After the Israelites escaped from Egypt, Moses sent 12 men, to spy out the land of Canaan - the Promised Land. After exploring for 40 days they came back and told Moses that the land was good but that the people were strong and like giants and the cities had walls around them. This report made everyone afraid. But two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb brought back a positive reply. Caleb, said, "Don’t be afraid of the people in that land. We can defeat them. They have no protection, nothing to keep them safe. But we have the Lord with us, so don’t be afraid!" The people were angry and wanted to kill Caleb and Joshua. Then the glory of God appeared and said that because the Israelites had been disobedient (again), none of them would enter the promised land, only Caleb and Joshua.
Life Lessons: Don't listen to the doubters when God tells you to go.
Saul was the first king of Israel. He was 30 years old when he became King. The Israelites had been ruled by judges but they wanted a king like the other nations around them. In 1 Samuel 12:14-15 Samuel told the people, Both you and the king ruling over you must follow the Lord your God. If you do, it will be well with you. But if you don’t obey the Lord, and if you fight against his commands, he will be against you.
So God chose Saul to be king. He was very tall and handsome. He wasn't thrilled about being king and hid when the prophet, Samuel, wanted to anoint him. In 1 Samuel 11: 6 it says that "the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him." Saul raised an army of 300,000 men and defeated the Ammonites who were threatening the Israelites. Unfortunately after this he began to disobey God - he didn't wait for Samuel to offer sacrifices, made a foolish vow, he kept the best cattle and sheep of the Amalekites when God told them to destroy them all and he consulted a witch. The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and he suffered episodes of madness. He was jealous of David and tried to kill him. In the end, he was critically wounded by the Philistines in battle and killed himself. It's like something you'd see at the movies.
Life Lessons: If you do your own thing and please yourself, you cannot expect God to bless you.
Jael's story is closely linked to Deborah's. You can read about it in Judges chapter 5. In a nutshell, the prophetess and judge, Deborah, told Barak to gather an army and fight against King Jabin as he had been oppressing the Israelites. Barak said he would go but only if Deborah went with him. She did and they won. Because Barak wouldn't go without Deborah, she foretold that the commander of Jabin's army, Sisera, would be killed by a woman and not him.
This is where Jael comes into the story. Sisera fled from the Israelite army and Jael offered to hide him in her tent. Her husband's tribe were allies of King Jael. He hid in her tent, had a glass of milk and fell asleep. Then, Jael took a tent peg and a hammer and nailed it through his head - gruesome right!
Life lessons: Have courage, God is with you - he can use the weak to defeat the strong.
John was a fisherman before he became a disciple of Jesus. His brother, James, was also a disciple. He was one of the fisherman, along with James and Peter, who had been fishing all night and caught nothing. Then Jesus told them to throw their nets over the other side of the boat and they caught so many fish they couldn't fit them all in the boat. Jesus told them they would become fishers of men - they would bring people into the Kingdom, not catch fish. Luke 5:11 says, The men brought their boats to the shore. They left everything and followed Jesus.
I find it amazing that they left everything to follow Jesus. We hold on too tightly to our reputation, our achievements, our friends, our families, wanting to live life our way, wanting people to like us... We need to forget all that, leave it behind, and follow Jesus.
CHALLENGE: What is something that you need to leave behind and follow Jesus' way instead? Is it bad language, lying, gossiping, complaining, being selfish?
Luke was most likely a gentile (non-Hebrew). Colossians 4:14 tells us that Luke was a doctor and a good friend of Paul. Greetings also from Demas and our dear friend Luke, the doctor. He is only mentioned three times in the New Testament but is accepted as the author of the book of Luke. Paul told Timothy in his letter that Luke was the only one with him while he was in prison in Rome. (2 Timothy 4:11).
Life Lesson: Luke was a good friend to Paul. It's important to have good Christian friends who can encourage you. You can encourage them too.
His Jewish name was John which means grace of God. His Roman name was Mark. Both names are used in the New Testament but it is the same guy. He is most likely the author of the book of Mark .
In Acts 12:12 when Peter was rescued from prison, He went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.
Peter refers to Mark as his son in Christ at the end of his letter (1 Peter 5:13) Mark, who is like a son to me, sends his greetings too.
