Advice for Young People on the Christian Walk (Sn2:Ep15)

Peace to Live By: Advice for Young People on the Christian Walk (Sn2:Ep15) - Daniel Litton
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[Transcripts may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and may contain extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       Well, it’s true. I am about to turn 31 years old. As I am about to venture up into the 30s, and leave behind my younger years, I thought it would be good today to share some tips and advice to the young Christians out there today on how to try to live a successful, God-centered life—a life pleasing to God. These are some things that I have found to be beneficial over the years. Now, this advice is very basic, but I think that going over it will be helpful and can gear younger people in the right direction, and perhaps encourage those who are already on the right path.

       There are 10 things that I want to mention—10 pointers. They are in no particular order, but they are ten things that I believe to be important to living a successful Christian life as a young person. They will be as follows:
1) read the Bible and pray to God everyday
2) have at least one ‘close’ Christian friend, and preferably more,
3) be regularly attending church and be involved,
4) spend time with your family when possible,
5) take responsibility for taking care of yourself,
6) abstain from sexual immorality,
7) be careful when you’re dating,
8) don’t hang with the wrong people,
9) avoid too much time on Facebook, and
10) watch your money and spending.

       So, number one, read the Bible and pray to God everyday. If we are going to live successful lives, we have to be familiar with our Bibles. The only way we can do that is to immerse our minds in it preferably on a daily basis. Colossians 3:16 tells us, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (ESV). You don’t have to become legalistic about this, but you should read the Bible everyday. Now, I will admit that sometimes I will go through a book about the Bible for a period of time as my daily devotion. But the book should be talking about Biblical things, so that you are immersing yourself in the Bible. We have to know God’s truth frontwards and backwards if we want to be pleasing to him and take care of ourselves.

       The second part of this involves praying to God everyday. We definitely have to spend time in prayer with God if we want to be close to him and see successes in our lives. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (ESV). I mean, after all, why wouldn’t we want to be close to God? He loves us and cares for us. As long as we have a healthy view of God in our minds, we should want to draw near to him. Plus, if we want people around us to know the truth or to be helped, we have pray these things to God. Philippians 4:6 says, “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6, ESV). And we should always be thankful to him for the many blessings that we have in our lives.

       Number two, we have to have at least one ‘close’ Christian friend in our lives, and preferably more, obviously. Since my generation is so social, it is important for us as individuals to be in a close friendship with at least one Christian friend. 1 John 1:7 says, “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” (ESV). It is important to share this fellowship, to do things with the person, to have this person we can trust in our lives. Now, hopefully we have a group of Christian friends we can hang out with, whether it be from church or college. And if your in a secular high school, perhaps you’ve been able to become friends with other Christians there, but this may be more difficult.

       My next point, number three, ties into the last point, and that is that as young people we should be attending church regularly and be involved in ministries. It is important to go to church on Sunday mornings in order to be expressing our worship to God, and to be gathering together with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ of all ages. Hebrews 10:24, 25 tells us, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (ESV). Youth groups are also good, as they narrow in on our specific age group and provide opportunity to make friends and fellowship with those who are similar in age and in beliefs. Plus, if you get involved helping at church with others, this provides good opportunities to make Christian friends as well, and it provides service to God which is also important. If we are part of the church—if we are Christian—God wants us to be helping our fellow Christians.

       Now, number four, it is important for young Christians to spend time with their families, assuming you are not married yet, to care for them. 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (ESV). Now, this is a pretty strong passage, and it is talking about providing for your family monetarily. But don’t you think that if later on in life we are to help our parents monetarily, if needed, when they are older, shouldn’t we care about spending time with them now? It seems like with many in our society parents are viewed as uncool and to be avoided many times, but this is not the way the Christian should be thinking.

       It is good to spend time doing things with your mom and dad from time to time, when opportunity allows or when you want to. Now, of course, your parents should not still be parenting over you—telling you all that you have to do. Once you’re grown up, it’s time for you to make the right choices and to run your own life. I also understand that many young people have relocated for their careers, and, obviously, they wont be able to spend as much time with their families. And that’s understandable. Even in the times of Jesus people would often move around to different areas—to gain better opportunities for themselves. But young people should try to find time for their parents or siblings when possible.

