Congratulations and welcome to the family of God!
Each of you is precious in the sight of God and each of you have hopes and dreams. As you journey through life, you will realize (as I have) one simple fact becomes clearer: the only thing that really matters is your relationship with the Lord and your obedience to Him. Use the natural abilities God has given you to glorify and honor Him. Seek to bless others. Search for brothers and sisters in Christ who will help you and encourage you. Ask questions.
In the coming years, there will be new opportunities for freedom; but with freedom comes responsibility. There are also very real dangers and harsh realities, but the Lord Jesus has overcome this world. Don’t be like the people who the apostle Paul talks about in Philippians 2 – people who look out for their own interests but not the interests of Jesus Christ. He warns us in Galatians 5 that we are called to be free (not free to do what is wrong or to indulge in sin or the flesh) but free to serve one another in love. “Be clear minded and self-controlled” (I Peter 4:7). Who you will be 10 and 20 years from now will depend on your attitude and the choices you have made and are making right now.
You will face opposition and persecution as a Christian.
But it is God’s will that by living a life of purity and resisting the pressures of the world, you can silence the ignorance of foolish people (I Peter 2:9 – 17). You and I know that many people will not like us, will not like who and what we stand for and will not like what we do. Even the people you least expect will be in your face or behind your back trying to tear you down, make fun of you, discourage you, grumble, gossip, lie and complain about your efforts when you are trying to do the best you can. They will try to sabotage your best efforts and wreck your faith.
As Paul told Timothy in I Timothy 4, we as young Christians can “prove ourselves” to those older than us and “be taken seriously” by leading spiritually disciplined lives and by displaying maturity that cannot be judged by our ages alone. “Let no one despise your youth.” Don’t let anyone look down on you or think little of you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
Notice verse 15: “be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them so that everyone may see your progress.” Keep a close watch on all you do and think. Stay true to what is right and God will bless you and use you to help others.
Constantly and honestly examine yourself:
- What are your motivations?
- What are your priorities?
- Are you genuinely interested in the lives, well-being and soul salvation of others?
- Is your life (your unique representation of who Christ is) progressing and maturing to where it needs to be?
- Routinely labor in God’s Word.
- Pray, talk and work with spiritually mature and faithful Christians who are willing to guide, advise and help you.
- Take advantage of opportunities to observe, learn and labor in the work of the Lord.
Remember and trust that Jesus knows.
Jesus cares about you and loves you deeply.
He is the only and ultimate answer (John 4:13, 14; 6:35).
I will continue to believe in all of you and pray for all of you because I know the Father has prepared a unique, purpose-driven and fulfilling life for each of you in Jesus.
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