Saturday, March 30, 2013

Blessed Be God!


 1Blessed be the LORD my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:
 2My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me. 

Blessed Be God!

David was king, yet he knew that his strength did not come from his own hands. In a glorious Psalm of praise he cried out: blessed be God! Do we understand the source of our strength? As Christian teens do we understand that our life is not about us, but rather it is a glorious testimony of God's working through us to accomplish His almighty purposes? All of this is encompassed in David's voice of praise: My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.

Picture a strong city, surrounded by a thick wall with a strong, high tower. As a mighty warrior David understood the necessity of a strong fortress and a high tower with which to sight the approach of the enemy from afar. Yet these things were nothing apart from the Lord. His true fortress and his true high tower was God Himself! Even his shield was worth nothing apart from God! All of David's successes were attributed to the Lord!

What of us in this 21st century in which we live? We do not live in walled cities, fearful of the approach of our enemies? Do we depend upon our own strength and our own resources, or do we understand that, apart from God, they are meaningless? Do we realize that our very strength and prowess upon which we depend are actually gifts from God? In one moment, all could be taken from us.

As teens, it is good for us to go through times of difficulty and weakness, for only then do we understand that our true strength and our true power lies in God, alone. In Christ, alone, do we find victory, and in Christ, alone, do we find joy, peace, and hope.

Though David was a mighty king, yet he knew that all could be lost in a moment if the good hand of God was not upon him. As teens, what occupation or status could we attain to that would render God's help unnecessary? David had reached the highest level he could attain in his kingdom, and yet he knew that it would utterly fail if God removed His hand of protection. There is no place, position, or power on this earth that can supersede the help and power of God. If you became president, king, or queens of your country, would you no longer need God's daily strength and help? You would need His help even more!

Let us then join David in praise to our God. Blessed be God who loves and cares for His children, keeping watch over them day and night. In Christ, His Son, is all hope, joy, and peace. As we look forward to our Easter celebration tomorrow, let us praise our risen Savior who loves us with a love that is unsurpassable. He suffered everything that we might live in Him. 

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thy Servant


 11Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name's sake: for thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.
 12And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant. 

Thy Servant

As a teen, who are you? How do you most like to be identified? David had no trouble understanding who he really was, and why he could so safely trust in God!

As David concluded Psalm 143 with more pleas for help from his trouble, he answered a question we often ask. Why should God help me? Why should God even care for all of these endless details of my life? Why? "For I am thy servant." There it is! 

We are known by the company we keep and by our parentage, but mostly, we are known by those whom we serve! It is not unusual for us to take on the characteristics of those we serve, especially if we have a great fondness or love for them. As a teen, you may feel like you really do not serve anyone but yourself. Is that really true? All people are servants of God of or Satan, though most will hardly admit such a thing. What are the benefits of being a servant of God?

Just think of the many privileges we have in the Lord because we are His servants. After all, Christ certainly has an eternal investment in us. It is for us He humbled Himself, came to this earth, suffered on the cross, died and was buried, and was resurrected on the third day. It is for us that He now sits at the right hand of God making intercession.

As Christian teens, do we take God for granted? Do we tend to live our lives as though everything about us takes precedence? Do we live as though this life is all about us? Sadly, we all must honestly admit that often those things are true, yet nothing could be farther from the truth!

As servants of the Most High God, we are truly a privileged people. Not only do we procure His constant watch care and protection, but He leads and guides us, often in ways we do not understand or realize. Yet, when we look back over our lives, we realize that He has always been there for us. Even in times of darkness and despair, we see that His hand of guidance has been upon us. As a teen, you may not yet have that perspective, but you will!

David had a history with God. He knew from past experience that God would answer his prayers for safety. He knew that if his battles were to be won, then they would be won by God's good hand of guidance upon him, and not by his own strength and power.

As we go about the duties of this day, let us remember that we are servants of the Most High God. He has a vested interest in us, and will watch over and protect us throughout this day. Let us not look to ourselves for strength and wisdom to live this day, but let us rest upon His good hand of guidance upon us. 

May we all pray this prayer today: "As Thy servant, oh Lord, we love and serve you forever--not because we are worthy, but because you, oh Christ, are worthy!"

God Bless you,
Linda

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lead Me!


 9Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.
 10Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. 

Lead Me!

