Friday, May 31, 2013

Short Vacation


Just to let everyone know - I will be gone on a short vacation, but will plan to be back with a new devotion on Thursday, June 6th, the Lord willing!

Please feel free to browse the archives or visit my site: Devotional-Reflections-from-the-Bible.com

Thank you for your prayers and encouraging words!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Worship the Lord!


8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’


5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’

Worship the Lord!

As a teen, what or who do you worship? Jesus addressed this very topic in the last temptation of Christ by Satan.

In our devotional today, we finish the temptation of Christ by Satan. After taking Jesus up to a high mountain and showing Him all of the kingdoms of the world and their glory, Satan promised them to the Lord if He would but fall down and worship Satan. In Luke 4, Satan said, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

What an amazing temptation. Imagine yourself as the ruler of the world--King Kevin, or Queen Emma! What changes would you effect if you could pass any law you desired? Would it be worth having it all if all you had to do was reject Christ? No!

As in the first two temptations, Jesus answered with Scripture, You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. (Deuteronomy 6:13New King James Version)

The question each of us needs to ask ourselves today is, "Is it worth it?" If Satan gave us all of the kingdoms of the world and all of the authority over them, would it be worth it to worship Satan and reject Christ? No! 

Even today, Satan uses the same temptations against all of mankind, and sadly, most people say, "Yes!" to Satan. For a few pieces of candy today, they reject all of the glories of the kingdom of God! Nothing we could ever attain in this world, whether it be wealth, power, or glory, will ever be worth losing the glories of the kingdom of God forever! Yet, our pride fiercely defends our desire to have more. We truly want it all--we want wealth, we want fame, we want glory, or maybe even, we just want to be loved! Yet, it is better to go through all of this life hated, than to trade an eternity with Christ for a few miserable years of fame and glory.

Satan's temptation was so meaningless in the eyes of the Lord Jesus that He did not even acknowledge his words. First, Satan was lying, as are all things promised to us by Satan. Satan only has what God has allowed Him to have. All of the kingdoms of this world will perish, and only what is of eternal value--what is truly already owned by Christ--will last. To have it all, but then lose it for eternity is not a good trade off!

What will you do today? In a world that is quickly turning away from God, and rejoicing in the glory of mankind, will you resist the temptation to join the many who rush after pleasure and glory, or will you adamantly, by God's grace, stand firm upon the truths of His Holy Word. Is a little popularity or wealth worth rejecting Christ?

It would be so much easier if this is a decision we could make just once and be done with it, but the truth is that Satan persists day after day, and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives on this earth, hoping to lure us away from the truth. What can we do? Cry out to God, daily, for the strength to resist the charms of this world and stand true to God's Word.

As you go about the duties of this day, take the words of Christ with you!

Worship the Lord, and Him only, for in Him, alone, is truth, love, joy, peace, and happiness!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tempting God


5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
      ‘ He shall give His angels charge over you,’
   and,
      ‘ In their hands they shall bear you up,
      Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’”


9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
      ‘ He shall give His angels charge over you,
      To keep you,’
 11 and,
      ‘ In their hands they shall bear you up,
      Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’”

Tempting God

Do you, as a Christian teen, ever find yourself tempting God?

As we continue our devotional study on the Words of Christ, we return to the temptation of Christ by Satan. At this point, Matthew 4 and Luke 4, which both contain this account, use a different order. Matthew shows this as the second temptation and Luke shows it as the third temptation.

In the accounts given, Satan takes Jesus up to the highest pinnacle of the temple and says, "If you are really God, just throw yourself down, because God will send His angels to protect you and to keep you from harming yourself."

Notice the subtlety of Satan. Everything he said was true, but the real question is, was it necessary that Jesus do what Satan said in order to prove that He was the Son of God? No! When Satan tempts us, we do not have to give in to what he says, no matter how reasonable it may sound. There is nothing we need to prove to Satan!

As a Christian teen, it is often not easy to realize that we are being tempted by Satan, especially when the things he says to us are true. Whether it is thoughts he puts in our minds or words from unbelievers questioning God, you can be sure that you are under Satan's attack!

How did Jesus respond? Again, He responded with Scripture, this time from Psalm 91. And, as in the first temptation, Satan had no response to Scripture.