Mark’s cousin was Barnabas. He went with Paul and Barnabas on one of their mission trips but left them part way and returned to Jerusalem. This was the reason that Paul and Barnabas had a falling out. Barnabas wanted to take Mark on another one of their trips and Paul did not because he had deserted them earlier.
Even though they had their differences, Mark was a comfort to Paul in prison. Colossians 4:10 says, My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. In 2 Timothy 4:11 Paul told Timothy, Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
Past mistakes don’t disqualify us from serving God.
It's helpful to have spiritual mentors who can pray for us and offer wisdom and guidance.
CHALLENGE: Do you have a spiritual mentor who you can talk to and ask questions? Perhaps a parent, aunt, youth leader, friend's parent, pastor.
Matthew was one of the twelve disciples who accompanied Jesus during his ministry.
Before that he was a tax collector and was probably quite wealthy. His Hebrew name was Levi but Matthew was his Jewish name which means Gift of God. He wrote the book of Matthew and refers to himself as Matthew in it. In the Gospels of Mark, Luke and John he is referred by his be his Hebrew name, Levi.
Luke 5:27-29 says, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the place for paying taxes. Jesus said to him, “Come with me.” Levi left everything and went with Jesus. In his home Levi gave a big dinner for Jesus. Many tax collectors and other guests were also there.
There is not much written about him in the Bible. It is believed that he preached in Palestine then other countries including Ethiopia, Macedonia and Persia after Jesus returned to heaven.
Life Lesson: Matthew gave up everything including a well paid job and friends to follow Jesus. What are you prepared to give up for him?
Cain was Adam and Eve's first born child. He was the first person to be born in the Bible and the first murderer.
Cain was a farmer and grew crops. When Cain and Abel presented offerings to God, he was jealous because God preferred Abel's offering so he killed him - pretty extreme, right? He was banished for his sin. He moved to the land of Nod, married, had a son, Enoch and built a city named after his son.
It was Cain's attitude that was the problem. God can see past our actions to the attitudes that motivate them.When Cain and Abel brought their offerings to God Cain just brought some of the produce from his farm but Abel brought the best of his flock. When we give God our time, effort and money do we give to him first, or do we give what's left?
Jairus was a Jewish church leader so he was an important guy. The Jewish church leaders didn't like Jesus but Jairus begged him to heal his daughter - he was desperate. While they were on their way to his house Jesus stopped to heal another woman, one who was considered unclean. God doesn't care if you're important by worldly standards, he loves everyone. He especially loves people that the world doesn't - the poor, the sick, the sinners.
When they got the news that the girl had died Jesus told Jairus, "Don't be afraid, just believe, and she will be healed." You can not be full of fear and faith at the same time. When you are feeling afraid or anxious - give you fears to God. 1 Peter 5:7 says, Give all your worries to him, because he cares for you.
CHALLENGE: What are you feeling anxious or afraid about that you need to trust God with?
Moses is a very interesting character - his story takes up the whole book of Exodus. When he was born the Israelites were living in Egypt because of a famine (see the story of Joseph). The Israelites were increasing in number so Pharaoh commanded that the midwives kill the Israelite baby boys. Moses' mother hid him in a basket and Pharaoh's daughter found him and raised him as her son. When he was an adult Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite so he fled to another country. God appeared to him in a burning bush and sent him to Egypt to rescue the Israelites. Moses was very reluctant but God said "I will be with you."
When Moses and his brother, Aaron, confronted Pharaoh and demanded that he let the Israelites go, he refused so God afflicted Egypt with ten plagues - river was turned to blood, frogs, lice, flies, disease that affected farm animals, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, death of firstborn. Pharaoh was one stubborn dude but finally he relented and the Israelites left. Then Pharaoh changed his mind and pursued them. The Israelites were trapped by the Red Sea but God told Moses to hold his staff over the water and the sea parted so that they could safely cross over. The sea then closed over the Egyptian army. Long story short, the Israelites were disobedient so they wandered around the desert for 40 years. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments.
So what does this mean for us? God called Moses but he didn't think he was qualified and came up with all kinds of excuses. Sometimes God tells us to do something and we don't think we're the right person for the job and come up with all sorts of excuses. But God promised to be with Moses and he promises to be with us too.
Life Lesson: God chooses the weak and humble and enables them with his strength and wisdom.
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.