Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chosen!


23 He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’” 24 Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; 26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath,in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”
28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. 30 Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way. 

Chosen!

We return, today, to the Gospel of Luke, with a critical message to today's teens. To those who have been given the ability to understand and receive its truths, it reveals the power of God to save, even to the uttermost!

The words of Jesus, as recorded in Luke 4 were offensive to the people, but why? Why were they not only offensive to the people of Jesus' day, but also still offensive to teens in our day?

Jesus was in His native Galilee--a place where He was well known. The people knew His father, Joseph, and His mother, Mary. Indeed, they had watched Him grow up. So who did He think He was, anyway? To them He was just the son of a carpenter; in no way could they accept Him as the Son of God, their Messiah. In other words, their very familiarity with Him caused blinders to be put over their hearts so that seeing, they did not see, and hearing, they did not hear.

Even as a teen, you have seen evidence of this same attitude among the people who are part of your daily life. You can aspire to greatness, but those you love the most will probably be those who are the least likely to see "greatness" in your future!

This man Jesus, then, had the audacity to say that they were not chosen! As Jesus stated, there were many widows in the days of Elijah, but God chose only the widow of Zarephath to perform a great miracle. There were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha, but only Naaman the Syrian, was chosen by God and healed of His leprosy.

What implications did Jesus' words have regarding the people of His own village? What implications do Jesus' words have on us today in this 21st century? As a teen, are you one of God's chosen? 

Salvation is from God, given to those whom He has chosen! Why do so many reject the Gospel? Why do many who have been raised under the tutelage of God's Word reject Him? We are told in 1 John 4,
We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19King James Version

The good news is that the Gospel message is clear to all who would turn to Christ. When we turn to Him, believing that He is our only hope of salvation, understanding that His blood is sufficient to cover all of our sins, and receive Him, alone, for forgiveness, He saves us. Gone is the condemnation we were under. That message of hope is available to all who would receive it!

What an amazing God we serve, who still, after almost 2000 years since Christ walked on this earth, is still saving a people for Himself. Will this always be the case? No! The day will come when Christ will return, time will cease to be, and the day of salvation will be past. Unfortunately, even though we know that to be true, we rarely live as though we really believe it. Do we expect Christ to come back in our lifetime? Could He? Yes, it is certainly possible!

Chosen! What a blessed truth. This is the God we serve. He proclaims what is to be, and He brings it to pass exactly as He has planned. Nothing will stay His hand, and nothing will prevent Him from fulfilling every single promise He has made. No one can pluck His children from His hand, for they are His, both now and forever!

Amen! Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Liberty!


16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
   
       18 “ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
       Because He has anointed Me
      To preach the gospel to the poor;
      He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
      To proclaim liberty to the captives
      And recovery of sight to the blind,
      To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
       19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

Liberty!

What does liberty mean to today's teen? Does it seem like some outmoded concept; does it even have much meaning to the average teen, especially in America? Man has argued that point for centuries, but could it be that they do not understand the true nature of liberty, and could it be that they do not understand that true liberty is a gift from God?

Jesus read a portion of the Jewish Scripture from the book of Isaiah, and then calmly proclaimed, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." What did He mean?

It is interesting to note that the Jews were expecting a Messiah who would come into Jerusalem and free them from Roman oppression, setting up His throne in Jerusalem, not understanding that Jesus was not there to just set up an earthly kingdom, but rather, Jesus came to free them from the oppression of sin which was keeping them enslaved in Satan's earthly kingdom!

Does that seem archaic to us? Are Jesus' words still relevant to today's teens? Are today's teens enslaved by sin? Yes! As much as ever, we need the freedom that only Christ can bring!

How did Jesus bring this freedom? He brought this freedom to them by preaching to them a Gospel of repentance, calling them to turn their hearts to God. In just a few short years, the time would come when that Gospel would be fulfilled through the Lord Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection! Dying for the sins of His people, all men who turned to Him would be freed forever from the slavery of sin.

Even today, that Gospel is still to be proclaimed by God's people, calling all men to repent of their sins and turn to Christ, for He alone can provide true liberty. Teens today need the Lord Jesus Christ, for they have no power, in and of themselves, to live a life that is truly pleasing to God, and thus stand under God's judgment! 

Does that mean that Christian teens do not sin? No! It does mean, however, that when we turn from our sin we have an Advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ, who comes between God and man. Man, condemned by the wrath of God, has no hope apart from Christ, but in Christ, we are covered by His precious blood.

