REAL HOPE Because Jesus Lives !

 

REAL HOPE.  Everyone needs it.  Everyone longs for it.  Young or old, rich or poor, new Christian or seasoned saint, there is no one who doesn’t find himself yearning for REAL HOPE.  We need hope because of our own sin and because of the sin of others. We need hope because of the effects of sin on this old sin-cursed broken world. We need hope because of sickness, pain, death and evil. We long for REAL HOPE, not just a fantasy of some positive future or pie in the sky by and by,” but REAL HOPE anchored in the solid foundation of God’s eternal Scripture.

 

The good news is that there truly is REAL HOPE  found in the Bible.  Hope abounds for the true child of God who has a REAL relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Here are five reasons for REAL HOPE; each one is wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ including his death, burial, and resurrection.

 

  1. REAL HOPE abounds for the Christian because of Jesus’ perfect shed blood, His death and His bodily resurrection. Jesus died and shed his sinless blood so that He could be the substitute for us. Christ took the wrath of God His Father upon Himself so that we could be forgiven. Because of this sacrifice, God promised restoration, cleansing, forgiveness, and mercy.  Of course, Christians are already declared totally righteous for all eternity, but those of us who are believers still need God’s forgiveness throughout this life. Our failures, accidental or purposeful, hinder our walk with God, and we need restoration, just as we do in earthly relationships when failure breaks our fellowship with the Lord.  1 John 1:7-9 reminds us that “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” John goes on to declare that if we try to hide or deny our failures, we are liars; but, if we confess our sin to Him, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sin, bringing about greater holiness and restoration. We have REAL HOPE for forgiveness.

 

  1. REAL HOPE abounds for the Christian because of His power. Ephesians 3:20 declares that we should thank and praise God because He is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” God has promised His power to help us live a godly life. Even when we feel totally defeated and discouraged, His power is greater and can do far above what we feel can be accomplished in and through us. In addition, 2 Peter 1:3 reminds us that God’s power is given to us so that we have everything we need to overcome failure and live a godly life. Yes, we fail, but God’s power never allows us to live consistently in a state of sinful failure. His power saves us from a life of failure! We have REAL HOPE for a life free from being a slave to our sinful desires and failures.

 

  1. REAL HOPE abounds because we have victory over death and have Heaven as our future home. Paul says in 1 Thess. 4:13-18, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Heaven is not a myth. It is a REAL place, and we will enjoy it together as Christians. What a hope!

 

  1. REAL HOPE abounds for the Christian because of His plan. Romans 8:28-31 is encouraging, because God states that “all things work together for good” (even when they don’t always appear to be good) to cause us to be more like Christ.  Life is like a giant puzzle with infinite pieces, each of which is needed, and all of which come together to accomplish God’s plan. Some of those pieces even include pain, sickness, and failures.  God, although never responsible for our failures, mercifully allows them to strengthen us for the future and to make us more conformed to the image of His Son. The book of Romans also reminds us that when sin increases and failure happens, grace always increases and can overcome our failures (Romans 5:20). Although we face pain, death, evil and our own failures in this life, we have REAL HOPE.  This REAL HOPE in the face of trouble causes us to reach the same conclusion as the divinely inspired Apostle Paul. Writing in Romans 8:31-33, he states, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies.” If all that weren’t enough encouragement in the face of failure, we can also rely on this promise of God in Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” No, God is not ever going to leave His children helpless or at the mercy of Satan in this evil fallen world.  He is on our side.  REAL HOPE!

 

  1. REAL HOPE abounds for the Christian because of His presence. Hebrews 13:5 gives us yet another hopeful promise for our life: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Often in the difficulties of life or when we sin, we feel that God is angry and frustrated with us, and we may even feel forsaken or deserted by God.  On the contrary, like the father in the story told by Jesus of the prodigal son in Luke 11:15-32, God eagerly awaits to forgive and restore us. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

 

The person of Jesus Christ, his death, burial and resurrection provide REAL HOPE for this life and our future.  Are you a REAL CHRISTIAN with REAL HOPE?  If we can be of help to you in your relationship with God, we invite you to contact us.  If you are looking for a REAL HOPE, consider joining us for a service soon. 