       Also, if you’re grandparents are alive, it is important for you to spend time with them as well. Often in our society it seems like the older people get, the more they can be neglected by their loved ones. But this is not the way it is supposed to be. It is amazing what we can learn from our grandparents. It is usually the case that they have a lot of wisdom to give to us, but it’s just we wont spend the time to learn from them, and learn about the history of what they have to tell us. Just because they may not be able to talk as quick doesn’t mean they still don’t need love; of course they do. They need more.

       And that leads me to my next point, number five, which is young people have to take responsibility for taking care of themselves. Now the age at which this responsibility transfer completely changes over will vary from person to person, as there isn’t one set universal standard for all. For each person, there comes a time that you have to move out of the house, to take care of yourself. It seems reasonable for most that this should occur by age 30, as even psychologists recognize the ‘Emerging Adulthood’ period, we’ll say, between 18 to 30 years old, to be generous. Many people will move back home after college is over, and sometimes stay there a few years. But we should be on our own—for most—by age 30.

       So, number six, as we will be on our own until we get married, and many will be living with friends, it is important to keep watch on our purity and to stay sexual pure. As you have more and more freedoms in college and then living on your own, temptations in this area are undoubtedly going to come. Hopefully, if we have surrounded ourselves with Christians, or at least one solid Christian friend who is close to us, the temptations will be less. It is written in 1 Thessalonians 4, again, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” (ESV). But even in dating, you need to keep extra close watch on yourself.

       I would personally advise you to only have roommates of the same sex. I know a lot of people in my generation feel it’s okay to have roommates who are of the opposite sex when you are on the same page, that you’re not interested in each other beyond being friends. But I just don’t think it is good for people do live with each other being of the opposite sex as friends. It seems to me that you are just opening the door for possible temptation—especially when you are at a low point or time, as we all experience lows from time to time. Even if you are not interested in the person, an interest could develop over time as you are around the person more and more. So, again, I would advise people not to have roommates of the opposite sex. It just doesn’t seem wise.

       Number seven, I want to state advice for dating, particularly that we, as young people, remain pure when we are dating. You have to decide your boundaries with your Christian boyfriend or girlfriend before you find yourself in any type of situation. You have to decide beforehand that you’re not going to go too far with a person whom you are interested in, whom you are dating. Since you are going to be spending a lot of time together, and some of that time all alone, you want to make sure you have to proper rules in place. God wants us, as people, to stay pure and wait for any sexual activity until we are married. This is what is pleasing to him and beneficial to us. It’s not good to be involved intimately before marriage because, besides the fact that God said don’t do it, it could lead to number of negative consequences. You may not even end up marrying that person you are dating, obviously. So, you want to make sure to reserve sex for marriage. And, I would advise you to never have a girl at your residence by yourself who isn’t saved—who isn’t a Christian. And that goes for you too, ladies. Don’t have a guy at your place who isn’t saved, who isn’t a Christian. This will rule will definitely help. But this even doesn’t guarantee purity.

       Number eight, it is important also for us as young people to make sure we don’t hang with the wrong people. We can have unsaved friends, but that shouldn’t be our primary friends or the only friends in our lives. It is written the following in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18:

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (ESV)

It is important that we are not running around with non-believers all the time. It is important to witness to them when you see a good opportunity, but watch yourself lest they end up leading you down the wrong path versus you actually helping them. If you are a person who is easily led astray, you probably shouldn’t spend a lot of time hanging out with unbelievers.

       When you hang out with unbelievers, you can be lead into them pressuring you to drink, or smoke, or even something worse. Of course, it’s not wrong to drink alcohol provided that you don’t get drunk. But in a social setting with unbelievers, it’s probably best you don’t drink at all, unless you are a mature Christian—long in the faith, with good self-control. But you have to decide beforehand how much you will drink. Nonetheless, it is good to avoid being in peer-pressure situations when possible. You don’t need to go with your unsaved friends to a bar in order to witness Jesus to them. You can do that in other settings. It’s more likely that their bad company will corrupt your good morals, not your good company making them become good (see 1 Corinthians 15:33). But, make sure you are firm when peer-pressure comes, standing your ground with what God wants and what you know is right. If you have to, leave the situation.

       Try to work Jesus into your conversations with unbelievers, when possible. We should let our lights shine before others, as Jesus talked about in Matthew chapter 5. Now, undoubtedly, when you talk about Christian things, you will from time to time get into heated discussions about certain topics. Peter told us, “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:15, 16, ESV). Now, this doesn’t mean that we should avoid hard truths. And while it is good to state your points as clearly as you can, don’t state your defense to the point of belittling or forcing your view on the other person. You shouldn’t end the conversation mad at each other by any means—at least, you should not be mad. Our job is simply to state the truth, God’s Truth, and let God work in the person’s thoughts and life based off what we have said.

