by Daniel D.P. Whyte IV (age 12 when written) with Danyel Ezekiel Whyte (3)
One of the things that I sometimes struggle with is self-control. Sometimes, when my little brother or my sisters say or do something that I don’t like, I am tempted to say something negative to them, and sometimes I do say something negative to them. I am learning, however, to ask myself, “What would Jesus do?” And sometimes, I have to ask myself, “Would Jesus have done that?”
I believe that Jesus Christ was the greatest example of showing self-control. When Jesus Christ was being hit and spit on by the Romans and Jews, He could have called down “twelve legions” of angels to destroy those who wanted to crucify Him. And even after they crucified Him, Jesus still had the power to come down from the cross. However, He practiced self-control and didn’t do any of that because He looked into the future, and saw you and me, and knew that we would need Him.
If we are to follow Jesus’ example and practice self-control, we must be willing to do the following:
1. Give up selfish desires. We have to realize that the world does not revolve around us, and that we cannot have our way all of the time. We also need to realize that sometimes, we need to be concerned about other people instead of just ourselves.
2. Realize that people have different opinions. You or your way does not have to be right all the time, and it is not right all the time. Sometimes it pays to hear what other people have to say.
3. Listen. You don’t have to always talk. God may be trying to speak to you through someone else. Sometimes, people talk so much that they can’t hear what God is saying.
4. Let God work through you by His Holy Spirit. You have to abandon yourself to God. You just have to be the faucet, and let Jesus be the water.
Sometimes, when I get a new job to do, after doing it the first few times, I get the “it’s exciting, it’s something new to do” feeling. But soon, that same job that was so exciting and so new, a few weeks ago, doesn’t feel all that exciting and new any more, and I begin to fail to do that job consistently like I used to do.
When you get a job to do–like taking out the trash–you must be consistent in doing it. Sometimes, you might get tired and weary, and sometimes you may not feel like doing it at all, but you must do it inspite of your feelings, because once you do it, you will feel better. Remember, good feelings hardly ever come before positive action; but good feelings almost always come after positive action.
God and our parents want us to be consistent so that they can depend on us to do bigger things in the future. Besides, they want to be able to reward us for good behavior. God likes to reward His children, and parents like to reward their children. Sometimes, I have even missed out on rewards because of not being consistent in a job that was entrusted to me.
Being consistent is very important, especially if we want people to be able to depend on us to carry bigger responsibilities in the future.
Another mark of a person with good character is that he is humble. No matter how much he is promoted, or what he does, he always keeps a humble spirit. He realizes that he is really no better than anybody else. A humble person also realizes that God can use somebody else to do the same thing. People like to be around a humble person because no matter how accomplished he is, he doesn’t act as though he is better than anyone else.
Here’s what, writer, C.S. Lewis wrote about the true reason for pride. This is so true: “We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. Nearly all those evils which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of pride.”
The Bible says: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord; and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10).
You see, God wants us to be humble so that He can lift us up. He can’t lift somebody up who already is up (all He can do with them is put them down). The Bible also says: “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5b).
Look in your dictionary and see what the word resist means. Mine says “to try to stop something that is happening.” You see, God will actually stop those that try to lift themselves up.
If you ever want to please God, live each day with a humble attitude.
“Humility is a strange thing. The minute you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it.” –E.D. Hulse
Purposeful and Persevering
God does not want us to be the sort of people who just go through life aimlessly. You know, just walking through life, not really doing anything. God wants our lives to have a purpose.
The Bible is a great picture of having an overall purpose. It is the story of man’s fall into sin, his redemption through Jesus Christ, and the final restoration of those who trust Jesus Christ as Saviour, to God, after the final destruction of evil on earth. Believe it or not, every story in the Bible, no matter how insignificant in our eyes, points to that greater end–that perfect goal: the restoration of humanity to God in Heaven for all eternity. Our lives should be like that–having an overall purpose.
Well, if you are wondering how to live a purposeful life everyday, here are three steps:
1. Know what you want to do with your life. What is the final aim of your life? What do you want to say you have done at the end of your life? Do you want to be remembered for doing something great, or just sitting on the front porch all your life? Do you want people to have to make up things to say about you at your funeral?
