Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Read Ephesians 6:1-4
I know what you're thinking..."did you have to pick this passage?" This command for children in Ephesians definitely ranks as one of the most unpopular passages in Scripture for teenagers. However, as much as we would sometimes like to sometimes, we don't have the "privilege" to pick and choose which biblical passages we'd like to follow and which ones we'd rather ignore.
In this section of Ephesians, Paul is describing the roles and responsibilities entailed in three different earthly relationships. He first discusses the different roles wives and husbands must play in a marriage. He follows this with a description of a child/parent relationship and lastly, a slave/master relationship. God has designed us to hold certain relationships, and He has a divine order for how these relationships should function--each person has a specific role to play. In the child/parent relationship, the roles of each party are apparent. The parents are entrusted to be the leaders in this relationship, while the children are to obey and honor them.
In verse 1, children are called to obey their parents "in the Lord." Obeying their parents is also an act of obedience to the Lord. If children are obeying their parents "in the Lord," this would also exclude them from doing something against God's law. For example, if their parents asked them to sell drugs, they should obviously refuse, because this is a sin.
Paul also states in verse 1 that "this is right." For children, obedience to their parents is God's will. It is the way he intends for parent/child relationships to work.
In the following verse, Paul reminds them that "Honor your Father and Mother," is one of the 10 commandments. The fact that honoring parents is put on a short list with commands such as "do not murder," shows that it's pretty significant! Our culture may not take this command seriously, but God certainly does! Paul talks about this being the "first commandment," which probably means that it is primary for children--it is the one that they should be the most concerned about. What does honoring your parents include? Well, it starts with showing them respect. When you talk to your parents, do you roll your eyes, use sarcasm, or drown them out? I remember hearing the way some of my friends would talk to their parents on the phone, and I couldn't believe they got away with it! They would talk back to them and contradict them; they would interrupt them and yell at them. Do you treat your parents with disrespect? Or are you following God's command to honor them, even when you're feeling annoyed or impatient?
In verse 3, Paul states the benefits of following God's command to be obedient. There will be blessings involved for those who are obedient. God gave children parents in order to protect them, and if children submit to their parents and follow what they say, it will pay off. For example, you may complain about your curfew and not know why you aren't allowed to stay out until 2 am. If it were up to you, you'd stay out into the wee hours of the morning with your friends. However, your parents are probably not OK with this. They want you home by midnight. This may seem unjust, but your parents are protecting you from harm. They know about the horrible things that happen late at night, and they know that letting you stay out after a certain time puts you in a lot of danger. God gave them to you to protect you and to help you lead a more balanced and healthy life. Just think of the trouble children would be in if they had no parents! Many of them wouldn't live to hit puberty! Like it or not, you desperately need your parents, and they do know a lot more than you think.
Many of you may be thinking, "But God, you don't know my parents! They're impossible! How can I obey them?" Remember that no parent is perfect, and they all make mistakes. However, this doesn't change God's command for you. Despite how frustrated you may get with your parents, you are still called to obey and honor them. I know this seems like an impossible task for many of you, but you can do it with the Lord's help. He can supply you with the patience that you need. Pray right now that God would change your heart toward your parents. Ask for his forgiveness for all of the times you've disrespected them and disobeyed them, for in doing this you were also disobeying God. Pray that the Lord would give you patience and equip you with the strength that you need to follow His commands.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I remember in high school, sitting in class on Monday morning and listening to everyone share their stories from the weekend. They would rave about how great the parties were and how much fun they had, and this would all usually end in the comment, "man, you're missing out Amy," or "you should have been there." I would respond by shrugging it off and replying that partying wasn't my idea of fun, and that I had plenty of fun on my weekends without any of that stuff. Honestly, I didn't want to be like them, because I knew God called me to be different. However, every so often, a thought would enter my head such as, "what if they're right? what if I am missing out?" Going home at 9:00 while the rest of your friends went to a cool party at a cute guy's house happened all too often and started to feel a bit old. But, determined to follow the Lord and not displease Him, I turned down the parties and kept my weekends G-rated. Do you ever feel like you're missing all the fun? I mean, you're only young once, so you might as well live it up, right?
Well, I would assure you that you're not missing out, but don't take my word for it. Instead, listen to King Solomon's words in Ecclesiastes 2. King Solomon had everything--wealth, fame, wisdom, royalty, and every possession he could possibly desire. If Solomon lived in modern-day, he would be the type of person to star in a reality series, because his rich and famous lifestyle is exactly the kind of life other people are fascinated with and envious of. In this chapter, he describes everything that he accomplished--he built houses, vineyards, gardens, parks, and ponds (vs. 4-6). When this got old, he moved on to possessions--he obtained slaves, the largest flocks and herds, gold and silver, treasures, and absolutely anything and everything he desired to own (vs. 7-8, 10). Solomon also had plenty of women for his pleasure; he mentions concubines in vs.8, and we know he had about 300 of these in addition to his 700 wives. However, none of this satisfies Solomon. In fact, he attests to the fact that all of this pleasure and materialism and ambition is nothing but futility (vs.1). Webster defines the word futile as, "serving no useful purpose: completely ineffective."
Solomon next talks about wisdom, which he possesses in abundance. He may be wise, but he shares the same fate as the foolosh man, so what's the point (vs. 14-15)? Solomon had lived an ambitious life and had worked hard for his many accomplishments, but in the end realizes they are meaningless. All of the riches he has accumulated will be inherited after his death and will profit him nothing. He realizes that he has spent his whole life "chasing after the wind" (17). This metaphor clearly shows what he has spent his life pursuing--absolutely nothing! Everything he worked to hard for proved to be meaningless and bring him no satisfaction. In the end he realizes that the only true enjoyment and satisfaction come from the Lord (vs. 25).
If anyone knows what it's like to be at the top, it's Solomon. I love this passage, because Solomon reassures those of us who are wondering if we're missing out on all the fun in life (by rejecting our materialistic, pleasure-seeking culture), that the rich and famous life isn't all it's cracked up to be. Only God can bring fulfillment and fill that void in our lives; when we chase after other things, we're just chasing after the wind. Solomon isn't the only one to experience everything there is to experience in this world and come back feeling empty. We see this all the time in Hollywood, when stars' lives spiral out of control as they seek one high after the next, only to end in rehab, addiction, jail, or death. They sadly never find what they're looking for, because they're looking toward the world to satisfy. Consider this quote from Transformers star Shia LaBeouf, who said:
"Sometimes I feel I’m living a meaningless life, and I get frightened."
"I know I’m one of the luckiest dudes in America right now. I have a great house. My parents don’t have to work. I’ve got money. I’m famous. But it could all change, man. It could go away. You never know.”
I hope you're encouraged by this passage of Scripture. If you are a believer, you are serving the only One who brings fulfillment, joy, hope, and peace. The next time you start to envy the wealthy high schoolers on "Laguna Beach," or hear your classmates boast of all the fun they're having without you, think of King Solomon. What this world offers is meaningless, and no, you're not missing out!
You can read the entire article on Shia LaBeouf at:
Monday, September 28, 2009
I love the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. It is so amazing to see how God's sovereign hand was with him every step of the way through all of his horrible trials and tribulations. As we read the story of Joseph today, we can see that God had a plan all along and was leading him to a place of honor, power, and significance in Egypt. To us modern-day readers who know the glorious end of the story, Joseph's slavery, imprisonment, and separation from his home and family don't seem so bad. After all, those hard times would eventually cease and he would be ruling Egypt before too long. I can't help but wonder what Joseph was thinking as he went through trial after trial in his life. Surely he couldn't foresee where this journey would take him. For all he knew, he could be imprisoned for life, or even killed, never to see his father or brother Benjamin again. It seems that if many of us had gone through the things Joseph had, we would feel forgotten by God and give up on Him. Though Joesph had every reason to give up on God, that's certainly not what he did.