In our services, we pray you will come to know the hope found through Jesus Christ and His words to us in the Bible.

 
 
 
 
 


Doubts About God. Can They Ever Be Good?

So You Doubt God.Is it Good or Bad Doubt-
 
Some of us or perhaps all of us doubt God, his Bible or even his existence from time to time. There are two kinds of doubt however. One is good and one is bad. Good or Honest doubt prompts us to look for answers and seek truth while flippant or bad doubt tends to be an excuse for living and acting however we want. Which kind do you or those you love struggle with?

It can be expressed with these two phrases one might hear from doubters.

Good doubt may sound like this.  “I need to know more. I want to understand who God is and why he is trustworthy.”

Bad doubt may sound like this. “Hey, who knows right? Live and let live. We’ll find out who is right or wrong eventually anyhow when we all gather at the big party in the sky.”

For a long time, I’ve felt that Thomas has gotten a bad rap. Remember him? Doubting Thomas? He’s the disciple who was out somewhere when the resurrected Christ appeared to the others.
“Hey, Tom! You really missed it. He’s back—Jesus. And He was here just a few hours ago—Where were you?”
“I was out. Just out. Walking. I’ve got a lot of thinking to do.”
His friends were obviously excited about something. Maybe one of them said, “That empty tomb Peter and John saw on Sunday—this is why. Jesus is really alive! We’ve seen Him!”

Thomas wasn’t one to buy into someone else’s excitement. Still hurting over the loss of one he had committed his life to, he said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
That’s pretty strong wording. Thomas said he would have to poke his finger into the holes made by the nails of the crucifixion. Maybe that was hyperbole. But we forget how confused and discouraged all of the disciples were. But Thomas was the realist in the crowd. It was only Thomas who heard what Jesus clearly had told them on their way to the Passover feast, just a week before. Jesus had said to them that he would be betrayed and killed. All the others were expecting Jesus to use this huge gathering to announce his earthly kingdom and to lead a revolt that would push the occupying Roman army out of Israel. Some of them were jockeying for position in this new kingdom. Most of the disciples were not ready for God’s unexpected plan.
But Thomas was. His take on it? He was ready for the worst. Before they came to Jerusalem, he had said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” You’ve got to give him credit for faithfulness. For him, it wasn’t about a place in the inner circle or getting a high office in the kingdom. For Thomas it was about Jesus.

Do you see the unexpected juxtaposition: the no-nonsense realist, the doubter, was in some sense the most faithful of them. Can faith and doubt coexist? In his book The Case for Faith, Lee Strobel proposes that doubt is necessary for faith. People who have never seriously examined the evidence, pro and con, have a shallow faith. They are easily blown away by the first argument they cannot answer. And they can’t answer, not because there is no answer, but because they have not done the “due diligence” of examination.

The honesty of doubt, good doubt, in contrast to smoke-screen or bad doubt, is what will build a person up. Lee Strobel wrote of that. A Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and an atheist, Strobel started his investigation of Christianity to disprove it. As the evidence for the validity of faith began to mount, he experienced the natural reaction of trying to avoid God’s claims on his life. He clung to arguments that he knew were weak, just to avoid the consequences of admitting that God is real. He knew that his life would have to change. However, the tough-minded pursuit of truth that made him a good journalist compelled him to confront his intellectual dishonesty, and he became not only a Christian, but also one of the major defenders of Christian belief in our time.

Thomas struggled with that too. Do you see the profound insight of his wording: “I will not believe.” He did not say, “can’t believe”; he said, “won’t believe.” There is an act of the will involved. Honest good doubt seeks truth, not convenience or a way to continue in a given lifestyle. Some people are more interested in saving face than honestly considering faith.

 Good or Honest doubt matters. So does the point-of-decision principle. An old story has a college freshman challenging the professor, “How do you know that I exist?” Perhaps the student expected a discussion of a universal life force and the illusory nature of our perception of individual existence and human will. Instead, the prof answered, “Who, may I ask, is speaking?” The evidence of the student’s existence was overwhelming. Yes, you can always come up with some argument, but sooner or later, you must choose. To continue putting off choice is itself a powerful choice, perhaps a deadly choice. For the enquiring mind, there never will be a point when all questions have been answered as simply and clearly as a high school math problem. Faith must take priority. 

Some years ago, when I was struggling with a career change, a friend introduced a new phrase to me: “Eventually, you just have to pull the trigger.” Quite a picture: a small action performed with full knowledge that something big and consequential will follow. There comes a time when the weight of evidence demands a verdict. So it is with Christ. Healthy good doubt moves toward a goal; it doesn’t drift. It seeks truth, not excuses.

It is God who says “Come now, let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18). God also says, “You will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). I would encourage you to seek where answers are likely to be found: at a Bible-teaching church. For a safe, friendly place to investigate the claims of God’s word, visit us at First Baptist Church. 

For more information, we suggest the book mentioned above.  You can purchase it here on Amazon or listen to the audio book here on YouTube. 

 


Change that Emoticon – 9 Bible Answers for Dealing with Discouragement and Depression

Change the EmoticonThe third Monday each January has been called “Blue Monday.” According to marketing research, this particular Monday of January each year is the most depressing day of the year for a majority of people.  We aren’t sure if this is true or not (

you can read about it here) but we do know that discouragement and depression are real problems not only after holidays or during winter, but all year long. 

Here are 9 Biblical ways to help defeat it. We hope you’ll read them all, but at least scroll through the list below and allow God to use some of them to help you. You are not alone in your struggle. We realize this article is a bit longer than most that we post, but this is a difficult problem and we want to try to give you some good helpful information and not take it lightly.

“The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.”  Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

You are not alone in the struggle of life as it relates to discouragement and/or depression.  You might be interested to know that numerous heroes of our faith struggled with these difficult types of situations.

Discouragement, where does it come from?  Sometimes it feels like a dry, barren wind off a lonely desert. Something inside us begins to wilt.  At other times, it feels like a chilling mist seeping through our powers, it numbs the spirit and fogs the path before us…it strips our lives of joy and leaves us feeling vulnerable and exposed.

In the Bible, we see David struggled with these feelings. In Psalm 61:1–2  He writes, “Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer.  From the end of the earth I will cry to thee, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” We find it alluded to often in other Psalms as well:

Psalm 42:5-7, 9,11 – Listen to the Psalmist in these verses. Have you ever felt like this? Most of us have at one time or another.

 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted (Disquieted=groan loudly; moan) within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. 6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember thee from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar. 7 Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterspouts; All thy waves and thy billows have gone over me. 9 I will say to God my Rock, “Why have thou forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”  11 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance and my God. 

Another great Bible character, Paul, wrote of his struggle with difficult emotional, physical and spiritual anguish.   2 Corinthians 7:5–6 — 5

 For when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;

Throughout history, we find Christian saints who struggle with discouragement and depression.  We could list the godliest people we know and if the truth were known, we would discover that to a large degree, most if not all have had a struggle in this area.

 Abraham Lincoln thought the pain would lead to death; the body couldn’t tolerate it. He said,  “I am now the most miserable man living.  If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on earth.  Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell; I awfully forbode I shall not.  To remain as I am is impossible.  I must die or be better, it appears to me.”  

Here are others who wrote about the pain we all feel at times:      

·   You seem to imagine I have no ups and downs but just a level and lofty stretch of spiritual attainment with unbroken joy.… By no means! By no means! I am often perfectly wretched and everything appears most murky–John Henry Jowett, pastor of New York’s Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church and later Westminster Chapel in London to a friend in 1920

•     Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and put an end to this miserable life.John Knox

•     There are dungeons beneath the castles of despair.Charles Spurgeon, who suffered debilitating bouts of depression all his life

•     I had my temptations attending me.… Sometimes I should be assaulted with great discouragement therein, fearing that I should not be able to speak the Word at all …at which times I should have such a strange faintness and strengthlessness seize upon my body that my legs have scarce been able to carry me–John Bunyan

 
Perhaps today you are a  “weary pilgrim.”  You have known the dark nights and the days that seem like nights as you struggle through discouragement.  You can take heart – as you can see, you are in good company.