2. Know what you need to do, to do what you want to do. It’s kind of like this: what you want to do is your long-term goal, and what you need to do are your short-term goals. The things you need to do to reach your long-term goal are like tiny steps toward the end of the road. They’re like tiny details in the grand scheme of things; they’re like the billions of stars that make up the Milky Way Galaxy. You just have to do the little things first.
3. Know how you have to do what you need to do, to do what you want to do. When you know how you have to do something, there is never a time when you don’t know what to do.
Finally, if you are to accomplish your purpose in life, you must be a person who perseveres. If you ever are going to get anything done, you must be persevering. If you fail one time, try again. If you fail another time, try again. If you fail a third time, think over your tactics, (change them if necessary) and try again. NEVER GIVE UP!
Many of us, as boys, get the true meaning of courage and cowardice all twisted up. You see, many times, we call that which is courage–cowardice, and that which is cowardice, we call courage. I believe that if we are to develop good character traits, we must get these two straightened out.
I am reminded of two stories that I once read which I will take the liberty to relate to you here. I hope they will help to clear up the confusion between courage and cowardice that you may have in your mind. Here they are:
George came home one day dripping wet, and his mother asked him why. George told her, “One of the boys said I dare not jump into the creek, and I tell you, Mother, I am not one to be dared.”
Now, was it courage that led George to jump into the creek? No. George was AFRAID that the other boys would call him a coward if he did not jump into the creek. And since a coward is one who is afraid, we see that George was a coward because he was afraid.
Below is the second story that demonstrates true courage:
One day, Edward walked up to James, stuck his fist on his face, and said, “Strike that if you dare.” James said, “Edward, if you want to fight, you have come to the wrong boy. I never fight because it is wrong. You can call me a coward if you want to, but I will show you that I have the courage enough not to be tempted by your ridicule to do what I know is wrong.”
James was courageous because he was not afraid to say no to something he knew was wrong–he didn’t care whether or not Edward called him a coward.
Now, you tell me, who was really courageous? (Oh, I’ve already answered that question. Haven’t I?) James was definitely courageous, and the only word to sum up George would be “coward.” You see, George was afraid to do what was right, and James was not afraid to say no to what was wrong.
In closing, let me share this poem with you:
Dare to be honest, good, and sincere,
Dare to be upright, and you need never fear.
Dare to be brave in the cause of the right,
Dare with the enemy ever to fight.
Dare to be loving and patient each day,
Dare speak the truth whatever you say.
Dare to be gentle and orderly too,
Dare shun the evil, whatever you do.
Dare to be cheerful, forgiving, and mild.
Dare shun the people whom sin has defiled.
Dare to speak kindly, and ever be true,
Dare do the right, and you’ll find your way through.
I believe the first mark of a young man who has good character is honesty. Because there are so many people who will be dishonest to keep a job, to get money or to obtain a higher office, the world wants, and desperately needs, honest men who will stand up for truth in every situation. You see, honest men will always be wanted–wanted for a job, wanted by an accounting firm, wanted for a president, etc.
It is evident that God hates the sin of lying by the number of times He warns against this sin in His holy Word. Here are a few verses from the Word of God that refer to the sin of lying:
“Thou shalt not bear false witness…” –Exodus 20:16
“A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.” –Proverbs 14:5
“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.” –Proverbs 19:9
“Let us walk honestly.” –Romans 13:13
I remember once I had done something wrong, and had lied about it. I kept that lie to myself for a long time. This troubled me and the Holy Spirit kept telling me that I should confess it. At first, I felt really bad when I confessed it, but after I did confess it, I felt better, and I learned that it is best to tell the truth the first time–all of the time.
No matter what you do, or what anybody else does–DO NOT LIE. Do not be afraid to tell the truth on yourself or on anybody else. Even if you do lie, and you may have gotten away with it the first time, always remember the truth will find you out.
That’s why honesty is ALWAYS the Best Policy.
We’re going to talk about the way you are on the inside, and that is what we call character. “What, exactly, is character?”, you may be asking. Well, in this letter, we will clarify character, or find out what character is all about.
