You’re probably like me — you like a good story. Whether it’s a TV drama, a box office hit movie, or a best-selling novel, we tend to line up for a compelling story.
Maybe you’re sitting in a restaurant or around a campfire, and your friends begin to tell stories. Each one seems better than the one before. It begins to feel a bit like a contest. It seems as if people are trying to “outstory” one another, so you begin to thumb through your mental catalog of personal stories to see if you are carrying one that may just win the day.
Maybe someone tells you a fantastic story, and you can’t wait for the opportunity to retell it to someone else. We all love a good story.
Your Story Might Not Make History
The honest reality is that most of our stories won’t end up in history books. After we die, most of our personal history will die with us, forgotten except for perhaps a few pictures or memories cherished by our closest loved ones. The chances of your life accomplishments being preserved in a biography are slim to none.
“Your life story is a biography of wisdom and grace written by Another.”
Discouraging? It shouldn’t be. Rather, if you are God’s child, you have been invited into a much bigger story — the grand redemptive story — which is now your biography.
Better than anything impressive that you could accomplish in this life, your life story is a biography of wisdom and grace written by Another. Every twist of the plot is for the best. Every turn he writes into your story is right. Every new character or unexpected event is a tool of his grace. Each new chapter advances his purpose.
Hosea 14:9 proclaims, “Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right.” It is almost a gross understatement to say that God’s ways are better. How could they not be? He is infinite in wisdom and grace!
You have been welcomed into the best story ever by grace and grace alone. Best of all, this story that is your biography has an end that never ends.
The Best Story Never Ends
Most great stories are great because, through the characters, relationships, situations, and locations, they march you to an incredible ending. When someone is talking to you about a great movie they just saw or a great book they just read, they will often say, “You will just not believe the ending!”
The grand redemptive story, on the other hand, is the best story precisely because it has no ending. The one story you need to know, understand, and give your heart to is hopeful, encouraging, and life-transforming because it offers you the two wonderful things that no other story can offer you.
First, it offers you a place in the story, a place that was planned for you long before the story was written. But it also offers you something that is hard for the human brain to grasp and the human imagination to envision. It offers you life that never, ever ends.
We are all so used to death that we sadly think of it as a normal part of life. Things die, people die — end of story. But that’s not the end of this story. God’s amazing story of redemption, which is written for you on the pages of your Bible, is radically different, because in this story, death dies.
Yes, you read it right. The main character of God’s story (which is your story if you’re his child) comes to earth and defeats sin and death, and because he does, he offers us the one thing that no other character in any other story can offer us — real life now and eternal life to come.
What Story Are You Reading?
Remind yourself again today that you have a story, but it is not an autobiography. There is an author of your story, but the author is not you. You have been welcomed into an epic drama, but you will never be the hero. You have been given a kingdom, but you will never be its monarch.
“Why would you ever want an autobiography when you could have the story God himself has written?”
The price of your admission into this story was the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. But he conquered death so that by grace he could establish his story in your life. Today he reigns on your behalf and will continue to do so until the last enemy of your soul and of his kingdom has been defeated.
Then he will summon you into the final chapter — a chapter that never ends — where peace and righteousness will reign forever and ever. This is the story of your faith and your life. The story of this redemptive, eternal plan is now your biography.
Why would you ever want an autobiography when you could have the story God himself has written?
As I meditate on my story, woven into the grand redemptive story, I can’t help but run to the words of Jeremiah 9:23–24,
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
Below is a meditation in the form of verse that I wrote to remind myself to boast in the Lord and not in my own story. As you read it, ask yourself two questions: (1) How have you been tempted to take personal credit for your story when it is rightly due to God? (2) What specific aspects of the grand redemptive story can you celebrate today?
I have taken an accounting long needed, long overdue, humbling, convicting, heart-correcting. I had to admit that in many ways — subtly sometimes, boldly other times —
I have taken personal credit for what I could not conceive, produce, achieve, or accomplish on my own. I have no independent successes, accomplishments, attainments, prizes, or positions that I have manufactured on my own.
There is nothing that I have done in my own strength. There is no ability that I have employed that does not come from you. All the things around me that had to be in place for me to do what I have done exist under your sovereignty, not my own.
All the people that have mentored me, assisted me, advised me, cooperated with me, employed me, loved me, guided me, rescued me, taught me, supported me, stood with me, stood against me, cared for me, protected me, or worked with me came into my life brought there by you.
I have arrived at places that were not in my plan. I have done things I never envisioned to do. I have lived in situations that were not of my wise choosing. I have been regularly surprised by the turnings of my own story.
I have not had the character, will, wisdom, ambition, courage, patience, commitment, perseverance, humility, discipline, contentment, or vision of a hero. As I have taken an accounting, this is the sum: there is only One hero in my story,
only One who deserves credit, honor, celebration, esteem, and praise. Clearly that hero is You.
My successes are the result of Your sovereignty, Your generosity, Your faithfulness, and your grace.
You are the author, expediter, and completer of my story. There is nothing that I have done that could be done without you. There is no reason for me to boast. The account points me here — if I am to boast, I will boast in YOU.
Article by David Mathis Executive Editor, desiringGod.org
The spirit of the old adage “words will never harm me” is not the sentiment of the Scriptures. Words can hurt, even when directed from an unknown profile online. God made a world in which words are powerful. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). And as public discourse falls to new lows in the digital age, God has not left us without a guide for how to respond to the pain when we are persecuted with words.
Leaf through the New Testament, and you’ll find verbal attacks on Jesus, his apostles, and his church on nearly every page. At times, these attacks escalate to physical persecution — the stoning of Stephen, the martyrdom of James, the imprisonments of Peter and Paul, the crucifixion of Christ — but what remains constant, and significant, is a torrent of verbal persecution against Jesus and his people. And verbal persecution is not less than persecution because it’s verbal.
Have You Been Reviled?
Slander and revile are two of the main words for verbal attack in the English New Testament, and both occur frequently. Early Christians were so accustomed to being spoken against that they developed a rich vocabulary (if you call it that) of being slandered, reviled, insulted, maligned, mocked, and spoken evil against (at least six different Greek verbs, along with several related nouns and adjectives). Of the English terms, revile may be the least common in normal usage today. One dictionary defines it as “to criticize in an abusive or angrily insulting manner.”
To take our cues from specific biblical texts, revile can mean “to speak evil against” (Matthew 5:11; Mark 9:39; Acts 19:9; 23:4); it is the opposite of verbally honoring someone (Mark 7:10). Reviling is an attempt to injure with words (1 Peter 3:16). We see it at Jesus’s crucifixion, where “those who passed by derided him” with their words, and the chief priests, scribes, and elders “mocked him,” and “the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way” (Matthew 27:39–44).
But Jesus not only endured it; he prepared us for it as well. He and his apostles, and the early church, model for us how to receive and respond to slander and reviling.
1. Expect the world to say the worst.
Amid this rich vocabulary of verbal attack, the New Testament sends no mixed signals as to whether Christians will be maligned. We will. Jews and Gentiles together bombarded Jesus and his disciples with verbal attacks. Physical persecution came and went, but reviling remained constant.
When Paul arrived in Rome, the Jews reported to him, about Christianity, “With regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against” (Acts 28:22). For Christians, being reviled is not a matter of if but when: “when they speak against you” (1 Peter 2:12). Unbelievers “are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery” — so what do they do? “They malign you” (1 Peter 4:4).
After all, should we not expect the world, under the power of the devil (1 John 5:19; Ephesians 2:2), to lie about us? The Greek for devil (diabolos) actually means slanderer (1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:3). As Jesus said to his revilers in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. . . . When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
2. Consider the cause.
We should not assume that all verbal opposition we receive is good. Being reviled for Jesus’s sake and for his gospel is one thing; being reviled for our own folly and sin is another (1 Peter 3:17; 4:15–16).
As far as it depends on us, we want to “give the adversary no occasion for slander” (1 Timothy 5:14). Slander itself is no win for the church. We want to do what we can, within reason and without compromise, to keep God’s name and word and teaching from reviling (1 Timothy 6:1; Titus 2:5). “Do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil” (Romans 14:16). But when the world speaks evil against us because of Jesus, we embrace it. “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14).
3. Do not revile in return.
Christ’s calling to his church is crystal clear: Do not respond in kind. Do not stoop to the level of your revilers. “Keep your conduct honorable” (1 Peter 2:12). “Speak evil of no one” (Titus 3:2), including those who have spoken evil of you. Do not become a verbal vigilante, but “entrust yourself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). And as his redeemed, taste the joy of walking in his steps: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return” (1 Peter 2:23).
Paul took up the same mantle: “When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat” (1 Corinthians 4:12–13). So also Peter charges us to respond “with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:15–16). When we do not “revile in return,” we put our revilers to shame.