We will only begin to scratch the surface of the topic of discouragement/depression/and burnout.  Though they are not equal, they usually go hand in hand, so I have lumped them together. 

Before we begin, here are a few myths about the causes of discouragement and/or depression:

1.      Depression is always the result of lack of faith in God.
2.      Depression is always caused by self-pity.
3.      Depression can always be removed by spiritual exercises such as prayer and fasting.
4.      Depression can be removed by making a choice to be happy.
5.      The term “Depressed Christian” is a contradiction.
6.      All depression comes from Satan.
7.      Depression is God’s punishment.
8.      Depression is never the will of God.

 
To overcome depression, there are some necessary and needed adjustments we must make.  

Here are 9 places to look to help you overcome discouragement and depression.  

Looking to these places of help will aid in the correction  our distorted vision and help bring us out of the swamp or “slough of despond” as John Bunyan described it.

 
1.  Look to others who have suffered and succeeded. (Heb. 11)

Depression makes us feel alone.  Even in a crowd of people, we can feel as if we are somehow separate from everyone else.  This makes the misery only deeper.

We need to remember that there have been others who have been through deep waters in life yet they succeeded.  I have mentioned several in Scripture and in church history.  One of the greatest lists of those who struggle and faced incredible odds is found in Hebrews 11.  We read of the real men and women of the Bible who learned through hardship, pain and suffering to live by faith.

v.13 – they never saw the complete fulfillment of God’s promises – a land, a race, a city, but they had faith.  Our faith too must extend beyond this life to heaven.  That gives true meaning to what we experience in this life.

v. 36 – so we realize that everyone faces different and difficult circumstances, these had faith in God when life was at its worse.  When the greatest potential for discouragement and depression came their way, they had faith in God!

When you get depressed, it is good to remember that others have been through every imaginable pain and hardship (physically, mentally, and emotionally) and they testify that by faith, we can make it as well. Their lives remind me that everything in this life is not “pie in the sky”, ease and luxury.  Read their stories and you will not only discover their pain and suffering, you will see that they had the same questions you ask, 

“Does God hear me?”

“Does God love me?”

“Has God forsaken me?”

They made it and so can we.

 
 2.   Look to God.   

Revelation 19:6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

You might think that “the beloved disciple” of Jesus, the one who wrote five books of the NT would have a life of ease and luxury for his service to Christ.  John was the last apostle to die.  He suffered in exile on the Isle of Patmos – a Roman Penal Colony – because he would not say that the emperor was “Lord and God.”

At potentially the most discouraging moments of his life, John saw God.  This is our greatest need when we are depressed.  God seems to be off the radar, so distanced form us that we have no connection with Him.

Remember the following realities about God:

God is good

God is all-powerful

God cares

God understands

God loves me

God is God

Write these statements in bold print in your Bible.  When we are depressed, we need a proper look at god.  Satan brings distortions and lies about God.  John saw God for who He is – “The Lord God omnipotent reigns.”

3.   Look to Jesus. 

Hebrews 12:2–3 — Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

      When we go through pain and suffering we are also looking for meaning.  Many people comment that if they could understand the purpose of their pain, then they could more easily handle the pain.

      But that revelation of purpose rarely comes when we think we need it.  Job had no idea of the Heavenly aspect to his earthly dilemma.  Joseph went through decades without answers.  Jesus cried from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

      When we experience depression we must look to Jesus!  V. 3 tells us why “lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”  It literally means “to give out.”  During times of discouragement, we want to give up.

