Spiritual Encouragement For Graduates!
High School graduation is a very exciting time. I want to congratulate you on all your accomplishments. However, I want to remind you that although this is a great accomplishment that it is only a thing that relates to this earthly life. Tonight the direction that I want to encourage you in is that which affects your spiritual journey, Christ, His church, salvation and service. About the time that we graduate from High School we make decisions that have an effect on the rest of our life. In these thoughts I want to share with you my personal challenge but I also trust that what I share will reflect God's priorities and desires for your life and for ours as well.
Live a righteous life. The first and most important thing for you is to be a Christian and to live a righteous life. Through His grace and mercy God made salvation available to you through our Lord Jesus Christ. Life is always better when we have Jesus as Savior. He is the Son of God and we should obey Him. To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus as the Christ (Mark 16:16), repent of all sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized for remission of sins. (Acts 2:38) Even if you are already a Christian never allow yourself to think you have somehow arrived. Keep focused and pressing on in the Lord! Paul wrote, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14) Live your life in such a way that you do not allow sin to wreck your body, soul or mind. Titus 2:11-14 teaches us to life soberly, righteously and godly. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works." Live in such a way that you do not have to regret the past and feel shame or guilt for your actions.
Learn to be thankful. As a graduate from High School you must learn to be thankful in everything. (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18) "Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." You should first and foremost be thankful to God. We serve a great God who has been so good to us. Right below God be thankful for and be thankful to your parents. Even though you are now a High School Graduate you are still obligated to obey and honor your parents. We read, "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." (Ephesians 6:1-3) There will be many changes in your life over the next few days, weeks and months. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing take a moment to stop and thank God for giving you your parents. Find some way each week to communicate your love and thankfulness to them. Learn to be thankful. You will find more happiness in life as you are thankful to God and to all those who have blessed your life; parents, teachers and many others.
Look for opportunities to grow and serve. All about you are opportunities to lift up the name of Jesus and to be of service to mankind. Look for opportunities for service. Look for opportunities for spiritual growth and other opportunities to be Christ-like. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." (Galatians 6:10) One of life's greatest losses is the loss of opportunity. Continue to grow in service, in humility, in gentleness and in grace. Grow in knowledge as to what is important in life and grow in an understanding of what will last into eternity. Seek wise counsel from godly parents and especially ask God for wisdom and direction. Solomon wrote, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6) As you grow remember to use every opportunity to serve God and others. "But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." (Luke 12:48) Constantly remind yourself that with great opportunity comes great responsibility. Find ways to love and serve others unconditionally.
Love the word of God. Those who get the most from life will spend a great deal of time with the word of God. Of the blessed man it was said, "But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night." (Psalm 1:2.) A heart void of knowledge of God's word cannot be truly happy. Do not neglect the Bible. The word of God makes you wise unto salvation. Paul wrote, "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:15) Pray that your love for the Lord will deepen as a result of the time that you spend with our Bible. Peter's encouragement is, "as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.' (1 Peter 2:2) The Bible teaches us about the unique place that the church of Christ has in our lives. Make you Bible study time and the church a priority in your life. Through this means you can be fed, disciplined, and cared for spiritually.
Graduation is a wonderful time for spiritual growth. It is also a time to love life and have fun. You are in the prime of your life. Please remember that there must be good Biblical balance. "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:16) In Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 Solomon instructed young people to enjoy life but to also remember coming judgment. "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity." Youth should be a time to make a commitment to glorify God. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)
We want our graduates to know that your church family will be praying for you. We are here for you if you ever need us. We want to be a blessing to you. I close tonight by sharing with you one of the greatest challenges in the Bible. God challenged Joshua "Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." (Joshua 1:7-8) Those commands were accompanied with this great promise, "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." (Joshua 1:9) God inspired Paul to write, "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)
I also challenge you to (1) Be a Christian, (2) Become a leader for the Lord, (3) Do all you can to avoid spiritual failure, (4) Have the right perspectives in life, (5) Make a positive difference in your world, (6) Have the heart of a servant, (7) Live for a heavenly future, (8) Have principles and conviction, (9) Live with a future and possibilities, and (10) Live a life of purity and godliness. True happiness comes to those who put first things first, spend much time with God and God's people, pray regularly, honor parents, marry in the Lord and practice the joy of giving. Our prayer for all graduates is: "The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26)
The love and sacrifice of Jesus is still deeper than any thought that I could imagine. Yet, the sinner must choose a godly life. You must obey the truth. "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever." (1 Peter 1:22-23) To obey the truth you must believe in Jesus with all your heart (John 8:24), Repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), Confess the name of Jesus (Acts 8:37), and be baptized to wash away your sins. (Acts 22:16) Will your life be worthwhile or will it be only a waste? You must decide.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA