Friday, August 30, 2013

The Father's Glory


 27 When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”
28 And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”
29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, “See that no one knows it. ” 31 But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country. 

The Father's Glory

Who is the most important person in your life? Well, if you are honest, and if you are like most teens, you are! As a Christian teen, should that be the case? No! First, and foremost, as a Christian teen, you should be seeking the glory of God.

As we read this account from Matthew 9, we must marvel, that though Jesus was the Son of God, He did not seek glory for Himself. In His entire earthly ministry He continued to seek the Father's glory. How do we see that from this passage?

After healing the blind man, Jesus gave the stern charge to him: "See that no one knows it." Why do you suppose Jesus said such a thing? There may be several reasons, but first, and foremost, Jesus was not seeking glory for Himself for what He had just done. As always, He only sought to glorify God in all of the works He did. 

Secondly, Jesus understood His purpose for being here, and was careful to maintain the schedule He was on. He knew, not only that He was to die for His people, but He knew that there was a perfect time for that to happen. With that in mind, He was careful to not bring unnecessary attention--especially negative attention to Him. Sadly, the more He healed the sick, and raised the dead to life, the more anger He aroused among the religious leaders, who were jealous of the attraction of the crowds to Him.

How said, and yet the same is often evident even among Christians today. As God blesses the ministries of His children, often it brings criticism and even persecution upon them by the "religious" people who profess to love the Lord, but do not truly know Him as their personal Lord and Savior. 

Because Satan is vigorously working to oppose the kingdom of God, he continues to plant "religious" people in faithful churches, who, though not necessarily by their own design, often cause schism and contention among God's people. Even among teens, a teen who supposedly loves the Lord, but does not really know what that means, can cause a lot of problems among Christian friends! We should not be surprised when this happens, but should pray earnestly that God's people would remain faithful to Him, and that those who may profess Christ, but do not actually know Him, would come to a saving knowledge of the Lord.

By the grace of God, perhaps God is giving you the ability to turn a negative situation in to a positive one. Perhaps God has brought that very person into your life so that you may show Christ to him or her through your own actions. Pray for their salvation, and pray that God will help you to be that walking "Bible" to them, so that they could understand what it really means to be a Christian teen!

As we view this passage, did the blind men obey Jesus? No! Verse 31 tells us, "But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country."

We must remember that it was an extraordinary time. Jesus, throughout His entire earthly ministry remained focused upon His purpose for being there. Often He told those He healed to not tell anyone, yet seldom did they follow His advice. Yet, no matter the difficulties it created, He remained intent upon doing the Father's will.

Does that mean that today, we are not to tell people when God works miracles in our hearts and lives? No! 

There are two lessons we are to learn from Jesus' example. First, when God does wonderful things in our lives, we are to remember and confess that these are the works of God. We must be careful that we do not take glory for ourselves, but give the glory where it is due--to God. As a matter of fact, everything we accomplish in this life is done so in the strength and power of the Lord. There is no room in the heart of the believer for vainglory or self-praise. If we have great abilities, those abilities were given to us by God, so there is no room for us to glory in ourselves.

Second, it is important that we fulfill the great commission that Christ gave to His disciples, and thus to us as well. We are to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, beginning first in our own neighborhoods. So, as God grants wondrous blessings to us, and does great works in our lives, we are to proclaim to the world the greatness of God, sharing what He has done on our behalf. Our testimonies, by the grace of God, should be glowing examples of how a faithful and loving God works in the hearts and lives of His own people.

Is it not amazing that God continues to use us, weak though we may be, to spread the Gospel to other teens? Pray for His help and strength that in all your actions, Christ may be seen in you!

Go, then, this day, and by your thoughts, words, and deeds seek the Father's glory!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Who Gives Life?


 18 While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.” 

  23 When Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, 24 He said to them, “Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him. 25 But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26 And the report of this went out into all that land. 

Who Gives Life?

As a Christian teen, how do you respond to the miracles of Christ? Have you considered that the miracles He performed over 2000 years ago have a direct affect on your life today? Our devotional today from Matthew 9, is a perfect example of this.

How was Jesus able to raise this girl from the dead? What miraculous power did He possess so that even the chains of death could not prevail over Him? Seeing Jesus standing there before them, the people could not see beyond His humanity to realize that He was not just a human, but rather, He was the God Man. It was He would created the heavens and the earth, and it is He of whom Isaiah 44 speaks.
 2  Thus says the LORD who made you  
      And formed you from the womb, who will help you:

      ‘ Fear not, O Jacob My servant;
      And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
       (Isaiah 44:2New King James Version)    

24  Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer,  
      And He who formed you from the womb:

      “ I am the LORD, who makes all things,
      Who stretches out the heavens all alone,
      Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;
Could it be that we, as teens, have the same problem today? Could it be that we see Jesus as a great man who once walked upon this earth instead of God incarnate--very God and very man!

This Jesus, who lived and died on this earth over 2000 years ago, is alive today, sitting at the right hand of God the Father. He was resurrected in the presence of His disciples, and is very much alive today, interceding for His people--interceding for you, as a Christian teen!

This same Jesus, who raised this ruler's daughter from the dead continues to work on behalf of His people. Do we, as Christian teens, live as though we believe and understand this, or are we so consumed by the worries of life that we can hardly walk through each day without a great deal of doubt and discouragement? Are we so drawn to the daily events of life, that we hardly reserve even a thought for God?

It is time that we, as the people of God, live this life we profess to have. It is time that we take up the mantle that God has placed upon us and go forth in His strength and power. Can we do it in and of ourselves? No! But, the cross that God has placed upon our lives is easy to bear in the strength and power of the Lord Jesus who willingly bears it for us! 

Isaiah continues the narrative begun in chapter 44 with these words of encouragement in chapter 45:
 11  Thus says the LORD,  
      The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker:

      “ Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons;
      And concerning the work of My hands, you command Me.
       12  I have made the earth,  
      And created man on it.
      I—My hands—stretched out the heavens,
      And all their host I have commanded.
This is the Lord God that we serve! He made the earth, and created man on it. His hands stretched out the heavens, and all their host is under His command. Cannot this same God, then, direct and order the events of our life? Yes! He can, and He does. Not only does He order them, but He has a specific plan for each one of us!

Let us go forth boldly, knowing that God created us specifically to do a work He has ordained for us to do. He created us, and He will equip us to do that work. Let us not buy into the foolish notions of this world, believing that we, in our own strength, can order our lives. Yes, we need to educate and train our minds and bodies, but we do so knowing that we are honing the skills God created in us. It is these very skills that we need to train so that our lives may be lived for His honor and glory. That is why we are here!

The 21st century worldview is man-centered. Man is at the center of his universe and controls and orders his own life. That, however, is a foolish lie of Satan. Let us, as the Christian teens, rise up and serve our Creator. He who created this world and all of the starry host, is the only One who can order and maintain our lives according to His perfect will.

Who gives life? God! Who maintains and controls the affairs of this world? God. For a time, Satan has been allowed to create great havoc on this earth, but that time is short-lived. Whose servant will you be? Will you be the servant of Satan or the servant of God? The day will come when God will destroy sin and evil forever, and reign in perfect righteousness and holiness. 

May God hasten the day!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Faith of Faith!


 20And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
 21For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
 22But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. 

Faith of Faith!

As a Christian teen, how would you measure your faith? How much confidence do you have in the Lord Jesus Christ as you walk through the daily events of life? We are given an example, in Matthew 9, of a woman who showed an extraordinary amount of faith.

It was certainly a remarkable time! Jesus walked on earth, and though the religious leaders of the day rejected Him, the common people had no such difficulty. Our passage today from Matthew 9, tells of the incident involving a woman who was diseased with an issue of blood for twelve years. Seeing Jesus, she came up behind Him and touched the hem of His garment.

We are told that she thought within herself, "If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole."

Just as an aside, how do we know what this woman thought? Certainly Matthew, the writer of this Gospel did not know her thoughts, but Christ did! Even her thoughts, as known by Him, are recorded for us in this 9th chapter of Matthew. As teens, do we think about the Lord Jesus Christ even knowing our thoughts? What changes might that make in our lives? What change did it make in the life of this woman?

Having no doubt, she did touch the hem of His garment and was, indeed, made whole. Immediately, Jesus knew what happened, and said to her, "Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole."

What measure of faith do we, as Christian teens, have? Would we, like this woman, have been confident that to just touch the hem of His garment was all that was needed? How confidently do we face the daily circumstances of life? Do we walk about in fear that evil times will fall upon us, or do we rest confidently in the guiding and supporting hand of the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we concerned more about what our peers think than what God thinks of us?

These are important questions for us to consider. As believers, faith and trust are virtues that should be commonplace in our lives. Even in the difficulties of life, we should rest in God's kind and supporting hand, knowing that even in the hard times, He is working great peace and joy into our hearts and lives. Of course, that is a foreign way of thinking for most of us, but what a change it makes in our lives when we actually begin to walk in faith!