David, the Psalmist, made four pleas to God in the verses shown above from Psalm 143: deliver me, hide me, teach me, and lead me. As Christian teens, we would do well to follow that same progression in our prayers to God today.

What did David mean when he asked God to deliver him? As a teen, how can you be delivered? Do you even need to be delivered, and if so, delivered from what?

Before God can work in our hearts, however, it is necessary that we be delivered from the evil in which we have been immersed since our conception! It is important that we understand that our salvation is truly a work of God; nothing we do, think, or say, can help to save us or bring us to Christ. As a matter of fact, our very act of coming to the Lord is a reaction to what He has already done in our hearts. The good news, then, is that we have every reason to pray, not only for our salvation, but for our unsaved friends and relatives. Though to us they may seem to be hopelessly lost, yet God is greater than their hearts. 

If we, as teens, do not know the Lord, now is the day to call out to Him to deliver us from the sin which keeps us from Him. Can it be so easy? Yes! When we come to Christ, acknowledging our sin and our need of His salvation, crying out for His help, He truly does save us! What an amazing God we serve!

Once we have been delivered by God, it is necessary that He hide us. Even Saul, after his great conversion, was set apart by God for a time so that he could be instructed and schooled in the things of the Lord. God hides us for a time, from the evils of this world, that we may grow and be nurtured in our new-found faith. This may be a short time, or it may last for several years. Even after we have reached maturity in Christ, we will find God granting to us those times of refreshing when we are not being battered on all sides. During these times we can renew our faith in the Lord as we read and study His Word.

Just as you, as a teen, are reaching the end of your days of childhood, so, too, do we as Christians need to go through our own "childhood" with the Lord when He instructs us and prepares us for our future service for Him.

God teaches us specifically during the times He hides us, but our instruction does not end there. As a matter of fact, God will be teaching us all of the days we spend on this earth. Even into our old age, we will be continuing to grow in the Lord, becoming closer and closer to Him. It is good for us to seek out times when we can quietly commune with the Lord, apart from outside distractions. What an amazing God we serve; He loves to fellowship personally with each and every one of His children!

The patterns you set now, in your teens, will stay with you throughout all of the days of your lives. If you seek the Lord each morning with a time of Bible reading and prayer, you will most likely continue that pattern even throughout your adult years.

After we have been delivered, hidden, and taught, God is ready to send us out "into the land of uprightness." God leads us safely through the crags and crevices of this life, keeping us from the evil that would so quickly tear us from that sweet fellowship with Him. Now we are ready to serve Him, doing the things for which we have been created!

What path of service has God designed for your life? As you examine your own strengths and weaknesses, you will already have a good idea of how God will use you in the future. Whether you serve Him in a full-time Christian service capacity, or not, He will use you as an ambassador for Him all of the days of your life!

Our Scripture today gives us a perfect example of the ideal Christian life, but what do you do if your life does not seem to model this ideal example? Truthfully, few of us have such a seemingly simple and uncomplicated life. Troubled by our own sin natures, we struggle most of the days in which we live upon this earth to live faithfully for the Lord. Plagued by our own sin, we find ourselves living for the Lord, then falling away from Him, and then coming back to Him.

How does God have such patience with us? It is encouraging to note, that no matter how difficult our life on this earth may be, one day, we will all be released from the troubles that we face daily. One day, we will no longer struggle in our walk with the Lord, for we will be with Him--forever!

So then, may we all constantly pray to God: "Lead me! Lead me in a plain path, and keep me from the sin which so easily entangles me!"

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Face of God


 7Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
 8Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. 

Face of God

As a Christian teen, what is the significance to you of the face of God? What would it mean to be totally separated from God's face forever? 

It occurred to me upon reading these verses that we certainly take the face of God for granted. David understood that if God's face was hidden from him, he would be no better than those who die apart from the Lord. For, upon their deaths, the face of God is hidden from them. The most grievous aspect of hell will not be the torment! The most grievous aspect of hell will be the fact that God's face will be hidden from its occupants forever! 

Have you ever pondered what would happen to this world if God removed His face from it for a month, a week, a day, or even for one moment! God's protecting hand of grace is what keeps this world spinning in place, and keeps men from causing its total destruction.

