Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hope for Teens: Finding Freedom In Christ

Study Passages: 1 Corinthians 6:12, Romans 6:18, John 8:31-32, John 8:31-32

Living God’s way isn’t always easy and teenagers seem to have it particularly tough. Spend any time around youths and you will hear, time and again, that they feel restricted while trying to live” right”. Doing the right thing often means that they can’t do what their friends do. So when they see all the things their friends are participating in, teenagers assume those activities are more rewarding, exciting and fun.

What teens do not realize is that the lifestyle they crave is like eating a lot of candy. It tastes good and then the taste encourages the desire to eat more, leading to obesity, a host of health problems and cavities.

An elderly Christian man in living in Communist-controlled Budapest remarked when asked about the effects of persecution and discrimination on the lives of Christians: "It is like the deep, fast-flowing Danube River. The banks of the river were artificially narrowed throughout the city of Budapest. As the result, the river's fast waters dug deeper and deeper into the river bottom. Believers under restrictions and persecution have limited freedom and few political options, but their narrowed lives have found great depth by going deeper in Christ."

1 Corinthians 6:12 states: "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything."

God is not trying to restrict our freedom, He is seeking to release us from bondage that can lead to sin and death (Romans 6:18). John 8:31-32 states, "...If you abide in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Also, Galatians 5:1 states, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."

The real hope for teens is knowing that true freedom is never just doing what you want to do. It is always finding pleasure and having joy and peace in doing what benefits you and everyone else around you. Freedom can be compared to eating a balanced meal with plenty of vegetables and really enjoying it.

Fall in Love with Jesus

Study Passages: 1 John 4:10-11, Ephesians. 4:2, Psalms 91:14-16, Matthew 22:37, 39

Does the love of God create in you a desire to obey, serve, and to pray to Him each day? Are you passionately pursuing your relationship with God? The Bible says that we can love Him even though we do not see Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:10-11).

How do we create a viable, loving relationship with Jesus? In 1 John we learn that "..whoever keeps His word in him the love of God has truly been perfected...". So we can generate God's love in our hearts by being committed to obeying His Word, and then we will be excited about obeying because now we are in love with Him. John 14:14 states that, "If you love me, you will keep My commandments." This is why Paul states that we should live a life of love, because it allows us to worship God (Ephesians. 4:2).

When we love God, God responds is a beautiful way. In Psalms 91:14-16, the writer tells us what the Lord promises for those who love Him: "Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble I will rescue him, and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him, and let him behold My salvation."

The greatest command that we should all be committed to is "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind..... You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37, 39)

I challenge you today to fall in love with Jesus, and He will put everything else in its rightful place.

God’s Family Structure: A Father’s Role

Study Passages:
Proverbs 13:24, 22:6, 15; Ephesians 4:14, 6:1-2, 4; Colossians 3:21

A father’s role in a family has long been a source of discussion and high emotions in our society. A father clearly has an impact in his child’s life but what does God say about his role? How important is a dad’s involvement in the rearing of his children?

According to God’s Word, children are to turn to their dads in order to find a living definition of our Father in heaven. Men are required biblically to teach their children (Exodus 18:18), to discipline them (Proverbs 13:24; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21) and to train their sons (Proverbs 22:6). Children are also required to honor and obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1-2).

The family structure as designed by God, and as outlined in scripture, supports the proper spiritual, emotional, and social development of a child: "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name." (Ephesians 4:14-15).

All of this is extremely important because the bible states that, "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15). Solomon also said, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

If a father does not take the disciplining of his child seriously (Ephesians 6:4), then the child stands a good chance of growing up to be a bigger “fool”. If we are reading the national statistics accurately, our young men may be falling into this trap. Most murder victims are black men between the ages of 15 through 24, and, according to the FBI, they account for more than 55 percent of all crime in America. Juvenile jails are over populated and in the city of Houston, we are considering building even more facilities.

Many problems in our school systems are caused by young boys experiencing behavioral or learning disorders. We must take the raising of our kids seriously, whether you are a single parent or married. If you are a single mom, I advise you to get the father involved in raising his child. If that is not practical, consider enrolling your son in your church’s male mentoring program or your daughter in a mentoring or etiquette workshop. Raising children takes time and sacrifice. Yet the rewards are remarkable!