In short, character is what you do when nobody is watching you, or when you think that nobody will ever find out. It is something that you have inside of you that won’t allow you to do something that you know is wrong. It’s that gut feeling that you get when you are presented with a situation that tells you not to do that. Some people call it moral. Others say it is a standard. Whatever you may call it, it is something that you have to have inside of you.
Nobody can put character inside of you. It is something that you have to build up inside of yourself. Largely, character comes from practice. The more and more you make a decision to do what is right, the easier it becomes to do what is right, and there is less of a struggle inside of you when a decision has to be made, whether or not you will do the right thing.
That’s one thing I am trying to do: choose to do the right thing all of the time, so that I will be able to do the right thing without even thinking about it.
Now that you are saved, it is your duty, as a Christian, to share the Good News of Salvation with others. (No, you don’t have to go to a foreign country, learn another language, and live as the Romans do. You can be a missionary right here at home.) The Bible commands us in Mark 16:15: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Hmmm…Let’s see here…If “ye” includes you and me, and if “all the world” includes where we live, and if “every” includes, well, every…
By now you get the point. We ought to be about the business of showing the light of salvation to everybody. So, here’s how to lead a person to Jesus Christ:
1. Show them that the Bible says we are all sinners. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
2. Show them that because of our sins, we must be punished with death, and eventually, with eternal Hell. “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).
3. Show them that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us on the cross. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
4. Show them that the only way to be saved from Hell is to trust in Jesus Christ as our Saviour and call upon Him to save us from our sins, so that we can enjoy life eternal in Heaven after we die. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be [WILL BE] saved” (Romans 10:9).
Lead them in a prayer of salvation as the Lord leads you, and invite God to take control of the young believer’s life, and do with it as He will.
REMEMBER: “He that winneth souls is WISE.” (Proverbs 11: 30b).
OBEDIENCE TO GOD:
God commands us, as His children, to obey His Word, and to do what He tells us to do. Only when we do that, can we be called “Children of Light.” The Bible tells us in I John to “Walk as children of light.” If we do what God tells us to do, we will be the heirs of many of the blessings that God has in store for the righteous.
OBEDIENCE TO PARENTS:
The Bible says in Ephesians 6:1-3: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honour thy father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”
What does God promise if we obey our parents? A LONG LIFE AND THAT THINGS WILL GO WELL FOR US. Make a list of things that you think you would be able to do with a long life, and see what you come up with.
OBEDIENCE TO THOSE OVER US:
The Bible says to the younger: “submit yourselves to the elder” (I Peter 5:5). The word elder means your teachers, pastor, grandparents, coaches, etc.; basically, anyone who is over you, and in a trustworthy position of authority. The Bible also says: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
Let us make that decision, now, to be obedient no matter what.
Talking to God
It is amazing to me how that we sinful human beings can communicate directly with God. No, there are no time limits, no waiting periods, and no special appointments. We can talk to Him as many times as we want, as long as we want through prayer.
There are many verses in the Bible that tell us about prayer. Here are a few of them:
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” –Matthew 7:7
“…Men ought always to pray.” –Luke 18:1
“Pray without ceasing.” –I Thessalonians 5:17
“Pray one for another.” –James 5:16
In the first verse, we see that God wants us to pray about everything. He wants us to ask Him for the things we need, and the things we want. God is honored when we bring our requests to Him–be they big or small.
But doesn’t the Bible say that Jesus Christ knows our needs before we ask? Yes, It does say that, but God still wants us to ask.
In the second and third verses, we see that God wants us to pray all of the time, thus: “always,” and “without ceasing”. This does not necessarily mean that we have to have our heads down and our eyes closed every second of the day. It does mean, however, that He wants our spirits in constant communion with Him. In other words, to always have Him, and His Word on our mind. (Don’t feel bad if you don’t have God on your mind at all times, I’m still working on that, myself.)
In the last verse, we see that God wants us to pray for others, and the needs of those around us. There are a lot of bad things happening to people in the world, and you probably know someone who has gone through a tragedy; pray for him or her. When praying for ourselves, we should never forget to pray for others.
Reading God’s Word
Now, as a Christian person, you should learn that reading the Bible daily is very important. It is one of God’s ways of speaking to His children, and of course, you should listen.
