Thursday, January 31, 2013

Praise Ye the Lord!


 19Bless the LORD, O house of Israel: bless the LORD, O house of Aaron:
 20Bless the LORD, O house of Levi: ye that fear the LORD, bless the LORD.
 21Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD. 

Praise Ye the Lord!

Psalm 135 ends with a glorious praise to God by calling all peoples, "Praise ye the Lord." Beginning with the nation, then the extended family, then the family, all who fear the Lord are called to bless Him. 

As I am writing this devotion, I am looking out the window watching heavy snow float down and then wisp sideways by the strong winds. For our local teens, it's a great day--no school! Living right downtown, there is plenty of action outside our window this morning. Snow plows are trying to make the roads somewhat passable, cars are trying to keep moving, and snow blowers are chugging along the sidewalks. I am amazed at how quickly everything changes, in this case, in the event of a significant snow. Yet, we are only speaking of a six inch snow. How much more does everything change when the snow amounts to two or three times that amount?

In truth, we are very fragile creatures. We do best when temperatures hover around the 70 degree mark, but are quickly paralyzed if those same temperatures drop to 70 degrees below zero, or rise to over 120 degrees. Our earth is sustained by God's Almighty hand, yet how much do we take our day to day lives for granted. Only when extreme conditions, such as a "200 year" flood, or a massive outbreak of tornados, or a monstrous hurricane crouches over New Orleans or New York City, do we remember to stop and thank God for His sustaining hand upon us. Yet, even then, as a teen, if you do not live in those localities, your life goes on pretty much the same.

Unfortunately, even though we see through Scripture, God's hand actively sustaining the nation of Israel or bringing judgment upon them for their sin, we fail to realize that God works in the same way today. When we look at the horrendous sin which overtakes nation after nation, why do we not see God's hand of judgment when the forces of nature seem to overpower or cripple the economy of one nation after another? Even closer, when we see the predominant sin in our own country, as believers, why are we not down on our hands and knees crying out for our nation? 

What of violence in the schools? As a teen, how has your life changed due to the recent school shootings. Unless you are actually in a school which has experienced that violence, your day to day life probably goes on pretty much the same as it always has.

I fear that we, as believers, have been lulled into complacency, no longer even being shocked by the sin of our people. With the world, things that were shockingly sinful decades ago are now accepted as alternative life styles. So, as we look out upon a cold and stormy winter storm (in my case, anyway), let us remember that it is God who loves us, it is God who sustains us, and it is God who protects us, not only from the forces of nature, but from the forces of sin which surround us.

As Christian teens, let us rise to the occasion and praise Him for His great and mighty hand of blessing upon us. Without the Lord, where would we be? I shudder to even think of the answer to that question.

So, this day, as you go about your normal duties, remember the words of the Psalmist, and "Praise ye the Lord!"

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Idols


 15The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
 16They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not;
 17They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.
 18They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them. 

Idols

As teens today, the topic of idols may seem to be pretty remote in terms of its relevance to your daily life. In actuality, it is probably more relevant that just about any other topic we could discuss. What did the Psalmist say about idols in Psalm 135?

The Psalmist tells us that the idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. After describing them in more detail, he ends with, "They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them."

What of us, as teens, in the 21st century? Yes, physical idols still do exist in many countries, and among many peoples, but what of those in countries which no longer worship at the feet of a physical idol? Has idolatry ceased to exist in those countries?

Look at what Paul said of idolatry in the book of Colossians.  5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, (Colossians 3:5-6New King James Version)

Though we, as a teen, may not bow before a physical idol, yet if our heart runs after the things of this world, especially fornication, uncleanness, unchecked passion, evil desire, and covetousness (just to name a few), then we are still guilty of idolatry before the Lord. Anything that comes between us and our love and service to the Lord is idolatry. That sounds pretty exclusive, does it not?

In other words, idolatry can even be something that is not in and of itself evil. If we, as a teen, put other people or other things before God in our love and service to Him, those things have become idols. Even more, an idol does not need to be a physical thing. If our passions and longings for success, for example, are greater than our love for the Lord, then those same passions and longings have become idols to us. What about our desires for the future? As we make our plans, what parameters do we use? Are we more concerned about what the world thinks of our choices, or are we more concerned about what God thinks of our choices?

