God’s Gift For Us

Festivities are in full motion with choirs of carollers and busy shoppers, all leading to this very day: Christmas! 

We’ve all grown up to believe this season revolves around the joy of giving and receiving presents, though we’ve figured out that the real gift giver is our parents, not Santa. However, many of us still fail to realise there is one very real gift-giver that gives us something far greater than anyone in this world can offer. 

The great miracle of Christmas is the coming of our God to be with us, because He loves us and desires to  save us from our sins. The only way to do this? By fixing the broken relationship between God and man.

Immanuel: God with us

Long ago, in the Old Testament, in the midst of a corrupted kingdom, Isaiah prophesied of a child that would be called Immanuel. 

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

Thise prophecy was fulfilled in the baby named Jesus Christ, who was born of the virgin Mary. Though He is never called by the name ‘Immanuel’ (God with us) directly by those around Him, this name remains  a key part of His identity. This prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus, as Jesus is God incarnate that came down to be with us, His people.

God continues to be with us

Though Jesus has already ascended to heaven and returned  to His Father, Jesus’  promise of sending the Holy Spirit to dwell within each of us and “teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26) still applies today. 

The Holy Spirit continues Christ’s work on Earth through us, ultimately meaning that God has not left us and rather wants and uses us to glorify Him.

Through the Holy Spirit, we are able to understand God’s Word; where in it, we learn about His character and how we should live for Him. The Holy Spirit also enables us to pray to God and ultimately,  building a personal relationship and growing closer with Him. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit gives us strength and wisdom as well, so that with great zeal we can proclaim and spread the good news of Jesus Christ to others.

And, it is through the Holy Spirit we are able to live for God, that one day, we may be reunited with Him, free from the sin that takes us away from the God we know and love.

Application 

While our Christmas’ may be filled with gifts from families and friends, may we not forget about our God’s greatest gift to all of us: that He has not forgotten us, but continues to be with us through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

He is with us in times of struggle and despair, times of joy and happiness, and He is certainly present to guide us when we need to make tough decisions. 

Because God is with us, let us take the opportunity to come to Him through prayer and grow in our relationship with Him.  He has not forgotten us, so let us not forget Him. 

May the good news of Immanuel not be one merely remembered on Christmas day, but treasured our whole lives as the greatest gift: that we have a God who wants to be and is with us.

Karina Suryatenggara (14) is a writer for RE Generation-Z. Through her writing, she hopes that many teens as well as herself can grow spiritually and draw closer to God. She enjoys cooking, eating and catching up on the many books her friends recommend.

What’s The Gossip?

Gossip is something we’ve all probably engaged in. It’s enticing, exciting and entertaining, but behind all the glamour is an underlying destructive force that we’re all unaware of.

Gossip: What is it? 

The thing about gossip is we don’t always realise when we are actually doing it, because, surely our conversations aren’t that badright? But when we talk about someone, it’s hard to define what is gossip and what is not. 

Gossiping, at its core, is to intentionally spread negative information about someone. By doing so, we try to build ourselves above others as we hold this information over them. 

It’s this that we often don’t realise mid-conversation because it feels so much easier to just indulge in the pleasure that gossip brings. 

Why is it so tempting? 

We treat gossip as a tantalising treasure, and once we’ve started, it’s hard to stop. Gossiping is entertaining and intriguing, and hearing it makes us feel as if we’re a part of an exclusive group. 

It also amuses us because it lets us focus on someone else’s downfalls, providing us an escape from reality. After all, it’s much easier to laugh at someone else’s problems than try to fix our own. 

Proverbs 18:8 describes gossip as choice morsels or small, desirable bits of food that we seek because of its enticing taste. However, it also warns us that gossip is not only a surface-level matter, suggesting that it is a powerful weapon that harms us. The more we engage in it, the more it changes the way we perceive people and things, most times, for the worse. 

Gossiping is much like quicksand. We become easily trapped the more we engage in it and it’s not something we can easily escape.

What the Bible says

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: … nor slanderers will inherit the kingdom of God.” He reminds us that engaging in such behaviours is unrighteous, encouraging us to avoid it. 

Proverbs 16:28 also talks about how gossip can break up close friends. It implies a destructive power that could break up friendships because of seeds of distrust sown from gossip.

Gossip is not a sin that we can easily destroy; it is something we might be doing every day, but barely realise it. However, the Bible reminds us of its destructive nature. To diminish hurtful conversations, it is important that we first recognise when we are gossiping and the seriousness of this sin. 

Let us use our mouths instead to bear the good news of Jesus Christ as God wills us to do.

Karina Suryatenggara (14) is a writer for RE Generation-Z. Through her writing, she hopes that many teens as well as herself can grow spiritually and draw closer to God. She enjoys cooking, eating and catching up on the many books her friends recommend.

Never Fully Satisfied

Holidays are in. Summer is approaching. What does this entail? New clothes, new shoes, and just some other necessary (maybe?) things. But are these really all needs

The world plays the game of consumerism, taunting us to buy more, better, newer. It’s like we can never seem to keep up with the trends and so our wishlist grows longer and longer. Soon the thin line between a want and a need blurs, until they blend together and we’re suddenly tapping our card again justifying it as a necessary purchase. 

