Why I Have Given Up The World
Why I Have Given Up the World
1) The world and all of the things in the world are worthless.
- Ephesians 5:11 says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
- I have found that all of the things of the world; its glitter and baubles of enticement are worthless. The TV shows only bring empty and fleeting entertainment and hours of wasted time. The lusts of the world don’t satisfy, and only end in pain and disappointment. The mountains of books promising happiness by such-and-such new method only give a short-lived surge of excitement…until you realize that happiness is much harder to grasp than the book made it sound. The blasting music only drowns out the sweet songs of the birds and separates us from our friends and family. The careers we so highly esteem can be good and can be used for good, or (and most of the time this is the case:) will sap all energy and time from you as the money you make evaporates and your kids grow up and you’re still in the same rut, just living to pay the bills. The gadgets all do the same thing: help you waste more time with things that don’t matter – only, the latest ones look cooler, and of course you must spend more money to always have the hottest new gear. The car gets dented or breaks down, and you end up being enslaved to it – sinking more money into it than it’s worth for repairs, insurance, gas, upgrades, etc.
- All the things of this world, when pursued themselves just for the sake of having them or doing them sap all life, joy, and fruitfulness from our lives. They are unfruitful and deadening. It’s the never-ending cycle of so many lives, and I have tasted of these things and lived my life in the pursuit of them and found them sorely lacking – as have many others.
- So why then do so few people turn from them? Why do so many continue to waste their lives always wishing and hoping to do something different and worthwhile, but they remain enslaved to all of the utterly unfruitful works of darkness?
- Because of fear. Most of these people do not trust God’s goodness and ability to sustain them enough to actually take a step like quitting the job or giving up the TV. They are afraid they’ll be left destitute or homeless, or that they’ll just be bored etc. The devil tells us all these things because he knows that the moment we start actually seeking the Lord and desiring to serve Him, there will be good fruit…and he wants none of that to happen.
- Also, many people just love the thrill that movies or a new car or a new boyfriend give them, and they don’t actually want to give up those things. They assume that spending time with the Lord are boring, or too hard, or that it’s just not as “exciting” or “fun” or “rewarding” as reading the latest romance novel or being able to buy the things they want as soon as they want them etc.
2) The world and all of the things in the world are death for our souls.
- Romans 8:5-8 says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
- 1 Peter 2:11 says, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”
- I didn’t realize it at the time that I was participating in many worldly things (and, for the most part, enjoying it), but my soul was shriveling up inside of me. Spending time with God was pretty low on my priority list (though I wouldn’t have said it), and there were many days when I never got around to it because I was too busy doing other things, or there were days when I just skimmed over a chapter of the Bible or spent a few minutes in prayer because I felt like it was my “duty”. Deep inside, I wanted to be a “good Christian”, but was so frustrated that I never seemed to be really “connecting” with God or gaining insight into the Bible. I couldn’t seem to understand it. But now, looking back, I can see that it was because I was so distracted by so many other things – things that seemed “fun” or “important”…movies, books, music, personal goals, dreams, ideas, projects, friends, etc. I couldn’t connect with God because I was connected to so many other things. I couldn’t live for God rightly because I was living for everything else, and putting everything else first, just like the world said I should. My spirit was dying, and it got to the point where I didn’t even try to fight against the passions of my flesh anymore because they had become such a part of me that to kill them seemed like it would have been killing me, myself. And it would have been, because I had become those things and began finding my identity in them instead of in Christ.
3) The Lord Himself asks us to give up the world in order to serve Him; he knows its perils and dangers. And the world goes directly against everything God is and everything He stands for; we cannot be both friends with God and the world.
- 1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
- Luke 14:33 says, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
- Luke 18:29-30 says, “And he said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
- James 4:4,8 says, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wished to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God….Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
- I know Jesus’ heart, and that it is completely good. He knows that I can’t fully serve Him if I’m distracted by worldly things, and He knows that if worldly things get a grip on me, they will slowly pull me down the way of destruction. I’ve seen that process happening in my own life already (and the lives of many people I’ve met), and I do not want to become “lukewarm” or indifferent to the things of God. And, personally, I don’t want to have anything to do with anything that is opposed to God or which hurts Him. I’d much rather be His friend than a friend of the world, who people of the world highly esteem…and if I have to choose, I’m choosing my Savior and King. I don’t want to base my life and efforts around things that will just pass away – I want to invest in eternal things. I want to be Jesus’ disciple, and if that means renouncing all of my worldly comforts, then that is what I must do, and nothing less. For the sake of Christ and to be near Him, nothing is too great to surrender. And if He asks it of me, I know if must be for my good, even if I don’t fully understand it yet.
