You Are Made in the Image of God
One area of conflict I have noticed in the lives of many teenagers is they have a negative image of themselves. This negative image affects their relationship with their family, their friends, and even with God. If not dealt with, it can carry over into adult life and can pose as a source of hinderance in all they do.
Psalm 139:14-16 teaches how carefully and wonderfully we are made:
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”
God took care to make each of us different. He planned what each of us would look like before we were born. How disappointed He must be when we express dissatisfaction with the way He made us.
Non-acceptance of one’s self usually leads to moral impurity, idleness, rebelliousness, wishful thinking, excessive use of make-up and overdoing it in the way one dresses. Some teenagers think that engaging in these behaviours will make them feel better about themselves. They somehow think these behaviours will make others like them more. But that is not the case at all. These behaviours will give you a temporary good feeling while you are engaging in them, but once it is over, those negative feelings will flood your mind again.
Self-rejection also shows itself in self-criticism, and having a pessimistic outlook on life and about everything one is involved in. What a sad way to live. Why worry about things you cannot change? Leave all that in God’s hands and go and change those things you can change.
Satan is fully aware of the potential God places in each of us, and he also knows that if we reach our full potential, using it for the glory of God, then we will be unstoppable and God will use us greatly in His work here on this earth. That being the case, Satan will do anything to prevent you from reaching your full potential. Self-rejection is a very effective tool by which to do that because the devil knows that self-rejection will lead to an inability to trust God.
Paul shares with us in II Corinthians 12:9 that he would gladly rejoice in his infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon him. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. God sees perfection (what you can become through Him), in your imperfections. For “we are his workmanship created in Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
Have you ever heard of Joni Erickson-Tada? She was a healthy, outgoing college girl when God allowed a diving accident to put her in a wheelchair for life. The result? She is closer to God and God is using her to be a blessing and to minister to thousands all over the world. She is filled with the joy of the Lord.
Kyle Maynard was born without legs but he has not allowed that to stop him from taking part in the sport of wrestling. He is always cheerful and positive, encouraging many people as he goes about his daily life. This does not sound like a person who is having a pity party about his physical appearance.
Always remember that whatever God does is for a reason. In His eyes you are beautiful and unique and there is no one like you. God created you to do a special job that He wants no one else to do but you. If you are suffering from low self-esteem, give it to God and allow Him to let His beauty shine through you because in the long run only what God thinks about you will matter.
I was recently reading a book by Darlene Laney entitled: And He Made a Woman, and she speaks on what she calls ‘The Uglies” by saying: “The Uglies are those thoughts that not only make you feel worthless, small, and discouraged but also cause you to be unattractive and a negative factor.” The key word is thought. You are what you think you are. Proverbs 23:7 affirms this by stating: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
If you are not familiar with “the Uglies,” according to Mrs. Laney, they go like this: “I am not good enough; I am not smart enough; I am not witty enough, and I am not popular enough, tall enough, thin enough.” If you allow your mind to dwell on “the Uglies” you will begin to act accordingly.
Allow me to ask you the same questions Mrs. Laney asks and that is: Who told you that? Who told you you are not good enough? Who told you you are not smart enough? Who told you you are not witty enough? Tall enough? Thin enough? Certainly not God because God says you were made in His image (Genesis 1:27). God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
How do you combat “the Uglies”? You combat them by using Philippians 4:8 which states: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Do not let your friends or your enemies mold you into being what they think you ought to be. Be what God wants you to be.
Below is a poem by A. M. Overton. I encourage you to read it over and over again. Let it minister to your heart and encourage you during those times when you are feeling low about yourself because those times will come.
HE MAKETH NO MISTAKE
My Father’s way may twist and turn,
My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I’m glad to know,
He maketh no mistake.
My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But still I’ll trust my Lord to lead,
For He maketh no mistake.
Tho’ night be dark and it may seem,
That day will never break;
I’ll pin my faith, my all in Him,
He maketh no mistake.
There’s so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight’s far too dim;
But come what may, I’ll simply trust
And leave it all to Him.
For by and by the mist will lift
And plain it all He’ll make.
Through all the way, tho dark to me,
He maketh no mistake.
Controlling Your Tongue
James, in describing the tongue, had this to say: “Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth” (James 3:5). He even goes on to say: “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…it defileth the whole body.”