Christians do not respond in kind. We lose the battle, and undermine our commission, when we let revilers make us into revilers. And it’s not just a matter of strategy, but of spiritual life and death. “Revilers,” 1 Corinthians 6:10 warns, “will not inherit the kingdom of God,” and Christians are instructed “not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is . . . a reviler” (1 Corinthians 5:11). Christ expects, even demands, that our speech be different from the world’s, even when we respond to the world’s mean words.
4. Leap for joy.
Leap for joy? That might seem way over the top. Can’t we just take our cues from the apostles in Acts 5:41? “They left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” Amen, rejoice. Yes. Jesus’s own words in the Sermon on the Mount guide us: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11–12). But Luke 6:22–23 doesn’t leave it at simply rejoicing:
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”
Whether you’re just rejoicing in God deep down, or finding the emotional wherewithal, in the Spirit, to “leap for joy,” the point is clear: When others dishonor you, and exclude you, and utter all manner of evil against you, and even spurn your name as evil — and that on Jesus’s account, not on the account of your own folly — this is not new, and you are not alone (“so their fathers did to the prophets”). You have a great cause for joy. Their reviling you for his sake means you are with him! And you will know him more as you share in the verbal persecution he endured (Philippians 3:10).
5. On the contrary, bless.
There is one more shocking possibility for Christians, even more astounding than leaping for joy: “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
This indeed is the spirit of Christ, and gives the most striking testimony of the Spirit of Christ at work in us. The grace and power of God not only enable us to expect and evaluate reviling, and not respond in kind but even rejoice, but also repay reviling with blessing. This is Christlikeness. This is Christian maturity (Matthew 5:48). This reflects the magnanimous heart of our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:45). This is the enemy-love to which Jesus not only calls us but works in us by his Spirit. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
In Christ, we have found ourselves blessed when we deserved to be cursed. We have come to know a Father who does not revile those who humbly seek him (James 1:5). When reviled, we now have the opportunity to bless undeserving revilers, just as we have been blessed from above — and will be further blessed for doing so (“that you may obtain a blessing,” 1 Peter 3:9).
The swelling ocean of reviling in our day is not just an obstacle to be endured. It is an opportunity for gospel advance — and for deeper joy.
David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org and pastor at Cities Churchin Minneapolis/St. Paul. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.
Defy the Enemies of Your Soul
By: Kaitlin Miller
There is something in the sheer act of defiance that can ignite us.
The determination of refusal can stiffen our spine, tense our muscles, and amplify our resolve. Of course, defiance can be directed in a million sinful ways when driven by our pride — toward rebellion against parents, resistance to repentance, disrespect of authority, or any other rejection of God’s commands.
But there is also a holy defiance that fires us up to resist temptation, reclaim enemy territory, and refuse to curse God in suffering. These are the kinds of battles for which God’s blood boils. And by the blood of Christ that saves us, they can boil ours as well.
Defy the True Enemy
Our enemy is cunning and dangerous. He prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). But he is also a defeated foe — and he knows it. He is incapable of tempting with more than we can withstand (1 Corinthians 10:13). He is forced to flee from us as we resist him (James 4:7). And he and his demons tremble at the truth that even they rightly believe (James 2:19).
We are right to take him seriously — to be alert to his tactics, on guard against his methods, and sober-minded in consideration of him. But we are also right to remember that in Christ we have been given the power to demolish strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4), and that we have joined ranks with the winning side who will soon crush him under our feet (Romans 16:20).
Trusting only in our own strength, we find ourselves cowering in fear, deceived by tactics, or fearfully fleeing the battle altogether in assumed defeat. But “strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10–11), we can fearlessly look our enemy’s already-thwarted schemes squarely in the face, confident in our undefeatable King and the invincible armor he gives.
Spirits Set to Boil
Paul admonishes us not to “be slothful in zeal,” but “fervent in spirit” (Romans 12:11), a command that carries the idea of boiling with passion — either in anger for what is bad, or love for what is good. Such fervency is in stark contrast to the unacceptable state of being lukewarm (Revelation 3:16).
But we can’t kindle that fire on our own. Rather, we must look to our God, the consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29), whose Holy Spirit heats up our own spirit to love what he loves, hate what he hates, defend what he defends, and refuse what he refuses. Contending with him against the true spiritual forces of our world, we boil with a defiance that shows itself hottest and brightest in all sorts of holy refusals.
Defiance of Refusal
This defiance comes as we refuse to submit to alluring temptations by exposing them for what they really are — deceitful schemes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Boiled to disgust, we can foil the enemy’s plans by rejecting his malicious invitations, turning instead to walk in the life of our God-given freedom from sin (Romans 6:6).
Defiance comes as we refuse to tolerate the lies we see taking ground in the lives of those we love — lies that they are unloved, without hope, or masters of their own fate. Boiled to jealous love, we can raise over them our shields of faith, quenching fiery arrows from the evil one (Ephesians 6:16).
Defiance comes as we refuse to be swept into our society’s irrational generalization of truth, as if such “relativism” is not based on an absolute truth claim of its own. Boiled to passion for the unchanging truth of God’s word, we resolve to remain steadfast and immovable (1 Corinthians 15:58) in our submission to its loving authority, standing always in fear of a holy God rather than mere men (Matthew 10:28).
Defiance comes as we refuse to be discouraged to inaction over the overwhelming global suffering beyond our human ability to combat — spiritual lostness, poverty, slavery, and the persecution of the church. Boiled to righteous anger over the dark forces behind those movements, we can begin by assuming the offensive stance of kneeling in prayer, waging war against the true powers of this dark world and “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Defiance comes as we refuse to doubt God’s goodness when he doesn’t give us what we think we want — the relationship, the job, the house, the deal. Boiled to determination not to fall again for the enemy’s first lie, that God is withholding something good from us (Genesis 3:4–5), we instead assure our disappointed hearts that God withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11; Romans 8:32).
Defiance comes as we refuse to resent God’s sovereignty when he allows a diagnosis, natural disaster, persecution, or seemingly senseless tragedy. Boiled to faithfulness, we declare that no matter what the enemy takes from us — even our very lives — still he will not take the ultimate treasure for which we regard everything as loss: the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord (Philippians 3:8).
Tremble Not for Him
We may not always feel that fiery determination of resistance. Far more often, we may feel captive to discouragement, doubt, and despair. But in those moments, we can pray for faith to believe in our enemy’s defeat and clarity to see the way out from under his attacks (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can assure our anxious souls that God is still worthy of our hope — and that only he is (Psalm 42:11; 43:5). We can again bank our trust on the power of Christ’s prayer that our faith would not fail (Luke 22:32).
We can assure our hearts that if God is for us, nothing can ultimately stand against us (Romans 8:31). We can sound a battle cry to our soul — those songs of praise that we blast from our car speakers in triumph or whisper on our knees in tearful resolve or declare just as confidently in the darkest hour from a prison cell (Acts 16:25). We can call to mind how we overcome in the end: by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11).
Even if we lose all earthly treasures, yet will we praise him (Habakkuk 3:17–18). Even though he slays us, yet will we hope in him (Job 13:15). Even if he does not deliver us from the fires of persecution, still will we bow down to him, and him alone (Daniel 3:17–18). Though the gates of hell seem mighty, they will not prevail against his church (Matthew 16:18).
The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him. In the name of Jesus, we defy him.
The Way Out of “Burnout”
I’m sure most women know what I mean by the phrase burned out. Burnout is what happens to us when we take on too much, and we simply hit the wall. Those duties you once enjoyed have piled up way too high, and now you don’t feel like carrying them anymore. They are heavy. They are hard. They are too many. And you are tired. The duties themselves have not changed — you have.
The commitments and responsibilities are probably very good. Maybe you have been volunteering, teaching, homeschooling, counseling, hosting, helping, cooking, nursing, cleaning, organizing, carpooling, and then you are doing it all over again day after day. You can’t see an end in sight and you feel absolutely fried. Spent. Worn out. Drained. I want to throw you a rope and haul you in out of the water and back on board.
Address Your Sin
It is not a sin to be tired. In fact, it’s a good sign that we are working hard and not frittering our time away being idle. Fatigue is not sin, it is simply a symptom of our finitude. We are not made of iron. We are flesh and blood, and we run out of energy. We need a Sabbath, and we need it every single week. We should be working six days, sleeping soundly because we’ve been working hard, and then resting on the Lord’s Day so we can be refueled to start over again on Monday morning. This is God’s creation design, and it is good. Though this physical feeling of fatigue is not sin, it can, of course, be accompanied by sinful attitudes.