We are currently in the Easter season, so have heard and read much about Christ's suffering upon the cross. What was the most cruel aspect of Christ's suffering? Was it the pain and agony He suffered? No! The pain and agony Christ suffered was certainly horrific, but worse than that was the separation He experienced from God the Father. Do you remember the words Jesus cried out? "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

We cannot rightly ascertain what it truly means to be separated from God, for while on this earth, we are never separated from Him. No matter what our circumstances--no matter how grievous they may be, we are still in God's presence and are recipients of His great love and mercy. Even in the darkest of times, we experience the breath of life which is truly a gift from God! As Christian teens, we never will know what it means to be separated from God, but unbelievers will understand that horror the moment they die.

David grasped upon God's goodness and faithfulness to him, knowing that apart from God's help, he had no hope. Understanding this, he cried out from the depths of his soul, "Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee."

It is that humble spirit of David that caused him to constantly return to God, his first love, and it is that humble spirit of David that caused him to be known as a man after God's own heart. May we, like David, understand that we need God's wisdom, help, and guidance for every single step we take in this life. From the depths of our souls, let us cry out for God's help as we wander through the difficult experiences of this life.

When things are going well for us, we certainly do have the tendency to take God for granted, but when our life begins to fall apart, we begin to realize how precious the Lord Jesus Christ is to our very souls.

May we never know what it means to be separated from the face of God, but let us bask in His love and faithfulness to us every single day of our lives. Pray for your lost friends and family members; pray that they will come to Christ while the days of saving grace are still available to them, so that they will never experience the horror of being separated forever from the face of God!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, March 25, 2013

Stop and Think!


 5I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.
 6I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah. 

Stop and Think!

Do you remember those childhood days when your parents would chide you to stop and think? As a matter of fact, as a teen, your parents may still be giving you that unwanted advice! The advice they give to you is certainly pertinent to you in this fast-paced, busy time in which you live. As a matter of fact, our harried lifestyles truly offer us very little time to stop and think.

Yet, here was David, pursued by his enemies, taking the time to think and meditate upon the works of God, which begs the question, just how much time do we take to stop, think, and meditate upon the works of the Lord, especially those works He has offered on our own personal behalf? Does it even occur to us, as Christian teens, that we need to take time out to just meditate upon the Lord?

Of course the next question is, in our time of meditation, would our reaction be similar to that of David?  I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Do we thirst for God? As we ponder the works of God on our behalf, do we yearn from the very depths of our soul for that sweet fellowship with Him? Or, are we so busy that stopping to take time to meditate upon the works of the Lord seems like a fruitless waste of time? Is this just an exercise for older Christians, or should we, as teens, be pursuing times of meditation upon the Lord as well?

Perhaps one reason we tend to see such apathy among professing Christians of our day, especially in countries where prosperity abounds is due to their lack of seeing the necessity to spend time meditating upon the things of the Lord. Perhaps we do not even see the necessity of depending upon the Lord for all of our needs, because, quite frankly, we are doing rather well on our own (or, at least our parents are doing quite well)!

Do we honestly believe we have arrived at the point we are at in our lives on our own power? Do we really believe that we have gotten there by our own power, wisdom, and might? Who gave us the intelligence and characteristics we possess? Who chose our parents or the circumstances of our birth? Do we really believe that we are better than those who have been born into lesser circumstances?

Let us take the time to join David by remembering the days of old. Let us meditate upon the works of the Lord, understanding that His grace has been proactive in our lives. Let us see that even in what we consider to be bad or evil circumstances, the good hand of our God has been upon us, guiding, protecting, and leading us in the way that we should go. Even as teens, we can see God's wondrous hand guiding and directing us in the way we should go!

Our world does not begin and end with ourselves! We are such a small part of God's divine providence for this world, and yet never so small that God is not personally and actively involved in the daily circumstances of our lives. It is an amazing thing, is it not? The Creator of the universe loves, protects, guides, and keeps all of His children all of the days of their lives.

Yes, as Christian teens, stop and think of all that God has done for you; thirst after Him from the very depths of your souls, and your hearts will be filled with His peace, love, and joy!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Enemy


 3For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.
 4Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate. 

The Enemy

Who is the enemy? That was not a hard question for David; the enemy sought his life. Often wearied by the continual attacks upon his life, David felt the grief of these attacks even to the very depths of his soul, to the point that he was simply overwhelmed. As a teen, you most likely have not encountered enemies that are seeking your life, but whether you realize it or not, you do have an enemy that is seeking your very soul!