Interestingly enough, it is our very knowledge and understanding of the things of this world that often get in our way. We tend to trust so completely in the knowledge of mankind, that we often forget that God, who established all of the laws of nature, is not bound by those same laws as we are! Just has Jesus healed this woman, so can God reach down and still the angry waves of misfortune that may fall upon us.

Can God work miracles among the sick today? Yes! It is not wrong, when sick, to pray for God's healing mercies upon us. Of course, we understand that He often does not extend those healing mercies. Why is that? We rest confidently in Him knowing that all things that come into our lives work together for good, as we are reminded in Romans 8.
 28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28King James Version)
Is this just a mere platitude that we offer up when we do not understand why we are suddenly thrust into the middle of some great difficulty? No! It is truly with confidence and joy that we, as children of God, understand that He does, indeed, guide and support us. By His loving hand of grace, He walks with us all of the days of our life on this earth, and will also hold our hand when we are ushered into the eternal gates of heaven to live with Him forever!

Now that is truly faith of faith! Go, then, as Christian teens, and walk in faith!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Form of Godliness


 14Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
 15And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. 

Form of Godliness

How do you, as a Christian teen, appear to others? Do they see you as someone quietly and faithfully serving God, or do they see you as a bold, obnoxious person, arrogant in the knowledge that you are righteous before God?

Matthew 9 continues with an interesting discussion between Jesus and His disciples. The Pharisees, ever the adversaries of Christ, came with new accusations. "Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?"

In other words, they were saying, "Look how Godly we are--we spend great amounts of time in prayer and fasting. Why do your disciples not fast?" Paul, in his second letter to Timothy wrote, 
 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:5King James Version)

Such is an apt description of the Pharisees. They certainly had the appearance of godliness, and were the first to tell everyone, but in their heart of hearts, they were far from the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, they had a form of godliness, but they denied the power of Christ. The admonition from Paul is that we turn away from such arguments, for there are always those enemies of Christ who love nothing better than contention.

In the end, as Christian teens, it is not our bold words, but our gentle and quiet spirit, shown in our faithful service for Christ, that will have the most effect on unbelievers!

In spite of the nature of the Pharisees' reproofs, Jesus responded in defense of His disciples by asking the question, "Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them?" In other words, fasting is reserved for the grievous times of life when in great agony of spirit we pour out our concerns to God. Yet, this was not such a time! The Lord Jesus, their Bridegroom, was still with them. Rather than a time of grief, it was a time of great joy.

Things, of course, would change. That time of great grief would come when the Lord would pour out His very life for His people. The disciples, after Christ returned to heaven, spent many hours in prayer and fasting--seeking the wisdom and guidance of God. With great difficulty, they took up the banner of Christ, as the early church struggled for its very survival.

Yet God, was faithful to them, as we see from the results today. By the grace of God, He has kept a faithful remnant even into our 21st century.

What is the great lesson to be learned from this passage? As Christian teens, we must be careful that we do not let the criticism of the world--and even the criticism of fellow Christian teens--keep us from faithfully trusting and serving God. By His grace, let us take up the mantle of service He has bestowed upon us, and faithfully spend our lives for His honor and glory.

We are, in many ways, a sorry lot. Consumed with our own struggles with sin, it is easy to give in to the temptation to put forth a showy, glitzy appearance before the world. However, it is not our great showy declarations that will bring glory to God, but rather those times when, in our own secret prayer closets, we pour out our confessions of sin and prayer for God's help. As we bare our hearts before God, seeking His help, we will bring the most glory to His name.

In other words, it is not how we appear to others that makes us great in the eyes of God. It is how we appear to God--in those times of quiet prayer to Him--that really matters. It is not the face of the world that we must please, but the face of God! 

May it not be said of us that we have a form of godliness, but deny the very power of God. Our power does not rest in us, or in the actions we perform, but rather, our power rests in Christ alone! He is our King, He is our Savior, He is our strength and our guide, and by His grace and glory we will bring honor and glory to God!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, August 26, 2013

Whole or Sick?


 10And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
 11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
 12But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 

Whole or Sick

As teens today, are you whole or sick? Actually, this is not a question about your state of physical health, but actually a question about the state of your spiritual health.

As Jesus sat at the table to eat at the house of Matthew, the tax collector, with many of Matthew's friends (also tax collectors), the Pharisees were horrified. They asked Jesus' disciples, "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?"