How true that is. The tongue, one of the smallest members of the body, is like a little fire that can cause a terrible burn. As a young person, if you do not learn to control your tongue, you can bring great harm, hurt, and damage to yourself as well as to others. I have gotten in trouble many times because of running of at the mouth, and even to this day, even though I am much older now, my husband holds me in check when it comes to my running off at the mouth. Lots of good relationships have been ruined because of not controlling our tongues. Consider with me how we do damage to others and to ourselves with our tongues.
Gossiping and Slandering
James tells us that, “the tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” Think of the times you have chosen to gossip about another. Do you not think it hurts when you gossip about others? You have to be wise in your speech—know when to tell some and when to hold some in. My own youth pastor once told our class that: “If you are gossiping about someone chances are someone is gossiping about you.” I believe that is due to the law of sowing and reaping.
When I was growing up there was a terminology among the young people called “Christian Gossip.” It was merely the passing on of juicy news in a “spiritual” way ending with, “Well, I’ll pray for him or her.” Gossiping, no matter what form or for what reason is a sin and comes from an unloving heart.
Ask yourself: Would I want this said about me, even if it was the truth? Is it true about this person? Is it fair? Is it necessary? If not, do not repeat it. And in case someone comes to you with a bit of gossip, before he or she begins talking, calmly, but firmly say, “Come with me to so-and-so (the person they want to tell you about), and you can tell everything you want to tell me.” That, I assure you will stop the gossiper in his or her tracks.
The Psalmist, David, asks in Psalm 51: “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle?” The answer is: “He that backbiteth not.” As a Christian teenager, you ought to strive to please God, not only in the things you do, but also in the words you speak.
Proverbs 26:28 warns us that: “A flattering mouth worketh ruin.” Proverbs 20:19 also warns that: “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” In other words, stay away from a gossiping person as well as from a person who asks a lot of personal questions, and also stay away from the person who is always praising you and never finding fault with you.
Below is a little poem from the Wall Street Journal that carries a lot of weight:
My name is gossip. I have no respect. I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives. I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age. The more I am quoted, the more I am believed. My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name or face. To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become. I am nobody’s friend.
Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same. I topple governments and wreck marriages. I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartache and indigestion. I make innocent people cry in their pillows. Even my name hisses. I am called Gossip. I make headlines and headaches.
God does not overlook a gossiping tongue. Look at what He did to Miriam, Moses’ sister. Miriam complained against Moses causing others to do the same. God gave His opinion of the whole situation by striking Miriam with leprosy.
Jesus left a few things for us to do to keep our tongues busy:
1. “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” If we are busy praying without ceasing we will not have time to gossip.
2. Tell others about Jesus and all He means to you. (Matthew 28:19-20). If we are busy witnessing and telling others about Jesus, we will not have time to gossip.
3. Praising and giving thanks to God. If we are busy praising and thanking God throughout the day, each day, we will not have time for idle words.
Our day of reckoning will come and “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:36 and 37).
In case you are the victim of a cruel tongue or a gossiping tongue, how should you respond? Definitely not with an angry tongue, but with a quiet voice for Proverbs 15:1 says: “A soft answer turneth away wrath but grievous words stir up anger.”
So, teenager, keep these points in mind if you are a victim of a gossiping tongue:
· How you react is what matters and not so much what is said.
· If there is some truth, let it do in your life what it ought to.
· Be patient with people and love and pray for those who speak evil of you.
· Don’t worry, Jesus was falsely accused and He answered not a word.
· God loves you, and He will not let anything happen to you He does not know about.
Make a conscious effort only to speak words that are pleasing to God and uplifting to others.
Let’s Not Forget:
· The negative words you speak can damage for life.
· Always think before you speak.
· Pray for and love those who speak evil of you.
Meditate On This:
“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.” —I Peter 3:10
“Too many people over-value what they are not and undervalue what they are.”
Isaac and Rebekah (A Good Example of How to Get to Know Each Other)
I believe that before you, as a teenager, begin to entertain the idea of dating and marriage, you should wait until you are much older and hopefully much wiser. Much older is about twenty-five years of age. Hopefully by then you will have matured to the point where you can make wise and intelligent decisions and are able to handle life and the stress that comes with having a serious relationship with the opposite sex. By that age, you will be able to look at life from a wider perspective, having finished high school and at least completed a four year course of study in a college program. The things learned through these school years will be great assets to you throughout your life, whether you choose to remain single or to get married.
