Are you more grateful for the blessings in your life or the One who has given you each blessing?
Although sin no longer rules us, we still are naturally sinful. God considers us righteous and credits us with the spotless record of Christ, but we still do sin. In fact, the battle with our indwelling sin starts at our conversion. Through justification we are declared righteous, and it is at this point that our sanctification – our growing in holiness – begins.
Our beliefs shape our values, and our values shape our actions.
To correctly evaluate our hearts, we need to examine the thoughts and motives behind our words and actions.
Pride isn’t limited to self-righteousness. Our pride can also be self-preoccupation: being overly concerned with what others think of us and strongly desiring that others would think highly of us. Shyness can result from proudly fearing saying something stupid. Thinking extensively of how we look or act in public can come from a deep desire to impress others. Regularly redirecting conversation to ourselves can be prideful self-centeredness. The bottom line is that when we are proud, we think a lot about ourselves.
What do we do if we want to grow in our relationship with God? We should do the same things we would do with any other relationship: look for ways to spend time together, talk with each other, make plans to bless each other, do things for each other, focus on each other’s desires, try to get to know each other more, honor each other, serve each other, and enjoy each other.
We cannot pursue biblical knowledge just to grow in knowledge. Understanding doctrine isn’t the goal. Loving God and living in a way that pleases Him need to be our aims. Knowledge tends to puff us up (1 Cor. 8:1-2), but a genuine relationship with God with a true knowledge of His character and love will keep us humble (Isa. 6:5; Ps. 8:3-4).
Prayer is a humble act of declaring our dependence on God.
Church kids are individuals who have grown up in the church. They come from Christian homes, have Christian parents, and have attended church their entire lives. They live in a Christian culture surrounded by Christians at home, church, and often school. It is a wonderful privilege to be a church kid.
Convictions based just on what our parents believe may work for a time; convictions based on personal experiences may help with some situations; convictions based on personal opinions may at times guide us in decisions; and even convictions based on the values of the world may in a rare situation also honor God; but by far the best, the strongest, and the surest conviction that will guide us in every situation, decision, and temptation is a conviction formed by sound and thorough biblical study and teaching.
On unbelievers, He will pour our His wrath because of their unrepentant hearts. On behalf of believers, He has already punished Jesus for our sins. His holy character demands that He hate sin, judge sinners, and pour out His wrath on those who sin. When we realize how much God hates sin, we will grow in our hatred for it, too.
Your knowledge of God should always lead to greater affection for God.
If God has done a work in our hearts, we should want to battle the sin of our hearts.
Thankfulness flows out of a heart that is rooted in Christ. If Christ is the Lord of our lives, we will live in Him, be built up in Him, and be strengthened in Him. Ultimately we will find ourselves overflowing with thankfulness to Him for all that He has done on our behalf.
The Bible contains the words of God and has great power. It is the primary tool that God uses to provide divine guidance and insight, convict sinners, change hearts, judge thoughts and attitudes, and train and equip Christians.
A sin is any act, word, or thought that breaks a command or instruction from God. Our sin may affect those around us or may be directed at someone in particular, but we need to see that all sin is primarily against God.
Humility is having an accurate, low view of ourselves and seeing ourselves as God sees us.
Five pitfalls to faithful stewardship:
1. Laziness – failing to invest our talents.
2. Lack of faithfulness in what we consider small responsibilities.
3. Thinking that we ourselves are the source of our gifts and abilities.
4. Sowing to the flesh – doing things that serve and please ourselves.
5. Striving for earthly treasures – focusing on the present instead of eternity in heaven.
So what can we do to grow in humility?
1. Pray for more humility.
2. Understand the immense difference between God and us.
3. Be aware of your weaknesses and limitations.
4. Study God’s promises to the humble.
5. Study creation.
6. Spend time with people who are more gifted than you are.
7. Learn a new skill.
8. Spend time with humble people.
9. Spend time with people who are honest with you about yourself.
10. Serve others.
Just because we have ridden in a car doesn’t mean that we are qualified to drive a car. In a sense, we have been passengers in the car of our parents’ faith… But just because we have seen their faith in action doesn’t automatically mean that we have the same faith. You see, salvation is a matter of your heart, not your parents’ hearts. You must have faith. You must believe. Don’t miss those important words in Romans 10:9: “believe in your heart.”
