Praise Combats Depression
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; meditate on and talk of all His wondrous works and devoutly praise them! 1 Chronicles 16: 9
Taking the Initiative Against Depression
The angel in this passage did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable. He simply told Elijah to do a very ordinary thing, that is, to get up and eat. If we were never depressed, we would not be alive— only material things don’t suffer depression. If human beings were not capable of depression, we would have no capacity for happiness and exaltation. There are things in life that are designed to depress us; for example, things that are associated with death. Whenever you examine yourself, always take into account your capacity for depression.
When the Spirit of God comes to us, He does not give us glorious visions, but He tells us to do the most ordinary things imaginable. Depression tends to turn us away from the everyday things of God’s creation. But whenever God steps in, His inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things— things we would never have imagined God was in, but as we do them we find Him there. The inspiration that comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression. But we must take the first step and do it in the inspiration of God. If, however, we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it. But when the Spirit of God leads us instinctively to do something, the moment we do it the depression is gone. As soon as we arise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life.
When Slaves Become Sons
“So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians 4:7
For some lucky students it’s a day off of school, but it’s possible the fact that today is Presidents’ Day may have slipped your notice. Nestled between Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, Presidents’ Day gets lost in the shuffle of cards, roses, and shamrocks. But nonetheless, it’s an important day. Remembering presidents like Washington and Lincoln, to whom we owe a great debt, puts our lives in a richer perspective.
Think, for instance, of President Lincoln. He will be remembered forever for eliminating the shame of slavery in the United States. Driven by his convictions against the tide of popular opinion and entrenched racism, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation—an executive order freeing the slaves. In so doing, he joins the exclusive club of persons like Wilberforce and even Moses who risked much to proclaim freedom for the oppressed.
The New Testament is no stranger to the dynamics of slavery. In Paul’s day, every major city had a place in the market where slaves were bought or sold. When a slave was brought to the auction block, he knew that his fate would be sealed by the one who paid the highest price for him. There were three possible outcomes. The slave could be purchased to become a slave to his new owner. Or, the winner of the bid could set the newly purchased slave free. Clearly, most slaves standing naked before the gawking bidders hoped for that highly unlikely possibility. But more unlikely still was the prospect that, legally, the highest bidder could adopt the slave and make him a son, which would mean that the former slave would have full family privileges and an equal place in the family inheritance. This option was so remote that it was more than a slave could hope for. Hopelessly stuck in servitude, the thought of becoming a son was the stuff that impossible dreams are made of.
And, as you’re thinking of that, think of yourself. There are only two kinds of people in this world. Those who are in bondage to Satan and those who by God’s grace are His sons! In fact, according to Romans 6: 1-23, all of us were born slaves to the regime of hell. And then Jesus in His love and mercy showed up in the marketplace of sin and saw you on the slave block, naked and bound with no hope. As the bidding grew more intense, He lifted his nail-scarred hand, pointed to you, and all the bidding ceased—for no one could out pay the price He paid for you! And as your feet were unshackled, soldiers led you to His side and then you heard words you thought you would never hear: “I love you, I want to make you my son, a full heir!” “I want to make you my daughter!”
And now, with God as your Father, full family privileges are yours. Access to a loving Father, the inheritance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, full rights to treasures like peace, comfort, confidence, joy, and the assurance of the fact that soon heaven will be yours—all belong to you forever!
And, as you can imagine, slaves who became sons and daughters were forever grateful and happily served their father without hesitation. Since we too are no longer slaves but sons and daughters, it seems to me that my life and yours should be spontaneously lived to love and serve Him as well!
Lincoln freed the slaves, but only Jesus can make a slave a son—only Jesus can make a slave a daughter!
No wonder the hymn writer penned . . .
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!
|FEBRUARY 17, 2015
Remember Whose You Are
“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 (NLT)
Because of mistakes in my past, I spent a lot of years not liking the woman who stared back at me in the mirror.
Maybe you’ve been there, too. Maybe you’ve even played the “wonder” game, like I did, for far too long.
Wondering who you really were. Wondering if you were forgivable. Wondering if you were worthy. Wondering if you were loved by God and others. Wondering if you were lovable. Wondering if you were beyond repair. Wondering if what someone did to hurt you stole your value. Wondering if you were a good enough person, wife, mom, employee, boss, sister, daughter, friend, servant. Wondering if you measured up in any area of life.
Maybe you still wonder if your life counts for something beyond your responsibilities and obligations, or if you were just meant to march through your daily routines with no real purpose or direction. Maybe you wonder if the lies you hear in your head are true: that not only does your life not matter to God, but that you probably don’t matter either.
Today’s key verse is a reminder that these whispers from the enemy are nothing but lies. We are each royal heirs to God’s kingdom, but sometimes life gets in the way of that truth. We think we are either too sinful or too messed up to be loved by a Savior, or that our past voids our chances of being loved by God, much less useful to Him.
