Thursday, February 28, 2013

Surrounded!


 9As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them.
 10Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.
 11Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him. 

Surrounded!

As teens, few of us have experienced the difficulties David did when pursued by King Saul. It is not all that easy for us to understand how he must have felt.

Surrounded by his evil pursuers, David was filled with bitterness against those who ruled their kingdoms with evil intent. It certainly was not God's way; how he longed to see God's power displayed against those who refused to obey His Word. Yet, though he prayed for his demise, David never lifted his hand against Saul, God's anointed ruler. He understood that it was God who would finally overcome Saul's disobedience and wickedness. The book of 1 Samuel contains the entire story; it is a fascinating story of God's power and control over the nation of Israel.

Few of us have experienced the anguish that David felt when constantly pursued by Saul. Few of us have had to run for our lives and then remain in constant fear of being discovered. Few us of would have had the Godly principles of restraint as evidenced in David when he could have killed Saul, himself. Even though he knew that he was God's next anointed ruler, and in spite of the anguish it caused him, he waited upon God's timing. What a great lesson to learn while still in your teens!

What a lesson for us today. How easy it is to become impatient, especially when we feel surrounded by evil. How quickly we would like to take things into our own hands and dispel the wickedness for once and for all. Yet, that is not God's way, is it? Like David, it is important for us to understand that though we make our plans, our steps are ordered by the Lord. It takes much more grace and self control to let God handle our difficulties, especially when we are so yearning to take vengeance upon those who have wronged us!

Do we have the kind of faith we see evidenced by David? When everything seems to be going wrong, are we still able to live in peace with the Lord, knowing that He orders all things: the bad as well as the good? When we look at the bigger picture and see nation rising against nation, how certain are we of God's control over the outcomes of their struggles? 

This is a perplexing time in which to live; while people seem to be demanding peace, war seems inevitable. While some nations are calling for disarmament, others are racing to build sophisticated nuclear capabilities, ready to point them at the most unsuspecting country. Truly, without God's hand of control, this world would implode as capabilities for greater destruction become more and more available.

Though we may not be experiencing the circumstances David faced, perhaps we do have an understanding of the bitterness he experienced against the wickedness of those fighting against him. Like David, however, no matter what transpires, it is important that we never forget that nothing is happening apart from what God has already ordained. We should not be naive, but we can still go about our daily lives in peace, trusting in God's faithful hand of protections upon us.

Our world will not go on forever; indeed, it seems as though its end is very near! However, the world will not last a day longer or even a day shorter than what God has planned. Even before it was created, God knew the details of its end. As Christian teens, we need not fear. Yes, the world will end, and in its place, God will create a new heaven and a new earth, and oh, what a glorious place that will be.

As Christian teens, we often feel surrounded by those who hate God, and who hate God's people. Yet, God will care for them. Let us pray for their salvation, and trust their ultimate end into the hands of God!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, February 25, 2013

Thou Art My God!


 6I said unto the LORD, Thou art my God: hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD.
 7O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.
 8Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked device; lest they exalt themselves. Selah. 

Thou Art My God!

As a Christian teen, in whom do you really trust? Is your trust placed in your friends, your parents, your teachers? If your trust is in any other than Christ, you are on shaky ground!

More beautiful words have not been spoken! Thou art my God! The Psalmist seemed to be speaking this declaration at a time when he was almost overcome with trials and difficulties at the hands of his enemies. Yet, his trust was in God! Rightly he exclaimed, "O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle." Only in our wondrous Lord God Almighty can we have such complete confidence.

I pray that is the burning cry of each and every teen reading this devotional, for if we have placed our confidence in any other than God, Himself, then that confidence is, indeed, misplaced! There is no family member, friend, or acquaintance to whom we can receive such hope, and there is no spiritual domain above our wondrous Creator, who has formed us, as well as the world in which we live, and who knows all things. Do you believe that? 

Truly, there is nothing man can do to us, for though he may kill our bodies, he cannot touch our souls. Though the rest of our life may be one misery after another, what is that in light of eternity? Those are pretty drastic words, and ones we do not like to contemplate in this society when it seems that the whole world is at our fingertips, but what is our suffering in light of what Christ, the Son of God, has suffered for each and every one of His dear children? 

Yet, He did not just complete our salvation and then whisk Himself away to remain forever apart from us in the realms of His eternal kingdom. He sits at the right hand of God, making intercession for each and every one of us. He is directly and distinctly involved with each of His own, directing us, ordering our lives, and protecting us from the onslaughts of Satan and his minions. He knows each of us, and loves us in a way that it is impossible for us to duplicate or even comprehend!

In the middle of despair, He upholds us. In the middle of pain, He brings comfort. In the middle of sorrow, He consoles us with His wondrous Word. In times of great joy, He gladdens our hearts. In times of great peace, He reminds us that it is He that has brought that peace. Nothing we do, think, or say, is done apart from His knowledge, His help, and His intervention. 

As Christian teens, He is available to you, 24/7. Take the time to get to know Him, for He is truly your best Friend!

No wonder the Psalmist could say, "Hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD. . . . Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked device." He knew that in God, He had an Advocate who was always there.

What about us? When we say to Him, "Thou art my God," what exactly do we mean? Is ours just a superficial knowledge of Him as He is revealed in Scripture, or do we have a relationship with Him that is more precious than any relationship on earth? 

Go today, and seek Him--not just a knowledge of Him--but a relationship with Him. 

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come;
Be thou our guide while life shall last,
And our eternal home.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Keep and Preserve


 4Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings.
 5The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me. Selah. 

Keep and Preserve

As a teen, you live at a fantastic time--so much is available to you. We are taught that we can have anything we want. Is this really the truth? Is life really that simple?

The Psalmist did not think so! His pleas may seem a little out of place in our 21st century world.  Nowhere does he mention his own ability to get himself out of his own troubles. Rather, he pleads with the Lord, "Keep and preserve me!" Truly he understands the real world in which we live.

Just as in the Psalmist's day, we, too, are in a battle--actually we are in a war! Yet, we often live our lives as though all is sweet and pleasant and everyone has our best interests in mind. Instead, the Psalmist cried out, "The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins [traps] for me."

Satan, knowing he is already defeated, is intent upon bringing as many people with him as he can. He knows that the best way to do that is through deceit--using sweet and kind words. We are warned several places in the Gospels that in the last days false prophets and false Christs will arise whose purpose it is to deceive. They will be so effective that, but for the grace of God, even true believers would be deceived.
 21And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
 22For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
 23But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. (Mark 13:21-23King James Version)
As Christian teens, what can we do to prevent ourselves from falling into these same traps? Like the Psalmist let us pray that God would keep and preserve us. We must, like the Psalmist, pray that He will keep us from the hands of the wicked and preserve us from the violent man, whose purpose is to keep us from the straight path on which God has planted our feet.

It is not about us, is it? It, as always, is Christ who keeps us going the way we should go. It is to Him we need to continually pray. We have the assurance that God will, indeed, keep our feet upon His paths. He is available to us every moment of every day, and will remain with us until the day He takes us home to be with Him forever!

As teens, make your plans, prepare for your future, but do so remembering that it is Christ who will bring success or even allow failure. Why? He does so to bring you and keep you closer to Him.

Let us remember these great words from Proverbs 3:
 5Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
 6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
 7Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7King James Version)
God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Evil


 1Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man;
 2Which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war.
 3They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips. Selah. 

Evil

As a teen, how would you define, "evil?" 

In Psalm 140, the Psalmist cried, "Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man." The difficulty in our 21st century world is, how does one define evil? Who is the counterpart of the evil man as described in Psalm 140? I am sure that if you did a poll among teens, you would receive tons of definitions of what it really means to be evil.

The Psalmist describes the evil man in four ways.

1. Which imagine mischiefs in their heart.
2. Continually are they gathered together for war.
3. They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent.
4. Adders' poison is under their lips.

Clearly, he is not speaking of his next door neighbor, but rather he is speaking of the enemies of Israel. At least, that is our first thought, but he may actually be speaking of his own leaders! We joke about lawyers and politicians, but sadly, we have come to expect our politicians to lack candor when they speak to us. We just assume that they will tell us what we want to hear, but they will not necessarily feel the need to do what we want them to do.

In a world of secrecy and political espionage, we, as the common person really do not know what goes on between the governments of this world, neither do we really care. More than ever, we as believers need to be praying, "Lord, deliver me from evil." 