Hearing them, Jesus replied, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." Has anything changed? Here we are in the 21st century and we find that, still, our world is filled with the whole and the sick--spiritually sick, that is! The question we must ask is, "Which am I? Am I whole or sick?"

What did Jesus mean by this saying? During Jesus time, the Jewish religious leaders were, by and large, indignant toward Jesus. They, who viewed themselves as whole had no need of a Savior. They were already quite righteous enough--or at least that is the manner in which they viewed themselves. The list of righteous deeds they performed was seemingly endless. 

In this, the 21st century, are we really so much different? As teens today, we do not really think of ourselves as bad people, do we? 

What of the world in which we live? Do teens today need a Savior--do they view themselves as sinners? Sadly, in this, the 21st century, the rush is to redefine sin--or to get rid of it completely. After all, we live in the "I'm OK, you're OK" world. What may be wrong for you, may actually be right for me, for everything is relative. When viewing ourselves, we actually like what we see, so where is the need for being saved. Saved from what? How different is that from the attitude of the Pharisees? It is no different at all.

But, what of the publicans and sinners of Jesus' day? These people had no trouble seeing themselves as sinners. Knowing that they fell far short of the perfection of God, Jesus' words were a balm to their soul. Yes, they knew that they were sick, and in need of saving.

So, here we are in the 21st century, still looking for those who understand that they are sick. Truthfully, every man, woman, and child is sick and in need of saving. The words of Christ are just as relevant to us today. As we see our hopeless condition before a holy and righteous God, we see our need of a Savior.

That really is the difference, is it not? It is not how we, as a teen, compare to other teens, but rather, how do we, as a teen, compare to a holy and righteous God. Can we actually look Him in the face as an equal? Not hardly! That is exactly why God sent His only Son, the Lord Jesus, to this earth!

Jesus, the Son of God, was born of a virgin, suffered, died, was buried, and resurrected. Why? So that He might save a people for Himself! The good news today is that all those who are sick, and understand that before God they are actually dead, can go to Christ, for He has paid the debt of their sin. He came to this earth to save a people for Himself. Until the Lord Jesus Christ returns again, that door of salvation is still open, but it will not remain so forever. 

So, the real question each of us, as teens, needs to ask ourselves is this: are we whole or sick?

Come to Christ today, while His arms are open to His children!

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Follow Me!


 9And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 

Follow Me!

How do you as a Christian teen, view your relationship with Christ? Is He your personal Friend and Guide, or are you just content in the knowledge that you will go to Heaven someday when you die? What happened to Matthew when Christ appeared to him?

Matthew, the tax collector, was sitting at a table--just another day at the office, so to speak--when Jesus walked by. Looking at Matthew, Jesus said, "Follow me." That is it! Nothing overtly profound, but just two words--a simple command. How did Matthew respond? "And he arose, and followed him."

There is no note of a question, or any excuses offered; Matthew just responded simply by following Jesus. In actuality, this is exactly how the Lord Jesus Christ comes to us today, in this the 21st century. The simple command is still in effect: "Follow me." How do we respond? As a teen, is it enough to know that we are saved, or is there more to our Christian life?

Most, in today's world, simply ignore the command of Christ. It is of no more importance to them than if a child would say to them, as the adult, "Come and play." Why is there so little response to the words of Christ? Among your peers, you notice that most really do not care one way or another, whether you are a Christian or not. It is sort of the "I'm OK, you're OK" attitude of this world.

Sadly, most people, including teens, never even hear or read the command of Christ. At a time when there are more Bibles available than ever before, they are read less. Even in "Christian" America, most people are Biblically illiterate. Even among confessing Christian teens, the Bible is seldom read. Due to busy lifestyles and the tantalizing temptation of television, many do not read anything--not even books or newspapers, much less the Bible, except what is required reading in their studies at school.

Many others hear the call of Christ, but choose to go their own way. They do not want to be bothered with the narrow views of the Bible when they live in such an open society where many former taboos are now openly accepted. Satan has truly been busy and effective, has he not? The cares of this world have stolen the hearts of the people! That is probably more evident among teens than any other class of people in the world today, is it not?

There is another group of people who, tragically, do not understand that the command of Christ is aimed specifically at them. Many confessing Christians today believe that the command to follow Christ is optional. Once they have "made the decision" to follow Christ, they are home free. Salvation is now theirs. They view the command to follow Christ as an option for those select few who are more spiritually minded. Is that true? No!

However, the command to follow Christ is for all believers, and it is not optional. As a matter of fact, if one believes that being a Christian is just simply a matter of making a decision to accept Christ as their Savior, but then feels no further desire to be obedient to Him, that person should be forewarned that their very salvation lies in jeopardy. 