The problem is that we’ve been swayed enough to believe that buying the latest trendy item is an essential means of survival in our current society. We’re so caught up in this flurry of wants that we forget what we have already been provided. We’re so distracted that we leave God in pursuit of fulfillment through worldly possessions. 

We fail to realise that these things are merely temporary, and that they can never provide us with true contentment. 

History Repeats Itself

You know what they say about history repeating itself. Generations past generations experience similar situations but never seem to learn from previous mistakes. 

Centuries ago, when God led the Israelites out of Egypt, he provided them with surplus amounts of manna (bread-like food) for forty days, yet Israel  mourned the loss of the foods they ate in Egypt instead of being grateful for what God had provided for them (Numbers 11:5-6). 

We too often forget all God has provided for us and rather, act ungrateful towards the innumerable amount of blessings He has and continues to provide for us. 

Never Fully Satisfied

There’s a reason why we can never seem to stop ourselves from buying and buying and buying. It’s the game the world plays. A game of taunting and trickery designed to make you feel as though what you have is not enough. 

Have you bought the latest phone yet? Have you seen our newest car model? 

With the world upgrading every few moments, it won’t be long before we suffer with our outdated items, left behind by the trends once again. 

The game works so well because society collectively plays along. Everyone seems to be intrigued by the same thing, then dissatisfied once a newer version is offered, reaching to buy the upgraded product instead. Society is stuck in this repeat; always complaining yet never fully satisfied. 

Eternal Satisfaction 

We cannot be fully satisfied by God’s creations whether it be other people, money, or success. True satisfaction can only be found through our creator and provide -, God.

To seek out contentment we need to develop a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus proclaims that “whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). 

A promise is offered to us that we can accept by learning and experiencing God through His Word and our prayers to Him.

Karina Suryatenggara (14) is a writer for RE Generation-Z. Through her writing, she hopes that many teens as well as herself can grow spiritually and draw closer to God. She enjoys cooking, eating and catching up on the many books her friends recommend.

Decisions and Trust

Decisions and Trust

Decisions are a crucial aspect of our lives and though we may not notice it, we make thousands of decisions every day; each with its own varying level of consequence, whether it be positive or negative. But when we struggle in making a decision, big or small, where should we turn to?

What should I wear today? Who will I make friends with? What career path should I take? 

These questions are the ones that are often swirling in the mind of the teen, and as we grow up, the importance of each decision grows, impacting us not only on a short term basis, but affecting our character too. Sometimes we do not realise the magnitude of the effect one decision can make, even one as simple as choosing a friend group, on our lives.

As we grow, we are expected to grow in maturity and make decisions that we are sometimes simply not ready for, because we ourselves cannot  trust that our choice will be the “correct” one, or be the one that will bring success in our life. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and make a decision without thinking, or be swayed to make a certain decision by the people around us. The media is also ever-growing in its popularity and power over our decisions. 

But if not to ourselves, where should we seek help from when making decisions?

Decisions Means Trust

Proverbs 3:5-6 states, “Trust in the Lord with all [our] heart, and do not lean on [our] own understanding”. 

Making decisions, fundamentally, is all about trust. Trust is integral to all relationships in our lives, our friendships, in our family and especially with God and choosing who we trust makes a significant impact on our lives.So the first crucial decision we must make is, who will we trust?

Deciding to trust God is a big decision in itself. Trusting in Him means we have to continually depend on Him and have faith that His answers to our questions are true. It means trusting Him in all aspects of our lives, from the little questions to the big ones, and in times of struggle to times of joy. 

It is incredibly difficult to let go of the control we have over our lives and our decisions. 

But what we can take comfort in is that “[God’s] understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). He knows what we’ve faced, what we’ll struggle with in the future – even the “very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30) and known by Him.

We, on our own, have a much more limited understanding compared to our vast-knowing God, and when we depend on our own mind, we cannot be 100% sure that our choice is really  true. We can only predict what outcome our decision may lead to. 

God calls us to depend on Him, to trust in His understanding and not our own, because He knows infinitely more what lies ahead for all of us,  you and I. 

Trusting in God

Now that we’ve taken the biggest step in deciding who to trust, how do we carry this out in our lives and our actions? 

To trust in someone, it is critical that we communicate with them. Being close with friends requires being honest and open to one another and this is only achievable by  talking with each other often.

The same principle is what we must carry out with God. God is our friend and our guide, and to grow our trust in Him, we need to communicate with Him through prayer. 

The Bible, His Word is essential for us in developing our understanding of who He is and through it, we can learn and grow to depend on Him.

The one last step we must take is to be open and honest about ourselves to God. Thus, to commit to Him and fully trust Him to lead our decisions. 

Karina Suryatenggara (14) is a writer for RE Generation-Z. Through her writing, she hopes that many teens as well as herself can grow spiritually and draw closer to God. She enjoys cooking, eating and catching up on the many books her friends recommend.

Habits and Temptations

What do you do when you first get out of bed? 