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 35. Used by Permission. Get this book!
How would you describe yourself?
1. Are you on fire for God?
2. Are you for the first time realizing that you may not be a Christian?
3. Are you beginning to take your personal relationship with God more seriously?
4. Does your life resemble the values of the world more than the Word?
5. Do you love holiness and hate sin?
6. Do you strive to fight the sin of your heart and not simply address your sinful behaviors?
7. Do you like attending church?
8. Do you appreciate and obey your parents?
9. Do you enjoy reading and studying the Bible?
10. Are you prepared for the new freedoms in your life now that you’re getting older?
11. Do you have strong personal convictions?
12. Are you getting ready to head off to college and move away from your family for the first time in your life?
13. Are you experiencing significant anxiety as you think of the future?
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 25-26. Used by Permission. Get this book!
As you sit down to watch TV, count the minutes. How long until you hear the first swear word, how long before the first sexual joke, how long until a violent act takes place, or how long until a child shows clear disrespect to a parent? Probably not too long! Start watching for these things, and you will be amazed. Analyze the humor in a show. Often it centers on foul language, sexuality, or disrespect or rebellion, and the limit is always being pushed.
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 71. Used by Permission. Get this book!
Humor can be a means by which the world subtly influences us. When we laugh at something, we tend to accept it and think it is okay, good, or appropriate. Slowly, over time, we begin to accept things that we rejected earlier. We begin to ignore our moral beliefs, we compromise with the world, and we sin – first in thought and later in word and deed. The next time you watch a sitcom, analyze what you’re really laughing at. You probably won’t laugh as much anymore – you’ll probably turn the TV off.
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 71. Used by Permission. Get this book!
Repentance means turning from our sins to God. We need to identify the sin, confess it to God, put off the sinful practices, and put on godly practices. In this process we will feel remorse and experience the love and forgiveness of God.
Excerpted from: Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 74. Used by Permission. Get this book!
Before growing in our relationship with God, we must have a relationship with Him. It is meaningless to even address other needs before addressing our personal relationship with God. Without God and His enabling power, we cannot effectively change any part of our lives.
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 40. Used by Permission. Get this book!
We tend to believe we are Christians because…our parents are Christians. We believe God exists. We faithfully attend church and youth meetings. We pray. We read and know much about the Bible. We prayed the “sinner’s prayer” or went forward during an altar call. We were baptized. We sing hymns and worship songs. We listen to Christian music. We are basically good, moral people, especially compared to the world. We attend a Christian school or Christian college.
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 34. Used by Permission. Get this book!
The world says teenagers should break away from their parents and live more and more independent lives. Most people expect teens to have a poor relationship with their parents, whether they are Christian teens or not. This is a lie that we must reject. The Word of God calls children to honor and obey their parents, and the standards do not change when someone turns 13, 16, or 19.
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 130. Used by Permission. Get this book!
God has established these guidelines for your good. No one loves you more than your parents do, and no one wants you to succeed more than they do. The teenage years are difficult, but instead of running from your parents, this is a season when you need to be running to them. Their wisdom coupled with their love makes them your greatest advocates. No, they won’t let you do whatever you want, but they will help you do what is best. Sometimes “no” is the most loving answer you can receive.
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 130. Used by Permission. Get this book!
What are the essential components of the gospel?
1. The character of God. The Bible describes God as holy (Ps. 99:3, 5, 9; Rev. 4:8), righteous (Ps. 11:7), just (2 Thess. 1:6), and perfect (Matt. 5:48). He hates sin and has nothing to do with it. In fact, He pours out His justified wrath on sin (Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6).
2. The character and nature of man. At the same time, the Bible describes man as having a sinful nature (Ps. 51:5), hopelessly separated from God. We are unable to please God in and of ourselves (Rom. 8:8). We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). We cannot save ourselves, and we deserve the wrath of God (Rom. 2:5).
3. God’s love for man. Yet despite our sinful ways, God has shown His great love for us (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). In His mercy, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us. On the cross Christ paid the full penalty for our sins and became the object of God’s wrath (2 Cor. 5:21).