Actually, in our culture, no truly Christian nation even exists. Oh, there are those who profess to pray and seek guidance from God, but their actions are more like those described in Psalm 140. Gone are those who stolidly stand upon the Word of God, refusing to bow their knees to the gods of this age.

What are we, as Christian teens to do? We are to do exactly what the Psalmist is doing. We need to pray, "Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man." As we see the principles of God's Word being questioned and compromised in the churches of our land, we need to pray that God's people will be faithful to His Word. Most of all, we need to pray that God will keep us faithful to His Word, for the teachings of the Bible are not optional.

As you think of making preparations for your future careers, do you include a comprehensive study of God's Word in your plans? Have you considered going to a Christian college rather than a secular university? 

God has taught us the right principles we need to follow to rule and govern our lives. It is our responsibility to know this Word He has given to us and, by His grace, to pray for grace to be obedient to what we read and study from His Word. That presumes, of course, that we actually do read and study His Word. As Christian teens, it is your personal responsibility before God to seek and nurture a relationship with Christ.

One has to wonder what would happen to one's country if the true believers would turn away from the pleasures and delights of this world and commit themselves to the words of God spoken to King Solomon:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14King James Version)

How will your generation of Christian teens make a difference in this world?

Deliver us, O Lord, from evil men!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Search Me, O God!


 23Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
 24And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 

Search Me, O God

As a Christian teen, how well do you know yourself? How well does God know you? 

Our Bible passage today is one of those timeless passages that we find ourselves repeating again and again. It is a prayer we would do well to pray every single day of our lives. For our hearts are deceitful, and we constantly find ourselves in the position of searching our very hearts, and crying out for God's grace to keep us faithful to Him. 

As Christian teens, we have been transformed. Our desires have changed; when once we only sought to glorify ourselves, now we desire to bring glory to God, alone. However, that does not mean that we are without sin; neither does it mean that we are not constantly bombarded with temptations to sin against this very God we love so much.

Do you think that is what the Psalmist is saying? After all, in his heart of hears, he knows that he is not without sin. The righteousness that God sees when He looks upon us is the righteousness of the blood of Christ which covers our sins. The Psalmist is not intimating that he is without sin. As a matter of fact, after his plea to God to search him, he states, "And lead me in the way everlasting."

Unfortunately for us, as long as we are on this earth, we will constantly be tempted to disobey the Lord, and left to ourselves, often yield to those temptations. That is why the Psalmist asked God to lead Him in the way everlasting. In humble faith, we need to cry out to God to keep us from sin, and to lead us in His way rather than our own. We need to ask God to reveal to us the reality of our own hearts!

What keeps us from obedience to Christ? Often it is nothing more than our own fear--fear of failure, fear of change, fear of ridicule by people of the world, maybe even fear of ridicule by other believers. Satan puts a very effective stop to many believer's obedience by simply casting doubt and fear upon their plans. Do you remember what he said to Eve, "Has God said?" In other words, he is casting doubt upon the directions or commands given by God to Adam and Eve.

We might say, "Does the Bible really say that?" Or we may say, "Does the Bible really mean that?" We live in a time when the Bible is being redefined and in essence rewritten by may professing Christians. Our culture is not happy with the stringent stand the Bible takes on such issues as abortion and homosexuality, so we simply redefine what the Bible says. Like Satan, we are saying, "Has God really said that?" Because we live in a time when society is crying out for tolerance, we may find the Bible to be rather intolerant! 

As believers, where the Bible is very clear, we must also be very clear. There are many areas of Christian liberty, but there are many areas where God is very specific in His commands. When we do not understand, we must remember that, "God is God, and I am not!" God is holy, righteous, and pure, and what He requires is right and good! May that become that attitude of our own hearts!

So, as we say, "Search me, O God," let us pray that we really mean just that. Let us pray that God will be gracious to us, and give us the desire and then the ability to be obedient to His commandments. We live in a very different culture than did the Psalmist, but God's Word has not changed! Above all, let us seek to honor and glorify God above all others, including ourselves!

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Death to the Wicked!


 19Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.
 20For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.
 21Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
 22I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. 

Death to the Wicked?