 16 “You shall not tempt the LORD your God as you tempted Him in Massah. (Deuteronomy 6:16New King James Version)

Jesus, not dwelling on the actual charge of Satan, went beyond his words to uncover what he was actually doing. He was actually trying to cause Jesus to tempt God. Does Satan do this same thing to us today? Of course!

How many times, when discussing the Lord with people, do we think we have to make excuses for God? To their questions such as, "Why do babies die?" we seem to think we need to make an excuse for God. In other words, we, then, are tempting God. In truth, we do not know why babies die, but we do know this: And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28New King James Version)

Christianity is a religion of faith, and thus, is not understood by non-believers. Yet, do not feel like you need to apologize for your faith! God will strengthen your faith and trust in Him; in your heart of hearts you know that God's Word is true and that His help for you is secure!

The reason bad things happen, even to good people, is related to sin, which was brought here by Satan himself. Yet, many teens seem to want to blame God for not stopping the bad things from happening. They want a God who allows all evil and yet prevents evil from happening to them. 

Thank God that we have such a perfect, just, and holy God, who works all things out for the good of His people. We do not have to make excuses for God, neither should we tempt God. Our duty is to trust His goodness, His mercy, and His judgment, knowing that everything is working according to His just and holy plan.

What an amazing God we serve. We will spend eternity marveling at His grace, His goodness, and His mercy. Go to Him today, for He, alone, is the true source of peace, joy, and happiness. You will find it in none other!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Satan Tempts Jesus


 1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’

 1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”   
4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’

Satan Tempts Jesus

Matthew 4, and Luke 4, both record a conversation between Jesus and Satan. As we continue our devotions on the Words of Christ, it is interesting to note that Jesus knew in advance that He would be tempted by Satan, and went to the wilderness and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in preparation for this event.

How do these verses affect you as a Christian teen? How can you apply them to your lives this very day?

Today we look at the first temptation thrown at Jesus by Satan. Needless to say, after 40 days of fasting, Jesus was quite hungry, so Satan, coming to Jesus, said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." (Matthew 4:3)

As we look at this occasion, it is important that we note that Satan uses the same devices against the people of God today. As teens, knowing our greatest weaknesses, and at our most vulnerable times he launches his attacks. Not even noting His hunger, however, Jesus responded with Scripture. Do we know the Bible well enough to do the same when we are attacked by Satan? Do we even recognize Satan's attacks? It is so important that we, as Christian teens immerse ourselves in God's Word, reading and studying it daily.

Though He was hungry, Jesus ignored the words of Satan, and responded with a quotation from Deuteronomy:
 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3New King James Version)
What an interesting response. What was Jesus actually saying? He was saying that life is more than just food or drink, clothing or things, or even our careers and lifestyles. These things are nothing apart from God! God purposely allowed the Israelites to go hungry in the wilderness so that they would cry out to Him for food, and He could then show them that He was the One who sustained them by providing for their needs--that time by providing manna.

Does God do the same thing to us in the 21st century? Yes, He does. Often it is necessary for God to get our attention by sending difficulties that cause us to cry out to Him for help, lest we actually believe we have the power within ourselves to successfully live this life. We are told every day that man has the answers--you can do it if you believe in yourself! Is that true? No! The strength and power we need to successfully live this life comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot manufacture that ability within ourselves, but rather must trust Him for daily strength and guidance. No matter how much self-affirmation we express, we will still fail apart from Christ!

That is not what the world tells us, but that is exactly what we are taught in God's Holy Word. Christ did not need bread from Satan, nor did He need to obey Satan and command the stone to be turned to bread. Could He have done so? Yes, of course! He did not need to to so, however, to affirm Satan's words, "If you are the Son of God." He was and is the Son of God, and nothing Satan did or said could affirm or deny it, for the truth stands apart from anyone's belief or lack of belief.

As he always does, Satan was expressing doubt in who Jesus was, yet Satan really did know the truth. He knew that Jesus was not just a man, but was and is the Holy Son of God! Satan does the same thing to us today, always casting doubt upon the Words of truth as found in our Bibles, and always casting doubts as to God's love and care over us.

We must note, especially in our day, that the truth of God's Word is not dependent upon anyone's belief nor is it denied by anyone's lack of belief. Truth stands firms as truth, and God is truth. As a matter of fact, there is no truth apart from Him!

This is the God we serve. May we, as Christian teens, by the grace and mercy of God, resist the temptations of Satan and stand firm upon the truths of God's Holy Word!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, May 27, 2013

Baptism of Jesus


   
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 

Baptism of Jesus

What does the baptism of Jesus have to do with you--a teen in the 21st century? It is right here that we see that Jesus was single-minded in His one purpose He was sent here to fulfill? We, too, like Christ, should focus all of our attention on what God has for us to do in these few short years we spend on this earth.

As we continue our devotional study on the Words of Christ, we go to Matthew 3. Though the baptism of Jesus is recorded in three of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke, only Matthew records the words of Christ spoken to John.

John was calling people to repentance, and baptizing them, while explaining that he was not the Christ, but that One greater than him was coming. Matthew tells is that when Jesus came to John to be baptized, John tried to prevent him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are you coming to me?" Jesus replied with the following words, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."

What did Jesus mean by these words? Matthew Henry, in his commentary on this passage made the following comment:
Christ is now in a state of humiliation. Our Lord Jesus looked upon it as well becoming him to fulfil all righteousness, to own every Divine institution, and to show his readiness to comply with all God's righteous precepts. In and through Christ, the heavens are opened to the children of men.
Jesus, the Son of God, was also the Son of Man. As a man, it was necessary that He fulfill all of God's righteous commands to men. Though He was the perfect man, yet He submitted Himself to God's will and was baptized. Not one of God's precepts would be left undone by the Lord Jesus Christ while He was in a state of humiliation.

How much more, then, should we, imperfect as we are, focus our lives on determining and following God's will for us? What greater purpose is there for our lives as teens?

What do we mean by a state of humiliation? We simply mean that God the Son, left Heaven's glory to walk on this earth as a lowly man, suffering all of the discomforts of life that we experience here on this earth. He could, had He chosen, at any moment have returned to the glory of heaven, but instead chose to walk on this earth, and fulfill all that God had chosen for Him to fulfill. Why? Christ Jesus made this choice because He had a work to do. 

Only Christ, in His perfect righteousness and holiness, could come to this earth as the God Man, offer Himself up as a sacrifice, and pay the debt of sin for all those who would come to Him. Even here, early in His earthly ministry, Christ was following all of the proper steps so that He could purchase a people for Himself, in obedience to the requirements of God the Father.

In acknowledgement of His perfect obedience, when Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened, the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and sat upon Jesus' shoulder, and God spoke from heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

What an amazing God we serve. Not one of us deserves the great grace and mercy that God has bestowed upon us. Only through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, do we have that greatest of all gifts: eternal life. Only through God's Son can we obtain true joy, peace, and happiness!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Words of Christ


41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”  
49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. (Luke 2:41-50New King James Version)

Words of Christ

Today we begin a new series which I have entitled, "Words of Christ." My original intent was to go through the Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5, 6, and 7, but after some thought have decided to include all of the words of Christ. After all, we have a rather unique opportunity to peruse the only words of Christ, the Son of God, which have been recorded for us in the Bible. These are not the words that people said about Christ, but the actual words that God has seen fit to providentially record in His Holy Word. As such, should we not pay close attention to what He said, and by His grace apply them to our lives today in this 21st century?

As a teen, you will be interested to note that the first recorded words that Jesus actually spoke, happened we He was not yet a teenager. He was just 12 years old!

The first actual spoken words by Jesus which were recorded for us in the New Testament in the Gospel of Luke. (I am not including any words spoken by Theophanies in the Old Testament, in which Christ appeared as a man or angel to specific Old Testament people.)
Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?
Some have suggested that Jesus sinned in this passage, or at least that His words were rather impertinent. We know that Jesus never sinned, and as to impertinent, we should consider the occasion given in Luke 2, and understand the context in which Mary and Joseph would have understood His words.

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, as well as any other children of Mary and Joseph traveled to Jerusalem for a feast together with a large company of other people. This would not have been the first time that Jesus went with them to Jerusalem on a feast day, but it is the first time after Jesus came of age, so to speak.

Because of Jesus' miraculous birth, Mary and Joseph both understood that Jesus was the Son of God. (Luke 2:26-38) Doubtless, they had already had years of experience in understanding that Jesus was not like any other children. We cannot even imagine what it would be like to raise a sinless child, but we know the difference would be obvious. Mary and Joseph should have known that when Jesus spoke of "My Father's business," He was speaking of God, and not Joseph. Yet, the Bible tells us: that they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.