4. Man’s response to God. If we confess and turn away from our sins and believe in Jesus Christ and the work He did for us on the cross, we can be saved (Mark 1:15; Rom. 10:9). If we possess faith to trust in God and the love He showed us through Jesus Christ, we are genuine Christians. We are justified – we receive forgiveness of our sins and are credited with Christ’s righteousness, Jesus’ life of perfect obedience (Rom. 3:24-27). In short, God restores our relationship with Him and adopts us into His family because of His grace and not because of anything we do (Gal. 2:16; Titus 3:5).
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 41-42. Used by Permission. Get this book!
Jesus clearly connects our appreciation of the forgiveness of God with our love for Him. When we realize Christ died on the cross for each of our sins, we will love Him much. When we understand that Jesus experienced the wrath of God in our place, we will love Him much. When we realize that we have been credited with the righteousness of Christ when nothing in us is worthy, we will love Him much. And when we consider that God will accept us into heaven for eternity because of the finished work of Jesus Christ, we will love Him much.
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 51. Used by Permission. Get this book!
The purpose of practicing spiritual disciplines is to grow in our love for and devotion to God. But we can wrongly do them to try to earn God’s approval, avoid His punishment, or gain His blessings. We can even focus on gaining knowledge of the things of God for the sake of appearing godly and impressing others. We can also complete our personal quiet times to avoid feeling guilty.
Excerpted from: Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 199. Used by Permission. Get this book!
Trusting God doesn’t give us an excuse to idly sit back, doing nothing. Praying to God and asking Him to help doesn’t allow us to be lazy. We need to trust God and do our part in the strength and guidance He provides.
Excerpted from: Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 162. Used by Permission. Get this book!
Remember, it is God living and acting in our hearts that enables us to live in a way that pleases Him. Our godly fruit is the result of salvation, not the source of salvation. Although a true Christian is far from perfect, patterns of godly thoughts, words, and actions are evidence of a regenerated heart. And conversely, a lack of good fruit is usually an indication of a heart that has not been transformed by God.
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 39. Used by Permission. Get this book!
Characteristics of the Humble:
1. I am amazed that the infinite, holy, all-powerful God loves me and wants to have a relationship with me.
2. I often think about how much greater God is than I am.
3. I understand my weaknesses, and I am willing to talk about them with others.
4. When I serve others, my primary goals are to bless them and honor God.
5. I enjoy leading so I can serve others as I use my gifts.
6. I enjoy following so I can assist the leader and serve others.
7. I do not mind serving in private ways, even if I am never recognized or thanked.
8. I often ask others for advice.
9. I regularly study the Bible for guidance and direction.
10. I compare my life to the standards of God.
Excerpted from: Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 87. Used by Permission. Get this book!
Briefly answer each question: 1. What are your favorite TV shows, movies, and bands? 2. What values do they promote? 3. How do their values compare to the Word of God? 4. Do you critically evaluate TV shows or music CDs? How? 5. Is there anything you refuse to watch or listen to? Why? 6. What types of Internet sites do you tend to visit? 7. How do you determine whether a site is worth exploring? 8. Do you think your entertainment habits please God? 9. What qualities do you look for in friends? 10. Do you see these qualities in your current friends? 11. Do your friends influence you toward godliness or worldliness?
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 69. Used by Permission. Get this book!
Jesus taught us how to pray (Matt. 6:9-13), told us to always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1-8), encourages us to ask, seek, and knock (Matt. 7:7-11), got up early to pray (Mark 1:35), modeled how to pray (John 17:1-26), and in the Garden of Gethsemane prayed in preparation for His arrest and death (Mark 14:32-42). Jesus modeled prayer and expected His followers to pray.
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 208. Used by Permission. Get this book!
Prayer is the humble first step in the battle against our indwelling sin. It says, “I am taking sin seriously, I cannot do this on my own, and I need the help of God.” When we pray for greater conviction of sin, God will give it to us, and we will be motivated to wage war against it.
Growing Up Christian, P&R, 2005, p. 187. Used by Permission. Get this book!