Should you choose to go the route of dating with the hope of getting married, allow me to share a few things with you:
· You will have to give an answer to God for everything you do (Romans 14:12).
· You will have to give an answer to your parents for your activities during this time (Hebrews 13:7).
· You will reap what you sow, and regretfully, sometimes more than you sow (Galatians 6:7-8).
· Godly principles, if heeded, will prevent you from getting hurt and thus messing up your life and the lives of others.
Let’s look at the life of Isaac and Rebekah in the Bible, and how they went about this thing we call ‘dating’:
1. Isaac and Rebekah were never alone by themselves before they got married.
2. Isaac and Rebekah willingly subjected themselves to their parents’ wishes. Isaac’s father wanted him to marry a certain kind of woman, and he obeyed his father’s wishes.
3. Rebekah carried herself with respect around Isaac. She covered her face with her veil, which was the custom back then; it was an act of modesty. She did not act in a loose and flirtatious way.
4. Isaac carried himself in a respectful way toward Rebekah. He did not try to have sex with her before the night of their wedding.
5. Both Isaac and Rebekah displayed a spirit of humility and meekness. I believe this was because they both were allowing God to lead them, and because they followed their parents’ wishes.
Because they both chose to do this ‘dating’ thing God’s way, they left home with their parents’ blessings (Genesis 24, 50, 60; Genesis 25:5). So, young person, do not allow the devil, your friends, or even your fleshly desires to fool you into thinking you cannot do everything including dating in a way that is pleasing to God.
SPECIAL NOTE: Whatever your parents’ wishes are regarding this matter, I encourage you to follow those wishes. If they want you to stay away from a certain boy or girl, then stay away from that boy or girl. Your parents, because of their years of experience, will see things before you even think about these things.
I want to strongly encourage you to never go on a date alone with just the two of you. If you think you need to visit with each other, visit at either parents’ home, in their presence. In the company of others you are less likely to yield to physical temptations such as kissing, hugging, fondling, and even sex.
In the words of Josiah G. Holland: “That which grows slowly endures.”
So, dear young person, do not rush getting into a serious relationship. Let God lead you and give you the mate that He wants you to have if that is His will for your life.
Let’s Not Forget:
· You can get to know someone well God’s way.
· You will answer to God for all your actions.
· Never be alone with a person of the opposite sex.
Meditate On This:
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” —Proverbs 3:5-6
Reverse Effects of Peer Pressure
We hear a lot today about peer pressure. Peer pressure is following the crowd in order to be accepted. It is given as a reason, probably the number one reason, for teenagers engaging in things they never set out to do.
Let’s look at peer pressure from a different angle. Have you ever wondered what effects your behaviour might have on another person? In what direction are you pressuring your friends? What kind of an example are you setting for a younger brother or sister? Do others see Jesus in you? How many teens are in trouble because they imitated your behaviour?
In First Corinthians chapter eight, we are warned against doing things that will cause others to stumble:
“But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak” (verse 9).
The Bible also says in 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”
Cain, the brother of Abel, asked the Lord a rather sobering question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” I answer that with a resounding, yes. Why? Because, believe it or not, we do have a responsibility to others around us, and that is: we have the responsibility to live an obedient and righteous life before them so that, should they choose to follow our example, they will live a life of peace and not one filled with trouble and heartache.
May I encourage you to think before you speak and think before you act. Be the leader and set a good example for your peers. Don’t worry about having and keeping friends. If you are a Godly leader and example, God will give you true friends.
Let’s Not Forget:
· Follow Christ.
· Be a leader and not a follower.
· Be a good example before others.
Meditate On This:
“Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.” —Ecclesiastes 8:12
“A friend is one who helps you bridge the gaps between loneliness and fellowship, frustration and confidence, despair and hope, setbacks and success.”