I sometimes feel really badly about the world we are giving to you, as teens. It seems as though, in my lifetime, things have gotten progressively worse. We are leaving a must more grave world scene for you to deal with than we had given to us 40 years ago. Perhaps that is just what the Psalmist was struggling with when he wrote these verses.

In our 21st century culture, we often struggle with the sentiments expressed by the Psalmist in these verses from Psalm 139. "Death to the wicked," seems to the Psalmist's cry. However, when one thinks about the life in which we live, we must admit that sometimes we get really tired of everything seeming to go the way of the wicked. It was not always that way, but then again, maybe it was!

As a matter of fact, the culture in which we live, even in America, seems to be almost as far removed from a Christian culture as one can imagine. God, prayer, and the ten commandments have almost been totally expunged from our modern day, "advanced" society. Left in its place seems to be a free hand for the wicked to participate in any number of legal activities.

Gay marriage is fast approaching the norm and babies in the womb continue to be murdered in untold numbers. Will it stop there? No! The wicked will not be content until there is no remaining evidence of God and His rules for living. It appears that it is only a matter of time until we will see our pastors and ministers of the Gospel jailed for preaching the Bible. Does that seem too extreme? Just a quick look at history will show that to be the case.

It is amazing how men treat one another. Very little tolerance is given for opposing views, especially Godly views!

No wonder, then, the Psalmist, grew so tired of the reign of terror imposed by the wicked that he said, Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. . . . and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

What happened to, the verse from Matthew 5?  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, (Matthew 5:44New King James Version)

How do you as a Christian teen handle this diversity of attitudes that seem to exist between the words of the Psalmist and the words of Christ? In one sense, they actually represent two sides of the same coin!

There certainly must be a balance. As Christian teens, we do not know who the Lord's elect are. We do not know who will come to Christ before they leave this earth. Therefore, it is our duty to pray for the wicked, testify to them of Christ's great love, and love them as people created in the image of God. Yet, even in doing so, it is not wrong to desire that God would put an end to wickedness on this earth.

As a matter of fact, that is exactly what God will do. So, in the proper context, even while loving and praying for the wicked, it is not wrong for us to desire death to the wicked at the hand of God. For God knows His children; He knows who will come to Him and who will not. As we are burdened by the oppression of the wicked it is right that we should cry out to God for relief!

Go then this day, love and pray for your enemies, but also pray that God will bring an end to all wickedness on this earth--soon!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thoughts of God!


 17How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
 18If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. 

Thoughts of God!

As a Christian teen, how much do you think about God? God thinks about each and every one of His children far more than they think of Him! At least, that is certainly what the Psalmist is implying in verses 17 and 18, of Psalm 139.
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
Have you ever had a wonderful dream and then were disappointed when you awoke to find it was only a dream? That seems to be the inference of the Psalmist in these verses, with one exception. When the Psalmist awoke, he was still with God. In other words, it was not a dream--it was the truth.

I am sure that, as a Christian teen, you have been taught much about God already--especially in relation to you and how you live your life. These are lessons that often take years for us to really understand and accept enough that they change the way we live and act.

It is very hard for us to fathom God, the ruler of the entire universe having time to ever even think of us even once, let alone having Him think of us so many times that His thoughts are more in number than the sand. Now, I know my husband loves me, but even he does not think of me more than the number of the grains of sand, and neither do I think of him that often, even though he frequently occupies my thoughts. 

Of course, God is not a creature of time, nor is He confined to one thought or one place at a time. He can think of millions of people all at the same time and still give each of them His undivided (so to speak) attention. While thinking of you, He is also ruling the nations! It is more than we can possibly comprehend. Yet, it is true that God is very acquainted with each and every one of His children--He knows us better than we know ourselves.

As a young child, I was taught, in Sunday School, the concept that Jesus goes with me everywhere I go. For some reason (which is good, I suppose), I have always carried that thought with me. That does not mean that I only made good choices, for sadly, I took Jesus to some very inappropriate places throughout my life. Thankfully, He moved me back upon the right path, and forgave my indiscretions. 

I found, and I imagine that you, as a Christian teen have discovered, however, that the world is not very comfortable with a true believer who lives according to God's Word. As a matter of fact, they are very quick to remind us anytime we fail. Years ago, I was confronted by an unbeliever at work. She said to me, "I thought Christians were not supposed to speed? I was following you into work and you were speeding." Of course, that meant she was speeding, too, but that was different. However, it was a good lesson to me. The world will hold us accountable to Biblical standards even if it feels no need to follow those same standards.