4) What you sow, you will reap.
- Galatians 6:7-8 says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
- If I am daily imbibing the dregs of worldly media; if I am filling my mind with songs that speak of sinful lusts and passions as being good and acceptable and attractive, if I am watching violent movies with anger and hatred and revenge emanating from them , or if I am watching movies where mocking God or mocking morals or praising immorality or making a joke out of vulgarity is accepted…then what will be the result? This is the result (and I am not speaking hypothetically): My mind will be filled with all of these things all day long, even if/when I go to spend time with the Lord, these things will make themselves comfortable and quite at home in my thoughts. And not only will these things take root in my heart, but they will begin to cloud my sense of God’s standards, and I will begin to do, say, and accept things that I wouldn’t have before. Things become fuzzy, and sin begins to become acceptable in small (or sometimes not-so-small) doses. If you put garbage into your heart, garbage comes out.
- But I desire to be wholly God’s, to have a pure heart, and to act in a way that is a delight to His heart. I want thoughts and songs and quotes about Him and His beauty and holiness and goodness to fill my heart and mind. So then, what must I do, if what I sow, I will also reap? I must turn from all that is contrary to God and a distraction from Him, and instead, begin filling my mind with what is pure and beautiful and worthy of praise in God’s eyes. If I want to reap eternal fruit, I must sow to the things that are eternal…and if I don’t, I shouldn’t be expecting to reap any eternal fruit – it’s as simple as that.
5) Nothing in the world compares to knowing and serving Christ, and seeing the glories of His kingdom!
- Paul says in Philippians 3:7-9a, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…”
- Matthew 13:44 says, “‘The kingdom of heaven in like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.’”
- When you begin to look at everything apart from Christ as rubbish, and gladly give up all that you have and that you had previously treasured in order to gain Christ and the surpassing worth of knowing Him and the beauties and delights of His kingdom, it just all makes sense. It makes sense when you have tasted of the fullness of Christ. It makes sense when you have gotten a glimpse of the treasures of His kingdom and the Celestial City. When you have drunk of the pure, clear, cool, refreshing springs of Living Water, how can you go back to the slimy, polluted cesspool of the world and drink from it?? And why would you want to? I have come to see and know for a certain that the glories of Christ far surpass any shallow, man-made adventure film or mystery novel or popular band or pile of paper money. None of it comes even close to the beauty and life and joy found in my Lord – and even on my worst day, His companionship is sweet beyond words, and I gladly leave all of it behind if I might gain more of Him, and even if that were the only reason, it would be enough.
6) I have been preceded by amazing men and women of God who have given all – even their very lives – for the Lord. Who am I to think I can obtain this treasure of greatest worth by clinging to all my fleshly desires and just “sliding in” to heaven? Let it not be so!
- Hebrews 12:1-4 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”
- How can it be that so many great men and women have gone before me – both in Biblical times (many who are listed in Hebrew 11) and throughout more recent years (thing of the martyrs of the early church, the martyrs in China, Adoniram Judson, Mary Slessor, Gladys Aylward, the Goforths, Brother Yun, etc etc) who have given up everything for the sake of the Lord, for the sake of the gospel, and for the sake of their eternal treasure….and yet we think we can have to Lord and all of our idols and personal comforts too; that we can have an earthly mound of treasure and fulfilled desires and still expect to find an eternal inheritance waiting for us, that we really cared nothing about until our dying day? These men and women have given up homes, families, comfort, personal dreams, worldly esteem, health, time, and even their lives for the Lord, and in order to not forsake His name, and in order to make His name known to others…and yet, we expect to be able to slide into heaven still holding onto our flatscreen TV and our perfect careers, where we have made a name for ourselves in the world.
- What does God think when he sees us whimpering over not being able to give up our Twilight books, or our favorite pop band to serve Him and/or spend more time with Him, when He sees all the martyrs and those who, at this very moment are being tortured because they love Him so much that they would give up anything and everything before they would every even think of renouncing Him? And yet, we renounce Him for far lesser things every day. And what about the great cloud of witnesses who had the faith to trust God and do His will no matter what the personal cost was – what do they think when they watch us clinging to every last straw of the world that we can? Their hearts must be torn in pieces, because they have loved the Lord with such a deep love, that to see our pettiness must cause them great pain.
- For this reason, I count nothing too much to give for the sake of following the Lord.
- “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3)
- There may be many who argue against me and who say these things aren’t really important or necessary to follow Christ…or those who simply love the world too much to even consider what I’m saying as true. But as for me, this is the only way. The Lord is my life, and serving Him is all that matters to me in this life. He alone I have chosen to serve, and I, by His grace and strength, will not go back or turn aside to the world. How can I when I have beheld His beauty? I will not look back.
The Point of Romance
Today’s culture seems to have an endless supply of answers to that question. We’re bombarded with “suggestions” from the latest novels, newly released films and catchiest tunes on the radio.
“I want your love and I want your revenge. I want your love, I don’t wanna be friends.” ~Bad Romance by Lady GaGa
“About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was part of him — and I didn’t know how potent that part might be — that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.” ~ Twilight
“I know your type, Boy, you’re dangerous. Yeah, you’re that guy I’d be stupid to trust…But just one night couldn’t be so wrong. You make me wanna lose control.” ~ Good Girls Go Bad by Cobra Starship
“Avril’s Back! How love finally made her happy.” “Girls Gone Wild! How far must a girl go to get his attention?” ~ From the covers of Seventeen magazine.
After pondering many of these “suggestions,” I settled upon what seemed to me to be five of the most prevalent (and somewhat conflicting) messages that many people – young and old alike – believe about romance today:
1.) It’s ok to be selfish, because you are the most important person in your life.
2.) You need to look “hot,” because people will be more likely to pay attention to you and maybe even fall in love with you.
3.) You have been told your whole life that the best looking guy/girl out there is the one you should pursue, and you should expect everyone else to be thinking the same way.
4.) Love is the most important emotion – to be pursued and obtained at any cost and when this “love” crumbles, so does our “world.”
5.) Relationships are temporary, and so is love.
With “help” from the media, I believe that much of what people today define as “love” (“unselfish, loyal, and benevolent concern for the good of another”) is in reality only infatuation (“to cause to be foolish : deprive of sound judgment”) or lust (“intense or unbridled sexual desire”). Notice that both of these deviations from what love is really meant to be involve both selfishness and a lack of wisdom. In fact, that definition of love that I included above is only what the dictionary says. The Bible’s definition is all that and so much more. Biblical romance involves not only selflessness and wisdom, but looking to Christ as our role model for what love looks like in every season of our lives.
So what does that mean for us singles?
CLICK HERE to read more…
O Lord, Give Me A…Discontented Heart (?)
I know I’ve talked bunches and bunches about being content. In fact, looking back over my previous posts, it seems to be the main thing I write about – from differing angles each time, of course. (*wink*) That is mainly because I write here, not because I’ve reached some soaring heights of maturity (far from it!), but because I write as God is teaching me things – essentially I’m usually preaching to myself – and I need constant reminding that God’s hand is guiding my every step, and that I can be content in every situation because the Lord is my God, and I am His child.
However, I have been noticing a startling trend in my life and the lives of many around me that caused me to step back a little, and look at things from a little bit different point of view. Hence, this post has come to be. Not because I am beyond this matter, but because I am going through it – and this is merely me processing life; hopefully through the lens of Scripture.
What is this discovery, which has birthed a blog post in these days when…(*cough*) I have not been posting as frequently? It’s actually very easy to see when you read a little Scripture. Maybe you’ll be able to guess after reading the following verses:
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Think you’ve got it? Well, just in case you didn’t, here it is: It is far too easy for us to be content with where we are spiritually. It is too easy to think that because we have it together on the outside, or because we go to church every Sunday (and even take notes!), or because we read our Bible and pray every morning for our friends, or because we’ve read every book there is on humility or theology or courtship or spiritual disciplines, that we are “cool” with God.
Doing all of those things is excellent – in fact, I highly recommend each of them! But there’s a difference between just going through the motions and living whole-heartedly and passionately for God. There’s a difference between taking in truth, and applying truth. There’s a difference between being content and being lazy. I fear I tend towards the being lazy part.