In other words, rather than being impertinent, Jesus was stating a fact. He was here for a specific reason, and the time would come when He would leave them to complete the work that God had sent Him to do. In reality, Jesus submitted Himself to His parents until He began His public ministry at about 30 years of age. Though Mary did not understand exactly what Jesus meant, we are told that she kept all these things in her heart.

What a lesson to us as teens today! Jesus was the Son of God, sent to this earth to do a specific work for God. Yet, He still willingly submitted to His earthly parents' wishes until He reached the age of 30, when He began His public ministry.

One thing that will become evident as we go through this series of devotions is that Jesus never lost perspective of why He was here and of what He must do. Unlike Jesus, we constantly become distracted and often take huge "detours" in our service for Christ. Life itself is the biggest distraction of all. Like the people of this world, it is easy for us to become caught up in the possession of "things," yet our real purpose for being here is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Even though you are a teen, you are not without excuse before God for the decisions you make and the things you do. May God help you, even now, to be about your Heavenly Father's business!

Let us pray that, as we study the actual words of Christ, we will become more and more committed to the work that God has called us to do, and less and less distracted by the things of this world.

God Bless You,
Linda



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Praise God!




1Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
 2Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
 3Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
 4Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
 5Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
 6Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. 

Praise God!

Today we complete an in-depth series of devotions on the Psalms called, "First Love," which we began on November 10, 2010, on my blog: Daily Bible Devotions. For two and a  half years we have been immersed in the Psalms, and what an incredible journey it has been. It is fitting that the Psalms end with this glorious Psalm of praise, calling us to praise God in everything we do and say.

As a Christian teen, how do you offer praise to God? Is God just referring to those times we join other believers in worshiping His holy name? Have you every pondered the thought that everything you do is to be done in worship and praise to God?

We are to praise God when we are in His house of worship, praise Him as we behold His power in all of creation, praise Him for the mighty acts He has done on our behalf, and praise Him for His greatness. We are called to praise Him with musical instruments, with the timbrel and dance, and even on the loud cymbals. Then, not only mankind, but everything that has breath is called to praise the Lord!

It is fitting that we acknowledge our great God and Creator in everything we think, do, and say, for what is there in life that is ours apart from Christ? As a teen, is there any area of your life that is not touched by God? No! Apart from Christ we are lost and condemned, but with Him we have an eternal hope that affects every area of our life here on this earth as well as our life in eternity.

What is of more importance? Are our friends more important than God? What about our families? What about our plans for the future? Nothing compares to the state of our souls, for everything that we accomplish on this earth is nothing if we are lost. Only in Christ do we reap eternal rewards. Nothing else really matters!

Just think of the many famous people whom we revere. Think of the many people you have studied in your history classes who shaped the birth of your countries--the very lives you live today are a result of what they began. Yet, what is that to them if they never knew the Lord. They may be great heroes in our history books, but if they are not with Christ, they are certainly not "eternal" heroes. 

Think, again, of those who have lived and died of whom we know nothing. What of the poor, the ordinary, the common people whose names will never appear in your history book? If they were believers in Christ, they are now rejoicing at the feet of Jesus. Truly, they are the only true heroes we should revere!

As we go about doing the things that occupy us from day to day, let us truly praise God, for He, alone, has done great and wondrous things. Apart from Him, we are nothing, but with Him we have and are everything! As Christian teens, God calls you to make an effect on this world in the strength and power of His name.

Go, then, in the strength and power of the Lord, and praise God in all you think, do and say!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Two-edged Sword



5Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.
 6Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand;
 7To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
 8To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
 9To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD. 

Two-edged Sword

With the advent of light sabers and other such futuristic weaponry, we do not often think of fighting the old-fashioned way: with swords. However, there are enough video games keeping the old weapons current in our mind, that we still can understand the concepts taught by the psalmist, especially in Psalm 149. As teens, perhaps we can think back to the chivalry of the days of knights and warriors, and understand the mindset of the writer of this psalm. We are reminded by the psalmist that the Christian life is a two-fold life, or as the psalmist put it, a two-edged sword. 

Admittedly, as a teen, you probably do not often think of your life as a double-edged sword, but as a Christian, it certainly is!

On the one side we saints of the Lord are encouraged to be joyful--singing aloud upon our beds. And why not? Look at the abundant ways God has blessed us. Beginning with salvation itself, God has bought us, through the blood of His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and God keeps us by His continual watch care over us all of the days of our lives upon this earth. But our Christian life does not end there, for there is another side to the sword.