Did the people of Jesus' day understand these things? No! Even His disciples were left wondering. Only after the death and resurrection of Christ did the disciples understand who Christ really was, and how He fulfilled the thousands of prophecies about Him in the Old Testament Scriptures.

Do people today understand these things? No! Only in God's Word are these truths conveyed, and unfortunately, very few people, even professing Christians, read and study God's Word!

We have a great advantage; we have the complete Scriptures at our disposal. Yet, what good do the Scriptures do if we do not read and study them? As Christian teens, let us lift up the banner of Christ on high, and let us live and serve Him all of our days. This is our calling! Even today, let us proclaim liberty to those who are held captive by sin!


In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

That is our true calling in the Lord Jesus Christ! What an amazing God we serve! Go, then, in the strength and power of the Lord, and live for Christ today! By God's grace, may you turn your generation to Christ!

God Bless You,
Linda


Monday, June 10, 2013

Repent!


 17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”


14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” 

Even before Jesus began to call his disciples, three of the Gospels--Matthew, Mark, and Luke--make reference to Jesus' Galilean ministry, with Matthew and Mark recording the words of Christ shown above. Considering that these are the first recorded words spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ after His baptism by John and His temptation by Satan, we should take note of what Jesus said. 

But wait a minute, how can these words, spoken almost 2000 years ago possibly have an effect upon teens in this, the 21st century? Amazing though it may seem, these words are just as relevant today to us as teens as they were to the people to whom Christ was speaking to in Galilee.

In Matthew, Jesus said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," while in Mark, Jesus said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." To what is Jesus referring when He said that the kingdom of God--or heaven--is at hand? 

Consider that, for the Jews, everything was continuing as it had for centuries, yet Jesus' words must certainly have caused a stir among the people. His words were meant to wake them from their complacency. "Stop," He was saying, "Consider the Words of Scripture, for a change is about to take place!" He was coming to them from the very throne of God, upsetting their world, and calling them to repent, and believe the Words of the Gospel.

It has now been almost 2000 years since Jesus spoke those words to the people--everyday, ordinary teens, just like you! In all of those 2000 years, the kingdom of heaven has come through the ministry of Christ and the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the people as recorded in the book of Acts. 

Yet, here we are in the 21st century going about our lives with very little evidence that Christ has impacted our lives. How can that be? Could it be that these words of Christ as recorded in Matthew and Mark are being aimed right at our hearts today as well? I think so!

How have we, as Christian teens, responded? Have we "made our decision for Christ," and then lapsed back into a life-pattern similar to that of those who are unbelievers? That is not what Christ intended by these words! When we come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as our own, personal Savior--when we have repented from our sins and turned to Him--our lives are to be different! Nothing will ever be the same again.

As a Christian teen, how is your life different from that of other teens? How are your decisions affected because you have a personal relationship with Christ? Is repentance a one-time event, and then life just goes on as it always has? That is not actually true repentance! True repentance involved a change of heart, which of necessity, involves a change of life! No matter what vocation we choose, we now choose to live our lives according to the commandments given to us in God's Word. We now have a purpose to share Christ with all of those we meet.

How do we share Christ? Does that mean we all become preachers? No! That means our lives are so changed that all of those around us can see Christ in us. Our very lives are an open Bible to all of those we meet. That presumes, then, that we read and study our Bibles so we know how we are to live. 

Suddenly, we have a God-given purpose to share our faith with those around us. We are to live for Christ in such a way, that the difference is notable! We are no longer our own, but as servants of the most high God, we have been bought with a price--the blood of the Lord Jesus. 

Let us then, obey the words of Christ. Let us repent of our apathy and complacency, and let us resolve, by the help of God to turn our lives completely over to Him. Let us not waste another day or even hour, but let us resolve to cast all of our lives upon Christ. He is our Master; it is Him we are to serve every single day that He grants to us on this earth.

Let us turn our hearts in prayer to Him, asking Him to lead and guide us in the way we should go. There is no higher calling on this earth than that of service to our King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Christian teens, go and serve the Lord Jesus Christ! Make an impact on your generation for Christ! That is why you have been called as God's child!

Repent! Go to Christ; He will save you, and keep you from now and throughout all eternity! That is the message of the Gospel! That is the message you are called to share with your generation1

God Bless You,
Linda