 

4.   Look to the truth. 

John 17:17–18  Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  

As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

      It has been said that if you tell a lie long enough, it will be believed as the truth.  I think we can argue from history that this happens regularly.  We are very susceptible to lies.  Sometimes because we can’t verify them one way or another.  Sometimes because we are gullible and sometimes because we want to believe them.

      We need to be careful about what we listen to especially when we are discouraged.  It is easy to listen to lies:

      “God doesn’t care”

      “God is not with me”

      “No one has ever faced this before”

      “God is gone”

      These lies and hundreds of others feed discouragement and depression.  It is easier to believe lies because we have to take no steps of action.  All we have to do is live by our feelings.  Feelings change constantly.  Truth never changes.

      When you go through the valley of depression you must “remember in the dark the truth you learned in the light.”  Depression often happens as a result of replacing the Word of God as the driving force for our actions.  Even the physical causes of depression require a Biblical response.

      If we don’t replace the lies with truth we will have a “…faulty interpretation of the available information.”

      I want you to mark several key references that are the truths you need to remember to combat the lies when you are discouraged.

      1.   God never fails – Heb. 13:5b

      2.   Pain has a purpose (it purifies) – I Peter 4:1

      3.   God answers prayer – John 14:13-14

      4.   God is with me in my struggles – Ps. 46:1

      5.   Good will be the result – Rom 8:28

      6.   This will make me like Jesus – Rom. 8:29 

      7.   This is temporary – II Cor. 4:17

      8.   God is in control – Deut. 33:26-27

      9.   God gives me strength – Is. 40:31

      There are times when we can only cling to God and His promises.  That is a choice to live by faith and not to give in to our feelings.  Remember, “People who give up are people who have first given in (to their feelings).”

      Mark, memorize and study these truths from Scripture.  They are the truths that will set you free.

5. Look at the past.

Many people are depressed because of their past.  As they think back, there may be many, if not hundreds, of failures.  Failed projects, rejection, abuse, misrepresentations, sin, failure as a parent, spouse or friend, school failures, failures in relationships.  The list could be endless.  Why would anyone want to think about the past to overcome discouragement and depression?

Though this is not my main point, I should point out to you that caution should always be exercised when we think about the past.  Our mind may distort the facts.  Since we can rarely remember events exactly as they were, we may exaggerate the severity of an incident or we may minimize the good that has happened.  It’s easy to be the victim when we are discouraged.  Be careful how you remember the past!  The apostle Paul taught us that he forgot the things that were behind because his remembrance of those things would be a hindrance.

That does not mean that we never remember the past.  We don’t live in the past.  And we don’t have to allow the past to control us.  

What should we remember about the past?

Lamentations 3:1-9, 15-20, 21-25 

We need to remember that the God of the past is with us today.  There may be necessary, even unexplained, pain and difficulty.  But, as Jeremiah remembered, so must we.  In order to “crowd out the hopelessness” that can evade our lives we must have three memories from the past:

o   God’s inexhaustible supply of loyal love (“mercies”)

o   God’s warm compassion (Hebrew word that basically means “the womb”)

o   God’s forever faithfulness (His dependable support that will not let me down)
 

When we are discouraged, “It is though what we know by faith is struggling with what we are experiencing.”  One of the ways that the Israelites learned to not forget God was to build/have memorials. The rainbow, is a great example of God giving a reminder. Gen. 9:13-16

We too need memorials of God’s faithfulness.

o   Keep a journal – answers to prayer, favorite verses, times of God’s special favor

o   Write in your Bible 

o   Sing hymns

o   Review with a friend

o   Specific provision by God

We need to be careful that we don’t forget God’s faithfulness and promises!

 
6. Look to the future.

 
The grim shadow of depression creates false images and impressions.  Like a restless night, we think it will never end. We admit that there are many difficulties, heartaches, pain and struggles in our lifetime.  Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.”  For some it seems worse than for others.  It is easy to lose perspective when we are the ones facing difficulty. When discouraged we should look at the future:

 
Job did – Job 19:25-27   For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

Jesus did – Heb. 12:2  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Paul did – II Tim. 4:7-8  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

As a Christian, we can honestly say that the future is brighter than today.  We have to be careful that we don’t look only at our present distress.

