When I was a teenager I struggled with overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame. I was stuck in an unhealthy cycle of binge eating and purging, I had issues with lust, I felt like such a terrible sinner and wondered how Jesus could really love me. The Bible says that because Jesus died on the cross and rose again, we are free from sin, death, guilt and shame. Psalm 103:12 says, he has taken our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west - that's a long way.
Guilt and shame are two of satan's favourite tools to keep us stuck. We feel like we are unworthy and undeserving and wonder how God could possibly use us. The truth is that God uses broken, imperfect people. David was an adulterer, Moses was a murderer, Rahab was a prostitute, Jacob was a cheat and Paul persecuted Christians before he was converted. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sins. When we get stuck in guilt and shame we are exactly where satan wants us to be - stuck. Jesus wants us to be free - free from sin, death, guilt and shame. Free to live out our God given purpose.
I love the word zeal but you don't hear it very often. It means enthusiasm, diligence, eagerness, passion and commitment. The Macmillan Dictionary defines it as great energy, effort, and enthusiasm. The other word in this verse that you don't hear very often is fervour. Its meaning is similar - a very strong feeling or enthusiasm. The Greek word for fervour refers to something boiling and bubbling over.
The Apostle Paul was instructing Christians to be energetic, enthusiastic, passionate, eager, diligent and committed as they served God. I see a lot of zealous people at football and basketball games (not cricket so much). But I don't see a lot of zealous people at church. That must make God sad that we get so excited about a bunch of sweaty people chasing a ball around, but we don't get as excited about praising, worshiping and serving God.
In Revelation chapter three, God told the church at Laodicea, "because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth." God doesn't want us to be lukewarm or even simmering (slowly bubbling) - he wants us to be boiling, bubbling wildly. Where do you sit on the zeal scale? Are you lukewarm - not passionate at all about serving Jesus? Are you simmering - kind of passionate? Or, are you boiling rapidly - living on fire for Jesus? I want to be in that last category?
Here are some tips to help you be zealous and fervent:
I don't know if you've tried archery before, but it's pretty important to look at the target when you release the arrow. If you look away your arrow is likely to go AWOL. (side note: if you haven't tried archery, you should - it's fun).
Let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.
Paul talked about how important it is to look ahead when you're running a race. If you look behind you, you actually slow down and start veering out of your lane.
King David said, my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord (Psalm 141:8).
In Matthew chapter 14 Jesus sent the disciples on ahead of him in a boat one day and he walked on water to catch up with them later. Peter asked Jesus if he could walk on water too and Jesus said, 'come.' Peter started walking on the water toward Jesus! But then he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind and the waves. He became afraid and began to sink. Have you ever thrown yourself into something full of enthusiasm and expectation, only to get distracted by discouragement and doubt? Did you take your eyes off Jesus and start to sink? The good news is Peter didn’t drown - Jesus reached down and saved him. He reaches down to help pick you up too. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Don’t let fear and discouragement keep you from living your best life for him.
I have a confession. I am writing a book - it will be a girl’s guide to life, body, mind and spirit. There have been times when I have been distracted by the wind and the waves - they took the form of self-doubt, the sheer enormity of the task, tough questions that I didn’t know the answer to and other hurdles. I believe that if I keep looking to Jesus for wisdom, strength, patience and perseverance I can walk on water (or at least publish this book).
What is your walking on water challenge? You might have a sin you need to deal with, a relationship to repair, a difficult situation to endure, an illness to survive, a mental health challenge to overcome, a goal to achieve. Whatever it is, fix your eyes on Jesus!
Yahweh is the name God used for himself in the Bible. It was first used when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush which you can read about in Exodus 3. In Ancient Hebrew it was spelt YHWH and was combined with the vowels of the Hebrew word for ‘The Name,’ Ha-Shem. It is translated as LORD in all capitals in English Bibles. The Jews believed that Yahweh was too holy to say out loud so they used the Hebrew word Adonai, which means Lord. Yahweh means I am and refers to the fact that God has no beginning and no end. Everything comes from him and relies on him for it’s existence. He is holy, loving, forgiving, ever present, all-knowing, holy, unchanging, truth.
Sometimes we get a bit casual about God. He loves us like children and we need to respect him as the loving Heavenly Father that he is, remembering that he is also the creator of the universe who will judge all people for their thoughts and actions.
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.