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The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
We’re the sheep and the Lord is our shepherd. He knows what we want and desires to provide everything we need. In Him alone we will lack nothing. No matter how far away we’ve been from Him, He will always seek us. In fact, He is willing to abandon the ninety-nine sheep to go after that one lost sheep. Day by day his love draws us closer to Him and invites us to come before Him. So let us turn back to our shepherd today to enjoy his protection and nourishment!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
As students, we may not be risking our lives in battle like David, the author of this psalm, but we are still walking through our own “valley of the shadow of death”. Every time we write a test, apply for a position, or just live our everyday Christian lives, we are constantly in a battle against the world. The imagery here of walking “through the valley of the shadow of death” makes it seem like there is darkness all around, and we don’t know where to go. But, if we remember that God is there for us, and we rely on Him, He will support us. We then can use His rod and His staff to guide us. Rods and staffs are like walking sticks, and they will help us when we stumble along the way. And whose support could be better than our omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God?
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
The Lord knows what is good for us. Even though the green pastures or still waters may not always be what we expect or what we want, we know that Jesus is always near. Jesus reassures us here by saying that “he leads me in paths of righteousness”. Though the path may not always be clear, if we follow Jesus, the destination we are heading towards is righteousness.
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Has anyone ever broken a promise with you? Has anyone ever lied to you? We’ve felt betrayals through different forms in this world, but the Lord will never fail us. Even when we face trials or temptations, His words are the lights that lead us through the darkness. His words have the power to comfort us and bring us peace. As we’re enjoying the Lord every day, we should also remember those who haven’t been saved yet. They’re still living in the darkness without any hope. That’s why we should spread the gospel to them and tell them the perfect salvation through Christ so that they too can turn their eyes upon Jesus.
Jesus is the one that passed through death into life. He is the one that makes us alive. He is the one that overcame the grave and won the victory over sin and death. Sometimes it’s really hard to believe that. Especially when things get hard or temptations seem so close. Or when you do something you feel you can’t recover from. But praise the Lord “o’er us sin no more hath dominion”! We are conquerors not because we can overcome sin by ourselves, but because He passed through death into life, and we follow Him there.
If we “turn our eyes upon Jesus,” we are relying on Him to help us, not on our own power. Without Him, we can do nothing, but He’s here for us as long as we turn to Him. It’s hard to remember to do so sometimes, though. The things of this world are so present, so alluring, so interesting, that we forget that Jesus is the only One who can always be there for us. If we continue to “look full in His wonderful face,” then “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
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“A new commandment I give unto you,
That you love one another as I have loved you,
That you love one another as I have loved you.
By this shall all men know that you are My disciples,
If you have love one for another.
By this shall all men know that you are My disciples,
If you have love one for another.”
- A New Commandment Song Lyrics
The lyrics for the song, “A New Commandment” comes from John 13:34-35, where Jesus was giving his farewell speech to the disciples as he was going to be crucified soon. I recently read this in a Bible study with a few other brothers and I was so inspired by it. Jesus’ last words to his disciples before his crucifixion was to love one another as their love would identify them as Christians. I found that extremely profound. There are many groups of people in this world, groups that are identified on the basis of race, status, interests, intelligence, age, the list goes on. However, Jesus says here that the Church is identified through our love for each other and for God.
This made me really reflect on my own life, do I really love my brothers and sisters? What does it even mean to love my brothers and sisters? One of the ways the Bible tells us to interact with our brothers and sisters is to talk to them. In Hebrews 10:25 ESV, it states that “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.” Though COVID-19 has made gatherings difficult and has broken off lots of communication in the Church, we must remember that Jesus has told us to love each other as he has loved us. I encourage my brothers and sisters to check up on each other in their free time, a text or a phone call can go a long way. May Jesus keep us all safe in these uncertain times and may we keep one another in prayer. Amen.
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Since the state mandated quarantine last spring, the Cleveland YP have been fellowshipping together on Saturday nights over zoom. Starting in the summer, we were blessed to have been able to have some in person gatherings outside (playing socially distanced games, sending off the 2020 seniors, and singing songs around a bonfire), while still primarily meeting over zoom. Since the cold months have come upon us however, we have no longer been able to meet in person.
While not being able to be in a normal setting and see each other face to face may be discouraging to some, the Lord has been faithful to supply us with the same light and life we received before these restrictions.
The YP in Cleveland --- Over the winter break, the YP were challenged to read Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. An addition to this challenge for those who wanted to go deeper was to do a word study throughout these books. During one of the Saturday night YP meetings in January, some of the high schoolers shared what they had learned and enjoyed from this challenge.