“When will it ever end?”  may be the cry from our hearts.  I certainly cannot answer that question.  We may go through depressing times that last days, months, or years.  You might have chronic pain or an extended illness.  But “if in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable” (I Cor. 15:19)

To overcome discouragement, we must realize that there is an eternity with God.  There will be no more pain, suffering, disappointment, heartache, injustice, or tears.  We will worship and enjoy God forever . . . that is our future.  

 
7.  Look at the benefits.

At first glance, it would seem that there are no benefits from struggling through the realities of life that cause us discouragement and depression. Yet we find benefits listed in Scripture. Here are a few to consider:

            a.   Job 23:10 – you will have greater value

            b.   Psalm 119:67,71 – keeps you from going deeper into sin

            c.   Romans 5:3-5 – you develop patience, experience, and hope

            d.   II Corinthians 1:4 – you will have a ministry to others

            e.   II Corinthians 12:9 – you will experience God’s strength

            f.    Hebrews 5:8 – you will learn obedience

 

Our difficulties in life can either bind us to the point of discouragement, depression and despair or we can see how everything that touches our lives has a divine purpose.  It is literally true, “No pain:  no gain.”

I am not suggesting that you go out and look for circumstances so that you can experience difficulty and discouragement.  They will automatically come to you!  However, since we know they will come, we should look at what God can and will do in our lives when we face the inevitable hard times.

 
8.  Look at praise.

 
 Psalm 69:29–31   But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.  I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.  This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.

The Bible is full of praise to God . . . in all circumstances and situations.  When we are discouraged, it is difficult to praise God.  That is probably what we most need to do.  Praise gets our focus off of our surroundings and on to God.  When we truly praise God, we are not thinking of ourselves.  A lot of what is termed praise today is not really praise of God.  Too often, there is still a focus on what I might get out of it:  a feeling, relief, or some emotional high. The Scripture calls it a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15). The time of sacrifice is when it cost me something.  The greatest cost is o truly praise God when there is nothing, humanly speaking, that would hint of praising God. But the remarkable truth is that praise of God needs to be a priority when we are discouraged.  Praise precedes deliverance. Go back to “Look to God” as the beginning of a long list of what to praise God for.  Praise means we truly rejoice in God.  We bless God; we take pleasure in God.

 
9.  Look to a friend.

 
1 Thessalonians 3:2  And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:

1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
 
When we are discouraged we need a friend, a true friend.  A true friend will listen to you.  They will help adjust your perspective:

 
·         They will listen to you, help discern truth from error and reinforce the truth of God’s Word to you.

·         They will pray with and for you.

·         They will help redirect your thoughts to the big picture and the joys of life.

·         They will “lend you their faith”.

When we face discouragement and depression, we should find a friend and pour out our heart to them.  Our friends become our supporting allies and will be there even though we feel as if we cannot make it.  And in a worst-case scenario, where we are friendless, as believers we have a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

 
Final Necessary Reminders:

 

•  Proper rest is essential

•  Watch your diet

•  Have a regular exercise program

•  You need a diversion (hobby)

•  Take time off

•  Learn to say “No”

•  DO NOT QUIT!!

•  PRAY

 
These are the encouragements we need when we are discouraged and/or depressed.  If you choose to live by these principles, you will be able to get out of depression.  But you must remember that to win over depression, it is a fight and will take effort and spiritual cooperation with the Lord if we are to overcome.  We are VICTORS IN CHRIST!

If you do not have a church home which preaches and teaches the Truth of the Bible, offers godly fellowship and reminds you that you have a relationship with God by grace through faith alone apart from works, we’d love to have you join us for a service soon. Click here for more about our church.  

In the meantime, here are some other articles and resources you may find helpful on this subject and others.