Perhaps one of the greatest difficulties of being a Christian teen in the 21st century is that we do not really understand who our enemies really are! Living from day to day we have become so accustomed to our environment that we do not see the inherent dangers we face in every day life. Oh, we may not face a physical attack upon our lives, but we certainly do face a very real attack upon our souls.

If we truly understand the nature of our greatest enemy: Satan, then we would realize that if he cannot keep up from coming to Christ, he can still keep us from living that joyous, victorious life that is ours in Christ. How do his attacks appear in our lives? As a teen, Satan has numerous devices meant to distract you from your real purpose in life. Even if you are a believer, if he cannot destroy your soul, then he will seek to destroy your testimony for the Lord. Casting doubt on your beliefs, he will try to keep you from performing the tasks God has ordained for you in this life.

Satan tantalizes us with the things of this world, and with a desire to push ourselves to succeed and gain everything this life has to offer. Now having things, is not, in and of itself evil, but often we are so busy seeking to attain the best for ourselves that we miss what is truly the best! We miss the very joy and peace that are ours in Christ, for Christ has already defeated our greatest enemy. Yet, we find ourselves continuing to long for those things which truly will never satisfy our soul.

Like David, we need to understand that the battle is for our souls! It is a good thing that we have those times and days--maybe even months and years--when we find ourselves almost overwhelmed by the difficult circumstances of life. For it is from these trials that our hearts and souls yearn for Christ. In the middle of our difficulties we begin to understand that there is no joy, peace, hope, happiness, or even blessings apart from our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It is no secret that, throughout history, the prosperous church has tended to be an apathetic church, while the persecuted church seems to have thrived in their zeal for the Lord. Even in the 21st century, one must ask how important Christ really is to us. Do we love Him so much that we cannot stand to be apart from Him for even a moment?

Let us, then, as Christian teens, not despise our difficulties, but let us understand that they are sent by a God who loves us so much that He uses them to bring us back to Him. For in Christ, alone, lies all of our hope and joy. The things of this earth will satisfy us only for a moment, but the things of the Lord will give us hope and joy for eternity. 

The enemy is fierce, it is true, but the battle has already been won. Go to Christ, the only true Fount of Life and Blessing!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, March 14, 2013

In Thy Faithfulness


 1Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.
 2And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. 

In Thy Faithfulness

It is a question that has been asked before, but one worth considering again: In what or who do you, as a teen, put your trust? It is a valid question, for the outcome of your situation depends a great deal upon who or what you are putting your trust.

In his distress, David cried out to the Lord, "In Thy faithfulness answer me, and in Thy righteousness." It is important to note that David was not resting in his own power, but rather in the power of God Almighty. The help we receive when in dire straits is totally dependent upon the one or ones in whom we trust. If they are trustworthy or faithful to us, we will receive help, but if they are not trustworthy, we soon find that our desire for help has been sadly misplaced. 

As a teen, that is a lesson that has not been fully explored. As a youth, we are more apt to trust in the opinions of those dearest to us: our friends, rather than those who are old. Feeling largely misunderstood and unappreciated, our friends seem to have a better sense of what our difficulties really are. Though probably not very old when he wrote this Psalm, David already knew that God would not disappoint him, for God was more trustworthy than any person, no matter what their age, could be!

Of course, David quickly adds, "And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified." That really is the point, is it not? We may seem ever so good and ever so righteous, but as soon as we compare ourselves to God, there is no good thing left in us! For, in the sight of God, and compared to His righteousness, holiness, goodness, and truth, all are found to be hopelessly lost.

In our day of accentuating the achievements of excellence, no one even thinks, or dares to compare oneself with God. As a matter of fact, God often seems to be totally irrelevant! In a certain sense, we have even redefined God so that He is more accessible or more approachable to us. We have a tendency to ease back on His justice and judgments and focus more on His wondrous love. In truth, His love is wondrous, but it is even more wondrous when balanced with His righteousness, holiness, and justice.

The truly amazing thing is that God, in His righteousness, holiness, and truth, provided a way for a sinful people to come to Him. By sending His perfect Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to become our sacrificial Lamb, He has opened a way for us to Him. Through the Lord Jesus Christ we now have access to God! When He looks upon His children, He does not see their sin, but sees the blood of Christ which has covered that very sin.