The Ideal Teen Role Model
We all should have someone to look up to, and there is nothing wrong with that. But we need to be careful who we choose to pattern our lives after because this can turn out for our benefit, or this can lead us in the wrong way. Below are some young people, who dedicated their lives to the Lord. These young people are the ideal role models for you:
Daniel: As a young man, Daniel was carried away with others as slaves to Babylon. Although a slave, he did not sit and pout and complain as the average teenager of today would do. He instead said, “You know what? I am going to make the best of my situation. I am going to learn all I can and use it for my good.” With such a positive attitude, God was able to use him. God honored his faith and trust in Him and delivered him from being eaten by the lions.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: These three young men did not complain about their unfortunate situation. They, like Daniel, chose to remain true to God and did not bow down to the golden idol built by the King Nebuchadnezzar. As a result, God saved them when they were thrown in the fiery furnace.
David: is described as a “man after God’s own heart.” This honor was not bestowed upon him overnight. It took years of God pruning and preparing him. One of the reasons for David’s success in life is, he yielded himself to God at a young age. One of David’s virtues was honesty. He was not afraid to admit when he was wrong and this is indeed a character trait we all need to develop within us.
Joseph: the young man who dreamed dreams. God had to bring Joseph down. In other words, God had to bring Joseph to a state of humility before He could use him. God allowed him to be placed in slavery. But even as a slave, Joseph still placed his faith and trust in God. He did not blame God for his unfortunate situation, but chose to live a Godly life. When his master’s wife tried to entice him into having sex with her, Joseph ran away so fast, he left his coat behind. Joseph said, ‘I cannot do this thing and sin against God.’ Because of Joseph’s faithfulness to God, God made him prime minister of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.
As a teenager, you will be under pressure to follow the crowd, take drugs, engage in sex before marriage, lie, steal, and disobey and dishonor your parents, but like Joseph, you need to flee these things.
The Disciples: These were young men who followed Jesus. They displayed all the attitudes and behaviours of many teenagers: stubbornness, pride, independence, fear, faithlessness, wanting their own way, etc. However, Jesus did not turn them away, and He will not turn you away either. Jesus, inspite of their imperfections, used them to turn the world upside-down.
Esther: Queen Esther was used by God to deliver the Jews from death. Although in a foreign land and the wife of a heathen king, she did not turn her back on her people or on God. Esther trusted God to deliver her and her people, the Jews, from the persecution ordered by the wicked man, Haman.
Jesus Christ: The greatest of all role models is the Lord Jesus Christ. While He walked here on earth, He was about His Father’s business—preaching, teaching, and simply being obedient to the Father. He allowed Himself to become consumed with the attaining of a single goal, which was to see souls saved through the preaching of the Gospel. Our goal ought to be the same.
Dear young person, can you, like Jesus Christ say, “I am about my Father’s business”? Have you, like Daniel, purposed in your heart not to defile yourself with the sins of this world? Are you, like Joseph, willing to say, “Shall I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Are you willing to trust God even as Esther trusted God? These are ideal role models for you to pattern your life after. If you do, you will never go wrong in your Christian walk.
Let’s Not Forget:
· Like Daniel, purpose in your heart not to defile yourself with the evil of this world.
· Like Joseph, when tempted to do wrong, always ask: Shall I do this and sin against God?
· Like Esther, choose to do right by putting your complete trust in God.
Meditate On This:
“My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” —Proverbs 1:10
“There is one element that is worth its weight in gold and that is loyalty. It will cover a multitude of weaknesses.” (Philip D. Armour)
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
The first set of people God places over us are our parents. It does not do us any good to rebel against them. It will only bring us unhappiness, shame, and a life of heartache, especially during the teenage years. You can enjoy your teenage years by willingly placing yourself under your parents’ authority. God has it fixed that no matter the level of your parents’ education, your parents will always know more than you. Even after you become an adult, your parents will still know more than you, and they will have deeper insight and wisdom into your life, simply because that is the way God has it setup. Never think that you can outsmart your parents.
The second set of people God places over us are our teachers. While away from home and under the guidance of your teachers, your responsibility is to respect your teachers, to study hard, and to respond to them in a positive manner. Glean as much as you can, with a humble attitude, from the knowledge your teachers are passing on to you.
While we are on this point, let me share with you that school is not a place to play. The responsibility of your learning is not one hundred percent that of your parents or your teachers. You have to find it within yourself; you have to have that strong inner desire to want to learn. This is the one time that you are allowed to have a selfish attitude of what is in this for me? What can I learn and how much can I learn? Make getting your education one of your main goals in life.