She was right, of course. I should not have been speeding. Even in a small way, I was disobeying the Lord, and I got caught by a person of the world. It was a lesson to me, that even when driving my car, I have an obligation to be obedient to God's commands. I like to think that God has a great sense of humor, and He loves to call us down for our sins, especially at the hands of unbelievers. Often those are the lessons we remember for our entire lifetime.

The lesson the Psalmist was teaching us in these verses was that, though we may not think of God, He is always thinking of us. Whatever we do, whatever we say, and even whatever we think is laid open before our Father God. Yet, He loves us enough that He sent His only Son to pay the price of those same sins.

Let us, as Christian teens, fall down before our Holy and Righteous Father, asking for help to live our lives, and think our thoughts, in a manner that is pleasing to Him, for the thoughts of God are always upon us!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pro Life!


 13For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
 14I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
 15My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
 16Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. 

Pro LIfe!

Perhaps you are a Christian teen who has listened to the pro choice movement and thought that they are quire reasonable in their beliefs. Did you know that the writer of Psalm 139 did not have any problem understanding and being pro life? The Bible is definitely not silent on the subject!

The Psalmist, in Psalm 139, was not afraid to admit what people of our day seem to think is optional. The Psalmist was pro life! Verses 13 through 16 are a representation of us, while still in our mother's womb, and God's perspective of our existence.

As if there were any doubt, he begins by stating in verse 13, For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. The following three verses explain in more depth, especially in verses 15 and 15:
My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
What is the Psalmist saying? He is speaking of the time when even the woman may not know that she is pregnant, yet God already views that person who is being made in secret as he or she will be after their birth. Though their substance is not yet perfectly formed, God already views them as though all of their members were written, or completely formed, even though none of them may yet exist.

Just because we cannot see the child until it is born does not mean that the baby in the womb is not a real person. Even from the moment of conception, God already perceives that person as being completely formed, for God is not a creature of time, as are we. He sees the end and the beginning, and does not attempt to separate the one from the other.

How amazing is that? There are those in our culture who wrestle with the exact time life begins, but God has no problem seeing that yet unborn, child as a complete person. From God's perspective, He has already ordained that life before time began. So, while the body is growing and developing inside his or her mother, God already sees the person as fully formed. Yes, the Psalmist was pro life, and the Bible is pro life. So, too, must the true believer be pro life!

As a Christian teen, especially if you live in the United States, do you often wonder what happened to this country? How does a nation go from being a nation founded upon the Word of God to a nation which throws out the Bible, and then tries to even re-define life? Only God, our Creator, can define life, and we would do well to look to His Word for the answers of questions such as, "When does life truly begin?"

As a Christian teen, the Bible is your road map to life. To the degree that you follow its instructions, God will bless you, and when you find yourself taking a detour, which we all seem to do, then fall on your knees and ask God to help you get back on the right road again!

America is so far removed from Biblical standards that one has to question whether it can truly be called a Christian nation anymore. We would do well to look at Biblical history. There was a time when Israel thought that they, too, were a Godly nation, protected by God, Himself. Yet, God, in response to their wickedness, spewed them out of His mouth. If God did so to Israel, then He certainly will do the same thing to America.

Does America need God's protection? Can it not stand on its own? No nation can stand before Almighty God. When God's hand of protection is removed from a country, there will be none to save it.

Is there no hope for America? Yes, there is hope, but that hope rests in the hands of God's people.
 14 If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14New King James Version)
Let us, as Christian teens, by God's grace, fall on our knees before Almighty God and pray that this once great nation will also humble itself before God and look to Him for their salvation. 

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Where?


 7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
 8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
 9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
 10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
 11If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
 12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. 

Where?

As a teen, it is not unusual to find yourself in a dilemma with nowhere to turn. What a comfort to know, that as a Christian teen, God will never forsake you. His presence is a two-edged sword: a threat of judgment to the unbeliever, and a constant comfort to the Christian.