This story in Genesis 39 is an amazing picture of Joseph's unswerving obedience to God, despite his circumstances. At this point in his life, Joesph is working as the head servant in Potiphar's house. Verse 3 states that God's hand of blessing was so evident in Joseph's life as a slave, that Potiphar noticed and promoted him to be his top servant. Things seemed to be looking up for Joseph, until Potiphar's wife made all of that change. She starts to make advances toward him, asking him repeatedly to come and sleep with her. It is hard enough to say no to temptation the first time it hits you, but repeated attacks are much harder to resist. Joseph didn't take any chances, but refused to even be around her (vs. 10). When she grabbed his cloak the final time she asked him to sleep with her, he actually ran away from her, not even taking the time to grab his cloak on the way out. Joseph's response to temptation is a valuable lesson to all of us. He knew that he was weak enough to fall into this temptation, so he literally fled from it. He would have nothing to do with Potiphar's wife, because he was determined not to sin against God (vs. 9). If we had this attitude toward sin, we would be much more likely to resist temptation. Like Joseph, we should race away from temptation immediately, rather than even thinking it over first.
The amazing thing is, that after Joseph's display of obedience and faithfulness to purity, he is actually punished! He had held fast to his integrity and obeyed the Lord, and as a result, he was accused of attempted rape and put in prison. Oftentimes this seems to happen in life. You may have integrity in your schoolwork and barely pass, while your friend cheats on her assignments and makes straight A's. Where is the justice? Why does obedience seem to get punished, while the wicked prosper? While Joseph had reason to desert God at this point in his life, he certainly did not. While Joseph was in prison suffering for a humiliating crime he didn't commit, he found comfort in the fact that God was with him. He saw God working, even in this low point of his life, as God gave him favor with the prison warden and showed Joseph kindness (vs. 21, 23).
You may be striving to be obedient to the Lord, but don't see much benefit in doing so. You tell the truth and get in trouble with your parents, while your sibling lies and gets away with it. Why even bother? Joseph is a wonderful example of obeying God despite circumstances or outcomes. Whether our lives are going well, or we're barely getting by, we're called to be obedient. You may not see any reason for obeying, because your life seems to be getting worse whenever you do! Let me comfort you with Ecclesiastes 12:14, which states, "For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." God sees what you are doing, and you will be rewarded for your faithfulness (though this may not happen until you get to heaven). You may not see this now, but in the end, God will bring everything to light. He is just.
Girls, as you go about your day, remember that obedience pays off! Despite your circumstances and the outcome of your decisions, you are called to be obedient and to live lives of integrity. I encourage you to look to the story of Joseph as inspiration, and to "not grow weary in doing good, for in due time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up" (Gal. 6:9).
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Check out this incredible prayer by A.W. Tozer, and make it your prayer today!
"O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, 'Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.' Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Read Mark 9:14-29
In this story, a man brings his son to Jesus, asking Him to cast out the evil spirit who has possessed the boy. Apparently, the disciples had tried to cast out the demon and had been unsuccessful. Jesus' frustration is evident as He rebukes their unbelief and cries out in verse 19, "'How long shall I put up with you?'" His frustration with them is obviously warranted. Jesus had displayed His power through multiple miracles, yet He still faced (and continues to face today) unbelief by so many people. We later see Jesus explain to the disciples why they could not cast out the demons themselves. This miracle could only take place through faith in the Lord and dependence on Him through prayer (vs. 29).
The boy's father asks Jesus this question in verse 22: "'If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.'" Obviously the father's faith was not rock solid. The word "can" in his plea to Jesus reveals his lack of trust in God;he was hopeful, but not confident.
Jesus' response is powerful, as He replies in verse 23, "If you can? Everything is possible for him who believes." Jesus saw the lack of faith in the man's heart and exposed it, boldly proclaiming that God has no limits.