Straight to the bathroom to brush your teeth, check the messages on your phone, or meditate on the Word of God? These things we do subconsciously in our daily lives are habits. Habits, if we repeat them daily, are beneficial for our lives, helping with time management and teaching us to discipline ourselves to do the things necessary in a routine. 

But habits can be just as bad as good. Once we do a sin, we’re stuck in this cycle of repeating the same sin again, continuously seeking happiness yet never filling up our bottomless pit. So how can we escape these habits that are holding us back from God, and how do we make habits that turn us on to the right path?

What’s holding us back?

If you’re stuck in an enclosed space with a lion, of course, the first thing you’d want to do is try and get out before becoming its food. But imagine if you didn’t know the lion was there. If you couldn’t see, couldn’t hear, and couldn’t smell. What if you thought you were roaming around freely, not knowing the danger behind your back? 

That’s the problem with sin. We are blinded by the danger of sin because of our desire to fulfil our happiness with worldly things. 

How could putting off our homework for another few minutes hurt us? But in 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul provokes the people of Corinth and us, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God”. Repeating our sins without willing to break out of the habit will surely further us away from the Kingdom of God.

How do we break free?

Sometimes, it feels as though happiness can only come about from worldly things, such as good grades, being rich, or being successful. We fail to believe that seeking God is what will bring us true joy. To break free. We need to deny ourselves, our wants, and take up the cross to follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24). Yes, we may be taking on a life full of hardships and obstacles that will make us want to turn back to the comfort of sin, but following His path means we become His children, and we experience true happiness, delight and joy. As it is written, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart”. (Psalm 37:4).  

But this is easier said than done.

Creating new habits

Now, we’ve escaped the lion’s den. We’re safe, we’re free! But we look back and- oh, our greatest desire has appeared in the cage. It’s tempting to go there, especially because, where do we go now? Happiness seems to have blinded the lion from our sights, but going back in would mean this whole cycle of sin circling back to the beginning. 

To make sure we head out of the cage, without looking back, we need to create a habit:

  • Of praying to God

We can go nowhere with our own strength, because we would eventually fall back to our sinful doings. We need to have a willingness to not only get out of our sins, but to also walk towards God. Simply praying to God for forgiveness, or for the purpose of being successful in something, will result in us taking steps back away from God. We have to have the willingness to serve God, to share the good news that the Kingdom of God can be brought about on earth. When we pray to God, we have to ask for the ability to do these things because striving just through our will or desires will not build the strength in ourselves to do these things.

  • Of reading God’s Word

Before we can start sharing the Gospel to others, we ourselves must have the knowledge of it too. Sure, we can describe what being a Christian is like, but reading the Bible is how we can connect His words to our experiences. We can learn how our successes, our struggles, and all the hardships and obstacles in life, are all part of his plan. The Bible contains many things we cannot learn anywhere else. Written by our all-knowing Creator, it should be obvious that the place we would find advice, what’s wrong and right, and how we should live our lives would be right where he revealed it – in the Bible.

Karina Suryatenggara (14) is a writer for RE Generation-Z. Through her writing, she hopes that many teens as well as herself can grow spiritually and draw closer to God. She enjoys cooking, eating and catching up on the many books her friends recommend.

A Life Devoted For God

Today’s society is pushing us further and further away from God and into sin’s hands. Why is it so hard to depart from such a sinful life and walk towards a godly one? How can we devote our lives to God?

What does it mean?

Devoting our life is giving our whole life to God in order to glorify Him and exalt His name. We give our time, our talents, and our whole hearts for Him. Basically, it means we become his children. 

Now I’m sure you’ve noticed that this Christian lifestyle is very different from how most people in this world live. They are children of the world, who live for themselves and are under evil (1 John 5:19). 

Not of the World

A big problem is that many people around us, maybe school friends or social media influencers, advocate for things that are ungodly. With the rise of such supporters, especially in our everyday lives, it can seem like we are alone or the odd one out. 

Oftentimes, I find it hard to invite my friends to a church event because the response is usually an excuse or ignoring the invitation, and I worried they would judge me. In those moments, I felt really alone, as if being a Christian was something weird. I felt pressured to be “normal.” 

But God has called us to bring the Kingdom of God into this world and so we must devote our lives to Him. How can we achieve a devoted life?

Devoting our lives for God

  • We must start with prayer and studying the Bible 

We have to build a relationship with God. Through this, we learn who our master is, how we are not alone, because He is always with us and everything he has revealed to us through His Word we can learn.

  • Applicating this into our everyday lives

Devoting our lives to God isn’t merely about the significant changes, but starting out with our daily lives. We can do this by obeying our parents, slowly sharing the Gospel to your friends or inviting them to church events.

  • Finding a Christian community

Finding a Christian community is important because we are always surrounded by people of the world. Being in a godly community allows you to grow spiritually and, together, serve God.

Karina Suryatenggara (14) is a writer for RE Generation-Z. Through her writing, she hopes that many teens as well as herself can grow spiritually and draw closer to God. She enjoys cooking, eating and catching up on the many books her friends recommend.

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