What are popular idols of our day? Fame, fortune, and power are probably the big three in the 21st century. Some people are so greedy of fame that they will even seek to be infamous if it will get their name in the newspaper, on the internet, or in the history books. Fortune, of course is number one! How many of us believe, even though we know it is not true, that all of our problems will be solved if we just win the lottery. Even as a teen, I am sure you have faced frustrations where lack of money has caused undue hardships. Do you really think more money would be the answer? But, what of power? Just think for a moment how glorious it would be to be the president or ruler of your country. Men and women will go to great lengths, even at the sacrifice of the lives of others, just to gain power. 

In the end, it all comes down to our first love, does it not? God is to hold the first place in our hearts. No one and no thing should ever be before Him. That includes friends, families, and any physical thing. 

Is God unjust for requiring such a thing of today's teens? Think for a minute of what God provides for His people. Lost and condemned, God, through the death, resurrection, and ascension of His only Son, has reached down and plucked us from certain and eternal death in hell. Through no merit or help from us, He has picked us up, placed us on stable ground, and has said, "Live." Has he then left us to go on our own? No! He is our constant help and companion all the days of our lives, and after this life, will take us safely to be with Him forever. Considering all of that, is it too much for Him to ask to be first in our hearts? No!

Go, then, this day, as a believer in Christ, and seek the Lord God. Pray that He will help you remove any and all idols from your heart and life, that you may prostrate yourself before Him both now and forever! Then, as a teen, and by the grace of God, live the rest of your life for His honor and glory and not your own!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

God Endures Forever!


 13Thy name, O LORD, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations. 
 14For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants. 

God Endures Forever!

How vibrant these words appear when one considers that it has been thousands of years since they were first written! Thy name, O LORD, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations. Indeed, God endures forever! Here we are in the 21st century AD, as teens, still praising His name and praising God for His Word, much of what was written thousands of years ago. Like the saints of God in the Old Testament, we can hardly praise God enough for the goodness He shows to His people. 

Being still in the days of our youth, how can we even begin to comprehend the greatness of God, who seeing man fall hopelessly into sin (sin that would destroy him forever), already had a plan in place to redeem a people for Himself? None of us deserves the great love which God has bestowed upon us. All of us must fall helplessly before Him and praise Him for such a great redemption, granted to us without money or cost to us. There was a cost, however! That cost was paid by our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who offered Himself, though He was perfect and righteous, as full payment for all of our sins.

How, then, can so many teens reject such an offer? One of the great mysteries of life is trying to understand the incomprehension which exists in lost mankind. Truly the blindness of man, lost and apart from the Lord is astounding to behold. The lifeline is there, but they refuse its offer--a mistake they will regret forever! For, as verse 14 proclaims, "For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants."

As teens, we love our heros; we love stories which tell of a great, compassionate leader, destined to truly make a difference in the state of mankind--maybe even rescuing the entire world from eternal extinction. Yet, even our heros cannot turn a blind eye on the wicked! Because God is righteous and holy, judgment must come. No court system can be kept pure which does not punish the offenders, for then there would be no vindication for the victims. But, what does the Psalmist mean when he said, "He will repent himself concerning his servants."?

The New King James version translates verse 14 in this way: "For the LORD will judge His people, and He will have compassion on His servants." God repents, or turns away from the sin of His people by providing perfect righteousness for them by the blood of His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He could have left us in our sin and misery to perish and be condemned forever, but He chose a people for Himself, pulled them from the fiery brands of wickedness, bathed them in the blood of Christ, and made them pure, righteous, and holy. If you are a child of his, then that is your testimony--you are bought with a price--saved by grace, alone! 

Amazing love, 
How can it be
That God Himself dids't die for me!

Go, then, this day as a teens purchased by the Lord, and bring glory, honor, and praise to His name in all that you do. You have been bought with a price, and are now His! Go in His service and do great things for Him! That is your new calling in this life! How will your generation make a difference for the Lord?

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, January 28, 2013

Daily devotions are coming again!

Daily devotions are coming again!

I had every intention of at least printing new devotions for you once or twice a week, but unfortunately that has not been the case. So, I am going to return to my former method of updating this blog. As most of you know, I write a blog called, Daily Bible Devotions. In the past I have taken these same devotions and updated them with comments and material more closely related to you, as teens. So, I will return to that method. Tomorrow, my next devotions in that series, entitled, "God Endures Forever" will appear here in its updated "For Teens" format.

I will also continue to publish some, "Teen Answers" devotions periodically.

Thanks for your continued prayer support!

God Bless You,
Linda