I absolutely love the father's response here and have pondered his words so many times. Verse 24 states, "Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'" Man, can I relate to that response! The father asserts that he does believe, but needs help to overcome the unbelief clouding his faith. Like the father in this story, I believe in God's power, and I know that He can do anything in the world. However, when I ask God for something big, I oftentimes don't really believe God will do it. How many times have I prayed for something to happen and am shocked when I see that prayer answered. My surprise at seeing God answer my prayer reveals my complete lack of faith. If I had faith, I would be expecting God to work rather than being shocked when He does.
I love the fact that the father asks Jesus for help in overcoming his own doubts. I have prayed this prayer so many times! Though we are called to have faith in Jesus, we need Him to help us do it! We are so prone to wander from the truth, to doubt, to forget all of God's faithfulness, and to fall into needless worry and despair.
Many Christians have grown up in church and have heard all of the stories of God's faithfulness, and they believe them to be true. But, when their faith is tested, they are so quick to doubt. This week, I encourage you to pray this prayer: "Help me overcome my unbelief!" Many of us are full of doubt and must cry out to our Lord to help us overcome it! I don't know about you, but I don't want to be called an "unbelieving generation," as the people in this story were!
What's new in Hollywood this week? Among other things, Jessica Simpson's dog was snatched up by a coyote. Having had the exact same thing happen to our family dog when we first moved to Tucson, AZ, I can empathize. It is a horrible thing to have happen to a beloved pet.
As can be expected, Jessica is extremely upset by this recent incident, because her dog was a big part of her life. One of her friends made these comments:
"Whenever things went wrong for Jessica, she reached for Daisy. Daisy was her security blanket. When people let her down, she always had Daisy."
"Jessica has a very small inner circle, but she always had Daisy. Daisy gave her unconditional love."
These comments make the whole story a lot more troubling. Jessica's dog was a lot more than just a pet; she actually looked to this dog to fill her need for unconditional love. It seems she has found, as many people have, that humans can't fill this need. Because humans are by nature imperfect, they cannot possibly love people perfectly. This may sound pessimistic, but it is the absolute truth. Every person, no matter how good their intentions may be, will let you down at some point, because they are fallen sinners. So, if humans can't fill that need, then what should we do? We have a desire to be loved unconditionally, and that won't go away. Are we reduced to looking to our pets for this type of divine love? How ridiculous and sad that people will turn to an animal for the kind of love they can't experience from their fellow mankind. I have news for those following this path... animals won't fill that need either (for obvious reasons).
You probably know where this is going. The truth is this: only the Lord can fill our need for unconditional love. He is perfect, He is faithful, He is trustworthy, and He is Love. Looking to anyone or anything else for love will just end in disappointment. It sounds simple, but it is a truth completely absent from the majority of people's lives.
Listen to what Paul says in Romans 8:38-39:
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."Talk about unconditional love! The Word of God promises us that nothing can separate us from His love. We can be secure in the fact that we are loved from now through eternity and that this will never change. What a blessing! So why are looking elsewhere for love??
Read the article here:
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Read Psalm 63:1-8
(*note--I won't be copying the text for you, because I want to encourage you to look the passage up in your own Bible. I think it's important to be familiar with your Bible, so you can know where passages are and mark verses that speak to you.)
Have you ever been famished? completely parched? This often strikes me when I go on a walk with a friend. I have been speed walking and fast talking with my friend for nearly an hour, and by the end of that time my mouth feels like I just swallowed cotton. The only thing on my mind is that I must get a drink of water…and fast. Sure that happens in a physical sense, but does it happen in a spiritual sense?
In this Psalm, David has an insatiable appetite for the living God; his hunger and thirst are for the Lord. As he is writing this Psalm, David is in the dry and weary wilderness. He is probably not hearing from God or feeling His presence, and consequently he is ravenous for the Lord.This thirst for God in the midst of a desert causes David to do a few things, and we can certainly learn from his godly example.