The Psalmist asked the question, "Where can I go from your Spirit?" (NKJV) While in this life, no man can run from God; there is no place on the earth, above the earth, in the depths of the earth, or even in the seas where God's Spirit does not go. Neither is there any darkness that can blot out God's light, for the Psalmist said, "Even the night shall be light about me."

As a matter of fact, there was only one human who knew a separation from God while still on this earth, and that was the Lord Jesus Christ. What was the most terrible thing about the cross? Was it the suffering that our Lord Jesus Christ endured. The suffering was horrible, but that was not the worst thing that Christ endured while on the cross. The worst thing that Christ endured while on the cross was a temporary separation from God, His Father, while He bore all of our sins on His own body. For some reason, though, we do not often hear about this aspect of Christ's suffering. Do you remember Christ's words? Both Matthew 27 and Mark 15 record His words which He cried out while on the cross.
 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
The worst thing about hell will not be the physical torment; the worst thing about hell will be the total separation from God, the Father! No man, even the most hardened criminal, knows that separation while on this earth, for the Bible tells us,  
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:44-45New King James Version)
We, as Christians, often take God for granted. We bask in the blessings He has provided, and often run about ignoring Him in our quest to grab everything we can grab from this life. Perhaps that is one of the reasons God allows trials and difficulties to come to His children. When the good things of this life seem to be stripped away from us, we still bask in the presence of God, for His Spirit lives within our hearts and cheers and encourages us. Even in the darkest valley, God never leaves nor forsakes us.

As a teen, learning to find peace and comfort in the presence of God's Spirit will prove to be invaluable to you all the days of your life. You may not often think too far beyond the years in which you live, but these years will pass, and the patterns you set in your life right now will be with you for the rest of your days on this earth.

How amazing is this God? The Psalmist was almost overcome with joy when he pondered the continuous watch care of God, the Father, who sent His Spirit to be our constant companion and guide. Where can we go from God's Spirit? As believers, we will never be separated from God. Even in death, God's angels will carry us safely into His presence to live with Him forever!

As you prepare your lives for God's service, be encouraged that He will never leave you nor forsake you. Others will--but not God!

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Known Me!


 1O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
 2Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
 3Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
 4For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
 5Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
 6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. 

Known Me!

As a Christian teen, why are you here? What is your purpose in this life?

Today we begin one of the most amazing Psalms ever written. The Psalmist began with the words, "O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me." Think about the truth of that statement. How many people really know you? Maybe your family or your closest friends, but wait, do they really know you? Do you even really know yourself?

As a Christian teen, there is only One who really knows you, and that is God! He knows everything about you. He knows what you do, what you say, and even what you think, and beyond that, He even knows the innermost intentions of your heart. No wonder God's Word continually compels us to return to God, our First Love! He loved us before we ever loved Him. As a matter of fact, He loved us even before we were created! 

Where can we go to hide from God? As the Psalmist said, "Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways."

It is better to be the friend of God than His enemy! Your worst enemy does not have the knowledge and understanding of you that God has, and yet, though God knows the worst of us, He still loves us. As a matter of fact He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to pay the debt of our sins, which we could never pay. What an amazing God we serve! No wonder the Psalmist said, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it."

Why then, do we, as people of God, spend so much of our time running from God? We are foolish children before such an Almighty God. Let us, by God's grace turn back to Him. Let us enfold ourselves in His loving arms and trust Him to care for us, for no one can care for us better. No one loves us more--not even our families or our friends.

As Christian teens, it is time for us to turn our hearts back to Him. It is time we leave the cares, ideas, and idolatry of this world far behind and focus on God, our Father. It is time we seek our true reason for being here, and take up the mantle that God, Himself, the One Who knows us, has placed upon our shoulders. 

 20  “ The harvest is past,  
      The summer is ended,
      And we are not saved!”

As children of God, we have a job to do. Let us do it heartily, as unto the Lord. As a Christian teen, why are you here? It is your duty before the Lord to discover why He has created you and brought you here to this earth exactly at this time and exactly to the very place in which you live. Go, then, and serve God, the One Who knows you better than any other!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, February 11, 2013

Middle of Trouble


 7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.
 8The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands. 

Middle of Trouble

Sometimes it seems, as teens, that no matter where we go, no matter what we do, we always end up right in the middle of trouble. That is exactly the point where we find the Psalmist in verse 7 of Psalm 138. Yet, he is undaunted, for he knows that God will stretch out his hand against the wrath of his enemies, and God's right hand will save him.