Following Christ is not just a simple, one-time decision. Rather, following Christ is a complete change of heart and life. Becoming a Christian teen, means that all the sinful things of this world begin to lose their shine and luster. As one grows in the knowledge and understanding of Christ, the things of this world just seem empty and vain. Often, it even means a complete change of friends, for your old friends do not find you to be fun, any longer.

Such was the case for Matthew, himself. Never again was his life the same. Though we know little about his life after Christ died and was resurrected, yet we know he continued to minister to the early church. As a matter of fact, the first book of the New Testament is an account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as written by Matthew.

That is exactly the experience ever true believer should have. Though we still wrestle with sin in our lives all the days we are on this earth, yet we should expect a gradual sanctification or growing in our relationship to Christ. Our love for God and for the Lord should continue to grow and mature, so that we love the things of God more and more, and the things of the world less and less. 

If you, as a Christian teen, do not see that happening in your own life, what should you do? There are several things that you as a Christian should do. First, and foremost, read you Bibles and pray--ever day! Second, seek Godly Christian friends. Even one close, Godly, friend can make all the difference in your life. Each of you can encourage one another to remain faithful to the Lord. You may want to even study the Bible together!

What a wonderful blessing God has given to His people. As Christ continues to call, "Follow me," go this day and follow Him. May you find in Him the pearl of great price, your Savior, your guide, your strength, and your blessing, all of the days of your life on this earth. And, may you then be ushered into His great and glorious kingdom, forever and ever!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lesson Failed?


 1And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.
 2And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
 3And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.
 4And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
 5For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
 6But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
 7And he arose, and departed to his house.
 8But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men. 

Lesson Failed?

What an appropriate lesson for today. In my city, this is the week that the children have gone back to school. Gone are the carefree days of summer, replaced by studying and those infamous tests. Jesus gave a test, in our lesson today, to the scribes and to the multitudes standing nearby. Was it a lesson passed or a lesson failed?

As Christian teens, think about that when you consider this devotion from Matthew 9 in our, "Words of Christ" series. Jesus gives us some interesting insight into the purpose of the healing of a man who was sick of the palsy. Was it a lesson failed by those who were present, or did they pass the lesson Jesus was trying to teach to them?

By and large, they all failed! First of all, Jesus began this "healing" by saying to the sick man, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee." Does this mean that the man was sick because he had sinned? No! Later, in verse 6, Jesus explained, "But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins." In other words, Jesus used this occasion of the healing of the man sick with palsy to demonstrate to those present that He was not just a man, like them, but He was the God Man who, indeed, had the power to forgive sins! In other words, Jesus was not just healing the physical infirmities of this man, but, rather, He was also healing the far greater spiritual infirmities of this man as well!

As an aside, it is important that we, as Christian teens, understand that not all bad things that happen to us happen because of our sin. It is not that we do not sin, for unfortunately we will struggle with our own sins all of our days upon this earth. However, often Jesus allows bad things to come into our lives and into the lives of others so that He might show Himself powerful on their behalf. When the difficulties come, and we see Him working for us, our faith grows. We begin to understand that it is really true, He is always with us--24/7!

Did the scribes who witnessed this event understand what Jesus was saying? Yes! They knew that He was claiming to be God! Did it change their attitudes toward Him? No! How do we know this? In verse 4, Jesus said, "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?" Jesus was demonstrating His power, as the Son of God, to understand their thoughts. Though they said nothing, he knew the evil that existed in their hearts.

As Christian teens, we can hide our true thoughts from most people, but we can never hide our thoughts or our actions from Christ. If we seek to live our lives in a manner pleasing to Christ, then we never have to worry about what others think about us. In comparison, what others think of us is irrelevant!

Did the multitudes understand what Jesus was saying and doing? No! Verse 8 says, "But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men." What is wrong with that statement? They were amazed that God had given such power to a mere man, but Jesus was not just a mere man. Many of these hopefully came to a greater understanding of Jesus later, realizing that He was not just a man, but was their true Messiah, the Son of God.

What of us today in this the 21st century? As we read verses such as these from the book of Matthew, how do we respond? Who is this Christ to us? Do we view Him as a great prophet who did great things and then died as do all men, or do we view Him as Jesus, the Son of God, and the Son of Man who died, was buried, and later resurrected, and now sits at the right hand of God, interceding for His children? Do we understand that the Bible has recorded these events so that we, too, might come to know Jesus as our own personal Lord and Savior? 