Just as God has provided a wondrous salvation to His people, so, too, He executes justice and vengeance upon those who do not love and follow Him. When one considers the great price that Christ paid to purchase salvation for us, though none of us deserve such love, one has to shudder to think of what is coming for those who reject such an amazing offer. 

As Christian teens, we know that none of us deserves salvation, and left to ourselves, all of us would find a terrible end. No matter how glorious this earth might be, is it worth the pleasures of this world to face an eternity without God? No! This is not a subject we like to think about, but God has certainly made it very clear in His Word. The end for those who reject Christ is a terrible end, indeed! 

Yet, even the judgment of God brings glory to Him. Salvation is a gift--a gift that no one is able to earn, but the rejection of that gift brings eternal consequences. In the court systems of this world, we understand the concept that punishing criminals is a way of providing justice for the victims. In the same way, God would not be righteous if wickedness remained unpunished.

As Christian teens, let us remember that two-edged sword as we seek to bring glory to God by living faithfully for Him. Let us remember that what He commands is not optional, but by His grace, should become our rule for life. It is true that we will never be apart from sin while still in this world, and that is a great grief to us. However, when we come before Christ with a repentant heart, He is always ready to forgive.

It is truly more than we can comprehend, and certainly more than we deserve. Let us, then, praise, honor, and glorify our Lord Jesus Christ who is never without His two-edged sword!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, May 20, 2013

Beautify the Meek



2Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
 3Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
 4For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. 

Beautify the Meek

Somehow it seems especially appropriate to think of beauty in the spring. I realize, as a teen, you are certainly more focused on the usual happenings of this time of year: namely - summer break. In our city this is the last week of the regular school year, so I am sure that the teens of this city are not focused on the beauty of nature. However, you must admit, the flowers are rather beautiful this year, especially after having a winter that did not seem to want to end.

In Psalm 149, the psalmist said that the Lord takes pleasure in His people, and that He will beautify the meek with salvation. What an awesome phrase: beautify the meek with salvation. When you think of it, that is more that we can possibly comprehend. God of all gods, who is higher than the heavens, looks down upon this sinful and lowly generation and points to this person and that person--and beautifies them with salvation. 

We tend to think of the beauty of nature: flowers, clouds, sunsets, mountains, etc., but have you ever thought that you, as a Christian teen, are beautiful to God? Not only are you beautiful, but He seeks to make you even more beautiful as He grants to you the Christian graces!

None of us deserves God's hand of grace which plucks us from the fiery brands of sin and plants our feet upon His solid ground of righteousness. There is nothing in us which would make us worthy of God's love and grace, and yet He bestows such blessing upon His children. How should we respond?

As the psalmist encouraged us, our only response should be one of praise and glory to His holy name. Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. In other words, in every thing we do and say, let us praise the name of the Lord. Whether we are at school, home, or away from home, all of our actions and words should offer praise to this amazing God who has done such a great work in our hearts and lives.

As a Christian teen, everything you do or say brings glory to God--or not, as the case may be! Whether we like it or not, as God's children, we are examples to all of those around us of what it really means to be a Christian. What do your peer see when they look at you?

Though this psalm is directed to Israel, yet we, as God's people, should understand two things. First, God grants this same blessing and grace to all of His people. Second, just as Israel wandered from God and served the gods of the neighboring nations, so we should not take God for granted. Neither should we take our faithfulness for granted. As Israel fell, so could we wander away from the Lord.

What this really means to you, as a Christian teen, is that you are off the hook. You are not called to live the Christian life by your own efforts. As a matter of fact, you own efforts will fail! You are called,i instead, to pray that God would grant you His faithfulness--that He would make you more and more like Him. 

Let us pray, then, that we would not only serve, praise, and honor the Lord our God today, but that we would continue to be faithful to Him all of the days of our lives. Let us also teach our friends, praying that God would faithfully bless them as He has most certainly blessed us. Let us not think that we have the ability to keep ourselves faithful to God, but, rather, let us pray that He will keep us strong in Him. By His grace are we saved, and by His grace are we kept faithful to Him!

What an amazing God we serve.

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, May 17, 2013

New Song!



 1Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. 

New Song!

It is a rather silly question to ask a teen, but how important is music to your life? If you are like most teens, music actually defines who you are.

The Psalmist entreats us to praise the LORD and sing a new song. It is interesting to note that music often seems to be the lifeblood of a society. This is so much the case, that each new generation seems to come up with a new sound in music that they claim to be distinctly their own sound. 

The Psalmist, understanding the value of music even to the depths of our souls, commands us to sing a new song. After all, coming to Christ and living for the Lord demands that old things pass away--everything we do, think, and say, especially as new believers is new! Why not, then, encourage believers to sing a new song as well? 

As Christian teens, you do not have to give up your love of music because you are a believer. Just about every genre of music has a "Christian" counterpart. How cool is that?

Music can be a rather sensitive subject in churches in our day. Some churches only sing psalms, some only sing the old hymns, and some only sing contemporary Christian music. As a Christian teen, how do we know what is right? The thing to consider, at least in this devotion, is not the rightness or wrongness of the music itself, but the idea that we are to be singing praises to our God. I find it noteworthy that God has allowed, yes, even ordained, that we live in a time when one has a choice. 

If we are convinced that psalm singing is the only way to worship the Lord, there are churches today that follow that teaching. If we think the old hymns should be sung, we certainly have that choice as well. Thirdly, if we love contemporary music, there are many churches that use contemporary Christian music in their worship services. We have no excuse, at least from the perspective of our convictions concerning music; God has provided a great variety, as well as a great many denominations, which profess to teach and believe the Bible. 

In the end, as teens we must remember that it is important that our guide for living the Christian life is God's Holy Word. Many ideas are presented as to how to interpret that Word, but we must be very careful that we do not follow a "group," but rather, follow the Lord! Man, as is always the case, looks on the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart.

When God looks upon your heart, what does He see? That really has been the basis of all of these Psalms devotions that we have been considering, for over 2 years now: our First Love. How doe we worship, love, and serve God, our First Love?

Go, then today, as Christian teens, and sing a new song to the Lord, whether it be a psalm, a hymn, or a contemporary Christian song--sing praise to the Lord with all your being!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Out of this World




7Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:
 8Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word:
 9Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:
 10Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:
 11Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth:
 12Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children:
 13Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.
 14He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the LORD. 

Out of this World

The Psalmist may not have known as much about outer space as we as teens do today, but he knew that God not only was not of this earth, but God controlled everything--even what was literally out of this world.

As we finish Psalm 148, we note that the Psalmist continued his great Psalm of praise to the Lord God. Calling the sea creatures, fire, hail, snow, rain, and wind, as well as mountains, hills, trees, beasts, creeping things, and flying fowls, and ending with kings of the earth and all people to praise God, he said, Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven. Being creatures of this earth, we do not often think in God's realm, but His realm is literally out of this world!

Though He maintains our world, God is not limited by our world as we are limited. Oh, we may have made great strides in our space exploration, but what is that compared to God who created it all? Stars that we cannot even yet see are already named by God! He knows every star, every planet, and even every comet that exists now, has ever existed, or will exist in the future.

You may have read that some of the earlier astronauts actually pondered meeting God when in outer space. Yet, our God is truly out of this world, including all the starry host and cosmos that exist. It is truly beyond our comprehension!

It is good for us to take some time to think on these things, for we are so consumed by our every day lives, as teens, that we do not often take the time to step back and look at the bigger picture. Truly, we are but the dust of the earth in the eyes of God. All of our supposed greatness pales to nothingness in comparison to our great and truly awesome Creator God!

The Psalmist calls us all to praise the Lord, yet how seldom, except maybe in a worship service, do we actually take the time to just praise God for all He is and all He has done on our behalf. Why is this? Perhaps we view ourselves as being too busy. Just imagine, we are too busy to take the time to praise our great and wondrous God who has done so much for us. 

Regardless of our political views, even as teens, would we be too busy to take the time to visit with the leader of our country. If we received word that he or she was coming to our house or school to visit with us, would we send our hurried excuses? Would we claim to be too busy? Yet that is often what we do to God.

I would challenge each of us to take 5, 10, or even 15 minutes of quiet, alone time to just praise God. If we find that we cannot think of enough things to say, and yet there is still time left, how about just quietly pondering God's great and awesome nature? If we Christian teens would seriously set aside 5 minutes a day to just praise God, it would change our lives forever! Perhaps it would even change the world forever!

God dearly loves to fellowship with His children. That quiet time would become so precious that we would find ourselves neglecting all else just to have that time with our Lord. Yes, God is not like us; He is truly out of this world, because He is above this world in every way we can imagine.