First, David asserts who God is. He starts out the chapter by stating first and foremost, “O God, You are my God” in verse 1. No matter what is going on in his life, God is still God. No matter what changing circumstances one experiences in life, God still reigns, and His character and person never change. He is the rock we can cling to during times of uncertainty, because we know He is the one thing that is still the same.
Second, David seeks after the Lord. Later in verse one David says, “I shall seek you earnestly.” David pursued God and sought Him with his whole being. David didn’t sit back and wait for intimacy with God; he chased after it. Jeremiah 29:13-14a says, “‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD.” Proverbs 8:17 states, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” If you seek God earnestly like David did, you will find Him! He desires intimacy with you!
Another thing David does is cling to the truth about God. He may not see God working in his life right at this moment, and he may not feel God’s presence. But that does not mean that God is not there. David remembers the times that he has seen God work in verses 2 and 7. He has seen God’s power and glory (vs. 2), and he has seen God help him (vs. 7). God is faithful. Like David, we too can look back at what God has done in Scripture and what God has done in our own lives. We cling to this truth rather than looking at our present wilderness experience and wondering if He is even there.
The next thing David does is praise God with joy and thanksgiving. He praises God in vs. 3, lifts up his hands to God in vs. 4, offers up praise with joyful lips in vs. 5, and sings for joy in vs. 7. In the midst of the wilderness, we are to worship God! Continue to lift up His name with joy and thanksgiving, because He is always deserving of praise, during all seasons of life.
This is such a comforting and uplifting Psalm of David. The mighty king who was described as “a man after God’s own heart” demonstrates what it looks like to truly thirst for the living God. David passionately sought after God, knowing that He is the only one who satisfies. Will you follow David’s example? Will you hunger for the Lord and spend your life in pursuit of Him?
Pray right now that the Lord will give you a thirst for Him, and praise Him for who He is and what He has done~
Sadly, celebrity "DJ AM" (Adam Goldstein) passed away suddenly August 28th. People magazine describes his funeral, which was attended by high profile celebrities like Lindsey Lohan. Many people have commented on his life and death, but what really struck me were his girlfriend's comments at his funeral, posted in People recently:
"The love I continue to feel for him and the love that we shared together will live with me and those who witnessed us together forever. … I will never be the same without him. A part of me has passed away with him. Even the warmest of days will never compare to the warmth I felt when I touched him. He was my soulmate, and now he is my soul. He was my amazing grace."
Wood followed this speech by reading the lyrics of "Amazing Grace." I'm sure DJ AM was a nice guy, but should people really quote a deeply spiritual hymn about the saving power of Jesus Christ in honor of a celebrity DJ? That really makes me cringe. Someone who describes their boyfriend as their "soul" is sadly lost and confused.
This is the same kind of thing Beyonce sings about in "Halo," in which she likens her love interest to a heavenly angel, singing that he is her "saving grace." Sounds blasphemous to me. Anyone who is casually using the glorious words of Christ's salvation to desribe mere humans has clearly never encountered the living God. Once you have experienced His glory, everything and everyone else pales in comparison. I hope that throwing around the powerful words of grace, soul, and salvation to apply to human beings will not become a celebrity trend. What do you think?
For the complete article go to:
Hello NWBC girls! I have never been a blogger, but I feel that God has led me to use this online tool to connect with you girls. I have noticed that a common concern from many of you is that you struggle with quiet times. I totally understand the frustration in this area! Oftentimes, it is hard to know where to start and what to read. When you do read, it may seem like nothing is sinking in. I have created this blog to help you in that area. I plan to post a couple of devotionals online for you to read during the week. These devotionals will highlight a particular passage of Scripture for you to read and meditate on. I will also include my own thoughts and research on the passage as well as questions for you to answer individually. In addition to these devotionals, I will also post articles. Some of these articles will be written by Christians, and some will be secular articles that I think we can learn from as believers. Oftentimes these articles will be posted in order to make you think, and I invite you to interact with them and post your own thoughts and comments. I pray that this will be a helpful tool to you as high school girls!!