Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Pit Of Depression

Reading from the Book of Psalm 40:1-3

 1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
   he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
   out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
   and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
   a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
   and put their trust in him.

When the Bible speaks of "the pit", we can think of the depths of depression.  The psalmist David often spoke of feeling as though he was going down into a pit and calling out to the Lord to rescue him and set his feet on solid, level ground.

Nobody wants to be in a pit of depression.  It is a terrible place to be.  When we are deeply depressed, we feel bad enough as it is.  Then the devil comes along to add to our misery by bringing thoughts of every negative thing imaginable.  He reminds us of every disappointing thing that has ever happened to us and tries to make us belive that nothing good will every take place in our lives.  His goal is to keep us so miserable and hopeless that we will never rise up to cause him any problems or to fulfill the call of God in our lives.

We must learn to resist descending into the pit of depression where we are at the mercy of the tormentor of our souls, who is determined to totally destroy us and our witness for Christ.  We must learn to cry out to God and allow Him to set our feet upon a rock and bring stability to our lives.

Cry out to the Lord in prayer and He will help you rise up out of "the pit".

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Full Forgiveness

Reading form the Book of Isaiah 46:9-10...

 9Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.

The Lord says that He is the same God that has helped us in the past.  He is able to declare in the beginning how things will turn out in the end.  He is also everything in between.  He knows before trouble ever shows up that we can be victorious if we fight the battle His way.  His way is not a negative way, but a good and right way.  God already has an answer before we have a problem.

We are "more than conquerors...through Him that loved us" (Romans 8:37).  I believe that we can know we will win before the battle even begins.  Through Him we can see the end from the beginning, and we know that victory is sure.

He already knows what our thoughts are, and He already hears every word we will speak.  He is acquainted with all our ways.  Sometimes we act as though God is shocked to discover that we make mistakes.  We need to remember that He is not in heaven wringing His hands saying, "Oh, no! I had no idea you would act this way when I chose you!"  Even with His foreknowledge of our weaknesses and mistakes, He still chose us on purpose and brought us into relationship with Himself through Jesus Christ.  When you make a mistake, relax.  God knew long ago that you would do so and has provided "full forgiveness" for you through His Son.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Divine Wisdom

Reading from the Book of James 1:2-6

 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James teaches us that we should rejoice in difficult situations, knowing that through them God tests our faith to bring out patience.  I find that trials do eventually produce patience, but first they bring all kinds of junk to the surface such as pride, anger, rebellion, self-pity and complaining.  We need to face and deal with these ungodly traits before patience can come forth.

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

The Bible talks about purification, sanctification, sacrifice and suffering.  These are not popular words, nevertheless, if we are to be Christlike in character, we must sometimes go through difficult circumstances to learn His ways.  I struggle with this process many times with the medical/mental illness my spouse suffers
with, but as I have learned and finally realize, God is not going to do things my way.  He places people and situations in my life that caused me to quit this whole process of trying to do things my way and instead say "Yes, Lord.  Your will be done."

There are two ways to handle problems--the natural way and the spiritual way. To solve your problems and frustrations the spiritual way, simply ask God what you should do.  You may not recieve an answer immediately, but you will find that "Divine Wisdom" (wisdom beyond your natural understanding) will begin to operate through you, helping you to know what to do.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Good Plan

Reading from the Book of Numbers 14:1-9

 1 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Do you see how negative the Israelites were?  They were complaining, ready to give up too easily, preferring to go back to bondage rather than press through the wilderness into the Promised Land.  Actually, they did not have a problem, they were the problem!  These people felt sorry for themselves.  Every inconvenience became a new excuse to engage in self-pity.  You can be pitful or powerful, but you cannot be both.  It is important to understand that we cannot entertain self-pity and also walk in the power of God.

 5 Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. 6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”

Moses and Aaron reacted to the Israelites' murmuring and complaining: they fell on their faces.  This action of falling on one's face is an act of humility and seeking God in prayer.  If all the Israelites had fell on their faces before God, they would have seen miracle after miracle.  But they were too busy getting tripped up by feeling sorry for themselves, talking negatively, finding fault with God and Moses, and wanting to go back to Egypt.  As they fell on their faces worshiping God they were demostrating to the Israelites their reverence to God and to show them they needed to do the same.

Likewise, we need to keep our faith positive by not letting pessimistic people steal our joy.  We should not let doubters destroy our confidence.  We should believe that God is a good God and has a good plan for our lives.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Revolution Of The Heart

Reading from the Book of Galations 5:13-26...

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

More than ever, we are called to be a light in the growing darkness of our uncertain world. It is up to Christians today to point the way: to announce with renewed energy that a revolution of political structures is not enough. There must be a revolution of the heart!  It is not a time to fear, but to boldly proclaim the truth that sets us free. And we know, brothers and sisters, that this is a difficult time to do that. The program for God’s revolution is holiness, childlike men and women who give themselves totally to Jesus. The renewal of the world today will come through the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through a remnant. Few understand the martyrdom that is being asked of us right now.

Paul says in Galations 5:16, we should choose to walk and live in the Spirit, and by making that choice, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh that continually tempt us.  There are many things available to lead us--people, the devil and his demons, the flesh of our bodies, minds, wills and emotions, and the Holy Spirit.  There are many voices in the world that speak to us, often several at the same time.  It is important that we learn to be led by the Holy Spirit, to be "responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit".

Remember, the Holy Spirit is the One Who knows the will of God and Who is sent to dwell in each of us to aid us in being all God has designed us to be and to have all God wants us to have.  It is important for us to see that the Holy Spirit lives in each of us to help us.  When we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, He becomes involved in every decision we make, both major and minor.  He leads us by peace and by wisdom, as well as by the Word of God.  He speaks in a still, small voice in our hearts.  Those of us who desire leading by the Holy Spirit must learn to follow the voice in our heart and respond quickly.

We do not always have to know why: we just need to obey the Spirit's leading to find peace and contentment in our daily living and to win the "Revolution of the Heart".

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rest Of The Soul

Reading from the Book of Hebrews 4:1-2...

 1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.

Those who did not listen to God's Word or obey His instructions did not enter into the place of rest He offered to them.  So when you feel frustrated or upset, or if you lose your peace and your joy, ask yourself, "Am I believing God's Word?"  The only way we will ever be free from struggling is to believe the Word and obey whatever Jesus puts in our hearts to do.  Believing God's Word delivers us from struggling so that we can rest in the promises of God.

Experiencing His rest is one way you can tell whether you are really "in" faith, or whether you are just trying to "have" faith.  When you truly enter into the realm of faith, you enter into the rest of God.

Rest is freedom from excessive reasoning, struggle, fear, inner turmoil, worry and frustration, which develop because of our working to do what only God can do.  Being in God's rest is not necessarily resting from physical activity, but resting in confidence in the midst of everything that goes on in life.  It is the "rest of the soul" where the mind, will, and emotion are at peace.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Leave Your Wilderness

Reading from the Book of Psalm 78...

Psalm 78 describes some of the things that happened to the Israelites as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land.  Despite God's gracious and miraculous provision for them time and time again, they were very stubborn and rebellious during their years in the wilderness.  That is what caused them to die out there.  They simply would not do what God told them to do!  They would cry out to God to get them out of trouble when they got into a mess.  They would even respond to His instructions with obedience...until circumstances improved.  Then, repeatedly, they would go back into rebellion.

If we are not walking in wisdom, we will spend our lives doing the same thing.  We need to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them in our own lives.  Some of us are a little more strong-willed then others.  And then, of course, we must consider our roots and how we got started in life, because that affects us, too.   The Lord demands that we give up our own ways and become moldable in His hands.  As long as we are stubborn and rebellious, He cannot use us.

We grow in our ability and willingness to lay aside our will and do His.  We must continue to make progress in this area everyday.  It is not enough to reach a certain plateau and think, "I have gone as far as I am going to go".  We must be obedient in all things, not holding back anything in keeping any doors in our lives closed to the Lord.

Let Him do a work in you so that you can "leave your wilderness" and enter your Promised Land.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Only True Foundation

Reading from the Book of 1Corinthians 3: 1-11...

 1And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
 2I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
The natural man does not understand the spiritual man.  Some of the choices and decisions a spiritual person makes do not make sense at all to a non-spiritual person.  Those who are natural or non-spititual try to understand everything with their minds, but the spiritual person discerns things by the Spirit.  He lives out of his new heart and out of the attitude that God gives him.
 3For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
Envy and jealousy cause us to strive after things that God gives us in His timing, if it is His will that we have them.  A jealous, envious heart never blesses God.  We are not to envy what other people have.
 4For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
 5Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
 6I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
 7So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
 8Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
Being jealous and envious of one another is a total waste of time.  We all have gifts that God gives us.  They do not come from any other source.  We must be content with what heaven sends us.  God has a unique plan for each of our lives, and the gifts He gives us are part of that plan.  We can trust Him.  He knows His business. 
 9For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
Our business is to walk in love.
 10According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
 11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

People try to build their lives on many things~~money, education, job titles, possessions, and other things.  These are all faulty foundations.  Who or what is the foundation of your life?  Jesus Christ is the only true foundation you can build your life upon.