The third set of people God places over you are those who are in governmental authority. God has ordained these leaders to help protect us and to help us obey the laws of the land. The laws that our government creates are to protect us, not to hurt us. If we did not have people to enforce the laws of the land, imagine how chaotic this world would be. Always respect and obey people in governmental authority such as police officers. The Bible speaks to this important subject in Romans 13:1-4: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation…For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”
The fourth set of people God places over you is your employer. If God has blessed you with a job, you need to respect your boss and do everything that you do from your heart and to the best of your ability. Work honestly and show Christian love and respect to your co-workers as well.
You can show God how much you love Him by being obedient and by showing respect toward those in authority over you. God will richly reward you for doing so and who knows, He may bless you to be in authority one day.
Let’s Not Forget:
- Respect your parents at all times.
- Respect adults in authority over you.
- Always have a good attitude toward those in authority.
Meditate On This:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
God gives us parents for various reasons. But I believe the main reason is to train us in the ways of the Lord so that we can live a good life that is pleasing to God. You may be wondering, well, what is my responsibility, as a teenager, to my parents? It is simply this: to love them, honor them, and obey them. There is great reward in loving, honoring, and obeying your parents. Here are just some of the rewards that you will receive from loving, respecting, and obeying your parents:
a. It will keep you out of trouble, as you will find favor in their eyes and in the eyes of others. Proverbs 1:8, 9 says: “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forget not the law of thy mother: for they shall be an ornament of grace about thy neck.”
b. It will be well with you. Ephesians 6:1-3 reads: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee…”
c. You will live long on the earth. Ephesians 6:3 says: “…That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”
Being a parent is not an easy job. Your parents are God’s representatives in the home, and at the end of their life, they are going to give an account to God as to how they raised you. Likewise, as a teenager, you are going to give an account to God as to the kind of child you were to your parents.
Your parents have various responsibilities under God as well. Here are some of their responsibilities:
1. They are commanded by God to train you in the right way. Ephesians 6:4 says: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Proverbs 22:6 also says: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
2. They are commanded by God to discipline you as part of your training. Proverbs 22:15 notes: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.”
Don’t worry. You’re not going to die from a whipping or from some other form of discipline. You have that assurance in Proverbs 23:13, 14 which states: “Withhold not correction from the child; for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell.”
Back in Bible days, a disobedient or disrespectful child would be stoned to death. So my friends, you have it easy. If I were you, I would thank God for letting me off the hook so easily. Whether you choose to believe this or not, it hurts your parents more than it hurts you when they have to discipline you. My husband has had to lovingly remind me that I am a parent as well, and even though I do not want to discipline my children, I have to obey God and discipline my little children anyway. Like your parents, I have to look to the future and what this discipline will do for my children later on in life.
This may be hard for you to understand at the stage that you are in right now, but when your parents discipline you, they are:
a. Communicating their love for you.
b. Teaching you to respect authority.
c. Helping you to develop Godly character.
d. Helping you to enjoy a life of peace.
e. Helping you to avoid a lot of trouble in your life.
I leave this thought with you: Your level of obedience to your parents will determine your level of obedience to God.
Let’s Not Forget:
· Parents are ordained by God.
· Parents will give an account to God for your behaviour while you were living with them.
· Parents love you when they discipline you.
Meditate On This:
“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” —Exodus 20:12
“The light of God’s Son in your heart will put His sunshine on your face.”
Meditating On the Word of God
If you are looking for a great book to read, I strongly recommend the Bible. The Bible is more than a book of “do’s and don’t’s” and “thou’s and thine’s”. It is your roadmap to a successful and happy life. Below are some reasons why you should meditate on the Word of God:
1. God’s Word will keep you from evil. Psalm 119:1 says: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” God’s Word will guide you in the right and good way. The Psalmist, David asks: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Psalm 119:9).
2. God’s Word provides comfort. First Samuel 30:6 says: “…but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” The city where David and his men, along with their families lived was burned to the ground. On top of that, David’s wives along with the wives of the other men, as well as their sons and daughters were captured and taken away. Everyone was upset, including David; but David found comfort in the Lord His God. You are going to sometimes feel discouraged, but like David, you can always turn to God and to His Word for comfort and encouragement.