As a Christian teen, that is not new news to you, but it is certainly something we need to consider more than we are apt to do! Apart from Christ, there is no hope!

Does knowing that we are forgiven give us a freedom to sin? No! The true child of God responds in the opposite way. Understanding the depth of love manifested to them by the Lord Jesus Christ, they are filled with a love for Him that exceeds any love they can have for one another. Their desire is to love, honor, and obey the Lord Jesus Christ. Studying His Word carries a new depth of meaning as the Holy Spirit guides them into the knowledge of God. 

Do you think David understood all of this when he wrote the words to Psalm 143? David was an amazing man of God. Schooled as a shepherd boy who loved God with an unspeakable love, his heart was truly given to God, his First Love, at an early age. Though he was certainly not a man without sin, yet even to the end of his days, he continued to seek the Lord with a repentant heart when his sins were revealed to him. There are few more excellent examples given to us of the ideal Christian walk with God!

Like David, let us set our hearts and affections upon God and say, "In Thy faithfulness and in Thy righteousness, oh Lord, do I put my trust!"

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bounty of God


 5I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.
 6Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.
 7Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me. 

Bounty of God

It has been said that desperate circumstances call for desperate mean. As a teen, what desperate means do you turn to when you world is falling down on top of you? That is exactly the case that David found himself in when his enemies surrounded the cave in which he was hiding. In the end, he took encouragement in the bounty of God!

Why is it that we tend to fail to appreciate the true bounty of God except after difficulties arise, often resulting in miserable defeats or failures on our part? It is true that when life seems to be sailing along smoothy, we do not sense a great necessity for God's intervention, but when things begin to fall apart, as Christian teens, we do know where to turn. Such was the case with David. When surrounded by his persecutors, who were much stronger, he understood that his only help would come from the Lord.

In making such a decision, he also came to realize a very poignant truth. The greater danger was not that danger posed by his persecutors, but rather the state of his soul without the Lord. In truth, before coming to Christ, our souls are being held captive in the prison of Satan. Christ, alone, can break the bands asunder and loose our soul from the prison of eternal death. Imagine, hiding in a cave, surrounded by enemies on all sides, and coming to the realization that your very soul is in mortal danger. 

Unfortunately, as teens we tend to be so busy or preoccupied that we rarely give much thought to the true state of our souls. Perhaps that is exactly why God shakes our world apart by the circumstances in which we become entangled.

David rose to the occasion by reaching out to the only true and faithful help any of us have. He reached out to the Lord, crying that his very soul would be released from prison. In doing so, he was practically overcome with the realization that he was actually surrounded on all sides by the righteous. Those enemies that sought his life were nothing in the mighty hands of God. 

Is it really that easy? Is God that available to us today as well? Yes!

We know from reading the story of David as told in the Word of God, that God did, indeed, rescue David time and again from his enemies. God's hand was never too short that He could not reach down and pluck David from the burning embers of life and plant his feet on solid ground. Truly he did experience the bounty of God throughout his entire reign as the King of Israel.

What of us? What is our relationship with this God we profess to serve? Do we have the assurance that, no matter what our specific trials may be, our God is greater than these trials? Do we know that He will reach down and pluck us from the evils that surround us and plant our feet on solid ground? Do we understand that there is nothing in this life that can wrench us out of the protective hand of God our Father?

As a teen, those truths are probably not yet engrained in your heart, but they will be! Because God loves and cares for us so much, He sends trials and difficulties to sharpen our faith, turn us to Him, and see that He is truly there for us when all others flee!

Let us pray that God would graciously comfort and protect us this day, that we may go forth with the assurance that God is always by our side. We, like David, can live in the grace and comfort of the bounty of God. 

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

No Man!


 1I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.
 2I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.
 3When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.
 4I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. 

No Man!

Who loves you? Who truly loves you even more than life itself? David pondered this very question and observed that only God cared for his soul. As a teen, we talk a lot about love, but what does it really mean to love someone or to truly be loved by someone? 

Who really cares about the innermost troubles of our hearts? David, in Psalm 141, cried out in his anguish, "No man cared for my soul." He is right, is he not? When all is said and done, who is there who cares so much for us that he cares for our soul? Love is one thing, but love for our souls is quite another!

Now we may have friends or family who love us so much that they actually care about our souls, but can they actually do anything about our souls? Only Christ came to this earth as the God Man, suffered the indignation of this life, and then died as a guilty sinner in our place, taking on all of the punishment for our sins, so that we might have life. As the Bible says, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21King James Version)

What a lesson we have to learn from the example of David in Psalm 142. When practically overcome by the discouragement of his situation, he said, "I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication." His situation was so desperate that no other would suffice but God Himself! For David understood that it was only God who knew his path; it was only God who knew and could supply the innermost needs of his heart.

Have we, as Christian teens, learned to trust God so completely that we go to Him first, no matter how great or small our needs may be? Or, are we still trying to solve all of our difficulties of life in our own way, through whatever means we can imagine? We are truly a stubborn people! Even as believers, we are prone to seek any means of help we can grasp except the Lord! Why is that?

The Bible is filled with many examples of God's people doing exactly the same thing. As a matter of fact, in 1 Chronicles, we are told of two kings of Judah, father and son, who served God and rested upon his help early in their reigns, and yet forsook God and sought the help of ungodly kings late in their respective reigns. 

Asa, King of Judah, took encouragement from God's Word given to him through the prophet Azariah, as recorded in 1 Chronicles 15. When Israel came against him with a great army, he trusted in God, and God delivered him with a great victory. Yet, later in his reign, 1 Chronicles 16 describes his lack of turning to God. Seeking the help of Benhadad, king of Syria, to fight against Baasha, king of Israel, Asa suffered a great defeat.

After the death of Asa, Jehoshaphat his son became the next king of Judah. Like his father, he served and trusted God in his early years, but then suffered a great defeat when he joined Ahab, king of Israel in a battle against the king of Syria, ending with the death of Ahab. Turning back to the Lord, Ahab has a rich and prosperous rein, but again, near the end of his rein he made an alliance with the king of Israel which ended in disaster for him. Like Jehoshaphat, we too are often lured away from faithfully following God.

As a Christian teen it may be hard to imagine such a thing. Your love for God may be so full and wonderful that you cannot imagine ever falling away from Him. It is good for us to realize that just as we cannot save ourselves, we also cannot keep ourselves faithful to Him. It is pretty humbling to realize, but only the power of God can keep us from falling away from Him.

Therefore, as Christian teens, let us not take our faith for granted. Instead, let us implore God to keep us faithful to Him all of the days of our lives. No man cares for our soul, and no man can truly come to our aid in our times of great despair and affliction. Only God can overcome all of the troubles and sorrows of this life, for only God truly cares for our souls. Only in Christ do we have a bright, eternal future!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, March 11, 2013

Keep Me!


 8But mine eyes are unto thee, O GOD the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.
 9Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.
 10Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape. 

Keep Me!

As a teen, to whom do you turn when you are in trouble? From whom do you seek help when life seems to overwhelm you?

As David gazed upon God, His Father, admitting that he trusted in none other, he plead, "Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins [traps] of the workers of iniquity." It was a desperate plea for desperate times. Yet, it was a confident plea, knowing that he could, indeed, trust God to guide and protect him even in the most difficult of circumstances.

As Christian teens, do we have this confidence in God? Do we understand that, no matter what our circumstances, He is always right beside us guiding and keeping us from evil? Even when our circumstances are simply overwhelming, do we have that sweet peace and confidence that God will guide us through to safety on the other side of this trial?

I fear that all too often we are so busy trying to solve our own difficulties that we do not even think to access the help available to us by God, Himself. We like to surround ourselves with our friends, and often, it is to them we turn first for help. Perhaps we really do not believe that God actually pays attention to our little trials. Perhaps we do not think we are worthy of His time or attention. However, we must realize that God does not see us as we see ourselves. God sees us as those who were purchased and sealed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. As those redeemed by Christ, we are truly precious in the sight of God!

In other words, if we were important enough for Christ to sacrifice Himself for us, then we certainly are important enough to elicit God's constant watch care. In truth, it is not us who are worthy enough; rather, it is Christ, whose precious blood covers us, that earns that special love and care.

With such a God to love, protect, guide, and keep us, why do we worry? Why do we tend to live day after day burdened by the pressures of this life? Could it be that help is right there in front of us, and yet we are walking about as a blind person who does not see? It takes a lot of faith, does it not, when we are in the middle of life's difficulties? 

Let us take encouragement from David, who though constantly pursued by King Saul, found his rest and hope in the Lord. Just as David said, "Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me," so, too, can we plea that God would protect us from the evil barbs of those of this world who hate God and consequently hate His children.

No matter what our circumstances may be, no matter how weak our faith, let us lift our hearts in praise to God who uses these very difficulties to bring us closer to Him. Let us ask Him to give us strength and boldness for the trials at hand. For truly, in the end, it is Christ who is our constant joy and peace, and it is Christ who will bring us safely home to be with Him forever! There is no friend closer to us than the Lord Jesus Christ!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, March 8, 2013

Perspective!


 5Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
 6When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.
 7Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth. 

Perspective!

As a Christian teen, your perspective on life has a great influence over the way you react to outside pressures. As believers, knowing that God is right there beside you should go a long way toward bringing you peace, even though your life may be going through some very rocky times. 

Our view on life is really all a matter of our perspective, which, as believers, is shaped by God Himself through the wisdom of His Word. Such is the case in David's words from Psalm 141. "Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head."

As Christian teens, we understand the wisdom of David's words, but we also know that they are very hard to apply to everyday life. After all, we all like to be liked, do we not? None of us enjoy hearing words of criticism or reproof. Yet, truthfully, it is a greater kindness, as believers, to graciously receive the reproof of our dear friends and family rather than to take offense. 

How much  more difficult is it when words of reproof come from the wicked themselves? Yet, the true believer, knows their true heart before the Lord. If the critical words are true, how much more important it is that we humble ourselves before God and seek His face, as well as His forgiveness.

This Psalm by David was probably written during the years that Saul was king of Israel. It is a gentle reminder to us of David's grace and Godliness, as he waited patiently for the salvation of the Lord. It is also a great testimony of the turning away from sin of the wicked due to the Godly testimony of God's people. Let us not grow weary, though it may seem that none hear our voice, knowing that God uses us in many ways, most of which we will never be aware until we reach the gates of heaven.

If you are not familiar with the story, a quick read through 1 Samuel would be very profitable to you.

It is true that David often grew quite discouraged, even to the point of seeming to see his bones scattered at the mouth of the grave (probably not a picture we think to paint). Yet, such discouraging thoughts were often followed by great peace and joy as David contemplated the good hand of God upon him. For years Saul sought David's life, yet in God's perfect timing, David did become the king of Israel, and what a mighty kingdom he had!

Let us then, as Christian teens, lift up our hearts to our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, knowing that, though the way may seem dark and drear, yet He is constantly by our side aiding and equipping us. Truly, it is all a matter of having a Godly perspective no matter what life may seem to throw our way. 

This reminds me of that dear, old hymn: "God Leads Us Along," by George A. Young

  1. In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
    God leads His dear children along;
    Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
    God leads His dear children along.
    • Refrain:
      Some through the waters, some through the flood,
      Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
      Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
      In the night season and all the day long.
  2. Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
    God leads His dear children along;
    Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
    God leads His dear children along.
  3. Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
    God leads His dear children along;
    Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
    God leads His dear children along.
  4. Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
    God leads His dear children along;
    Away up in glory, eternity’s day,
    God leads His dear children along.


What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dainties of the Wicked


 1Lord, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.
 2Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
 3Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.
 4Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties. 

Dainties of the Wicked

What are the dainties of the wicked, and how do they tempt us, as Christian teens, to turn away from following the Lord?

As David cried out to God for help in Psalm 141, it is interesting to note that he specifically asked God to help him to not eat of the dainties of the wicked. Centuries later we, as believers, must implore God for the same thing! How tempting it is to eat of the bread of this age, entangling ourselves in the gods of this age. Even as Christian teens, we find we must fight against the sins of pride, arrogance, and the desire to taste of the riches of this age at the neglect of the far weightier things of God. In our desire to be loved by our friends, we are often tempted to compromise our faith in Christ.

How easy it is for us to toil day after day, relentlessly searching for more and more things, and finding ourselves caring more about what our friends think of us than what God thinks of us, especially in an age when obedience to God's Word is looked at as being uncaring or lacking compassion. Unfortunately, the day is coming when Christians who obey God's Word will be accused of hate crimes. The question is, when that happens, what will our response be? Will we idle back from declaring God's Word, or will we boldly proclaim what God teaches us in His Word? In other words, like in Littleton, Colorado, when a gun is pointed at our heads, and we are asked if we love Jesus, how will we answer? 