When we are tired, we can be tempted to think we didn’t get much accomplished. We may feel discouraged or trapped and worry that there is no one to help us or take over for us. We may think our work is all in vain because we’re going to have to do it all over again tomorrow. Or we might be disappointed because we didn’t finish everything on our list. And then there’s that friend who is vacationing in Hawaii. How does she get off so easily?
So by all means, deal with any sinful attitudes before trying to solve the issue of burnout. Self-pity never helps us or equips us when we have work to do, and it will not be our aid in dealing with this. But once we have set aside any sin by confessing it to God, let’s turn to consider the burnout itself. How did we get here in the first place?
Know When to Say “No”
We can divide our duties into two general categories: mandatory and voluntary. Mandatory duties are those bestowed on us directly by the hand of our good and gracious God. Childbearing and childrearing certainly fall in this category. If God has given you a quiver full of children, then you are called to do the good work of bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The work and worth of homemaking and home keeping, childbearing and child-rearing are grievously underestimated by most of us. It is work (lots of it), and it is good work. But there are other kinds of work in this category as well. If you are called to work outside the home to provide for yourself or your family, this is also in the mandatory category. You can’t just decide it’s too hard and fail to show up for work.
A second category of duties and responsibilities I would call “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” Women often see a vacuum and move in to fill it before counting the cost of what it is going to take. Other times they feel manipulated, pressured, or guilted into volunteering to do something that is going to put other responsibilities at risk. You said you would host the Bible study at your home on Wednesday night, you raised your hand when the cry went out for volunteers to make three pies for the potluck, and you certainly didn’t look at the floor when they said they needed someone to organize the wedding reception. Not only that, but you volunteered to be a chaperone for the field trip. But now all these things have piled up on your calendar in rapid succession and have thrown you into a tailspin. Because now, not only do you need to prepare for the field trip, but you also must find someone to take the kids to their music lessons.
When it comes to the non-negotiable duties, these are the priority. If we are not handling them well, then we should not be taking on more duties to add to the pile. We want our homes running on all cylinders or our duties at work to be fulfilled before we look elsewhere for good things to do. “They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!” (Song of Solomon 1:6). Your own vineyard is your first priority.
You Are Not Irreplaceable
What about mercy ministry? The Good Samaritan didn’t exactly have the guy in the ditch written in his daily planner. Of course, we must be prepared to act instantly when confronted with drastic needs. But sometimes we go out beating the bushes, and there might be a person more equipped than you are to help. If you are busy administering first aid when there is a nurse standing behind you, then by all means, defer to her. Let her take over.
Consider the work of counseling. We should all be able to help with basic Bible knowledge to encourage one another. But if more is needed, there is nothing wrong with finding someone else who is more equipped to step in to help. Not every situation is an emergency. You may have to keep your conversation short. Or if you are too burdened to help anymore, you might pray for God’s replacement. A fresh replacement might be far more effective than you are. Remember, we are not irreplaceable.
Don’t Break Promises
But what if you don’t have any extra duties at all, yet you still feel burned out? In that case, it is time to sit down and run an inventory. Ask God to help you evaluate your situation clearly. What are your basic duties? What is keeping you from getting them done? Is it possible to get help? Can you organize your time better? Can you cut something out without shirking an important duty?
It’s also very important to keep your perspective. Remember that these deadlines and due dates will pass. My husband and I have called times like this “hunker down” times. We just hunker down and plow through. Sooner or later we will get through this tunnel and come out on the other side. When we have bigger commitments and responsibilities than we have strength, then this is a perfect time to call out to God for help.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:12–13)
Determine never to flake. That is being unloving to your neighbor. If you said you would make those stupid pies, you can’t bail out now and show up with a bag of chips. If you said you would help with the reception, you can’t be a no-show. We are Christians! We keep our promises. You may not call an hour before the field trip and say, “Sorry, something has come up, and it’s just not going to work.”
One of the ways we learn to be wise rather than hasty in our commitments is by sticking to them. If we stay up late making those pies, we will think twice before we over-commit again. And we will find out that it is not a sin to say no. It’s not a sin to let someone else volunteer. Someone wisely said, “The need is not the call.”
So ride this part out. Finish your commitments by the grace of God. Do not lose heart. Ask God for strength. And then don’t put anything extra on your calendar for a while. Take a breather and pray for spiritual refreshment.
Breaking the Heaviness – Mario Murillo
July 2, 2019
The constant barrage of terrifying headlines and mainstreaming of perversion vexes the child of God. These verses from Second Peter have never been more relevant than now: “and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment…” 2 Peter 2:7-9
Angry debates, rioting, filth paraded in the streets, and constant bad news can drain the sanity from our souls.
Not only this, but we are forced to keep all our enormous frustrations inside of us. While stupidity and wickedness get a megaphone—wisdom and righteousness get duct tape over their mouths.
These are the times that rob inner peace—that bring intense restlessness—that drain all the color and enjoyment from our life.
These are the times Jesus warned us of—and that He gave us direction for.
First He said, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls.” – Luke 21:17-19
Talk about mindless hate! Both the liberals and the feminists have incredible bias for Islam and sheer hatred for Christ and Christianity. It is mind-bending. It makes zero sense. Yet that is exactly the kind of irrational hatred our Lord predicted. It is weariness to believers who share their faith openly.
Then Jesus said, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke 21:34)
The dumbest thing anyone ever said to me was, “When you come to Jesus, your problems are over.” I never had problems until I met Jesus! I kept wondering, “Why am I being attacked? Why am I being shot at from all directions? Why do I meet stiff resistance every time I try to do something meaningful for Jesus?”
Does this sound familiar? You walk through life, minding your own business and wham! A co-worker rages at you for no reason. Money evaporates. Your health fails. Loved ones abandon God. Someone makes an irrational defense for wickedness. A confluence of demonic attacks falls on you. Life has never felt so cruel and unfair.
At the apex of one of these attacks, something happened to me. A terrifying thought became a glorious thought, “SOMEBODY IS MAD AT JESUS, AND THEY ARE TAKING IT OUT ON ME!” Suddenly, I felt qualified to fight back. And I felt profoundly honored.
Think about it! A soldier does not go to war because he has a personal grudge against the enemy. He didn’t declare war—his nation did. He is not responsible for the battle plan—the military is. He is not paying his own way to the war—his government is.
Let’s take a look at the things that are not the soldier’s responsibility: The training he needs; the weapons he uses; the food and shelter he requires; the assignments he receives—these, and a host of other things, are not his responsibility.
“What soldier ever serves at his own expense?” (1 Cor. 9:7) “…No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” (2 Tim. 2:4)
The soldier does not create the organized army. He does not carry the weight of how the war will be won. If he sits in the foxhole feeling alone and unfairly attacked, it is because he has forgotten who he is and why he is being attacked. He has taken the battle into his own hands!
But when he remembers that he was recruited—when he recalls that he is not alone, but part of a victorious army, and all he is called to do is obey orders, it changes everything!
When we take the attack personally, we lose hope. But, when we say, “The battle is not mine, it’s God’s,” we cannot be defeated. Let’s stay out of things that do not concern us. Let’s keep our conflict in the hands of God. We must discern when we are operating in our own strength and by our own wits.
Remembering your attacks are not personal is plainly seen in these verses where Jesus speaks about conditions in the last days: Luke 21:12 “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of special persecution, and you will be dragged into synagogues and prisons and before kings and governors for My name’s sake. 13 But as a result, the Messiah will be widely known and honored. 14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.
When they were arrested, it felt personal. When they were dragged to court, it felt personal. But when they were asked to speak, it became God’s battle and Christ was glorified! He gave them the words and the courage to speak. He even told them not to prepare words beforehand. That means that we are not to devise ways of fighting back. It means we will get what we need, when we need it.
Paul experienced the same thing: Philippians 1:12 “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel…”
Right now we have a presidential election that embodies everything that is wrong with our nation. It is a hair-pulling, maddening, terrifying, and draining moment for believers. We must put the battle back in God’s hands and let Him replenish our peace and our joy.
Never forget! We have the best message humanity has ever heard, and the best Book ever written. We have the best Captain in the universe! We have the all-powerful Holy Spirit, Who has been sent to aid us. We have access to power, strategy, and wisdom. All of this, and more, will direct our fighting.
Is someone mad at Jesus, and are they taking it out on you? What an honor! What an opportunity! Whenever Satan comes at you, let Jesus come at him!
The first time an angel stares at you in heaven with wonder and admiration for your service to Christ, you will know why your trials were worth it all. The first time you hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” you won’t remember the suffering, the trials, or the battles.
No wonder Paul said, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” -Romans 8:18
Father, this is a wonderful day to lift our hands and praise your name. You are our king, our joy, and our delight. It was so exciting when someone suggested we go to your house to worship and pray. So, this morning, that is what we will do! We will gather with our brothers and sisters, exalt your name, and declare that YOU are our the one we seek.
YOU are the one who provides the food we eat and the clothes we wear. YOU are our hope and our desire! Our prayer is that will be Glorified throughout the world you created and your people will rejoice.
We woke up this Glorious and Super Sunday morning, and to set our day on the right footing, we looked to you and blessed you. From head to toe, we praise your holy name! We speak to our soul and direct it to bless you, our God and King!
We greet this day with a joyous heart because you are there for us. You strengthen us when we are weak and provide Wisdom when we are confused. In fact, we are so amazed at the wondrous things you do for us and continually demonstrate such marvelous and steadfast love for us. Thank you.
We will no longer compare ourselves to others or give in to the frustrations of daily life because we know you, Lord, have given us hope and a new spirit. We arise energized and full of your power and stamina!
We are ready to take on the day with the anointing you have poured into our hearts. We arise refreshed and renewed, completely healed and restored to perfect health. Our minds are clear, and we are free from any depression and curse any attempts of our enemy to weaken and discourage us.
We commit our day to you for good. We ask that your Spirit would continue to guide and direct our steps and direct us to impact those we interact with for good and to encourage those who need a brighter attitude.
If any of us are weak and disheartened, then, through the power of your transcendent Grace change us! Holy Spirit, we ask that you would open the eyes of our understanding so we can know you, your will, your ways.
We thank you for your Word that is changing the way we interact with our family and friends. Penetrate our hearts by the power of Your Holy Spirit. We will yield to Your will and Attitudes. Nothing and no one will dissuade us from our service to you and your people
Order each step we take for this is the day that you have made, each of us will rejoice and be glad in it!
Special thanks to Flotsam and Jetsam for this prayer over our Sunday Morning
My Foundation Is Cracking
Today, I was talking to a friend and they said, some people are beginning to feel like the very foundation, upon which they have built their lives, is cracking under the weight of a continual buffeting of everyday life pressures regarding jobs, family, debt, relationships, politics, transportation, housing, all of this and more.
Did you know, just dealing with these issues day after day, could lead to spiritual issues such as, depression, hopelessness, exhaustion and more? Though we don’t see the cracks in our foundation in the natural, they are like a door being opened and allowing a spirit to enter. The Bible identifies this spirit as the “spirit of heaviness.”
In the Bible, Ezra talks about the “spirit of heaviness,” which is depression. In Ezra 9:5 KJV
“And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God”
Do you see what he did? Out of pain and heaviness, Ezra says he fell on his knees, and spread out his hands unto Yahweh, for He is our only hope in such things. His presence, which Ezra knew, was the only answer to this heaviness.
And look what Job shares with us: “If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort myself: 28 I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent” Job 9:27-28
Job says, I will forget myself, my depression, my complaints and comfort myself. If I’m afraid, then I know YOU will not hold me innocent. I know in other words, I cannot live in a place of complaining. What did Job first do when he found out about his children and losses? He said, “the Lord lives, and the Lord takes away, BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD! He responded with PRAISE. He never slighted the Lord for what happened.
David tells us in Psalm 69:20: Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.”
And again, David reveal his soul and the heaviness upon him.
“28 My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word. 29 Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously. 30 I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me . 31 I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame” Psalm 119:28-31 KJV.
David cries out to Yahweh, because there was NO Human Comfort. And even if so, you and I know sometimes human comfort just doesn’t get through compared to when Yahweh touches us. David cries out to Yahweh for help and looks to Him and then He praises Yahweh.
David, Ezra, Job and even James knew to “Draw nigh to God and He will draw night to you.” James 4:8a
And Peter… Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:6-7 KJV.
Did you see what Peter said, though the trial of your faith be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ
There are a lot of things today, which are seeking to destroy the foundation of who we are in Christ by putting depression on us through grief, temptation, trying times, hardships, and difficult relationships. Add to that, the times we are living in and what is happening in our Nation, but in all these things I say to you, there is one thing, which the Scriptures keep bringing to our attention to get us “through the valley of the shadow of death,” and it is found in Isaiah 61:3
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
Do not take it lightly how much Yahweh can do with your Praise And Worship to Him. It is the deadliest spiritual weapon you have, if you use it.
Your Foundation is the strongest in all of existence when you realize, it is the foundation of Christ from where you get your strength and being.
The Solid Rock – William B. Bradbury
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
The Psalms Must Be Fulfilled
The Son’s Script and Strength for Holy Week
As we approach what many call Holy Week we can listen to the soul of Jesus as He silently sings the Psalms. Jesus quoted the Psalms more than any other Old Testament book:
He offered the true bread as better than the God-given manna of Psalm 78:24 (John 6:31).
He interpreted the children’s hosannas as an echo of Psalm 8:2 (Matthew 21:16).
He announced with Psalm 118:26 that the day would come when all Israel would see him in final triumph and say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39).
He saw in himself the marvel of a rejected stone becoming the head of the corner from Psalm 118:22–23 (Matthew 21:42).
He absorbed the hatred of his enemies with the words of Psalm 35:19 (John 15:25).
He embraced the tragic role of Judas with Psalm 41:9 (John 13:18).
He deflected the charge of blasphemy with Psalm 82:6 (John 10:34).
He stunned the high priest by claiming a seat at God’s right hand from Psalm 110:1 (Matthew 26:64).
His cry of forsakenness on the cross burst from Psalm 22:1 (Matthew 27:46).
With his last breath, he commended his spirit to God with Psalm 31:5 (Luke 23:46).
When Jesus quoted the Psalms, He was never looking down at a manuscript. You can’t hold a manuscript when your hands are bound in court or nailed to a cross. He knew them. Many of them, no doubt, by heart.
In other words, Jesus not only fulfilled the Psalms; he was full of the Psalms. He not only said, “Everything written about Me in . . . the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44); He also said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The Psalms were His food. And He was their fulfillment.
His Script and Strength
For Jesus, the Psalms were the very word of God. He said that David wrote his psalms “in the Holy Spirit” (Mark 12:36). This is why they “must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). This is why, after quoting Psalm 82:6, he said, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). This is why they were His food, and He was their fulfillment.
All of Scripture — but especially the Psalms — was the script and the strength of Jesus’s life. Jesus was truly God and truly man. As true God, he was omnipotent and needed nothing. As true man, he was frail and needed strength. He needed the food of Scripture to have the strength to fulfill Scripture. In this way, He became for us an example of living by faith.
Christ . . . suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to Him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:21–23)
In His perfect manhood, Jesus was not self-sufficient. He looked to his Father for all that He needed in order to do the Father’s will. He knew that He must die. And He knew that without the sustaining power of His Father, the weakness of His human flesh would fail in the hour of trial. So, He prayed.
Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. (Hebrews 5:7)
Not that He was saved from the event of death, but He was saved from the faith-destroying curse of death. Death came, but it did not defeat.
Hear What His Soul Sings
The strength to conquer unbelief, as Jesus died, came through the sure word of God — especially the Psalms. He did not get His power from bread. He got it from “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” He trusted his Father’s promises. And followed His Father’s plan.
The plan was scripted in the Psalms. And the strength was given through the Psalms. They were his faith-sustaining food so that He could be their Father-obeying fulfillment. So, the example He left us was how to live by faith in future grace — the future grace promised to Him in the Psalms. Not because He needed grace, but because He needed the help which for us is all grace.
Jesus had no sin (1 Peter 2:22). When His Father heard His prayers, He was worthy to be heard. Jesus did not plead the blood of Jesus in order to be heard. But He did pray for help. And He did trust His Father’s promises, and provision, and power. This is how He becomes our example in suffering.
The sustaining food of the Psalms and the infallible script of the Psalms brought Jesus to Holy Week — and to the cross. So, I invite you again: Come, listen to the soul of Jesus as He silently sings the Psalms in His final days. Tune your heart to the Psalms with the sound of Jesus’s faith.
Good Sunday Morning Firestorm:
Recently, in the Prophetic Classes, we have been studying Spiritual Warfare through Praise and Worship to stir up and strengthen our spirit-man to get through each new day. It seems we are all dealing with our “stuff” and then, add on the job, daily issues, family, ministry, plus the junk happening in our Nation and we are really getting spiritually slimed. You may not be able to see you’ve been slimed, but you can sure feel the weight of it when it hits. It’s just like in the movie Ghost Busters, we get drenched with a spiritual protoplastic slime.
So, how do we de-slime? First, we begin to understand how the enemy attacks, in the natural and the spiritual. We learn how to resist him and at the same time, send him packing. Ready?
OK. Brain Fog anyone? We all know that anger and negative words belong to the kingdom of Satan and according to Scientists, if they would put you into an fMRI scanner—a huge donut-shaped magnet that can take a video of the neural changes happening in your brain—and flash the word “NO” for less than one second, you’d see a sudden release of dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters. These chemicals immediately interrupt the normal functioning of your brain, impairing logic, reason, language processing, and communication.
In fact, just seeing a list of negative words for a few seconds will make a highly anxious or depressed person feel worse, and the more you ruminate on them, the more you can actually damage key structures that regulate your memory, feelings, and emotions. You’ll disrupt your sleep, your appetite, and your ability to experience long-term happiness and satisfaction and more.
Scientists also say, in order for us to turn off negative thoughts and worries, you need to speak 3 positive things to combat saying one negative. I think that is biblical, don’t you? Yahweh has already given us Scriptures about our thoughts? Look at 2 Corinthians 10:5. We do warfare with the Word of Yahweh.
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. We need to get our arsenal of Scriptures up and out of the book and begin to speak them and read them. How about putting them on the bathroom mirror or the refrigerator and then don’t forget to read them out loud, for it is by the spoken word we effect the spiritual realm. The power of life and death is in the tongue.
And what about singing? Singing strengthens our immune system, it is a form of exercise, helps with posture, helps with sleep, it is an anti-depressant, lowers stress levels, improves mental alertness, boosts your confidence and more.
Singing praises to Yahweh also bring spiritual blessings and a closer relationship with Him. Plus, when the praises go up, the blessings come down and God inhabits the praises of His People, while demonic entities flee and don’t tell me you can’t sing, the word says, make a joyful noise. I know you can do that, especially if you know as you are praising Yahweh, you are torturing the enemy.
In Worship and speaking in tongues, medical facts again prove something very special happens. Now you and I know something intimate happens, but sometimes it is good to find out Science agrees.
“Through research and testing Carl R. Peterson, M.D. found out that as we pray in the Spirit, or worship in the Spirit, (our heavenly language) there is activity that begins to take place in our brain. As we engage in our heavenly language the brain releases 2 chemical secretions that are directed into our immune systems giving a 35 to 40 percent boost to the immune system. This promotes healing within our bodies. Amazingly this secretion is triggered from a part of the brain that has no other apparent activity in humans and is only activated by our Spirit led prayer and worship.
Before the fall of man did God in His perfect creation provide for the total healing of mankind in this manner? As Adam walked and communicated with the Father in the Garden was this close and intimate fellowship and communication causing divine health to flow in his body? Just something for us to think about. God is the restorer of all things. As we exercise our life in the “Spirit” by speaking in our heavenly language that He has put within us, we are touching the supernatural power of God and we are letting Him restore part of what was lost.”
So, let me give you some reasons to Praise and Worship and not only that, let me share the differences between our Praise and our Worship to Yahweh. I know in my heart, if we begin to praise and worship, our bodies will begin to heal and be strengthened, supernaturally enabling us to STAND where others would fall and we will begin to hear and speak the Word of Yahweh on a greater level than ever before and make our mountains move.
As you read the words below, say them out loud and let the Spirit move over and through you. May Yahweh touch you and fill you to overflowing, so your cup will runneth over and saturate all those He puts in your path. In the Name of Yahshua.
The Warfare of Worship Kenneth Scott
Praise is the fruit of our lips. Worship is the fruit of our hearts.
Praise talks about God. Worship walks with God.
Praise is appreciating God for what He has done. Worship is glorifying Him for who He is.
Praise is based upon God’s attributes. Worship is based upon His sovereignty.
Praise requires a thankful heart. Worship requires an intimate heart with God.
Praise brings God down to us. Worship takes us up to God.
Praise involves the mind, soul, or emotions. Worship involves the spirit. Praise is to respect God. Worship is to reverence and revere Him.
Praise is inspirational. Worship is revelational.
Praise can be taught. Worship must be experienced. Praise gives God thanksgiving. Worship gives Him glory, honor and adoration.
Praise can be done by anyone. Worship requires an intimate relationship.
Praise is to be one of God’s servants. Worship is to be one of His sons.
Praise is to give God the tithes and offering. Worship is to give Him everything (our complete lives).
Praise is an outward expression. Worship is an inward admiration. Praise brings you into God’s gates and courts. Worship brings you into His throne room.
Praise allows you access to God’s blessings. Worship gives you access to God’s Kingdom. Praise is to enjoy the Lord. Worship is to love and adore Him.
Praise can be done from afar. Worship must be done in God’s presence.
Praise thanks God for His blessings. Worship glorifies God regardless of blessings.
Praise causes us to enter into God’s presence. Worship causes us to dwell there.
The Prayers to Yahweh
The Word of Yahweh
The Praises of our Lips
The Worship of our Hearts
Yahweh’s Grace & Love Changes Things
“God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob. No longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’ So, he called his name Israel and God said to him, ‘ I am God almighty, be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I give to Abraham and Isaac, I will give to you and I will give the land to your offspring after you.’
These are amazing verses when you think about who Yahweh is speaking to; Jacob, the deceiver, Jacob the sinner at the core, just like all of us. As we read through the book of Genesis, we see Jacob’s sin over and over and over again, yet here is Yahweh who hates sin, who judges sinners, pouring out His blessing on Jacob. Renaming him, transforming him and promising him a company of nations that’ll come from his line. A land that just as He promised to Abraham, He’s now promising to Jacob. Just as He promised to Isaac, He’s now promising to Jacob.
Just as Yahweh gave Jacob a new name, He is gracious to us and has provided our salvation in Yahushua. May we never cease to be overwhelmed by the grace and love that Yahweh has poured out on us.
It is amazing when we sit back and think about Yahweh’s love and grace. There are times when just the thought of His love and grace is overwhelming. It just suddenly seemed like it was flowing over me when it was just Yahweh and I. There were also times when I was in a forum surrounded by you, enjoying a sweet fellowship when I was suddenly overwhelmed with Yahweh’s love and grace.
If we take time to think about it you can see the evidence of Yahweh’s love and grace in our lives and in our relationships. Just waking up this morning and breathing is evidence of His love and grace. We will always take time to talk to You Yahweh, listen to You and recognize the evidence of Your grace and love in all areas of our lives.
Oh Yahweh, we glorify Your name. We praise You. Thank You for Your grace, Your power and love in our lives. We are awed by Your grace, we are humbled by Your grace. We know that we deserve to be separated from You forever. We deserve judgment for our sin and yet, here we are, talking to You right now. We are thinking about Your Word and being aware of all Your blessings in our lives. Thank You for Your promises to us that we can always lean on. Thank You for transforming our lives.
Thank You Yahweh for Your grace. We want to live our lives in such a way that we bring glory to You. Even as we praise you for Your grace, we pray for the spread of Your grace and Your gospel to people who’ve never heard it and for the spread of Your grace and gospel through our lives and through our lips today.
The Power of Praise & Worship
This week in the Prophetic Training & Equipping Classes we have been talking about Warfare through Worship and how Praise can be used as a weapon. In reading through the Bible, I found several places where it reveales what happens when we pray and seek Yahweh. He is always faithful to hear, but I also noticed when people added praise and worship, some incredible and supernatural things happened.
One of my favorite stories is in 2 Chronicles 20. Jehoshaphat was the King and highly favored of God. He loved Yahweh and did many things to bring Glory and Honor to Him. However, he was not perfect as he married a daughter of Ahab, which might have opened a door for his enemies to come against him.
One day the armies of Moʹab, Amʹmon and Mount Seʹir, decided to come and wage war against his kingdom. When he heard the news, he didn’t run to other nations to get them to join up with him, he didn’t go check on his soldiers or chariots, he ran straight away upward, to get a hold of Yahweh’s help.
Jehoshaphat begins to praise Yahweh, remind Him of all the things he has done in his kingdom to celebrate Him and he praises Yah for all the things He did in the past for them. He cries out for Yahweh to protect them and to judge their enemies and tells God how much they need Him and how they cannot win this battle without Him. This is an incredible witness of Jehoshaphat’s faith and trust in God as he faces this hopeless situation. He knows there is no way they will get the victory in the natural, but he also knows how powerful Yahweh is and was convinced of His faithfulness. Even in the face of death marching toward Jerusalem, he was seeking Yahweh’s help.
Jehoshaphat called all of Judah to a fast and a big prayer service and All of Judah gathered to fast and pray together in unity and one accord. In the midst of the worship, Yahweh’s Presence comes upon the prophet Jahaziel, son of Zechariah, a Levite from the sons of Asaph and he brings forth a prophetic word to bring strength and courage to the people.
“Listen all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem and you, King Jehoshaphat.
Thus says the Lord to you:
“Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the [d]brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”
And THEN, Jehoshaphat bowed his head and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down worshipping the Lord. Notice they did not praise first, they worshipped and suddenly some of the people rose up, the Levites, the Kohathites and the Korahites, and began to sing and praise the God of Israel with “very loud voices.”
These were the ones from the tribe of Levi, those whom David had put in charge of the service of the song of the Lord after the ark rested there, even before Solomon built the temple. They were like our worship team and they knew the time had come to rise up to “Praise And Give Thanks to Yahweh.”
The next morning the prophet again brings the Word of Yahweh forth. Hear Me Oh Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, “Believe in the Lord your God and you will be established; believe his prophets and you will succeed.
Jehoshaphat picks the frontline for his army and he does not choose chariots, or swordsmen, NO, He chooses the singers. Here is where I gulped…the singers? In front of the army, he chose singers, which means, Jehoshaphat is going to war with the “worship team, the choir,” in front. He is sending out the victory team, before the battle is even waged, showing Yahweh he and all of Judah, trust in Him!
So, the worship team is up front and the battle cry song was “Give Thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast Love Endures Forever, which we even sing today.
The worship team is moving forward leading the troops, even though they know three armies are heading their way. They move like David going after Goliath, they run to the battle singing, praising and declaring the power of the Most High God Yahweh is with them.
Some would consider this a doomsday event, a suicide mission, and believe they didn’t have a fighting chance to defeat these armies. Oh, but you see they believed in Yahweh, they sang anyway, in the midst of what could have been a disaster, a terribly grim report, they sang and do you know what else they did? They sang before Yahweh did anything except, send HIS WORD. They believed in the Word, what Yahweh had done in the past and they believed in Yahweh unto death.
In verse 22 it says, “And when they began to sing and PRAISE, Yahweh set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mt. Seir, who were coming against Judah. First Ammon turned against Mt. Seir, then they turned against each other and when it is all over, Judah had not raise a single sword. Plus, and get this. It took the army of Judah 3 days to gather all the spoils and take them back to Jerusalem.
And then do you know what they did?
They went and worshipped and praised Yahweh with song, words of love, adoration, thanks and musical instruments. (verses 27-28). And all the armies around Judah, felt the fear of Yahweh and no longer came against Judah and Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah from the age of 35 for 25 years.
The Bible makes it clear, even though the victory belongs to Yahweh, He moved through His people when they worshiped and praised through the ministry of the choir. The armies were destroyed, when the people praised and sang to Yahweh. Hallelujah!
So today, as you go through your struggles and your enemies seem to have you locked up in a prison of your own, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what your going through, so don’t ever give up, no don’t ever give up on God. Just begin to praise Him, when you do it once, do it again. You gotta keep on praising till the shackles come off, keep on praising till the shackles come off.
Father as You move to bring forth this new thing inside us, give us the eyes to see and the ears to know what You are peeling off and what you are stirring and birthing in us to go through us. Bring forth new faith, courage and the strength for us to rise up as a people who are worthy and excited about who You ARE and what You are doing. Saturate us with Your Presence and Your Love and let us spread that Love all across the world. Let Your Kingdom Come in Earth as it is in Heaven, In the Name of Yahshua. Thank You Father Yahweh.
Happy Sunday to You All……\o/ Praise Yahweh
How Can I Make Things Right with God?
By: Rick Warren
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved” (Romans 10:9-10 NLT).
The Bible says in Romans 1:17, “The Good News shows how God makes people right with himself” (NCV).
How does God make us right with himself? This is called the Gospel, and there are three points.
First, we can’t make ourselves righteous.
Heaven is a perfect place. There’s no sin, sadness, evil, or injustice. But here’s the problem: We are imperfect, and God can’t let sinful people into heaven because then it would be full of sin, too.
Romans 3:20 says, “No one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are” (NLT).
The only people who think they can keep God’s laws are those that don’t know them, because God’s laws are perfect, and none of us are perfect. We cannot be made right on our own. So God had to come up with a plan.
Second, God sent Jesus to pay for our sins so we could be declared righteous.
When you break man’s laws, you pay man’s penalty. When you break God’s laws, you pay God’s penalty, which is eternity in hell. Somebody has to pay for all the things you’ve done in life that hurt other people, yourself, and God. God said, “I’ll send my Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty. He will take your place so you don’t have to go to hell. You can be with me forever.”
Do you understand why the Gospel is called Good News? It means everything you’ve ever done or will ever do wrong in life has already been paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross. You have been made right with God.
“[God] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy”
(Titus 3:5 NLT).
Third, we have to accept by faith what God did for us.
To be made right with God, just believe and accept by faith that what Jesus did on the cross paid for your sins. Then, you are a part of God’s family. You can live the way he wants you to live now and then go to heaven in eternity. That is righteousness.
Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved” (NLT).
God offers the gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ to everyone—no matter who we are, what we’ve done, or how long we’ve done it.
Today is the day to settle this. If you are not sure if you are going to heaven when you die, please pray this prayer: “Dear God, thank you that you made me, that you have a plan and purpose for my life, and that you made me to know you. Thank you for the choice that you’ve given me to accept or reject your offer of salvation. Today I humbly ask you to save me—not based on what I’ve done but based on what Jesus Christ did for me. I don’t understand it all, but I want to put my trust in your Son. God, I want to get to know you. I want to learn to love you. I want to hunger and thirst for righteousness the rest of my life. I put my trust in your grace and in your forgiveness. I want you to be the Lord of my life. Amen.”
My Stress–God’s Strength
By: Chuck Swindoll
Let me give you three very practical thoughts regarding this matter of God’s strength through stress, as found in Psalm 46.
First, His strength is immediately available. Our trials are not superficial or irrelevant. They are vehicles of grace that God uses to bring us growth. Superficial problems call for superficial solutions. But real life isn’t like that; its headaches and stresses go deeper, right down to the bone. They touch the nerve areas of our security. But God says He is a present help in trouble. He is immediately available. Do you realize that wherever you travel, whatever the time of day, you can call and He will answer? He’s a very present and immediate help.
The second thing I observe about God’s power in this psalm is that it is overpowering! It’s a tent that can stretch over any stress—in fact it’s tailor-made for stress. Furthermore, His power is not dependent on our help. You’re weak, remember? Have you felt that weakness lately? Maybe it’s time to say, “Lord, I love You. Through Your strength I will not be moved. I will stop running, stop striving. I will not fear. I will hold on to You. I will count on You to build that tent around me and protect me from the blast.
God says, “Cease striving, and know that I am God.”
Lord, Help Me Endure One More Day
By: Josh Squires
Suffering is undeniably bitter.
Sometimes God’s people, with good intentions to promote piety, can undersell the heartache of suffering. Instead they look disapprovingly at any believer who would question the necessity of God’s difficult providences. To groan under the pains of life in a fallen world can be seen as the pitiable reflex of the spiritually immature. This view is difficult to square with our Savior’s own passionate, sweat-soaked, sleepless plea on the eve of his crucifixion, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39).
And the confounding difficulty of suffering is not an experience reserved solely for the Savior. In Romans 5:3–5, the apostle Paul writes of a sanctifying chain reaction whose catalyst is our suffering:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Endurance. Character. Hope. All through the real heartache of suffering.
Don’t Pretend It Doesn’t Hurt
Notice the word “endure.” It combats our well-meaning Christian impulse to minimize the struggle we (or others) face in the midst of suffering. Endurance assumes difficulty. One does not have to endure that which is not bitter. No one asks others how they are “enduring” their favorite bowl of ice cream. No one asks the radiant, newly engaged couple how they are “enduring” their betrothal. To endure a thing is to live in spite of its difficulty, not to live in denial of it.
Thankfully, Paul writes in such a way as to highlight the fact that the process of suffering which leads to hope is not instantaneous. Endurance denotes time. In order to endure a thing, one must make it through its entire duration. That means there will be seasons, no matter how long or short, where we cannot see or feel the hope which we have been promised. These are dark and difficult times. We grieve while we grope our way through the valley. It’s in the wrestling with it, while strengthening ourselves with the promises of God, that we build endurance. In those seasons, we not only pray for hope; we pray for endurance.
Living from Tree to Tree
I once watched a documentary about the toughest school in all the military (or so the film claimed). It was the winter session of the Army Mountain Warfare School which contained unbelievable trials — physical and emotional — that seemed to assail the students from the time they arrived. But the event with the highest dropout rate was a multi-day hike up a snow packed mountain. It required traversing the whole mountain, from bottom to top, through over ten feet of snow drifts with a large, heavy ruck sack slung to their back and no special equipment. They had their feet and sheer determination.
On the morning of the infamous march, a drill instructor spoke to the soldiers. I expected it to be something full of bombast and bluster, urging the group to complete the task at hand or face swift retribution! Instead, the wise soldier simply said, “If you want to quit, look at the top of the mountain.” He went on, “But if you want to make it through, then just find the closest tree and tell yourself, ‘I’m going to make it to that next tree and then reevaluate.’ And then when you get to that tree, do the same thing again, finding the next closest tree. If you’ll do that, tree by tree, soon enough you’ll find yourself at the top of the mountain.”
For those in the midst of terrible suffering, looking for hope can be like looking at the top of the mountain, staring at it from the bottom. The thought is nice, but the climb seems impossible. In those moments, the next tree is simply praying for endurance: “Lord, get me through this season, this day, this hour, even this prayer. Do not let me go, that I may not ever let you go.”
How Satan Uses Suffering
And yet, there is the promise. The promise that this storm of suffering will break into the peace of joy and hope. That is the barometer of how we weather the difficult providences of this fallen life. Suffering that is endured christianly produces character which yields hope. Suffering that yields bitterness, cynicism, and alienation is suffering gone awry. Satan loves to use our suffering in this way. He wants to create resentment in your soul rather than the hope that was meant to reside there.
How does Satan use suffering to create cynics rather than resilient believers? First, he wants to isolate us. Scripture is clear that in order to make it through this fallen world, we need a community. This community is meant to help us grow in our faith, celebrate our successes, learn from our failures, grieve through our losses, and give us strength in our weaknesses. The number one scheme of Satan at times of suffering is to make us think that we need to cocoon rather than to lean into the care of Christian brothers and sisters. He wants you to think that you don’t need the help, that you don’t deserve help, that true Christians don’t ever need help — and that others don’t want to help. All of these are lies.
Second, he wants us to focus on ourselves. When we turn our attention primarily inward rather than upward, Satan can trick us into thinking that our suffering is unique, ubiquitous, and ultimate. Our suffering is never any of those things.
Third, Satan wants us to lose sight of our sovereign Savior. There is no moment or place outside the control of our God — even in the places where it hurts most. Satan would have you believe that God is inept or incapable — that your suffering somehow falls outside of his providential care. Because if your suffering can live outside of his sovereign will, then so can anything. Even your immortal soul.
How God Uses Suffering
Suffering isn’t easy. It’s not designed to be. It’s the crucible of Christian hope, beating out its imperfections and smelting it into something more beautiful and pure. A hope unassailable by the world and the devil because it is rooted in the eternal and sure love of a gracious and merciful God.
Just as sure as God loves his people, Satan is out to scuttle their security by making them feel alone, overwhelmed, and incompetent. Knowing Satan’s game plan to rob us of the heavenly fruit of our horrible suffering, though, helps us to persevere in the most difficult times into a hope that is eternal and cannot be put to shame.
Remind Yourself What God Thinks of You
By: Rick Warren
“The mountains and hills may crumble, but my love for you will never end” (Isaiah 54:10 GNT).
If you don’t feel loved by God, you’re certainly not going to offer love to anybody else. It is impossible to be loving unless you understand and remember the way God loves you.
You need to remind yourself every day what God thinks about you—not what the world thinks or what you think about yourself. Remembering God’s love is what removes your fears.
Let me share four things God thinks about you that will help you remember why and how to love.
You’re completely accepted.
We spend much of our lives trying to earn acceptance from our parents, peers, those we respect, those we envy, and even total strangers. But you need to realize God has already settled this issue of acceptance: “Jesus . . . made us acceptable to God” (Titus 3:7 CEV). What Jesus did on the cross made you completely acceptable to God—no matter what you’ve done or will do.
You’re unconditionally loved.
God doesn’t say, “I love you if . . .” or “ I love you because . . .” He says, “I love you—period!” You can’t make God stop loving you, because his love is not based on what you do but on who he is. Isaiah 54:10 says, “The mountains and hills may crumble, but my love for you will never end” (GNT).
You’re totally forgiven.
Because Jesus died on the cross and gave his life as a payment for your sins, you are totally forgiven when you accept the gift of forgiveness from God. Romans 8:1 says, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLT). God doesn’t rehearse your sins. He releases them.
You’re considered extremely valuable.
There are two things that create value: who the owner is and what somebody’s willing to pay for it.
You are a child of God and “have been bought and paid for by Christ” (1 Corinthians 7:23 TLB). Jesus Christ paid for you with his life. That’s how valuable you are.
When you remember that you are accepted, loved, forgiven, and valuable to the Creator of the universe, you will be better equipped to show that love to others and build deeper relationships.
WHEN “ADULTING” FEELS
Think back to the time when you finally entered adulthood. Maybe it was leaving the military or college, taking that first job or having your first child. All of a sudden, you realize it’s time to grow up. I’ll never forget those feelings when I finished college, moved to Augusta, and took a job in corporate America. This was before Anne and I got married, and years before I went into the ministry. For several weeks, I’d wake up in the morning, and think, “You know, I’m supposed to be an adult, but I feel like a kid.” I was scared to death.
That’s what King Solomon felt like when he unexpectedly and suddenly became the King of all Israel. He felt overwhelmed, and yet he had all this responsibility. He was called to lead a great nation that went all the way back to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. It was a nation with extraordinary, Godly leaders like Moses and Joshua, and even his own father, David. Solomon reflected on all of this, and felt as though he didn’t measure up. He felt like a little child, completely in over his head. Now, think about that for a minute. Children are utterly dependent on their parents. So, when Solomon, spoke to his Heavenly Father after the death of his earthly father, all he could say was, “I feel like a little child.” He expressed an utter dependence on his Heavenly Father. That’s actually not a bad place for a king to begin. And it’s not a bad place for all of us to be, either.
Approach your life as a little child, completely dependent on your Heavenly Father. He will provide; He will never disappoint. With the faith of a child, we can live like mature adults.
When You’re Tempted to Give Up
By: Ryan Chase
Suffering of any kind can be a dangerous threat to faith. Pain provokes us to doubt that Jesus is better than what we have lost, whether health, money, dreams, independence, or the life of a loved one.
God’s word declares that it’s possible to face the agonizing realities of life with joy because the testing of our faith produces steadfastness (James 1:2–3), and suffering gives rise to endurance (Romans 5:3). But suffering doesn’t automatically produce pleasant things. In fact, trials commonly make people increasingly bitter, despondent, impatient, envious, or angry. If we respond in unbelief, suffering produces bitter fruit. But if we do not give up, suffering can produce a harvest of righteousness (Galatians 6:9; James 3:18).
So what practical steps can we take in the midst of suffering in order to persevere in faith?
1. Please don’t stop gathering with your church.
When our twin boys were born with a devasting condition called nemaline myopathy, we went through a season when we didn’t feel like attending corporate worship gatherings. I’m not talking about the times when we were circumstantially unable to leave the home because we had two ventilator-dependent babies. I’m talking about the times when there was something in our hearts that didn’t want to be around God’s people. That is the kind of unbelieving attitude we need to guard against.
The excuses always feel legitimate. It’s too exhausting to be around people. I don’t want to answer the same questions over and over. I can’t take the well-meaning-but-unhelpful comments.
But feelings are unreliable guides. Lack of desire to participate in the body of Christ is never a reason not to. In fact, it’s a clear and alarming reminder that we desperately need to. If we are going to persevere, it’s going to be with the help of gospel community. Hebrews 10:23–25 says,
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And 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.
Belonging to the body of Christ means belonging to a community of believers who are called to intentionally think of ways to help us not give up. Corporate worship is where we stand shoulder to shoulder with the saints, raise our voices together in worship, publicly professing that we are still clinging to Jesus.
2. Don’t stop consuming God’s word.
Suffering provides all kinds of excuses to neglect God’s word. Perhaps my schedule is so dramatically disoriented that I can’t find the time. Or the word suddenly tastes stale and falls with a hollow thud on my pallid soul. When the comfort and hope we once knew is nowhere to be found, the temptation is to quit opening the Bible.
But we have a body and a soul. That’s why we don’t live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4). It’s not a question of whether our souls will consume spiritual calories; it’s a matter of where we will find them. Instead of looking to cheap diversions that numb our souls without satisfying them, we must continue to consume the word any way we can. Read it. Listen to it. Memorize it.
Jeremiah 15:16 says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.” Keep consuming the word of God whether or not it feels like joy and delight. Keep consuming until it becomes a joy and delight. It doesn’t change our circumstances, but it changes us. It proactively fills our minds with truth that serves as a sentinel to block out the creeping lies of unbelief.
3. Don’t stop asking for help.
Anxiety, depression, marriage conflict, grief — we’ve experienced it all. While pride would keep us from admitting we need help, God’s grace humbles us by reminding us that our temptations aren’t unique to us and that God promises to enable endurance and provide ways of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). Knowing that everyone needs help encourages us to ask for it.
God has also supplied all the resources needed to instruct, correct, and encourage us in his word (2 Timothy 3:16–17), but we often need the help of wise believers who can bring the truths of the gospel to bear upon our souls from outside of our suffering. Thankfully, God has also equipped the church with people who are gifted to instruct, admonish, and counsel others.
One practical way to not give up is to seek out wise counselors who are convinced that God’s word is sufficient for every malady of the soul. In both formal and informal settings, we want to surround ourselves with people who can gently help us identify our attitudes of unbelief and our sinful responses to suffering, and then skillfully help us remember all that God promises to be and do for us in Christ.
4. Don’t stop clinging to God’s promises.
When we look at the future through the lens of past and present pain, the only thing we feel is despair because the only thing we see is more of the same. But through faith we obtain a glorious vista that looks back on our suffering in light of eternal glory.
From that perspective, we see that our suffering will maximize our eternal joy in the glory of God. And when we see that our present suffering is producing an eternal weight of glory that eclipses our momentary afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:17–18), we can affirm now what we will declare then: “We would have it no other way.”
5. Don’t stop serving others.
Suffering certainly changes our capacity to serve. It upends routines, saps strength, and crowds out emotional margin. But it doesn’t change that word that says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). Serving others is a vital part of not giving up because it guards us against toxic self-pity and gives us the opportunity to prioritize the needs of others.
Serving others also positions us to receive divine strength. “Whoever serves, [let him do so] as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). Suffering may limit the ways we are able to serve, but it can’t nullify God’s provision of strength.
Keep Looking to Jesus
These are effective ways to persevere in faith because they are all ways of fixing our eyes on Jesus, who is the only source of endurance for the fainthearted (Hebrews 12:1–3).
Corporate worship is where we are built up as members of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11–16) and where our souls are nourished with the body and blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:23–26). We read the Bible because it points us to Jesus (John 5:39). We seek wise counsel rooted in God’s word because Jesus himself is our wisdom and our sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30). We cling to every promise spoken by God because they are all yes for us in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). And we serve others because that mind-set is ours in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).
Whatever else comes our way, let us never stop looking to Jesus.
Freedom From Your Past
By Joyce Meyer
The world is full of people who’ve been mistreated or abused in some way. Some of them are pretending to be okay when, in fact, they’re emotionally wounded on the inside.
But God doesn’t want us to pretend to be okay. He wants us to be authentically healed, whole and free!
Isaiah 61:1 says, The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.
If you need to hear some really good news, if you’re hurting and you need to be healed, if you need to know you’ve been set free from your past…I pray that you will take these verses personally.
The truth is, Jesus died to set you free from the pain of your past, and through relationship with Him, you can experience total healing in your soul—your mind, will and emotions. You can have a brand-new beginning!
Your Past Doesn’t Matter
I want you to let this sink in: no matter where you start in life, with God, you can have a good finish.
You see, for most of my childhood, my father sexually abused me and my mother just ignored the problem. As a result, I became a very angry, bitter young woman. For a long time, I lived with the mindset: Don’t expect anything good to happen, because then you won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t.
I desperately needed a revelation of God’s love for me, and to get my mind renewed in His healing Word.
As I continued to trust in and obey God’s Word, He gave me beauty for my ashes, joy for my sadness, and a heart filled with praise (see Isaiah 61:3). I am not the same person that I used to be!
I’m not going to tell you it was easy. It required a lot of diligent study and prayer. And it was so hard when God revealed things to me that I didn’t want to see. But it was well worth the journey—and the same promises apply to you that applied to me.
How to Receive Beauty for Ashes
The first step is to admit you need God’s help. It’s okay to not be okay—God helps the humble!
First Peter 5:6-7 says, Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Secondly, you must submit to God’s Word. As you continue to study and apply it, you’ll be filled faith and love—and you will also learn to discern the will of God and His leading in your life!
God loves you more than you can comprehend—and He has a wonderful plan for your life. So, don’t let your past hold you back. Decide to pursue God’s promises for you.
Trapped in My Own Mind
Three Lies Depression Loves
by: Sarah Walton
“I can’t live like this anymore!” I cried through sobs. “I just want to die!”
I sat on my bed and tried to make sense of what was going on inside. I was tired of the chronic pain, the frequent bouts of illness, and the weariness of dealing with my kids’ struggles. But what broke me was the torture of being a prisoner in my own mind. It took everything in me just to keep breathing, while part of me wished my breathing would just stop.
Oh, how I longed to be with Jesus — free from my aching body and broken mind. But I knew deep within me that my life was not my own and that the Lord must have a purpose for these days.
Zack Eswine captured my own inner reality — the constant cloud of depression — in his book Spurgeon’s Sorrows,
Painful circumstances put on their muddy boots and stand thick, full weighted and heavy upon our tired chests. It is almost like anxiety tying rope around the ankles and hands of our breath. Tied to a chair, with the lights out, we sit swallowing in panic the dark air.
These kinds of circumstances steal the gifts of divine love too, as if all of God’s love letters and picture albums are burning up in a fire just outside the door, a fire which we are helpless to stop. We sit there, helpless in the dark of divine absence, tied to this chair, present only to ash and wheeze, while all we hold dear seems lost forever. We even wonder if we’ve brought this all on ourselves. It’s our fault. God is against us.
Depression can cloud our view of God, weigh down our spirits, distort reality, and tempt us to question all that we’ve known to be true. Sometimes, our depression is due to circumstances that have pounded us, wave upon wave, until we can no longer hold our heads above the water. Other times, it comes as a result of illness, as Charles Spurgeon writes, “You may be without any real reason for grief, and yet may be among the most unhappy of men because, for the time, your body has conquered your soul” (“The Saddest Cry from the Cross”).
In Good Company
If you have experienced this kind of darkness, you are in good company. Job, after initially responding with faith in the immediate aftermath of his loss, suddenly found himself walking in the valley of despair as his suffering continued:
“When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,’ then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that I would choose strangling and death rather than my bones. I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.” (Job 7:13–16)
I thank God that he gives us a glimpse into the darkest days of Job’s life. Job’s story assures us that we aren’t alone in our battle with despair, and it offers us perspective when we struggle to feel God’s presence on our darkest days. Whether we are battling depression or trying to encourage someone who is, we must remember three truths in the face of depression’s lies.
1. Depression does not mean God is punishing you.
It’s easy to believe that our despair is a sign of God’s displeasure. Though at times we may feel the heavy hand of God upon us in order to draw us into repentance (Psalm 32:3–4), depression often fills our minds with lies, tempting us to believe that our feelings are an accurate reflection of our relationship with Christ. If we feel unlovable, we must be unloved. If we feel sadness and hopelessness, we must be hopeless. If we feel lonely, we must be alone. And if we feel shame, we must be unforgiven.
For a time, Job believed that God targeted him out of anger. “Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past” (Job 14:13). But in the midst of these bouts with despair, God planted Job’s feet firmly on the truth of salvation. “Though he slay me,” Job confessed, “I will hope in him” (Job 13:15).
Like Job, we must keep the hope of the gospel in front of us in order to fight back against all that bombards us from within. Though we may struggle to digest much Scripture, and though the words of a hopeful person may bounce right off our hardened shell of depression, we anchor our feet firmly in the truth that we are forgiven and loved by God in Christ, not in our ability to feel his love.
2. Depression does not mean God is absent.
Similarly, depression can cause us to feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Not only do we feel as if the world is going on without us, but we can even feel estranged from ourselves — as if we have lost our former identity. This loneliness can also cause us to feel, as Job did, that God has abandoned us. “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him” (Job 23:8). But as Eswine writes,
Depression of spirit is no index of declining grace. It is Christ and not the absence of depression that saves us. So, we declare this truth. Our sense of God’s absence does not mean that he is so. Though our bodily gloom allows us no feeling of his tender touch, he holds on to us still. Our feelings of him do not save us. He does. (Spurgeon’s Sorrows, 38–39)
3. Depression does not make you useless.
Though we may feel useless under the cloud of despair and depression, nothing could be further from the truth. When despondency strips from us our natural ability to see and feel hope, joy, and purpose in our sorrow, we realize that Someone greater is holding us up. And when others witness our dependence on Christ for the endurance to press on in darkness — especially when we have no earthly reason to — we become a picture of Christ’s sustaining grace, flowing from the Father to his children.
Once again, consider Spurgeon. He battled deep depression through the majority of his life, and yet God used his suffering for the good of multitudes that he never met. And then there was Job, whose life became a cosmic display of God’s power and worth for our comfort. If we are God’s children, then even our depression will display his glory and purposes as he holds us secure in his unfailing love.
Suffering brothers or sisters, lift your heavy heart. As Spurgeon once said, “We need patience under pain and hope under depression of spirit. Our God will either make the burden lighter or the back stronger; he will diminish the need or increase the supply” (“Sword and Trowel,” 15).