesting discussion between Jesus and His disciples. The Pharisees, ever the adversaries of Christ, came with new accusations. "Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?"

In other words, they were saying, "Look how Godly we are--we spend great amounts of time in prayer and fasting. Why do your disciples not fast?" Paul, in his second letter to Timothy wrote, 
 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:5King James Version)

Such is an apt description of the Pharisees. They certainly had the appearance of godliness, and were the first to tell everyone, but in their heart of hearts, they were far from the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, they had a form of godliness, but they denied the power of Christ. The admonition from Paul is that we turn away from such arguments, for there are always those enemies of Christ who love nothing better than contention.

In the end, as Christian teens, it is not our bold words, but our gentle and quiet spirit, shown in our faithful service for Christ, that will have the most effect on unbelievers!

In spite of the nature of the Pharisees' reproofs, Jesus responded in defense of His disciples by asking the question, "Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them?" In other words, fasting is reserved for the grievous times of life when in great agony of spirit we pour out our concerns to God. Yet, this was not such a time! The Lord Jesus, their Bridegroom, was still with them. Rather than a time of grief, it was a time of great joy.

Things, of course, would change. That time of great grief would come when the Lord would pour out His very life for His people. The disciples, after Christ returned to heaven, spent many hours in prayer and fasting--seeking the wisdom and guidance of God. With great difficulty, they took up the banner of Christ, as the early church struggled for its very survival.

Yet God, was faithful to them, as we see from the results today. By the grace of God, He has kept a faithful remnant even into our 21st century.

What is the great lesson to be learned from this passage? As Christian teens, we must be careful that we do not let the criticism of the world--and even the criticism of fellow Christian teens--keep us from faithfully trusting and serving God. By His grace, let us take up the mantle of service He has bestowed upon us, and faithfully spend our lives for His honor and glory.

We are, in many ways, a sorry lot. Consumed with our own struggles with sin, it is easy to give in to the temptation to put forth a showy, glitzy appearance before the world. However, it is not our great showy declarations that will bring glory to God, but rather those times when, in our own secret prayer closets, we pour out our confessions of sin and prayer for God's help. As we bare our hearts before God, seeking His help, we will bring the most glory to His name.

In other words, it is not how we appear to others that makes us great in the eyes of God. It is how we appear to God--in those times of quiet prayer to Him--that really matters. It is not the face of the world that we must please, but the face of God! 

May it not be said of us that we have a form of godliness, but deny the very power of God. Our power does not rest in us, or in the actions we perform, but rather, our power rests in Christ alone! He is our King, He is our Savior, He is our strength and our guide, and by His grace and glory we will bring honor and glory to God!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, August 26, 2013

Whole or Sick?


 10And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
 11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
 12But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 

Whole or Sick

As teens today, are you whole or sick? Actually, this is not a question about your state of physical health, but actually a question about the state of your spiritual health.

As Jesus sat at the table to eat at the house of Matthew, the tax collector, with many of Matthew's friends (also tax collectors), the Pharisees were horrified. They asked Jesus' disciples, "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?"

Hearing them, Jesus replied, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." Has anything changed? Here we are in the 21st century and we find that, still, our world is filled with the whole and the sick--spiritually sick, that is! The question we must ask is, "Which am I? Am I whole or sick?"

What did Jesus mean by this saying? During Jesus time, the Jewish religious leaders were, by and large, indignant toward Jesus. They, who viewed themselves as whole had no need of a Savior. They were already quite righteous enough--or at least that is the manner in which they viewed themselves. The list of righteous deeds they performed was seemingly endless. 

In this, the 21st century, are we really so much different? As teens today, we do not really think of ourselves as bad people, do we? 

What of the world in which we live? Do teens today need a Savior--do they view themselves as sinners? Sadly, in this, the 21st century, the rush is to redefine sin--or to get rid of it completely. After all, we live in the "I'm OK, you're OK" world. What may be wrong for you, may actually be right for me, for everything is relative. When viewing ourselves, we actually like what we see, so where is the need for being saved. Saved from what? How different is that from the attitude of the Pharisees? It is no different at all.

But, what of the publicans and sinners of Jesus' day? These people had no trouble seeing themselves as sinners. Knowing that they fell far short of the perfection of God, Jesus' words were a balm to their soul. Yes, they knew that they were sick, and in need of saving.

So, here we are in the 21st century, still looking for those who understand that they are sick. Truthfully, every man, woman, and child is sick and in need of saving. The words of Christ are just as relevant to us today. As we see our hopeless condition before a holy and righteous God, we see our need of a Savior.

That really is the difference, is it not? It is not how we, as a teen, compare to other teens, but rather, how do we, as a teen, compare to a holy and righteous God. Can we actually look Him in the face as an equal? Not hardly! That is exactly why God sent His only Son, the Lord Jesus, to this earth!

Jesus, the Son of God, was born of a virgin, suffered, died, was buried, and resurrected. Why? So that He might save a people for Himself! The good news today is that all those who are sick, and understand that before God they are actually dead, can go to Christ, for He has paid the debt of their sin. He came to this earth to save a people for Himself. Until the Lord Jesus Christ returns again, that door of salvation is still open, but it will not remain so forever. 

So, the real question each of us, as teens, needs to ask ourselves is this: are we whole or sick?

Come to Christ today, while His arms are open to His children!

God Bless You,
Linda