Do we also catch the nuances from this passage and understand that, even today, Jesus, the Son of God sees and knows us: our thoughts, our words, and our deeds? Just as He knew the thoughts of the scribes, so He knows what is in our heart of hearts. As professing Christian teens, Jesus knows us as no mere man can! 

May we seek to live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God, and pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ. It matters little what others think of us, but what God thinks of us is critical! He makes no mistakes, for He knows our hearts even better than we ourselves do! We can even convince ourselves that we are a good and just person, but God sees the bare truth!

What are we to do? Salvation is through none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Knowing our own inability to save ourselves, or to live a life truly pleasing to God, we must cast ourselves upon the Lord Jesus. He, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will not only lift us up, and save us, but He will give us the ability to live a life that is pleasing to Him. It is good if we understand that, like this man who was sick with palsy, we cannot heal ourselves. But, also, like this man who was sick, Jesus can forgive our sins, so that we can come before God through the righteous blood of Christ.

So, my question today is this: how do we stand before the Lord in this passage from Matthew 9? Is it a lesson failed, or is it a lesson passed--passed through faith in Christ. 

May God give you the strength, as a Christian teen, to live this day, and all future days to His honor and glory alone! That is all that matters! Christ is all!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Go!


 28And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
 29And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
 30And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.
 31So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.
 32And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. 

Go!

On of the primary purposes for this entire series of devotions is to get us to take a close look at the words of Christ. As a Christian teen, how seriously do you take His words? How much is your daily life affected by the words of Christ as recorded in our Bibles. Today's devotion just deals with one word--the word "go." One simple word by Christ was spoken, and what an amazing result was achieved!

In these verses, we find Jesus in the country of the Gergesenes, where he met two persons possessed with devils, so fierce, that no one could pass by that way.

Notice that even before Jesus uttered one word, the devils cried out to Him: "What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" There are two amazing lessons to gain from their words. 

In our day, so few people really understand and acknowledge who Jesus was and is, and yet the devils did not have that problem. Though servants of Satan, they understood their Adversary!

First, devils knew who Jesus was; they understood that He was not just a man, but rather, He was the Son of God. That begs the question, is it enough for us to know that Jesus is God? Does acknowledging Jesus' divinity make us believers in Christ - or Christian teens? No! It is not uncommon for non-believers to deny the divinity of Christ, however, even if they acknowledge that He was and is truly God, that does not make them a Christian. Coming to Christ, rather, involves our falling before Christ, confessing our sin, and crying out to Him to save us. Unless we fall before Him as our dear Lord and Savior, resting upon the work He completed for us by His death on the cross, there is no salvation!

Second, Jesus just spoke one word: "Go!" and the devils immediately obeyed Him by coming out of the men and going into a herd of swine. How foolish we are that we, even as professing Christian teens, often do not take the words of Christ more seriously. We should be "sitting on the edge of our seats" as it were, at the very words of Christ, ready to cast away all thoughts of ourselves so that we may serve Him with all of our hearts, all of our souls, and all of our minds. 

Just what did the devils mean by saying, "Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" Again, the devils show that they definitely know what is coming. They know that their time on this earth is limited. At the end of the age, all will be made right, meaning that all of Satan's angels, and all of the demons will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity. 

How sad that so many people are running through the events of this life as though in a dream. Sacrificing everything for this shallow world which is gripped by sin, they are facing an eternity of condemnation. As you look at the teens of this world around you, does your life resemble theirs, or are you, as a Christian teen, truly different? Are your desires and goal for you life set in the things of this world, or are you looking to Jesus to guide you and show you the way you should go?

It is truly sad that so many professing Christians are attempting to straddle the great gulf between Christ and the world. It will not work. They are the very ones who may very well hear those tragic words of Christ, at the end of the age: "Depart from me, for I never knew you!" Let that never be us!

As Christian teens, let us lift our eyes and hearts to heaven, leaving behind all of the influences of this world, and cast ourselves upon our dear Lord and Savior. Let us spend our lives in service of our great God and King! That is why we are here! As the song says, may we live so much for the Lord that we can say, "And the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."

As Christian teens, go, and turn your eyes upon Jesus. Here are those precious words by the hymn writer, Helen Lemmel, written in 1922:

  1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
    No light in the darkness you see?
    There’s light for a look at the Savior,
    And life more abundant and free!
    • Refrain:
      Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
      Look full in His wonderful face,
      And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
      In the light of His glory and grace.
  2. Through death into life everlasting
    He passed, and we follow Him there;
    O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
    For more than conqu’rors we are!
  3. His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
    Believe Him, and all will be well:
    Then go to a world that is dying,
    His perfect salvation to tell!


