I love this passage in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. I love the poetry of the New International Version. Paul said, We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. You don't need me to tell you that life can be hard. There is family conflict, divorce, school stress, friendship problems, mental health concerns, disease, war, violence, crime, abuse... It's easy to get overwhelmed when it practically smacks us in the face every day on the television, on the radio, in conversation... Paul said that they were hard pressed, perplexed and struck down but not crushed, in despair or abandoned. He explains whey in the rest of the chapter. Verse 14 says, We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. We know that God is preparing a better place for us for eternity, that is what sustains us when we are hard pressed, perplexed and struck down. Verse 16-18 says, That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. Praise God that the troubles you are facing right now, won't last forever, so hang in there!
James 1:12 says, God will bless you, if you don’t give up when your faith is being tested. He will reward you with a glorious life, just as he rewards everyone who loves him. Faith is believing that Jesus died and rose again so that you can enjoy eternal life in God's family. It is trusting that he is in control, even when everything is going wrong.
It's a bit like flying on a plane. When I get on a plane I trust that the pilot knows what he is doing and that the plane has been maintained properly. I trust that, even though the plane is heavy, it will get into the air, stay there, then land safely at the other end. Faith is also trusting that even when there is turbulence and your juice spills and the luggage compartments drop open, you will get safely to your destination.
Do you find it easy to have faith when everything is going great but struggle the minute things get a bit bumpy? Trust God that he knows what he is doing. So strap yourself in and enjoy the journey.
In Matthew 18 the disciples had just asked Jesus who would be the greatest person in heaven. They were hoping that he would choose one of them but verse 4 says, The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is the one who makes himself humble like this child. This is another example of God's upside down economy. You need to be humble to be great. Little children are humble by nature. They are teachable and completely reliant on others. We should trust in, and rely on God, just like a little child relies on its parents for everything it needs. If you live like a little child with complete trust in God, you will be great in the kingdom of heaven.
Joy is mentioned 242 times in the New International Version of the Bible. According to the Holman Bible Dictionary *, joy is "the happy state that results from knowing and serving God." It goes on to say, "Joy is the fruit of a right relation with God." It is directly proportional to your relationship with God - a great relationship with God equals great joy.
Romans 15:13 says, I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit. Joy and hop are closely linked - we experience joy because of the hope that we have in Jesus. That is why we can be joyful no matter what our circumstances. Even in the middle of sickness, a family breakdown, loss, or heartbreak, we can experience joy because we know that one day we will enjoy eternity with Jesus without any of those painful things. James 1:2-3 says, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. James is saying to be joyful when you experience hard times because they are developing your character!
Do you feel joyful? If not, you might want to invest some time in your relationship with God.
In Matthew 17 the disciples had tried to cast an evil spirit from a demon-possessed boy, but it wouldn't come out. When they asked Jesus why, he told them it was because of their lack of faith. In fact, he got quite frustrated with them and said, You people have no faith. Your lives are all wrong. How long must I stay with you? How long must I continue to be patient with you? In verse 20 he explained, You were not able to drive out the demon because your faith is too small. I tell you the truth. If your faith is as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there.’ And the mountain will move. All things will be possible for you (ICB).
So, what is faith? According to Hebrews 11:1, Faith means being sure of the things we hope for. And faith means knowing that something is real even if we do not see it. Visualising your goals has become very popular in secular thinking recently. It's a bit like faith except that visualising is believing in your own abilities and faith is believing in God's ability.
Have big faith - the God you serve is the same God who created the universe, parted the sea so that the Israelites could escape the Egyptians, tore down the wall of Jericho, saved Daniel in the lion's den and saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the furnace.
1 John 4:18 says There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment.
The key to understanding this verse is found in the verses before it. Verse 16-17 say, We know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him. If God’s love is made perfect in us, then we can be without fear on the day God judges us. God is love - he wants to bless us, not punish us. That's why he sent Jesus so he could adopt us as his children.
The love the author speaks about is not only the love that God has for us or our love for God, but our love for each other.
Fear can not exist when:
I am afraid of failure and looking foolish. Here are some scriptures that address that fear:
Romans 5:5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 8:38-39 I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not death, life, angels, or ruling spirits. I am sure that nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us or nothing below us—nothing in the whole created world—will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Think about your fears. How can perfect love drive out your fear? Can you find scriptures to meditate on that speak God's truth over your fears?
Towards the end of Jesus' ministry he told his disciples, If any of you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me. Our human nature wants us to please ourselves, not deny ourselves. Once again, God's kingdom is the complete opposite of the world. You don't literally have to carry a cross but you have to sacrifice your own desires to do what Jesus would do instead. For example, instead of selfishly spending all of your money on yourself, you need to help those in need and share it with others. Instead of using bad language like many others at school, you need to speak things that are holy, good and uplifting. These are not really big sacrifices considering that Jesus sacrificed his like for you.
When someone was crucified in New Testament times, part of the sentence was to carry their cross through the town. Not only was this difficult, it was also shameful. Often we feel ashamed or embarrassed about being a Christian because it means we don't fit in with our non-christian friends. Hebrews 12:2 says, But he accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing. He did this because of the joy that God put before him. We should accept any shame for being a follower of Jesus because of the joy we will experience when we spend eternity with him.
For more information on the 'follow me' part of this verse, see the devotion on 18th May 2021.
Jesus said this several times to the disciples but on this occasion in Matthew 14 it was when Jesus walked on the water. When the disciples saw him they were terrified because they thought he was a ghost. Then Peter asked if he could walk on water too. Jesus said "sure, come on," so Peter got out of the boat and started walking on water too. He was doing great until he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind and the waves then started sinking. Jesus said, "Your faith is small. Why did you doubt?" I found it interesting that Jesus never told Peter to get out of the boat, it was Peter's idea. Initially he had faith, then he got distracted and started to doubt and fear.
What is your walking on water experience? What did you want to do for him until you thought about the logistics? What passion did you have until you were crippled by self doubt and fear of failure? What project has God put on your heart that you forgot about because you got busy and distracted? It doesn't have to be something big - it could be a weekly prayer meeting with some Christian friends, a blog sharing your faith journey, volunteering at kids church, writing some music for God...
I started this blog nearly five years ago because God put it on my heart. I had feelings of self-doubt, a bad case of imposter syndrome and was afraid of failing. But I kept my eyes on Jesus and not on the doubts and fears. I have just finished writing a book that will hopefully be printed by October this year. I have constantly had to keep my eyes on Jesus though that process. The waves of insecurity, self-doubt and fear of failure continue to roll around me but I'm keeping my eyes on him!
Psalm 23:6 says, Surely your goodness and love will be with me all my life. And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
The first five verses of Psalm 23 are about the goodness of God.
1 - God gives us everything we need
2 - God gives us rest and peace
3 - God gives us strength and leads us on the right path
4 - God is with us in difficult times and comforts us
5 - God blessed us with more than enough
Verse six emphasises this by saying that God’s goodness and love will be with us all our lives. David reminds us that we will live in his house for eternity. He mentions traveling through a dark valley and enemies in this Psalm, indicating that there will be difficult times in our lives. But no matter what difficulties we face, it’s not worth comparing to the great joy we will experience in eternity with God. Romans 8:18 says, We have sufferings now. But the sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be given to us.
So, in a nutshell, God is good, even when life is not. Eternity with God will be worth the pain.
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.