John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
I think it’s amazing how much the world asks for God without ever asking God. Every year you hear the most noble Christmas wish – world peace. But after so many years of trying to obtain it, do you really think the world is becoming more peaceful? Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. Living by His Word has brought great peace to men and woman even while evil men were literally burning them to death. How can someone who is dying for their faith feel peace in their heart? Because peace does not come from the outside; it comes from within. Your peace can be found in your relationship with God. Too often one tries to find peace by telling others how they think those people should act and get along, but they only end up frustrated and stressed out in the end. If your concept of peace comes from the way others act, you will never be able to control your own peace; however, if you base your peace on a relationship with Christ, you can have that inexplicable peace the world can only imagine.
Ecclesiastes 4:4 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
Envy is a horrible slave master. People will work like crazy to buy, cheat, and steal their way into getting something someone else has. The fact is some people have more than you and are less happy, and others have less than you and are more happy. Your happiness is your choice, but if you decide to allow your happiness to be based on a comparison of you and someone else, you will always find yourself either killing yourself to get what you want or very deeply depressed. Proverbs 27 says, “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” Some people die sad, bitter deaths because they could never have what they envied. Choose to be happy with what you have. “Happiness is not having what you want; it’s wanting what you have.” You have a Saviour/God who chose to be tortured to death to be with you for eternity. Don’t let what you don’t have define you.
Proverbs 19:1 Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
There are no substitutes for honesty and integrity. In today’s world, it’s common to see people lie, cheat, and steal in order to get ahead. The Bible calls that person a fool. You see, every time you lie, you undermine the value of your reputation, and a habit like that can follow you for your entire life. If you find that people don’t trust you, ask yourself if you are honest enough to deserve their trust. If you lie to your parents, don’t be surprised that they don’t trust you to be honest when you say you’re going to a friend’s house. It’s better to be poor and honest than rich and a lying fool.
I Corinthians 4:13, 20 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day… For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
Paul was an incredible man who traveled the known world and started churches everywhere he went. He was smart, in good physical condition, and loved sports. He is one of the three main authors of the Bible, and his ministry revolutionized the cities and countries he went through. However, people would talk about him and try to put him down. As he said, he was made the ‘filth of the world’ by the defaming, or as we would say, slander. Have you ever had someone talk bad about you and try to make you feel worthless? A few verses later, Paul states that the kingdom of God is in power, not word. A lot of people talk, but not a lot of people actually have power. Here’s the great thing about being friends with God: He has all power. If you put more time and energy into knowing God and understanding His power in your life, you can have joy in spite of what people say about you. But, if you focus on the bad things people say, you will lose sight of God and be very discouraged. What do you focus on more: the words of people or the power of God?
Proverbs 27:12 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.
In life, there are good days and bad days. It’s important to not overreact to either one; however, it is wise to look at the overall trends. I’m not talking about shoes; I’m talking about you personally. A company will have a bad day of sales, but if on average they are selling more each day, they are said to be trending up. The CEO’s, CFO’s and COO’s look at the trends instead of a single day to determine what adjustments they need to make to ensure a good future for the company. That’s a lot like life. If you did or did not pray today is not as important as you praying more and more each week. Are you fighting more or less with your mom and dad than you have been? Don’t let one good day make you think everything is perfect or one bad day make you think everything is hopeless. Look for the good and bad trends and work to make them what you want them to be. How are you trending at home, school, work, and with God?
Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
Trust issues seem to be everywhere. Because we are sinners, we all fail sometimes, and unfortunately we hurt each other. There’s only one way to have true emotional security and that is to trust in the Lord. Maybe your friend betrayed you or your dad left you or your sibling hurt you. These are all wrong, but they are all a part of a sin-cursed life. There is one person Who loves you and believes in you enough to die for you. Talk to Him today. Trust Him because He will never fail you.
II Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Have you ever had an older brother or sister grab your hand and hit you in the face with it while repeating, “Stop hitting yourself”? While thoroughly enjoyable for your sibling, it’s not fun if you’re on the receiving end. Addictions are like this, except no one is forcing you. Drugs, alcohol, pornography, and extra-marital sex have been destroying families and lives of adults for centuries; however, teenagers are now dealing with these same issues more than ever before. It’s well documented that all of these cause a lot of pain and damage. The average American child is now seeing pornography for the first time at 8 years old, and many have the opportunity to begin the self-destructive cycle of addiction before they are teenagers. There’s only one person who can decide to build a life of righteousness, faith, charity, and peace instead of a life controlled and destroyed by addictions and lust. That’s you. It’s your choice to run away from the things that promise happiness and leave you desolate and to run to God who gives you true joy, peace, and freedom.
Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
Joseph, one of the Bible’s most famous characters, went through a lot of tough times. His brothers hated him and sold him as a slave. He was falsely accused of fornication and then thrown in prison. Have you ever felt betrayed or been lied about or punished for something you didn’t do? Joseph was, and now years later, this is what he said to his brothers when they met again. You see, God is good, and God is in control even when it seems like nothing is fair. Even when people are acting evil, like Joseph’s brothers did, God has a great plan for you. Joseph became the second most powerful man in the kingdom and literally saved thousands from staving. God has a plan for you too, but you have to learn to be patient and trust Him.
I Corinthians 7:16 I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.
Sometime it feels like nobody believes in you or thinks you’re good enough. We’ll talk about that again at the end. Titus went to the church in Corinth, and the church there treated him very well. Titus left the church and was refreshed in spirit as he returned to Paul. Paul explains all of this and then talks about his confidence in the people of that church. Confidence is something we all want, but as teenagers, it may seem hard to get. And, when others don’t believe in us, we find it hard to believe in ourselves. There was one great deciding factor that gave Paul confidence in these people. It was because of the way they treated Titus. How do you treat the people around you? Do you encourage them the way the church encouraged Titus? We all want our parents or teachers to trust us, but their confidence in you is usually based on how you treat others and how much you respect them.
Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Do you ever feel like you’re not loved, even though you know you probably are? The first sentence in this verse is talking about that. The word “dissimulation” means to conceal your thoughts, feelings, or character. In other words, it’s not enough to love other people, we need to show our love to other people. To truly follow this teaching, you need to find ways to express your Christ-like love to everyone around you. For a classmate, it may be something simple like helping them with a project or even picking something up for them that they dropped. At home it might be helping a sibling with homework or cleaning their room. This is also true with our love for God. What are ways you can think of to show love to God?