For now, we may just choose to be a silent believer, but the day will come when Christians will not be able to just remain silent, but will rather have to make a public profession on one side of the issue or the other. Like Daniel of old, will we remain true to God even at the risk of our own lives? Do we truly believe God's Word is the only rule for faith and practice, or are we willing to change bits and pieces of its content to make it more acceptable in our day of laxity? Daniel and his friends were probably just teens when they were carried away into Babylon, yet even then, they refused to eat the king's meat, but chose, instead, to remain faithful to God. God honors those who faithfully honor Him!

David began this Psalm by crying out to God to hurry and come to his aid; because of his faithfulness to God, he had every right to assume that God would answer that prayer. Yet, if we, as professing Christian teens pander to the whims of this world, do we have the right to demand that God come to our aid when we, like David, are in trouble? 

Amazingly, our God is full of compassion, long suffering, and tender in His mercies toward His children. Though we may fail Him again and again, when we come to Him, fully repentant, with a desire to faithfully serve Him, He does answer our prayers. What an amazing God we serve!

Let us, like David, turn our hearts, our souls, and our entire beings to God, seeking His help. As we turn away from the things of this world, may we understand that our only help is from God. He alone can save us, He alone can keep us, and He alone will safely bring us into His kingdom! Oh, the dainties of the wicked are truly enticing, but nothing compares to the glories of the kingdom of Christ!

How will you, as a Christian teen, use your life to make a difference? How will you show your love and faithfulness to God at a time when doing such is certainly not popular?

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I Know!


 12I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.
 13Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence. 

I Know!

As a teen, what things do you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt? David concluded Psalm 140 with the words, "I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted." When one considers the society in which we live, one has to be amazed, for few, if any, will maintain the cause of the afflicted, the poor, the outcast, the disabled, etc. 

Indeed, when Christ, the Son of God, came to this earth, He did not come with pomp and ceremony, neither did He reside in a King's palace. Yet, He certainly had the right to do so. Instead, Jesus was born in a lowly cattle manger, with only his parents in attendance. 

When beginning His public ministry, around the age of 30, Jesus did not suddenly claim the throne as His own. One of the very reasons He was rejected by the Jewish religious leaders of His day was due to His refusal to set up His kingdom on this earth. The Jews were ready to abandon the sovereign rule of Rome over them and set up the true state of Israel, with Jerusalem as their capital. 

From the perspective of the teens of His day, He was not popular! Teens did not rush to proclaim His message. Oh, I am sure there were many teens who followed Christ, but not in large numbers. Like their parents, they were not impressed by His lowly lifestyle. "Surely," they thought, "This is not the Messiah we are expecting."

Heedless of the mockery of the religious leaders, Jesus reached out to the poor, the afflicted, the despised--the sinners! Instead of wealth and a kingdom, He offered them so much more. He offered an eternal Kingdom with God as their Father. He offered true salvation from the debt of their sins, and everlasting righteousness.

Though he lived hundreds of years before this time, David understood that his life was ordered by the Lord. It was God who maintained the cause of the poor and afflicted. Like him, the righteous gave thanks unto God, and lived in His presence. 

Thousands of years later, that has not changed. Many of the most "religious" are the most impious, being ruled by the love of money and the love of the things of this world. Yet God is not mocked. His eyes are upon the wicked, as well as the righteous. As a teen, how will you respond?

As those who profess to love the Lord Jesus Christ, do we maintain the cause of the afflicted and the right of the poor? Do we maintain the cause of the righteous, seeking to be obedient to God's Word at a time when it is unpopular to do so? Are we afraid to proclaim the truth of God's Word for fear that it will offend some? Are we willing to call wicked, the actions that God calls wicked? Are we willing to call sin, the actions that God calls sin?

As a Christian teen, what impact will you make on the world of the future? Will you stand with the Bible, or will you be gradually lulled away by the "wisdom" of this world?

It is time for God's people to proudly stand upon His Word, exclaiming His righteousness. Though it may not be apparent in the lifestyles displayed around us, we must acclaim, with the Psalmist, "I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted." As Christian teens, let us join with God in maintaining righteousness as defined in His Word, lest we find ourselves being opposed by God, Himself!

God Bless You,
Linda