God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fear!


 23And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
 24And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
 25And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
 26And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
 27But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

Why Are You Fearful?

As a teen, this devotion is harder to embrace, due to the lack of years you have spent on this earth. That is not a bad thing, but it is my prayer that these words will help give you a greater depth of understanding of this great and wondrous Savior we love and serve!

There is so much to gain from these few short verses in Matthew 8, but two things in particular seem to stand out. First of all, the incredulity of Jesus at the disciples' lack of faith, and second the reaction of the disciples when they discovered that even the winds and the sea obeyed the Lord.

Do we not do the very same thing? How many times are we consumed by worry or fear, yet we know and love the Lord Jesus Christ? Do we not understand this God we serve? Indeed, we certainly do not understand Him, do we? 

The real question, then, is: what do we do when we find ourselves lacking faith? One must never underestimate the importance of older saints of God. As teens, do not neglect the opportunities God gives you to get to know the older saints who can become your spiritual Grandparents, so to speak!

One of the great blessings of becoming an older believer is the ability to look back over one's life at all of those times of great worry and fear and see the amazing way in which has God provided for you, kept you through the difficult times, and brought sunshine back into your life. Does that mean that older believers no longer worry? Oh how I wish I could say, "Yes!" Perhaps I can say, maybe they worry a little less, for God in His grace, grows our faith through the difficult days.

It is not always easy, in the middle of the storm, when the waves are crashing against our ship of life to remember that God will sustain us. However when He does, and when one begins to walk through those same storms of life in peace, how sweet and wondrous is our fellowship with the Lord. 

Truly, the years that God patiently teaches us to trust faithfully in Him are a great blessing. In the end, we find we learn much more through the storms of life than we do through the peaceful, sunshiny days.

Even more amazing in this passage is the reaction of the disciples to the words of Christ. Truthfully, it was really not until after the death and resurrection of Christ that the disciples began to understand who this Christ really was. During the days of His ministry, when He walked among them, they were just beginning to understand the power and might of this wondrous Lord. They had not yet come to fully understand that this same Jesus, the God Man, was the Creator God who spoke the world into existence. No wonder the winds and waves obeyed His words!

Mary Baker, in 1874, captured the essence of this Bible passage in her beautiful poem, entitled "Master the Tempest is Raging," that was later set to music.

  1. Master, the tempest is raging!
    The billows are tossing high!
    The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
    No shelter or help is nigh;
    Carest Thou not that we perish?
    How canst Thou lie asleep,
    When each moment so madly is threat’ning
    A grave in the angry deep?
    • Refrain:
      The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
      Peace, be still!
      Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
      Or demons or men, or whatever it be,
      No waters can swallow the ship where lies
      The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
      They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
      Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
      They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
      Peace, peace, be still!
  2. Master, with anguish of spirit
    I bow in my grief today;
    The depths of my sad heart are troubled—
    Oh, waken and save, I pray!
    Torrents of sin and of anguish
    Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
    And I perish! I perish! dear Master—
    Oh, hasten, and take control.
  3. Master, the terror is over,
    The elements sweetly rest;
    Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
    And heaven’s within my breast;
    Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
    Leave me alone no more;
    And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
    And rest on the blissful shore.

Go, then, dear Christian teen, walk in the joy and peace of the Lord, looking forward to the day when we will truly "rest on the blissful shore." That day may seem a long way away at this time, but truthfully, our lives on this earth are just a breathe compared to the eternity we will spend with Christ!

How poignant these words seem in light of the fact that one of my dearest Christian friends just entered that blissful shore last night. Your sweet words and vibrant faith will be dearly missed, Debbie Schafer!

God Bless You,
Linda

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Excuses!


 18Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
 19And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 
 20And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
 21And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
 22But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. 

Excuses!

Our devotion today deals with two men who seemed to be ready to follow Christ, but instead had excuses for why this was just not the right time. Do we, as Christian teens, have the tendency to do the same thing when viewing our own lives before Christ? Are we ready to follow Him someday, but not quite yet?

Approached by two different people, a scribe and one described as "another of his disciples," Jesus responded rather tersely. The first man, a scribe, said, "Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest." How did Jesus respond to this man?
The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
That seems to be a rather unusual response, however, we must remember that the Lord Jesus looked right into the man's heart when He gave this response. In other words, He saw something there that was not quite right. Why did this man want to follow Christ? Perhaps we should ask, "Why do we want to follow Christ?"