From Lydia Watkins (sophomore), I did my word study on faith. My definition of faith from what I read in these four books is having steadfast and firm belief in the Lord, even though we can't see Him, and having a strong assurance that He will work everything out in His time. Something that stuck out to me as I was reading and learning about faith is that before faith even existed, the law was put in place by God to be our tutor, to teach us about our sin and need for Christ, so that when faith did come, we would be ready, and be justified by this faith (Galatians 3:24-26). Through my word study, I was inspired to look for deeper meanings when reading the Word, and to listen more when the Lord speaks to me.
From Rebecca Chin (freshman), I did my word study on peace. At first, I thought it just meant people getting along, and often associated the word “peaceful” with quiet. After reading these books, my definition extended. The word “peace” is often used with “grace” and “mercy,” implying that peace is related to those things. I also learned that peace is something God has and is giving to us so that we “are joined together ... through the spirit.” (Ephesians 4:3) The things I found out have inspired me to try to get along with everyone more.
Songs we’ve been enjoying:
Good and Gracious King by City Alight
Springtime by Chris Renzema
Nobody by Casting Crowns
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Every morning, my alarm goes off. I get out of bed, groggy, and turn it off. Then I brush my teeth very sleepily. And then I read my Bible.
That’s how it has to be.
I found that I absolutely cannot do anything else first. I cannot look at my phone, I cannot talk to someone else, I cannot go eat my breakfast, before I read my Bible. I cannot go without the Word at all in the morning. It would be like going without brushing my teeth: I would be carrying that bad breath with me the whole day. In the same way, I carry anger, anxiousness, and confusion with me if I do not read my Bible in the morning.
I learned during this past semester that I am a weak human being. I thought I could handle everything, honestly. All my classes and friends and sports, the Christian club I co-lead, the projects I commit to. I discovered that I couldn’t, though. The added stress of COVID-19 showed me that I, as a human, cannot make it on my own. I will break down.
So I came to the Lord every morning, and continue to do so, no matter what. As I read and pray, He takes all my worries and bad feelings and even remnants from disturbing dreams I had that night, replacing them with thoughts of better things - of holy things. He shows me what is the most important before I walk into another hectic school day.
Because of the changes brought by COVID-19, I have learned to depend on the Lord. When I do school from home and feel lonely, he is there. When I go to school and my classmates are being a bad influence, he is there. When I am exhausted from zooms and have no motivation to do my homework, he is there. All I need to do is say his name.
Jesus, I need help with this essay.
Jesus, I can’t sleep.
Jesus, I feel alone right now.
He is there.
When I have lots of time but I’m not sure how to spend it… he is there, waiting. Commit yourself to the Lord and spend lots of time with him. Read a chapter. Take a walk and pray. He will reward you many times over. He will help you to be productive, to stay strong, and even to encourage those who are struggling around you. He has become my rock, and he can become yours too, if you will only seek him.
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Happy New Year!
We hope all of you are safe and doing well! Since March, the YP in Mississauga have been meeting on Zoom every week to sing hymns, read through the Bible and play occasional games such as Among Us or Skribblio during game nights.
Even though the online setting was hard to adapt to at first, we found ways to enjoy the Lord through the different portions of our meetings from building the Tabernacle on Minecraft, to having word studies, to learning new hymns in Songs for our Generation. We also did a special word study on redemption and looked at the different verses in the New Testament which contained this original Greek word!
We hope all of you and your localities have a blessed 2021 and here are 2 verses of encouragement we enjoyed from our meetings:
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 NIV
“Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.” Romans 8:39 NIV
The YP in Mississauga
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From one of the YP
Personally, I feel extremely grateful to be able to “see” and fellowship with the saints every weekend. Through this particularly stressful and difficult time, especially during the weekdays, I feel renewed and ready to face the challenges of the following week after the weekend meetings. Whether it was through praying or just having conversations with the other YP, I am grateful for the encouragement from my fellow YP and the Lord, who has been with all of us and has been encouraging all the saints throughout the pandemic.
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Frederick M. Lehman, the author of “The Love of God,” was known by all as a Christian who rejoiced in his salvation. One Sunday night after a sermon about God’s love so moved his heart, he could barely sleep. The next day, the words to this hymn began to piece together in his head, and he composed it on a piano.
I like this hymn for two main reasons: the imagery used, and I like finding the Biblical references throughout the hymn. A lot of the imagery used is superlative through vocabulary such as “greater far,” “highest,” “lowest,” and more. It reminds me of God’s greatness and how, as noted in the chorus, His love is measureless and strong. He loves us more than we could possibly love Him, so much so as to sacrifice His Son on the cross to redeem us. The third stanza shows the inability of human effort to compare to God’s boundless love. None of our efforts could ever come remotely close to His love.