As Christian teens, do we have that kind of confidence in the Lord? Is that confidence misplaced? These are two very important questions for us to ponder when we consider our relationship with the Lord. For God's mercy is not a talisman that we can count on to bail us out of any trouble in which we find ourselves. 

You see, the Israelites, in their later years as a nation presumed upon God. They presumed that no matter what they did, or how they acted, God would never allow Jerusalem to fall, for Jerusalem was the holy city. However, just a short perusal of history reveals to us that that was not the case. Two times, Jerusalem fell, first at the hands of the Babylonians in 538 BC, and the second time at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD. You probably did not study about this in your history books at school - look it up, you will find it to be true!

What happened? God's people presumed that God would never leave nor forsake them, and yet they were foolish to believe such things. Again and again the prophets of God warned them that their turning away from God to worship the gods of the surrounding nations would bring about their utter destruction. Finally, God's hand of judgment came upon them, and the Babylonians carried away captive most of the survivors of the destruction of Jerusalem. To us, this seems so obvious to us when we read of the reign of bad king after bad king in Israel, and even in Judah. 

For 70 years the people of Judah remained in Babylonian captivity until their release, which was also prophesied by God through the prophets. One would think that was all it would take to teach the Jewish nation that serving their God faithfully was not an option. Yet, by the time Christ came, most of the Jews of His day rejected Him, sending Him to the cross. No wonder God destroyed Jerusalem by the hands of the Romans in 70 AD.

How do these events affect us, as teens, in the 21st century? When we find ourselves in the middle of trouble, where do we turn? If we find ourselves turning to God, are we right to expect God to bail us out of difficult circumstances again and again? To answer that question, we must ask another: how faithful are we to this God we profess to love?

One cannot help but see many parallels between the United States and Israel. Established upon Biblical foundations, God has raised this country to a level of greatness not seen by any country in centuries. Yet, what is the United States doing today. Prayer was banned from public schools in the 70's, abortion rights were granted, the ten commandments have been consistently removed from public view, and now gay marriages are becoming the law of the land. Yet, what does the Bible say about these same issues? Sadly, though this is true, even most churches seems to be silent on these issues.

Unfortunately, it is almost becoming illegal to publicly name the name of God unless one is doing so as a swear word. What has happened to this once Christian nation? Just as Israel adopted the gods of the surrounding nations, incorporating them into their worship, so has America done the same thing, until the Bible is ready to become a banned book in a land that was established on the basis of religious freedom. As teens, ready to enter adulthood and take your turn at leadership, how will you handle these issues?

Thinking of these things, do we have the right to presume that God will again bail us out when we are in the middle of trouble? As servants of God, God will honor and keep His faithful children. However, as a nation, America no longer sits under the safety net of God's umbrella of protection. As Israel fell, so could America. It is time that we, as people of God, stand up for the principles we so gallantly profess. Our convictions need to be just that: convictions, and not just preferences. As teens, do you understand the difference?

May God's people stand firm upon God's Word and say with Joshua, "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!" (Joshua 24:15)

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, February 9, 2013

All the Kings


 4All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth.
 5Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD.
 6Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. 

All the Kings

When I read verse 4, I keep thinking of the nursery rhyme that says, "All the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again." As a teen, I'm sure you have not heard that in a long time. We tend to think of kings as representative of all rulers, or the ultimate authority on our earth. Is it really true that all the kings of the earth really will praise the Lord? Yes!

It is easy to take a quick read through the Bible, and miss some of the subtle gems along the way by doing so. Such is definitely the case with Psalm 138, for example, with the word, "all." All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth." 

How can that possibly be true? In our 21st century, I cannot fathom that the leaders of Iraq, Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea, just to name of a few, will actually praise the Lord. To what is the Psalmist referring?

As teens, life seems to be one time schedule after another. As a matter of fact, often there just does not seem to be enough time in the day to get everything done. All of our teachers seem to theirs is the only class we are taking--homework can really pile up with everything seeming to be due on the same day.