3. God’s Word provides guidance in all situations. Psalm 43:3 says: “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.” Whenever you are feeling confused and are faced with making a decision, turn to the Word of God.
Make it a point not just to read the Word, but begin meditating on It, so that when you need It, It will be hidden away in your heart.
Let’s Not Forget:
- God’s Word will comfort you.
- God’s Word will guide you.
- God’s Word will keep you from evil.
Meditate On This: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” —Psalm 119:105
Spending Time With God
There are many benefits that you can gain from spending time with God—benefits that will lead you to having a happy and fulfilling life.
Spending time with God refreshes you. Whenever you feel physically, mentally, or spiritually tired—turn to God. Whenever you feel defeated and depressed, and ready to give up—turn to God. Whenever it seems as though nothing is going right—turn to God.
Isaiah, the prophet, says in Isaiah 41:31: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Ask God to teach you to wait on Him.
Spending time with God helps you to gain a new outlook on life. As you spend time with God, you begin to see things through the eyes of God. When you do not spend time with God, the devil seemingly places a cloud over you mentally and spiritually, and things will seem confusing. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5 to: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” To have the mind of Christ you must spend time with God.
Spending time with God allows you to experience blessings that you can acquire no other way. When you delight yourself in the Lord, He will do things for you that are beyond your dreams. In Psalm 37:4 we find these encouraging words: “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
Spending time with God allows you to get to know Him intimately. Abraham was called the “friend of God,” and rightly so because Abraham spent time with God. “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God” (James 2:23).
Spending time with God, allows you to mature spiritually. In other words, you will become more like Christ in the words you speak, in the thoughts you think, and in your actions. When people get around you they will see a difference in you, and the only explanation they can give is—you have been with Jesus. What a testimony to have as a teenager!
May I kindly encourage you to purpose in your heart to spend quality time with God everyday and you will be a much stronger person.
“The Bible will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the Bible.”
Getting the Most out of Church
Even though we are encouraged in God’s Word to go to church, many teenagers, choose to stay home, or are engaging in some other activity on Sunday mornings. Some have made going to church a Sunday morning ritual and it has become a drag when it should not be so.
The church of God is:
A place to worship God.
A place to hear the Word of God.
A place to fellowship with other Christians.
A place to go to and receive encouragement to go on with your life.
How can you get the most out of church?
First, prepare your heart, Monday through Saturday, by staying away from evil. When and if you do something wrong, confess it immediately and try not to do it again. Also, make sure things are right between you and your family as well as between you and your friends.
Second, pray throughout the week for your pastor, your Sunday school teachers, your church family, and for the Sunday services.
Third, pray for yourself, that God would prepare your heart to gladly receive His Word with the intent on obeying It.
Fourth, go to church expecting to receive a blessing.
Fifth, take notes from the sermon and during the week review and meditate on those notes.
May I encourage you to not play church. Do not be a pew warmer. Actively take part in church activities. I guarantee, if you follow the five things above you will begin looking forward to going to church.
Let’s Not Forget:
· Go to church each week.
· Pray daily for your pastor and other church leaders.
· Take an active part in the church services.
Meditate On This:
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” —Psalm 122:1
“A day is full of many hours just waiting for your using; and there are many ways to spend them, so be careful in your choosing.”
The Power of Prayer
Prayer is not only talking with God, but it is also listening to God. As easy as that may sound, it is the hardest to put into action, and thus the most neglected. However, once we get the prayer wheel turning, it has proven to be very powerful.
Why you should pray? As a teenager, you should pray because:
- God tells us in His Word to pray.
- Prayer is God’s way for you to obtain things.
- Prayer encourages us.
- Jesus Christ set the example for us by praying Himself.
What you should pray for? As a teenager, you should pray for:
- Strength to resist peer pressure
- Strength to understand your parents
- Grace to obey God and your parents
- Wisdom and understanding
- Daily needs of your family
- Grace to do well in school
- Strength to be a shining light among other young people for the Lord.
How should you pray? As a teenager you should pray:
- Regularly. May I encourage you to pray once in the morning and once at night. Also, pray throughout the day as the Lord may lead you.
- In faith. Believe that God is going to hear and answer your prayers. The Bible tells us in Mark 11:24: “Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
Below are some reasons why our prayers are not being answered:
- We have sin in our life.
- We are not persistent.
- We do not believe God will answer our prayers.
- We have the wrong motive.
As a teenager, you should be consistent in prayer because we need God in every area of our lives. You should also be consistent in prayer because we are not perfect and we need God’s help to live right.
It is easy to put prayer on the back burner. Even though I have been a Christian for some years now, I still struggle with prayer. My husband, Daniel Whyte III, has had a huge impact on my life regarding this matter of prayer. I credit him for teaching me the importance of prayer, and I learned from him that you have to, purposely, set time aside to pray to God. May I lovingly encourage you to do the same by doing the following:
1. Pray first thing in the morning before doing anything.
2. Pray at noontime no matter what.
3. Pray before you hop into the bed at night.
4. Pray before you perform any activity no matter how small it may seem to you. Activities may include: completing a school assignment, sitting down to eat, making a telephone call, going out with your friends, etc.
Sometimes the thought will come to your mind to pray. Whenever it does, go ahead and pray. That is the Holy Spirit of God prompting you to pray. May I leave you with the following: Pray about everything!
Let’s Not Forget:
- Prayer is a very powerful tool.
- Pray in faith.
- Pray about everything.
Meditate On This:
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” —Philippians 4:6
I Believe — Now What?
There are five basic things that God wants you to do in your Christian walk with Him. They are:
1. Get Baptized. God wants you, as a teenager, to get baptized and join with a Bible-believing church. Baptism will not save you. It is merely an outward sign showing others you are a Christian. Even Jesus Christ, Himself, was baptized by John the Baptist as we read here from the Word of God: “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world. This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for He was before me. And I knew Him not: but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.” —John 1:29-31
2. Fellowship with Other Christians. God wants you, as a teenager, to fellowship with other Christians. Paul tells us in Hebrews 10:25: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Sunday school, Sunday services, and youth meetings are a few ways you can fellowship with other Christians.
3. Pray. God wants you, as a teenager, to pray each day. Prayer is simply talking with God. Purposely set aside time to talk with God. Paul encourages us to “Pray without ceasing” (II Thessalonians 5:17). Through prayer you will receive encouragement and strength as you go through each day. Through prayer, God will lead, guide, and direct you to make wise decisions. Prayer will be your strongest weapon against negative thoughts and actions.
4. Read the Bible. God wants you, as a teenager, to read your Bible everyday. As the saying goes, “A chapter a day will keep the devil away.” Reading the Bible will give you a better understanding of Who God is, and it will be your roadmap to living a successful Christian life.
5. Witness to Others. God wants you, as a teenager, to tell others about Him. He wants you to tell others what God has done for you. Don’t be afraid to share with another teenage friend all you know about God, and His Son, Jesus Christ, because they, too, may begin serving God after hearing what God has done for you.
May I encourage you to follow these five basic principles of the Christian life if you want to live a successful and vibrant life as a Christian teenager.
Let’s Not Forget:
• Get baptized after you ask Jesus Christ to save you.
• Fellowship with other Christians.
• Pray and read your Bible daily.
• Tell another teenager about Jesus everyday.
Meditate On This:
“The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” —Psalm 126:3
“Always respond to every impulse to pray. The impulse to pray may come when you are reading or when you are battling with a text. I would make an absolute law of this—always obey such an impulse.” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
If you have just prayed and asked Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins and to live within you, you are well on your way to a happy and fulfilling life. There are many teenagers who are searching for genuine happiness. Many are searching for someone or something to give them a fulfilling life. Many have no aim or purpose for their life, and so they are living a purposeless life. Because of this, many teenagers are engaging in unacceptable behaviours such as: drinking, taking drugs, having sex before marriage, being disobedient and rebellious toward their parents and others in authority, joining up with gangs and partaking of their evil deeds, and committing senseless crimes.
Many teenagers base their happiness on the happenings. That is, if their parents give in to their every beck and call they are happy, but if their parents say no, they are sad. If they have a splashing birthday party they are happy, but if they get nothing on their birthday, they are sad. If it is sunshiny outside they are happy, but if it is rainy and overcast they are sad. These teenagers get all excited and all geared up for a big event such as a football game, prom night, or a trip to Six Flags or Disney World, but once the event is over their spirits and attitudes drop to one of sadness and depression. These teenagers are living their lives based on the happenings of the day. One day they are up; the next day they are down. Such a life is not a genuinely happy one.
