Almost every city in the world has a market that sells cheap imitations of designer handbags and clothes. That Gucci bag you bought in Bali for $10 probably isn't the real deal. If you look at if from a distance you might be fooled but a closer inspection will reveal the wonky stitching, ill-fitting lining and broken zip. If you do have a spare $5000 to buy an authentic Gucci bag (not that I condone spending that much on a handbag), you will be able to tell from the workmanship that it is the real deal.
Your Christian faith can be a bit like that. If you look at it from a distance it looks real. You go to church and youth group but if you take a closer look at your life it may reveal some flaws. It's impossible to be perfect but if your faith is legit you should be moving towards Christlikeness. Your faith should show in your words and actions.
Matthew 23:5 was referring to the teachers of the law or pharisees and said that they did the right thing to be seen by others. Are your actions motivated by your genuine love of God or are you just trying to look good for others?
You know when one of the apps on your computer or phone won't work properly because it needs updating? Sometimes life is like that, some of your ideas or views are unhealthy or unhelpful or just plain wrong and need updating. Consider the following verses:
Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.
Let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God.
So, how do we update our stinkin thinkin and be more like Jesus?
1. Talk to God and ask him to show you things you need to change. Ask him to help you change.
2. Spend time reading and studying the Bible and test our ideas and values against what the Bible says. Write out relevant Bible verses and stick them around your room to remind you.
CHALLENGE: What stinkin thinkin do you need to change?
Fish are tempted to take the bait because it looks good (to them at least) but it has deadly consequences.
Here are some examples of things that look good but have negative consequences:
But here is the good news:
Christians are like lamps, God is the electricity that powers us and His love is the light. The only way that people can see the light is if we put his love into action, if we do good. Jesus says that when people see the good that we do they will praise Him. I don't know about you, but I find it hard to do good for others, I'm usually more interested in me. A lamp needs to be plugged in to work. That's why we need to be plugged into God. We do this by reading the Bible, praying, worshipping Him, meditating on Him, thanking Him etc.
Life is like gardening - if you plant a lot of seeds, you will grow a lot of plants. Paul was encouraging people to be generous when he wrote 2 Corinthians 9. The Cambridge dictionary defines generous as willing to give money, help, kindness, etc., especially more than is usual or expected. Money isn't the only thing you can be generous with - you can also be generous with your time, patience, love, kindness, compliments, smiles, hugs etc. If you are generous, then you will be rewarded - you my have to wait until heaven though. Matthew 16:27 says, For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
God's grace is like an umbrella. Imagine that troubles are rain. God doesn't stop it raining on Christians - we have troubles, just like everyone else. But the umbrella of God's grace helps us to stand in the midst of troubles and not get soaking wet. We may get a little damp but not completely drenched. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again.
Being transformed into the likeness of Christ is like renovating a house. It takes time and you need professional help. We renovated an old house - it took us 10 years and we employed a lot of tradesmen during the process. When you become a Christian, you don't usually radically change overnight (though some people do). Even people who have been Christians for 30 years are still being transformed - it is an ongoing process. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him. We still need to make an effort - prayer, read and study our Bibles, meet with other Christians etc. The Holy Spirit is like the tradesman who does the work. I can paint and do a bit of tiling but not as good as a professional painter or tiler. I can try to be like Christ but only God can transform me.
The Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power
I love solar lights - no electricity or batteries required. These ones hang in my studio window. Without the power of the sun though, these lights don't work. Just like Christians need time with God to enable them to do life as he wants us to. Spending time reading God's Word (the Bible) and talking to him (prayer) gives you the power to shine for him. Acts 1:8 says, But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world. That's what he wants us to do, to shine his light and tell the world about his love.
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.