It’s so easy for me to just be content with going to church, taking notes during the sermon, going home…and never cracking my notebook again until the next Sunday! I think God is calling us to take the higher roads – to live more like we aught; realizing that our ultimate purpose it (as John Piper put it so well): To know God and to make Him known. Anything that falls short of that, is shifting sand that will never hold as we stand before God’s throne. And it is all too easy to chase after things that are so transient. In this culture that glorifies ease, pleasure, fun, and instant gratification, we could end up wasting our lives on things that wont last if we don’t realize where we are going and make a quick 180° turn.
What if… What if, instead of just going to church and taking notes, we were to commit to go over our notes, and find at least one area of our lives which we can apply the truths that we have learned to? What if we found ways to make sure that we would not forget the message throughout the week? What if, instead of just reading through a part of the Bible every morning, we committed to meditate on it, to study it, and to memorize it (I was very convicted about memorizing scripture at this year’s New Attitude conference, and I am ashamed to say that I have not shown much progress in the area – it’s hard to be consistent, but we’ve got to learn to Do Hard Things!)? What if, instead of just praying for our friends, we found ways to pray for our enemies? Do you pray for your future spouse? Your co-workers? Your own spiritual growth? Your pastor? The president and future president? We should come to prayer remembering that it is before the very throne of God that we fall. What if we not only read great books, but studied them, finding ways to apply the lessons of great men and women of the faith to our lives? Don’t be content just to read books like C.J. Mahaney’s “Humility”, or John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”, or Josh Harris’ “Boy Meets Girl” and “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” or Donald Whitney’s “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” or Alex and Brett Harris’ “Do Hard Things” (etc), but let your heart be transformed by the truth of Scripture, laid out in such a manner as to make it even easier to apply to specific areas of life. Apply. Persevere.
We must remember that the little things we are faithful in today, will reap great rewards in the future. It’s hard sometimes to continue to be faithful when you can’t see any immediate benefit…but God has promised that he will help us through the hard times too. The wise man may have not been able to see the storm coming when he built his house on a firm foundation – but he did it anyway, even though it was harder…trusting that some day it would pay off. And it did indeed, when the storm comes and blows down his counterpart’s house – which was built the quickest way, but not the wisest.
“I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
May this verse be the song of our hearts.
O Lord, give me a discontented heart – a heart that does not delight in passing pleasures of this world, but earnestly desires more – that I may more fervently seek after You.
Hit Over The Head…
You know those moments. YOU know…THOSE ones.
The times when you feel like God is preparing you for something…and there’s a yearning in your soul for whatever that is, even though you aren’t exactly sure what “that” is…and even though the prospect is somewhat scary?
Well…maybe it’s just me. But I’ve had one of those moments this past week. Yes, I think God has hit me over the head. Sometimes it seems like that’s what it takes for me to listen. It’s been harder now that I have a job for the next 6 months or so, and it’s a REAL job (my past few jobs have been like either only 3 days a week, or only like 6 hour days or only for a couple of weeks at once). Slowing down to hear God speak takes more effort now…but I think taking that time means even more to me when I don’t really have it. If you know what I mean.
Anyway, this was my first week of work, but I didn’t start until Tuesday. So I spent all of Monday praying and reading, because I had that stirring feeling in my spirit like God had something for me to accomplish for Him.
Here’s an excerpt of the slightly un-organized thoughts that I wrote to a couple of friends about how my day went (pieced together from both conversations):
I’ve been thinking about not living looking for what’s “permissible” to do (having my standards as comfortable for ME as possible), but what’s going to matter most at the end of my life.
I felt like I was supposed to read “Don’t Waste Your Life” today, and wow – it was so good.
Two things Piper quoted in it stuck out to me:
1.) “Only one life
‘Twill soon be past
Only what’s done
for Christ will last.”
2.)”How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes ‘n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?”
Anyway. I was looking at www.abort73.com ‘s website earlier…and going through some of the videos they had and just thinking of how they were spreading truth and saving lives. Then I visited the Rebelution and saw how they simply speak the truth no matter what, and attempt whatever they feel God calling them to do, no matter how hard or out of the ordinary it may be.
And it kinda’ sparked something in my heart that flares up now and again – something that I still am not 100% sure what to do with. I want to make a difference. To share truth. To live passionately for God. To be uncompromising. I’m just not sure where to start. Well, I guess I have started at the latter two.