A good book is:  Depression: Looking Up From The Stubborn Darkness” by Ed Welch

A classic book on this topic is: “Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure” by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

 

 



A Lonely Holiday Makeover – 7 Biblical Thoughts for Those Who Feel Alone During the Holidays

Copy of Biblical Help for Turning aLonely Blue Christmas to Fulfilling JoyfulChristmas“I’ll have a blue Christmas without you. I’ll be so blue just thinking about you.” And so the old song goes. ‘Tis the season that is hard when you are lonely. Loneliness can come from many sources. Perhaps it hits because of the loss of a loved one, because a single person is looking for a special someone, or because a family member can’t be home for Christmas. No matter the reason, loneliness can be especially painful during the holidays.
We hope this short article will provide you with some help and insight from Scripture.
 
When feeling lonely, remember the following:

  1. It is normal and human to feel lonely. Remember that Adam felt lonely in the Garden of Eden even before sin came on the scene. He had perfect fellowship with God. He had everything he needed, and yet God himself said in Genesis 2:18 that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. God created us with needs, including a need for food, shelter, clothing, and others.
  2. Some may flippantly say that God is enough.  Often, people will counsel a lonely person to just “enjoy God….Spend time with him. He is all you need, so you don’t really need anyone right now.” We see from the previously mentioned passage that this isn’t really true in most circumstances. In fact, we read in 1 Corinthians 12:21 that none of us should say that we don’t need others. We do! God has chosen to meet the needs that He, in perfect wisdom, created us to have. He has chosen to meet those needs through His gracious provision of other people.
  3. When all else fails, God truly is enough. Even though God created us with needs, told us to not say we don’t need others, and told us that it is not good that man be alone, there are also passages which address situations in which we are alone and there is nothing we can do to change it. In cases like that—in times when we find ourselves separated from others, perhaps in the middle of a dark cold night—God really is enough. Reach out to Him. Tell Him of your pain. Read His Word, sing songs of praise, pray, and consider Romans 8:35-39:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  1. Beware of diversions that aren’t positive in the long run. Jack Zavada mentions three such diversions in his article on loneliness. He says beware of (1) buying too much, (2) becoming overly busy to the point of exhaustion and breaking down physically, or (3) laying in bed all day feeling sorry for yourself.  None of these, or any other tactic that is selfish in nature, will solve the problem.
  2. Reconsider your talents, spiritual gifts, and opportunities. Referring back to 1 Corinthians 12, each of us has been given special abilities and experiences through which we can serve others. Reconsider yours. Take a spiritual gifts assessment. (Click Here for a free online spiritual gifts assessment.)  Ask God to give you new opportunities by connecting you with others through meeting their needs with your God-given gifts and abilities. We would love to have you become part of our church and help you connect with others in ways you could serve the Lord and build new relationships.
  3. Find a community of believers in a good church if you don’t have one. God has created us to interact with other people, and His design for us is to do that within a local church. If you have a church, tell your leaders about your struggle with loneliness and ask for help in becoming more involved. If you’re not part of a good church, find one. We would love to have you visit our church to see if it may be a fit for you. Look for other places in your community where you can connect with others by way of helping them. In reaching out to others, you will find God meeting your needs for companionship. Consider local nursing homes, children’s homes, shelters, food pantries, and so on.
  4. Open yourself up to new relationships. Perhaps you had a loss, you suffered a painful relationship breakup, or you are simply feeling sorry for yourself. Move ahead with expectant hope in God’s grace and mercy. Remind Him again that you are lonely. Ask Him to help you with the grief, mistrust, or hurt you feel. Lay it at His feet as often as you struggle.  Don’t go out looking for a friend as your main priority. Instead, go out to be a friend and trust God to connect you with the right people.

 

We know loneliness is a hard burden to bear. We want to help if we can. Drop by for a visit to our services soon. Remember that loneliness is normal, and that if God doesn’t provide companionship at the moment you feel you need it the most, He will provide soon. And remember, if you are in God’s family, you can rest in His unchanging love for you as His child.