You should read the Bible to gain knowledge of the way in which God wants you to go, and to make yourself familiar with the laws and principles of God. I find Bible reading interesting and inspiring, and I know that it will continue to benefit me throughout my life, and it can yours, too, if you will let it. So, what are some pointers on reading the Bible?
1. Read the Bible Daily. Make sure you read It in the morning. I try to read three chapters a day. You could read one in the morning, one at noon, and one at night.
2. Let God speak to you through His Word. Don’t just read the Bible because you feel you have to. As you read, listen to what God is saying to you through His Word.
3. Meditate on, and Remember the Word of God. Once you memorize the Word of God, you can think on It throughout the day. If the Bible is always on your mind, It will help you to do what is right, and stay out of sin.
Besides the three points above, most of all, God wants us to obey the Bible. “Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only…” (James 1:22)
When you read the Word of God, don’t read It as if It’s a bunch of words and nice stories; read It as if you were listening to Jesus Christ, Himself. Because the Bible does tell us in Revelation 19:13b that Jesus Christ is called “The Word of God.”
“It is good to mark your Bible, but it is better to let your Bible mark you.”
A pendulum is a metal ball that hangs on the end of a iron rod, like the kind you see in a Grandfather Clock. If you would hold the metal ball up at a certain point in the air, and then let it go, it would start to swing. But, no matter how long or how fast it swings, it would never again reach that certain point in the air, where you held it before you let it go.
In a way, a pendulum is a picture of humanity. God held the pendulum at that certain point in the air when Adam and Eve (the first human beings) were in direct communion with God in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned, God had to drop the pendulum. Why? Since God is holy and perfect, He requires, and can have nothing less, than holiness and perfection in return from His creation in order for us to stay in direct communion with Him. After Adam and Eve sinned, every single human being born into the world has sinned.
The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “All [that includes you and me] have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
The pendulum began to swing after God had to drop it. This swinging represents man trying to get back into direct communion with God, through his own efforts (good works, etc.); but as man keeps trying (and the pendulum keeps swinging), man continues to fall short of his goal. (Remember: The pendulum never again reaches that certain point in the air where it was once held.)
Because God is perfect, and He requires perfection from all humans, the punishment for sin is death, and, eventually, eternal Hell. “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).
God, Who is loving and merciful, felt compassion for us human beings, and decided that He would provide a way for us to be saved. To do so, there would have to be a sacrifice on God’s part. However, seeing that God could not give up His perfection, because then, He would be less than God, He had to give up something perfect!
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever [that includes you] believeth in Him should not perish [in Hell] but have everlasting life [in Heaven].” –John 3:16
Finally, the pendulum quit swinging and came to a stop when God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to die on the cross for us. Because of the blood that He shed, and the death that He died, we can believe in Him, and trust in Him, for our salvation from Hell. Why can we do this? The reason is simple:
Jesus Christ came to this world as God in the flesh. In other words, He walked the earth as God among men, perfection among imperfection, holiness among unholiness. He lived a perfectly sinless life upon planet earth. And because He did so, He conquered sin. When He rose from the dead on the third day, He conquered death, and in so doing, He conquered Hell.
You may be saying, “Well, that’s fine for Jesus Christ and all, but what about me? I’m not perfect. How do I get that salvation?”
Well, Jesus Christ didn’t do all of this for Himself. Look at it this way: If the wages of sin is death, and Jesus Christ didn’t sin, why did He die? This answer is simple. He died for you and me. He died for our sins. He took our sins upon Him, died in our stead, and suffered our hell.
Don’t understand it all? You don’t have to. All we have to do is believe it to be saved. Jesus Christ did all that was required on God’s part for man’s salvation. The one thing that you have to do is trust in Him. That’s right, simply trust in Him.
The Bible says: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). It also says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
If you believe that because we are sinners, God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins, and that He was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day, and you are willing to allow Him to come into your heart and save your soul and change your life, please pray the following prayer:
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner, and that I have broken Your laws. Lord, I don’t want to go to Hell, so thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to pay for my sins. I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the dead for my sins. Please come into my heart, save my soul, and change my life. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.
I hope that you will make the decision to let Jesus Christ become the Lord of your life. I guarantee, it will be the best decision you ever made.
“While our physical death is inevitable. Our spiritual death is avoidable.”
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