There are many Biblical references such as how “The guilty pair, bowed down with care” refers to Adam and Eve after they ate the fruit of the Garden of Eden. “His erring child He reconciled” refers to the prodigal son who was reconciled back to his family. All he had to do was come home, and he was accepted back with open arms. The last stanza is a beautiful rendition of John 21:25, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” What all these have in common is that they involve us as humans failing, and God’s love being greater than our failures. His love is greater than all our human efforts, even the hypothetical ones.
It can be rather discouraging to know that none of your efforts could possibly live up to what God has done for you. However, I think all we can do is to continue to love and serve Him while asking and listening to what He wants from us. Similarly to the prodigal son, let us not be those who refuse to pray but be those who are reconciled to Him. Let us come to God, for He will accept us with open arms.
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We chose three verses from John 1 for the verse of the week. We chose them because of their connection to each other and to God. He is the true Light, and the Word that became flesh, and from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
The book of John is the last of the four gospels in the New Testament. It is often the book recommended to new believers. The first half of John is used to describe bringing God to man whereas the second half brings man to God. In chapter one, John echoes creation by going back to the very beginning, but as the chapter goes on, he describes the aforementioned bringing of God in the form of Jesus to man. In verse nine, John describes Jesus as the true light which gives light to everyone. As the light had not yet come, the world was in darkness as darkness is the absence of light. The progression continues with the beginning of verse fourteen as “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Word mentioned is a reference to the first verse that states that the Word is God. So God who is the true light came to earth in the form of man. Other versions say that He “tabernacled” among us which means that God took up a temporary residence by inhabiting a physical body. Though He was God, He was also a man. He came to earth to die on the cross in our place, forgiving us of our sins. He does so through His perfect plan, giving us grace upon grace. Grace is when we are given or forgiven for something when we don’t deserve it. Since we don’t deserve to be forgiven, we are forgiven by His grace. This brings us to God’s new order as God was able to fulfill His purpose of coming to earth. He has forgiven us of our sins, and we are able to live with Him.
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Over the past few months, a few computer gurus have teamed up to teach a class of young ones to pass on the ways of code to the next generation. The ones eager to learn are few, but consistent. Their names are Rose, Derzan and Evan. These three have undergone training in several of the programming disciplines, and as a group, we have endeavored into Python, Java, and HTML. We began with games: Lightbot, a logic puzzle game to teach programming concepts, and Turtle, a Python library which uses code to draw. Next, using Java, we made a “guess the number” game, a secret message encoder/decoder, and calculated PI from just a random number generator. We also revisited using code to draw, this time with Java, and the growth in creativity and ability from the students is apparent! We also took a stab at a genre of game called Interactive Fiction. We played through some pre-made stories, and in an attempt to make one of our own, realized that games are hard to make! The past few weeks we have been diving into the realm of web development. The websites we have made have been simple and cute, but each one reflects the unique personality of the developer. We are eager to show our friends what we have made! Going forward there are endless possibilities for coding club. We welcome those interested to join us on Discord on Mondays at 6pm CST. It’ll be a fun time!
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This past week was American Thanksgiving, and as expected, it got a lot of people thinking about what they’re grateful for. In this time period, it might be hard to look on the bright side. In keeping with the Thanksgiving spirit, the past week’s verse of the week was Psalms 100:4-5. Instead of going chronologically, I’m going to start with verse five as it gives the reason for why we should be giving thanks, then move to verse four. Forever seems like a long time, doesn’t it? It’s hard to wrap our minds around the fact that God has always existed, even before the beginning of time. The verse says that “the Lord is good and his love endures forever.” Looking at how it’s written, we can see that not only does God’s love endure forever, but the goodness of God does as well. The next part of the verse states, “his faithfulness continues through all generations.” An example of God's continued faithfulness is Abraham. He was an old man with an old wife who never had any children, yet God promised that Abraham would be a “father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4). This promise was fulfilled many times over through Abraham’s son, Isaac. Throughout the Bible, there are plenty of examples, and I’m sure if you ask your serving ones, they too will have testimonies of God’s continued faithfulness. So aren’t these plenty of reasons to be thankful?
Verse four is where David, the author of Psalms, explicitly tells us to be thankful. But what are these gates and courts? During the time Psalms was written, David was the king of Israel. Something he felt strongly about was creating a permanent place for God to dwell - the temple. The gates are the entrance to the temple, and the courts are the sections of land that appear right as you enter the gates. What I believe David is trying to say is that once we enter, we should immediately be giving thanks. Nowadays, since Jesus has died and resurrected, God no longer has a physical abode. However, as Christians, we have the Holy Spirit living within us. Therefore, we are constantly in the presence of God, and as we are now within His gates, we should be continuously giving thanks. After all, He is worthy of all our praise.