Whether we are the sinner or the victim of a sinner, shame can slither in and shape the way we see ourselves. Then it becomes easy for the enemy’s deceptive and damaging schemes to weave a web of lies deep into our hearts and minds. Gradually, we lose sight of who we are in Christ, which is exactly what the devil wants us to do.
Satan’s ultimate goal is to get us to believe the lies, and live them out in our everyday lives, apart from God. But it is up to us whether he reaches that goal or not. We can thwart his plans by claiming God’s sovereignty over our hearts once and for all.
It’s possible you have been living in the shadow of the enemy’s lies, either because of your own mistakes or because of someone else’s choices to sin against you. I wasted many years believing the enemy’s lies were absolute truths. When I finally began to believe I did matter to God, I thwarted the enemy’s plans and began to follow God’s instead.
If you have been living the lie, too discouraged to allow yourself to believe how much God loves you, or too ashamed of your past to accept God’s gift of grace and mercy, let today become the day you begin seeing yourself in a new light with a new reflection looking back at you. Be proud of who you see in the mirror, not because of who you are, but because of Whose you are.
Today’s key verse reminds us that we are, without question, beloved children of God. As Beth Moore once said, “If you are not royalty, He is not King.” We are rightful heirs to God’s kingdom — and His love and acceptance. You are a royal and dearly loved daughter, and He is the King of all kings!
None but Jesus
Charles Spurgeon sermon
“He that believeth on him is not condemned.” John 3:18
Suggested Further Reading: Acts 15:5-11
When I stand at the foot of the cross, I do not believe in Christ because I have got good feelings, but I believe in him whether I have good feelings or not.
“Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.”
Mr Roger, Mr Sheppard, Mr Flavell, and several excellent divines, in the Puritan age, and especially Richard Baxter, used to give descriptions of what a man must feel before he may dare to come to Christ. Now, I say in the language of good Mr Fenner, another of those divines, who said he was but a babe in grace when compared with them—“I dare to say it, that all this is not Scriptural. Sinners do feel these things before they come, but they do not come on the ground of having felt it; they come on the ground of being sinners, and on no other ground whatever.” The gate of Mercy is opened, and over the door it is written, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Between that word “save” and the next word “sinners,” there is no adjective. It does not say, “penitent sinners,” “awakened sinners,” “sensible sinners,” “grieving sinners,” or “alarmed sinners.” No, it only says, “sinners” and I know this, that when I come, I come to Christ today, for I feel it as much a necessity of my life to come to the cross of Christ today as it was to come ten years ago,—when I come to him, I dare not come as a conscious sinner or an awakened sinner, but I have to come still as a sinner with nothing in my hands.
For meditation: We have no more right to complicate the Gospel than we have to water it down. Feelings are good and proper, but Satan can use them not only to give false assurance of salvation, but also to make sinners feel too bad to obey the Gospel and come to Christ.
Loving advice for anxious seekers
Charles Spurgeon sermon
‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.’ James 1:5
Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 8:16–22
When a man is really under concern of soul, he is in a condition of considerable danger. Then it is that an artful false teacher may get hold of him, and beguile him into heresy. Hence the text does not say, ‘If any man lack wisdom, let him ask his priest;’ that is about the worst thing he can do; for he who sets himself up for a priest, is either a deceiver or deceived. ‘Let him ask of God;’ that is the advice of the Scripture. We are all so ready to go to books, to go to men, to go to ceremonies, to anything except to God. Man will worship God with his eyes, and his arms, and his knees, and his mouth—with anything but his heart—and we are all of us anxious, more or less, until we are renewed by grace, to get off the heart-worship of God. Juan de Valdes says that, ‘Just as an ignorant man takes a crucifix and says, “This crucifix will help me to think of Christ”, so he bows before it and never does think of Christ at all, but stops short at the crucifix; so,’ says he, ‘the learned man takes his book and says, “This book will teach me the mysteries of the kingdom”, but instead of giving his thoughts to the mysteries of godliness, he reads his book mechanically and stops at the book, instead of meditating and diving into the truth.’ It is the action of the mind that God accepts; it is the thought communing with him; it is the soul coming into contact with the soul of God; it is spirit-worship which the Lord accepts. Consequently, the text does not say, ‘Let him ask books,’ nor ‘ask priests,’ but, ‘let him ask of God.’ Above all, do not let the seeker ask of himself and follow his own imaginings and feelings. All human guides are bad, but you yourself will be your own worst guide. ‘Let him ask of God.’
For meditation: Whom or what do you see as your go-between in your dealings with God? The only mediator he will accept between you and him is the one he has appointed himself—the second Person of the Godhead, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). In his name we can ‘ask of God’ directly (John 14:13–14; 15:16; 16:23–24).