I made a commitment to live more passionately for God this next year, and not worry about my future – specifically about getting married or having a guy/guys like me. I’m not even ready for marriage yet, and I know God will bring it about in his timing. My mom reminded me the other day that I will regret it if I push someone into liking me. It is for the man to pursue – to initiate the relationship IF HE WANTS TO…and for me, the gal, to humbly trust in God’s timing and plan. And I really want to do something this year that I may not have the chance to do at some other point in my life. Something that will bless others, or serve the church, or save lives, or something. I just don’t have the full picture yet. I am going to be praying that God will show me the way I am to go. (*hint for prayer*)
Like Mr. Osbourne said on Sunday, “God can accomplish anything, anywhere, any way.”
What’s even funnier is that my (autographed – hahaha!) copy of Do Hard Things came yesterday, and I’ve been reading it when I have time (like at lunch break – I got through 1 1/2 chapters). Just what I needed to come in the mail at the right time (and I was all worried when it didn’t come sooner – God knew).
Anyway. An idea came to me today as I brushed my teeth (of all things)…so maybe I’ll let you in on that if anything comes of it, and if/when I get everything planned out/written down.
Have a great day!
What will you do with the time you’ve been given?
How can you glorify God in your present circumstances?
Na Blog 2
Today, the new addition to the “Gospel and Relationships” mini-series has been posted on the New Attitude website (www.newattitude.org). This one is specifically for the guys, but has some great principles that can be applied to girls’ relationships as well (yes, I read it . I highly suggest taking a look:
NA – The Gospel and Relationships for Guys
When Can God Use Us?
Friday, February 22, 2008
When Can God Use Us?
Eric Novak – a fellow Christian blogger – approached me recently about doing a joint post after he saw we had had the same idea: To write about 1 Timothy 4:12. I thought it was a grand idea, and that it would be neat to put heads together with another beacon of light in the blogging community. Thus, “When Can God Use Us?” was created.
Eric: When I was a little kid, I wanted to know the answer to one question: “When can God use me?” Looking in the Bible, there were some great examples of people that God used to accomplish great things. But Joseph, David, and Solomon were such big Bible characters. God used them to build the nation of Israel. Until reading their stories, I never realized that it was God’s choice of when and how to use me.
Youth in Action
Eric: It is amazing to see how God used young people, many of them authors of the greatest books of the Bible.
Tai: In this day and age, it can be so easy to get caught up in wanting to “be someone” and make our mark on the world. But we must begin by being faithful in the things that God gives us. You will notice in the following looks at men and women of the Bible whom God used, that none of them were out to make something of themselves. They were out to serve God humbly, through whatever circumstances came their way – and many were unpleasant. And as they followed God’s leading, he used their lives in amazing ways.
How did God use young people?
It was through Joseph that God provided Israel a means to survive a famine.
He was seventeen years old when sold as a slave to Potiphar (Genesis 37:2).
To deliver Israel from the Philistines.
God used David to defeat Goliath, even though he was “but a youth” according to King Saul. (1 Samuel 17:33)
To lead Israel to its greatest heights
David appointed Solomon to succeed him, who when he became king, thought of himself as but “a little child” (1Kings 3:7)
To restore Judah to the true worship of God
When he was just eight, Josiah became king, and he was a good one (2 Chronicles 34:1). When he was sixteen, he sought to serve God (2 Chronicles 34:3). When he was twenty, he instituted religious reforms throughout Judah (2 Chronicles 34:3). When he was twenty-six, he restored the temple and the Passover (2 Chronicles 34:8; 35:18-19).
To prophesy to the nations
Jeremiah tried to escape his prophetic call (Jeremiah 1:4-6), but God told him not to say, “I am a youth,” because He would be with him (Jeremiah 1:7-8).
To reveal the sovereignty of God over the nations
This God did through Daniel, who was possibly twelve to fifteen when taken into Babylonian captivity (Daniel 1:3-5).
Making him fifteen to eighteen when brought to Nebuchadnezzar and began serving as his counselor (Daniel 1:18-20).
To bring the savior into the world
Mary was but a young virgin (Luke 1:26-33).
To proclaim the gospel to the lost
Timothy was selected by Paul to join him on his journeys (Acts 16:1-3).
He must have been quite young, for it was over twenty years later that Paul tells him to let no one despise his youth(1Timothy 4:12)!
The Kind of Young People God Can Use
1Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” This verse can mean two things. First, don’t let anyone look down on you because of your age or it can mean to act a specific way so that no one has any reason to look down on you. I have a tendency to believe it means the latter. If we look at young people in the Bible, we find amazing examples of the kind of character qualities that God looked for in young people.
He looked for those willing to flee immorality – Joseph
Tai: Joseph was a young man who God was able to use to express His glory because he was committed to serving God in whatever circumstances he found himself. One big test for Joseph came in the form of his Egyptian master, Potiphar’s wife. Joseph was handsome and Potiphar’s wife was attracted to him. In Genesis 39:7, she tried to lure him into committing adultery, but Joseph refused out of honor for his master and obedience to God. Later, when she grabbed his robe and tried to tempt him again, Joseph didn’t say, “Oh, you’ve got me by my robe, I guess I have to give in now.” Nope. He wasted no time in leaving behind what may have been one of his only earthly possessions as he fled from Potiphar’s wife. God blessed him for his wise decisions, taking him from being a humble shepherd and eventually making him a ruler over Egypt. He used him not only to save all of Egypt during a terrible 7-year famine, but also Israel, including the very brothers who had sold him into slavery over jealousy, years before.
Eric: Notice that Joseph left his robe in the hands of Potiphar’s wife. He dropped his prized possession and fled immorality. We should embrace that attitude, as well. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.”
Those willing to trust in God – David
Tai: David trusted God with all of his heart and was willing to attempt great things for Him. When he was just a young man, he stood before a giant whom no one else in the Israelites’ army seemed willing to fight. With just a sling, five stones, and God’s help, the fierce Giant was slain by this small shepherd boy. As he grew older, he trusted God to help him overcome many armies larger than his own. He also let Saul, who had been searching to unjustly kill him for quite a while, escape when he could have killed Saul himself more than once. He believed God’s justice was better than his own. God blessed him and set him as king over Israel. God said of him, “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (1 Samuel 13:13-14, Acts 13:22). David was ready to do anything that the Lord sent him to do and the Lord was pleased. He was faithful with the small things and the Lord gave him larger and larger things, as he continued to be faithful.
Eric: David had amazing faith. Do you wonder why he picked up five stones? Was it because he was afraid he would miss? Goliath actually had four brothers and David’s faith was so great that he was going to take out all the brothers with just his sling (2 Samuel 21:15-22)!
Those willing to seek first thing first – Solomon
Tai: First Kings 3:7-9 says, “And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this, your great people?”
Now that’s what I call humility – and it was spoken by one of Israel’s greatest (and wisest) kings! Solomon realized his human weakness, and the lack of ability to judge the land correctly on his own. He wasted no time in going right to the top in his search for wisdom. Because of his humility, God not only gave him wisdom, but added to it both riches and honor.
Eric: Solomon had an extremely hard choice to make. From the hand of God, he could ask for anything – money, happiness, honor or power – he could have asked for any one of a thousand earthly things (1 Kings 3:5). Instead, he decided to take wisdom. Because of his decision he was the wisest king in the history of Israel. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Solomon feared the Lord first and then God gave him wisdom.
Those willing to seek the lord with humility – Josiah
Tai: Josiah was only eight years old when he began to reign in Jerusalem. He found favor in God’s sight, and walked in His ways. When he was 16 he began to seek God. When he was 20, he instituted religious reform in Judah and tore down the places of worship to false gods. When he was 26 he repaired the temple, restored the people’s worship of the true God, and kept the Passover. He was committed to seeing the name of God lifted above all other things, and his obedience to God’s standards was reflected in the whole land of Judah.
Eric: Josiah was one of Israel’s youngest kings, devoting his life to God from his youth. Jonathan Edwards felt that devoting these very young, tender years to the Lord’s service is “a peculiar honor to God.” He said, “Boys who are pious early, dedicate the flower of their lives to God.”
While Josiah was king he destroyed the high places of Asherim. He tore down the altars of Baals, chopped up the incense altars above the Baals, and broke the carved and molten images into pieces and ground to powder. He scattered the ground powder on the graves of those who had sacrificed to the false gods and then burned the bones of the priests on their altars. Josiah was so devoted to God that he didn’t care about what the people wanted to do. He cared about what God wanted them to do.