There are several reasons for this lack of consistent happiness.
1. We do not set goals and plan for another event after the current event we are involved in is over. So, when the current event we are involved in is over, we are left wondering, well, what do I do now? Always remember: all events are temporary, meaning, they do not go on forever. One way to combat this “let-down” feeling is to have more than one goal set, and as soon as you accomplish one goal, begin working on another one. These goals can be something as simple as reading a book or cleaning out your closet. Never run out of things to do.
2. We are seeking happiness in the wrong places and from the wrong people. Going to the mall, a football game or to the movies will not give you genuine, long lasting happiness. Trying to be like Michael Jordon will not bring you genuine, long lasting happiness.
3. We do not keep ourselves busy. Never have a down time. Always have something good and positive to do. Always keep a good book with you. Why? So that you can read and keep your mind occupied during any free time you may have.
Abraham Lincoln said: “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” In other words, you determine your own happiness. If your day does not turn out as you planned for it to be, you can still be happy. If your parents have to chastise you physically or even verbally, you can still be happy. If you fail at something, you can still be happy. You, by your actions and your attitude, determine the degree of your happiness.
The Bible tells us how we can have true and lasting happiness:
“He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.” —Proverbs 16:20
“Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.” —Psalm 144:15
“Blessed (or happy) is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” —Psalm 1:1
Jesus Christ is the beginning of true happiness. If you have asked Jesus Christ to be your Saviour, that is the beginning of your happiness as a teenager. Your continual obedience to Him is what will determine the continuation of your happiness.
So, teenager, happiness is only a prayer away, and you determine your daily level of happiness by the choices you make throughout the day—to walk in obedience to God’s Word, or to go the route of disobedience.
Let’s Not Forget:
- Genuine happiness does not depend on the happenings of the day.
- Always keep busy.
- Plan ahead for another event after the present event is over.
Meditate On This:
“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.” —Proverbs 3:13
The Great Love of God
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Many teenagers are searching for true love in all the wrong places when true love is only a prayer away. True love is not your parents giving in to all your wants. True love is not that boy or girl telling you he or she loves you. True love is not using others to fulfill your own selfish desires. God showed us true love, which is only a prayer away. Here is how God showed us the greatest love in the world:
1. God showed His great love for us when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. The Bible tells us in Romans 5:8: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” That was Jesus’ only purpose for coming to this earth—to die for all of our sins.
2. God showed His great love for us through His eternal forgiveness of our sins. In Mark 2:7 we are asked this question: “Who can forgive sins but God only?” We read these encouraging words in Colossians 1:14: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of our sins.” God’s forgiveness of our sins has redeemed us or set us free from the bondage of sin.
3. God showed His great love for us through His promise of eternal life. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus Christ will return to this earth one day, to take those who are Christians back with Him to Heaven to live with Him forever. Isn’t that encouraging?
Just in case you are wondering, how can I obtain this eternal life? How can I experience God’s true and great love and stop searching for love in all the wrong places? Here is how:
To experience God’s true love for you as a teenager, all you have to do, is believe that His Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for your sins. Jesus’ dying for you and for me is God’s gift to us, and all God wants us to do is to accept this gift. When you are given a gift at Christmas time or on your birthday, you can either accept it or reject it. God wants you to accept His gift of salvation.
Romans 10: 9 and 13 shows you how to accept His free gift:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Teenager, if you believe all that you just read, and you are ready to accept God’s true and great love for you, through His Son, Jesus Christ, please pray the following prayer:
Dear God, thank You for showing Your true and great love for me by sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. I am truly sorry for my sins. Holy Father God, please forgive me of my sins, come and live within my heart, and save my soul from hell. Thank You for giving me eternal life and for giving me a home in Heaven. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
Congratulations! Now you can truly experience true love and have a life of peace as you strive to live for the glory of God.
Let’s Not Forget:
- God sent His Son to die for you.
- God promises to forgive you of your sins if you ask Him.
- God promises you eternal life.
Meditate On This: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” —John 3:16
“A rejoicing Christian is one of God’s best advertisements.”
Meriqua Whyte is the wife of national bestselling author, Daniel Whyte III. They have been married for nearly 20 years and have seven children. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Christian Education from Bethany Divinity College in Dothan, Alabama.