It is good for us to realize that God is not a creature of time like us. We are bound by time--even ruled by it in some cases. Yet God, being eternal, sees all of the events of our world like one huge panorama of life. We are bound by the 60 or 70 years (more or less) of time in which we live on this earth, but God already sees the entire canvas as a completed picture. Consequently we see little threads of life, but do not get the advantage of seeing the completed work, at least not yet!

When the Psalmist makes such a bold statement as found in verse 4, he is viewing life from God's perspective. It is true, that at the end of time, when all truth is revealed, every single ruler that ever lived, as well as every man, woman, and child, will bow the knee before the Lord God Almighty and praise His name. When they hear the words of His mouth, they will, indeed, sing in the ways of the Lord, for only then will they understand how great is the glory of the LORD. 

Then, too, will verse 3 take place. For though the LORD is high, yet He will have respect to the lowly--to those who lived their lives in the honor and glory of His name. Yet those who scoffed at the name of the Lord, He will only know afar off, for they will never be ushered into His glorious eternal kingdom. Though we shudder to think of such things, we must realize that both bring glory to God. He is glorified by those who loved and followed Him on this earth, and He is glorified by those who spend eternity in the lake of fire, for, finally, true justice will have been served. It is a sobering thought to ponder, is it not?

It is not easy for us to think in those terms, for as creatures of this earth, sin is always crouching at our doors. Just when we think we have conquered one sin, another is peeking its head into our lives. We cannot, at this time, imagine a time when sin will have no more power over us. We cannot imagine a time when the purity of God's righteousness will so dominate our being that sin, and all of its temptations, will be forgotten forever!

As Christian teens, our greatest difficulty, in serving the Lord, often comes from within our very own hearts. Except for the blood of Christ, which washes away all of our sins, we would be eternally condemned. What an amazing God we serve, Who saved us, keeps us, and will bring us safely into His kingdom to live with Him forever!

All the kings of this earth will praise and glorify the name of God, as will all people. What a glorious day that will be!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, February 8, 2013

Thy!


 1I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.
 2I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
 3In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. 

Thy!

From our youngest days, we must admit that we have been pretty selfish. Watch babies. Do they really care if their mother is too tired to care for them? No! They want what they want, and they want it now. By the time we reach our teens, we have learned that life requires some give and take, but as a whole, we are still a pretty selfish group of people. How did the Psalmist begin Psalm 138?

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

The Psalmist understood that his worship of God was before all of the gods of the nations surrounding Israel. In other words, when we worship God, we worship Him in the presence of all of the gods of this world. In a sense, we are shaking our fists at the idols of this world and saying, "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!" (Joshua 24:15)

The Psalmist also understood that, apart from God, we have nothing; everything that we have, first of all, belongs to God. Look at all of the "Thy" words in verse 2. 

*Thy holy temple
*Thy lovingkindness
*Thy truth
*Thy name

What implications does that have to us as teens? In reality, nothing belongs to us! Everything belongs to the Lord, and it is from Him that we not only have all things, but it is from Him that we draw strength to live the life He has ordained for us to live. How much different is our attitude when we crawl out of bed saying, "This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!"? (Psalm 118:24)

When we begin to understand what it means that everything, including ourselves, belongs to the Lord, we face each day with a new purpose. For, if I belong to God, then God has a plan for me to fulfill this very day. It is our duty to develop a relationship with God, our Owner, so that we may sense His leading in our lives. It is our duty to develop the abilities and traits we have been give, for our Owner has given these specific abilities to us so that we may do the job He has planned for us to do.

These are foreign ideas in an age when we are encouraged to get everything we can for ourselves, even if we have to step on others to get them. When we view ourself as the center of our universe, then everything we do is for us! Oh, we may occasionally do something for someone else, especially if it makes us look good in the process, for in the end, that, too, will help us. What a selfish society! Yet, apart from Christ, that is the way we have lived.

As a teen, how will the understanding that we belong to Christ--body and soul--change the way in which we view life? How will it change our future choices--careers, marriage, and even what we do in our free time? This is not a change we can make on our own. Only through the strength and power of the Lord can we learn to become unselfish. 

Let us, then, this day, turn our eyes to Christ, and pray that He will graciously make us more and more like Him. Let us live this day for His honor and glory alone. Let our cry this day be to God: "Thy will be done!"

What an amazing God we serve! He loved us, saved us, and will keep us until the day we go to live with Him forever!

God Bless You,
Linda