Those willing to boldly do God’s will – Jeremiah
Tai: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” How many times have we said or thought the same thing to ourselves? “I can’t talk to that person about God, I’m just a kid!” That was Jeremiah’s initial response to learning that God had appointed him to be a prophet “to the nations.” But God replied with this remark: “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth;’ for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” (Jer. 1:7-8) God has called us to share his glory with the world, and he will give us the words to speak. We just have to GO and boldly do God’s will.
Eric: Jeremiah was just a youth when God chose to use him. Even though Jeremiah was slightly like Moses (in the sense that they both were afraid to speak for God), He still chose to use him. The reason was because there are no limitations with God. If he could take a rock and make it speak, then he can take a youth and use him (or her) convey His message.
Those willing to be true to their convictions – Daniel
Tai: Daniel was just a youth when he was taken into Babylonian captivity. But even then, at the very beginning of his imprisonment, he stood firm in his convictions not to eat or drink any of the king’s food or wine. God blessed him greatly for that. (Daniel 1:8) Later, he was willing to stand up for the one true God, despite the huge threat of being thrown into a fiery furnace if he would not bow down to an idol. He did not bow and consequently he was thrown into the furnace, as promised, along with his three friends. But God protected them there, and they came out unharmed (not even a single hair of their heads was singed). (Daniel 3:27) Daniel stood firm in his convictions, never wavering, and God was glorified through his faith.
Eric: Daniel had strong convictions. After refusing to eat the king’s food, being thrown into a fiery furnace, and tossed into a den of lions, he was still in one piece. God told him, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” (Daniel 10:10 -12).
Those willing to humbly submit to God’s will – Mary
Tai: Mary was a young woman of no social standing, with no outstanding qualities – except for her humility. And because of this, she found favor in the eyes of God (Luke 1:30) and was chosen out of all the women on earth to bear the Son of God. When the angel of the Lord told her that she would be the one to bear Jesus, something that she knew could have a terrible effect on her reputation, she said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” She wholeheartedly submitted to God’s will. Oh, that we all would be so humbly submitted.
Eric: I always find amazing that Mary was able to submit to God’s will for her life. Look at the scandal that could have followed her. She knew from the moment the Angel appeared to her that she could be stoned to death, and yet she made the decision to surrender her life to God’s service, anyway. Do we have that kind of courage today?
Those willing to be an example to others – Paul instructing Timothy
Tai: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Timothy was a young disciple, whom Paul chose to accompany him (Acts 16:1-3), and for whom he became a spiritual mentor. In the verse above, Paul was writing to Timothy to encourage him to be an example for the other believers in Ephesus, where Timothy was serving. It isn’t always easy, but as Christians, we are called to be examples of Jesus and His glory. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”(Matthew 5:16).
Eric: Timothy was a young man who Paul befriended in Lystra around 49AD. Most of Paul’s letters were addressed in some way to Timothy. In fact, only three letters make no mention of him (Ephesians, Titus and Gelatins). Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one look down on your for your youth.” Not only does this means “young” it means “a new believer” too!
The Greek word “youthfulness” is the word Neotes, meaning “young” and “youth.” This word is derived from “ananeoo” which means “to renew, to make young, to be renewed insofar as spiritual vitality is concerned.” Youthfulness is also derived from the word “Neophutos” which means “Newly Planted.” This would make a lot of sense as Paul would be saying, “Don’t let anyone look down on you for being a new Christian” in addition to “Don’t let anyone look down on you for being youthful.” Timothy may have been a “newer” Christian when the book of Timothy was written, and when Paul told him to “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
Making Change – Teens Today
I find it amazing that some people think most young people aren’t old enough to have a ministry. Who are we to tell God, whom He can and cannot use? God didn’t just use young people in the Bible; He is using them all over the world today.
What Can God Do With You?
Jeremiah said, “I am but a youth.” And God’s reply was stunning. “Do not say, ‘I am a youth’ because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak!” God was not telling Jeremiah that it was an option to serve Him; He was commanding him to serve Him and not to take his youth into account. God basically said, “Don’t use that terminology in my presence, young man!”
This whole topic really comes down to a question. What will you allow God to do with you? If you have the mentality that God cannot use you, He will not use you. If you have a teachable spirit and believe that “everything is possible with God,” He will use you. The Great Commission doesn’t say, “All adults go make disciples of all nations.” Jesus did say, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)