Because Jesus' answer dealt with His lack of a great home or estate, it would seem that this scribe had more ambitions than that of following Christ as His servant. Perhaps he was overly impressed by the popularity of Jesus, or perhaps he thought that by following Jesus he would reap great fame or fortune.

The second man, described as "another disciple" said, in essence, "I want to follow you, but first I have to go and bury my father." Again, Jesus looked straight into this man's heart before responding,
"Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead." 
In other words, something was amiss in this man's heart. Instead of willing obedience, he just had excuses!

What was missing in the responses of these two men? Is there an appropriate reason for following Christ? The excuses given by these two men showed that they were both focused on the things of this earth. Can that be a difficulty for us today? Absolutely!

Christ does not need our ambition, our intelligence, or our fortunes, and He does not need followers who are "Christians" simply because of what they hope to gain by following Christ. What was the Lord Jesus looking for in these men, and consequently what does He look for in His followers today?
 19We love him, because he first loved us.
 20If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 John 4:19-20King James Version)
Love! When Christ looks into our heart of hearts, what does He see? As Christian teens, we must fall before Christ in loving repentance. As we see the magnitude of our own sins, and then see those sins absolved by the blood of Christ, we must fall before Him in love, ready to do whatever He asks of us.

It is time that we, as true followers of Christ, take a giant step back from this world. This world is not our home! As Christian teens, let us turn our hearts and our lives completely to Him, ready to do the work to which He has called each of us. Let us spend our lives seeking to honor and glorify God, the Father, turning away from all of the pleasures of this world that will soon pass away.
 15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15King James Version)
Go, in the strength and power of the Lord, and serve Him today - with no excuses!

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, August 17, 2013

So Great Faith!


 5And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
 6And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
 7And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
 8The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
 9For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
 10When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
 11And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
 12But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
 13And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. 

So Great Faith!

As a Christian teen, how would you rate your faith? Perhaps the better question would be, how would the Lord Jesus Christ rate your faith? In our Bible passage today from Matthew 8, Jesus was quite impressed with the faith of a Roman centurion.

Why was Jesus so astounded at the great faith of the centurion? We must realize that, at this time, Jesus had been ministering to the Jewish people. Many responded to Jesus' teachings, but the religious leaders were totally indignant that He would actually suggest that they were sinners who needed salvation. Yet here was a Roman citizen--a commander of a Roman army--who, without even coming to see Jesus, himself, showed a greater amount of faith than that evidenced by most of the Jewish people.

Responding to the Roman centurion's faith, Jesus said, "Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness."

Think about what Jesus was saying. Even today, where do we see evidence of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it with the Jewish people, or is it with Gentiles? While there is a movement of Jewish people coming to faith, it is, at this time, a small movement. Most people of Jewish descent remain unbelievers in Jesus as their Messiah.

What about those of us who are Christian teens, but are not of Jewish descent? We are the very people Jesus referred to who would come from the east and west. We are the ones who will, when we reach heaven, sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Can you imagine what a time we will have? Not only will we sit down with the great Patriarchs of old, but we will also sit down with Peter, Andrew, Paul, Phillip, John, and the other disciples. But, it does not end there, does it?

We will also sit down with the great reformers throughout the ages who were martyred for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, some of us who live today will be called by God to be martyred for our faith. May God grant us the strength and power to remain steadfast in Him!

As a teen, you probably do not think a lot about what it will be like when we get to heaven. Yet, if you have lost some friends or loved ones who were believers, you certainly understand the longing to see them again--to sit down at leisure and have a conversation with them.

Sadly, the Jewish children of the kingdom, who reject Christ, will never sit down at the feet of Abraham, but will be cast into outer darkness, and remain there forever! Though they consider themselves to be children of Abraham, they will never have the privilege to sit down and speak with him!

Two verses from Proverbs 21 seem to be especially appropriate to the message of Christ given here in Matthew 8.
16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD. (King James Version)
Our salvation does not depend upon our nationality, and it is not guaranteed because we live in a "Christian" nation. Salvation is a gift of God, through the Lord Jesus Christ. Only those who trust in Christ, alone, for their salvation will be saved. All who come to faith, must come to faith in Christ!
 12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12King James Version)
Go, then, in the strength and power of the Lord. May we, as God's children, like the Roman centurion, exhibit "so great faith." May God grant you, as a teen, faithfulness to Him, and a long life of service for His honor and glory!

To God, alone, be the glory!

God Bless You,
Linda