What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Creation's Praise




 1Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights.
 2Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.
 3Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.
 4Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
 5Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.
 6He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass. 

Creation's Praise

As a Christian teen, how much time do you take just praising God's creation, or for that matter, how much time do you take praising God? That seems to be the topic the Psalmist takes up in Psalm 148.

It is fitting, as we near the end of this series of devotions called, "First Love," that the Psalmist calls all of creation to praise God. We do not often think about creation's praise to God, but we are reminded that not only do the angels praise God, but so do the sun, moon, stars, heaven of heavens, and even the waters above the heavens.

We think of praise as belonging to mankind, or maybe even men and angels, but, as teens, we do not tend to think of inanimate things, such as the trees, flowers, and mountains, praising God. Yet they do! Just by their very existence they bring praise to our great Creator who has given us such lavish and extraordinary beauty and abundance. From the tiniest of cells only visible through a microscope to the highest of the mountains on this earth, we are struck by the great diversity and beauty of God's creation.

How can we study the sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and physics, and not see the intricate and amazing detail of God's creation. All of the laws of physics were put there as part of God's creation - they are truly God's laws!

As a teen, have you ever wondered why God created such diversity? He created such diversity out of His great love for mankind. Not only did He create us, but He created an extraordinary world in which to place us, giving us the command to take care of His world, and take dominion over it. 

It is interesting to note, that whether mankind ever gives the honor and praise due to the Lord, the creation knows its Creator. The birds sing praise to God, the fish of the sea glory in Him, the sun, moon, and stars, manifest His glory, and even the smallest of creatures cry out to Him in their time of need.

How can we, as Christian teens do any less? How can we live in this world day after day and not see the glory of God revealed, not only in His great creation, but also how can we not see the millions of ways in which He is constantly watching over us and caring for us? As His children, how can we not see the ways He constantly cares for our souls, and keeps us from the power of Satan which would devastate us in a moment, but for the continual watch care of our great God and King.

So, like the angels, the sun, moon, and stars, the heavens of the heavens, and the waters above the heavens, let us, as God's children, praise the name of the Lord, for He has established us forever; He made a decree which shall not pass!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Showed His Word


 19He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.
 20He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD. 

Showed His Word

As a Christian teen, have you ever wondered where we "fit" in terms of our relationship with God compared to that of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament? Are we a "lesser" people in they eyes of God if we are not of Jewish descent?

Tucked in these last few verses of Psalm 147 are some rather profound thoughts! The Psalmist tells us that God showed His Word unto Jacob, His statutes and judgments unto Israel. He then continued to state that God has not done so with any other nation. As a matter of fact, no other nation has known God's judgments. 

Let us think for a minute about the implications of these statements, and then think about what they mean to us as teens in the 21st century. As we study our Bibles, we understand that, beginning with Abraham, God set apart the Jewish nation for Himself. For centuries, even as the descendants of Abraham became as numerous as the sands upon the seas, and the stars in the sky, God dealt almost exclusively with Israel. To Israel He showed His blessing and favor. As they, as a nation, remained obedient to Him, they experienced untold blessings. However, when they rejected Him, He finally brought judgment upon them.

Yet, even in God's judgments, He nurtured and guided His people with an ever abounding love. Their final rejection, however, of Christ as their Messiah, opened the door for the Gospel to go forth to all nations. God, however, is still not done with the nation of Israel. The time will come, at the end of days (which appear to be upon us), when God will again bestow His great and awesome blessing upon His chosen people. They will return to Him in droves, as He reveals to them that Jesus Christ truly was and is their Messiah.

What of those of us who are not of Jewish descent? Since the time of the apostles, God has opened the door of salvation to all nations, for truly there is salvation in none other than in Christ the Lord. As God opens the hearts of people, and they see their need of salvation in Christ, He opens His arms to them. Just as God showed His Word to the ancient Israelites, so does He show His Word to those who become His children today.

How can we respond to such an awesome God? We can only respond in humble thanksgiving, for there is no salvation apart from Him. We must realize that if God's own people rejected Him and were severely chastised for it, we, as teens today, can expect the same if we reject this same God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us, rather, praise this God who has loved us so much that He sent His only Son to purchase a people for Himself. As Christian teens, let us pray for grace and strength to live each day in His service, rejecting the things of this world, and embracing our wondrous Lord and Savior. In Him, alone, is all peace, all joy, and all comfort!

God Bless You,
Linda