       Now, number nine wont be relevant to everyone but will be to most, and that is avoid spending too much time on Facebook. The people of my generation have put a great emphasis on being very social. For many even, their friends have become their gods. And their appearance before others, how they are perceived by others, etc, is of upmost importance. People are obsessed with Facebook. Really, most of the time all Facebook is, is keeping up with the rat race. It is all about comparing ourselves with others, seeing constantly how we measure up with our ‘friends.’ But remember, what really matters is what God thinks of you, not what others think of you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have all that your friends have. You don’t have to have a nice house, or a husband or a wife, or a boyfriend or a girlfriend. God will provide the things you need when the time is right, if it is his will for you. Why not try to have a regular, normal conversation with someone? Or, call the person. Many people on there use what psychologists call ‘selective bias.’ This is when people show you what they want you to see, and totally leave out other important facts. Don't get me wrong; we all do this to an extent. But in the Facebook world it has become a huge problem.

       Ok, finally, now that I’ve gone through that rant, number ten, you should watch your money—your spending. In order to be successful in life, it is important to handle your money correctly. Proverbs 13:11 states, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it” (Proverbs 13:11, ESV). This means to not buy things we cannot afford, and to establish a good amount of money saved up. You don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck, always trying to get by, if possible. You may have to go through a period in your life where you can’t spend as much money as you would like to, but typically most go through that kind of period at some point in their lives. But it’s also important not to be a penny-pincher, not to hoard so much money that you wont spend any at all. If God has given us excess money, he has given it to us to enjoy. You should go out to eat or buy that something you want to buy. That’s good. Just don’t spend too much that it jeopardizes your living.

       In closing today, it is important to remember that God wants all people to be in a personal relationship with him. Maybe today you're a young person who is not in a relationship with God, maybe you don't know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. Maybe you always wanted to follow good, you always wanted to along with the right crowd, but you never did. Perhaps you’ve gone far in the other direction—far away from God. Perhaps you feel you’ve dabbled in things that God couldn’t possible forgive you for. Well, today, I’ve got good news for you.

       God sent his Son, Jesus, to the earth 2,000 years ago and he paid the penalty for all people’s sins against God, as he was the perfect sacrifice for sins. Anyone, which includes you today, who believes in Jesus can be forgiven of all his or her sin against God—the wrong things we’ve done in this life—and can be set free from the dominate pull of sin. You don't have to carry the load and weight of your sins any longer. You don’t have to live doing the things that are wrong which you know are wrong. God has made it possible for you to live in true freedom, the freedom you were originally intended to live in. And not only are you able to live true life, a fulfilling life, but you will also be given eternal life. Since your sins will be forgiven, you will not have to face any of God's wrath to come in the future.

       If you would like to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior today, and be set free from your sins, then just follow my lead in this prayer:

God, I have done many things against you in my life. I have done things I am not proud of, things I deeply regret. I have done things the way that I have wanted to do them, and it has not turned out so great. But now, I want to accept your free gift of life now and eternal life in the future through Jesus Christ. I believe that you sent Jesus to the earth and that he died on the cross in my place, and that this action by Jesus, the blood He shed, now stands as the payment for my sins, which separated me and you. I believe that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day and that He is now in heaven with you. I want to surrender my life over to you. Father, please transform my life and make me become like Jesus. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

       Let’s pray.

       Father, thank you for your love today, and for your guidance in our lives, guiding us down right paths and toward your goodness, helping us along each of our journeys. You love us, and you continually show your love for us day after day. You guide us to do what is pleasing to you, and what is beneficial and best for us, even when we don’t see it. I love you, Father.

       Holy Father, I pray that you would continue to guide each of us who know you, you have committed our lives to you. Please renew our strength. Help us in our struggle against sin, and help us become more like Jesus in our lives. I pray for those who have accepted Jesus today as their personal Savior and Lord, that you will lead them down the right paths. Show them your goodness, as you already have, and help them to learn your ways, which are the right ways, the correct ways, the ways that are best for us and pleasing to you. Bless them, Father, and bring the work you have started today to completion in them.

       I pray all of this in Jesus’ name, the One True God who lives forever and forever, in his Holy name I pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton