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.

 
 
 
 
 


How to Pray After the Tragic School Shooting

 

Often during times of heart-rending events that involve mass casualties and national grief, our leaders will say that “our thoughts and prayers are with those who were touched by the tragedy.” Perhaps you are wondering how to pray.  You can pray for the people touched by this terrible school shooting in Florida based on the following ideas presented in Psalms 25 and Lamentations 3

If you are wondering how God could let something like this happen, click the link at the bottom to see our article that was posted after the church shooting in Texas.

In the meantime, when thinking of the families and friends of those dear people in Florida, pray:

  • That our nation would, as Jeremiah did in Lamentations 3, remember the true God of the Bible and have hope. Lamentations 3:21
  • That the people would be comforted in the Lord because his compassions fail not and his mercies are new every day. Lamentations 3:22-23
  • That the Lord would guide people into hope through quietness and solitude where they can reflect on their own relationship with Jesus Christ. That they will find both present and eternal hope in Him. Lamentations 3:25-33
  • That our government leaders and especially our churches would not be ashamed of standing on true moral, Biblical truth and righteousness as they continue to fight this battle against evil in our land. That we all would have discernment regarding what is truly evil and what is truly good and what leads men to commit such atrocities. Psalms. 25:2
  • That evil and those who commit evil acts would not triumph over good by defeating courage or our trust in the one true God. That anger, hate and bitterness would not prevail. Psalms 25:2
  • That those who continue to transgress without cause, taking innocent lives would be in disarray, in conflict with one another and ultimately exposed and defeated. Psalms 25:3
  • That our government leaders, law enforcement and protection forces would have wisdom and insight. That they would seek God in their efforts to destroy evil and that God would direct their paths and protect them. Psalms 25:4
  • That rather than turning against the true God of the Bible in anger or discouragement, the people effected and our nations in general would turn to God. That we all would trust his mercy, his loving kindness and goodness to those who follow him. Psalms 25:5
 
Take some time to read through Psalms 25 and Lamentations 3 and let these passages help guide you as you seek to pray for those who are suffering and hurting in unimaginable ways. Pray for America as a nation as well.  Tragedies such as this raise many deep and difficult questions about God, his love, his control and his goodness. While no human can answer all these questions, we believe the Bible has answers for the problems of evil and suffering. We would be glad to talk further with you or have you join us for a service soon. We all wrestle with these issues and we would be happy to point you to the truths we have learned in years of studying God’s word the Bible. In the meantime, take some time today to pray for these hurting people and our nation.
 


5 Biblical Thoughts to Help You Still Give Thanks When Life is Ugh, Annoying and Bleh

How to Give Thanks When Life is

It is Thanksgiving time and yet perhaps it is hard for you to be thankful this year.  Perhaps finances are tighter than ever or cancer struck at the heart of your normally thankful spirit.  Maybe thankfulness seems to elude you this year because of  a series of smaller difficulties  that have piled up. Whatever the circumstances, the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5 that we are to give thanks in ALL things. How in the world are we supposed to do that?

Here Are 5 Ways We Can Learn to Give Thanks Even When Life Is Ugh, Annoying and Bleh…

1.      Relinquish control to God’s sovereign plan, knowing that He is never out of control. Even with the problem of sin and evil, God overrules and works all things for our good as we become more like Christ.

2.      Rest in God’s wisdom and love.  God is all-wise. He knows the end from the beginning and is always acting in love toward us, His children. We often cannot see that when in suffering, yet we can understand it when we compare parenting to God’s love.  As a parent allows a non-understanding, crying baby to undergo surgery, an immunization shot, or other pain for ultimate healing or good, so God does the same.  As the parent would not love the child if he/she stopped the pain, so God would not fully love us if He did not allow what was best. 

3.      Run to His Word. God’s Word, the Bible, contains “all things that apply to life and godliness.” We open it to find the truths we need, and we depend upon His Spirit to lead us in applying it to our situation and to our hearts personally. 

4.      Reach out to others.  In the midst of our pain, it is helpful to serve others.  Serving helps us get our focus off of our suffering.  It is an encouragement to know that we have helped others and been used by God to bring joy to them.  Even during Jesus’ suffering on the cross, He was mindful of His mother’s needs.

5.      Share your burden.  Don’t substitute fellowship with others for time with God; but if at all possible, find a close Godly friend who will faithfully listen and point you back to God’s truth when your faith begins to waiver. Confide in your church family to find healing and strength. God works through the body of Christ, the church. If you don’t have a church family, we would invite you to visit us.

For further consideration, please understand that the Bible isn’t a book that emphasizes thankfulness and then hides the fact that humans suffer. Here are some examples.  Adam and Eve suffered the murder of their son by his own brother.  Job suffered the loss of almost all he had. The faithful Christians in Revelation suffered. Hebrews 11 has a whole list of suffering saints. 

As we attempt to have this spirit of thankfulness, We are faced with the question of why God’s children suffer in the first place if an all-powerful God loves and cares for them. Though that seeming dilemma is not the point of this article, a few quick notes may lead you to further help and study.

  1. Sin. We live in a sin-cursed world. Romans 8:22 reminds us that all Creation groans because of sin.  In addition, the consequences of our own personal sin often bring pain. The sins of others can bring heartache, too.

    2.      Strangers. We are strangers in this world. Hebrews 11:13 reminds us that this world is not our home. This is not our place of rest. We can’t expect to be too comfortable here.  Heaven is our resting place.

    3.      Sons. We are sons of God. Therefore God, as a loving Father, brings suffering at times to discipline us in order that it may yield the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” in our lives (Hebrews 12).

    4.      Satan. Job 1 allows us to see that Satan and his minions are allowed by God to bring about hard times for God’s children in order to bring glory to God.  Always remember though, that God’s glory and the good of his children are eternally bound together. Our good does not suffer to bring God glory. 

    5.      Selfishness. Although a derivative of #1 above, it still should be mentioned, because the selfishness of those we love (as well as those we don’t even know) can cause great pain.

Again if you feel that we can be of help to you are someone you know, please get in touch with us or stop in for a visit. We are here to point people to the Bible and the hope that is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ. 
 


Christian Worldview Vs. Horrific Tragedy

 

Why a Christian Worldview Works Even in the Face of Unspeakable Evil
 
On Sunday November 5, at approximately 11:30 am a man walked in to the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX and killed or wounded at least 46 people. Many questions arise in the aftermath of tragedy.  In the early hours and days, the questions are often answerable. How many died? Who was the killer? What did the authorities do in response? What was the killer’s motive? However, these questions quickly give way to the deeper questions that seem to be unanswerable. We all wrestle with questions like these about tragedies.

  • If God is good, why did he allow such evil, especially to people who identify as his children?
  • If God is in control of all things, why didn’t he stop this tragedy before it happened?
  • Why didn’t God allow the killer to be caught instead of just killing himself?

Although many of these types of questions are and will remain unanswered in detail, there are answers in the bigger sense. Though we may not understand the specifics of why this tragedy, why these particular people, or why this small church, we can understand from the Bible who God is, why evil exists and how God has victory over it.  Those answers come from what we call a Christian worldview.
We all have some sort of worldview if we realize it or not, and it matters!
A worldview is best described as the glasses through which we see and interpret all that is happening around us in the world. It attempts to tell an overarching story, to explain the universe in both grand and detailed ways. The story attempts to bring clarity and understanding to every part of existence.
A worldview:

  • Tells of origins (Where did the universe come from?)
  • Envisions a future (What is the future of the universe and our lives?)
  • Constructs ideals (What does a perfect world look like for all people?)
  • Provides rules of conduct (What is right and wrong?)
  • Provides a source of authority (Who is in charge?)
  • Gives a sense of life purpose (Why do we exist?)

Without a worldview of some kind, life has no meaning. There is no understanding of what is happening around us. Without meaning, living has no real purpose. Without purpose, there is no hope and reason to live.
We all seek to understand the world around us, especially in the midst of confusion, pain and tragic situations. From scientific questions to questions of good and evil, and why there is suffering we wonder why.  We seek guidance for decisions and meaning to life’s trials. We seek true beauty in art and wonder at the hate we see between human beings. These answers and more can be found through the glasses of our worldview.
God has provided an undistorted worldview through his word, the Bible, by communicating basic truths that are fundamental to every aspect of our life. This worldview brings clarity, purpose, and guidance for all of life.
Although there are many many worldviews that people follow, there are only two basic worldviews, a true one and a false one. The true one has only one definition. The false one takes on many forms. Let’s look at these two worldviews.
Firstly, let’s look at a non-biblical and false worldview summary.  Remember, there are many versions of this, but they all include the same fundamental points.

  • The universe came into existence by random chance or at best by means of an intelligent being or beings that we cannot know, understand or communicate with. There is no ultimate authority other than the most dominate being(s), which currently is humanity.
  • Currently in this grand ever evolving process, man is the center of all things. man has no ultimate purpose except in some organic evolutionary way. He is on his own. The strong survive, the weak are destroyed, and the random, chaotic evolution of all things continues.
  • Man should not be held to an absolute moral code, there is not one. Man should live in a way that is best for himself to enjoy life and survive as long as possible. After death, man will not be held accountable for his actions. Death is simply the end of existence. There is no future after death.
Secondly, let’s look at a Christian worldview. You can watch a very short video summary of a Christian worldview clicking below and then we’ll give you some reasons why this view works and makes sense even in the face of tragedy to the very people who hold this worldview. 
 

So how does this make sense in the face of tragedy even to those who believe this worldview? How does it bring hope to despair and meaning even to hardship?

1. In a Christian worldview, God is creator and therefore he is the authority over all his creation. He sets the rules for his creation. He sets both natural law i.e. gravity which cannot be broken, and he sets moral laws which can and have been broken. The reason we even know right and wrong and that murder is evil is because God created life, gave it value and gave us moral law. Non-Christian worldviews cannot adequately account for these facts.
The reason we know what happened in Texas was a tragedy is because precious life was taken and the Evolutionary answers of survival of the fittest doesn’t add up! In the depths of our soul, in our emotions and conscience, we know it was horrific evil because we know what good and evil are thanks to God
.
2. In a Christian worldview, God has not left his creation to suffer under evil indefinitely. At great cost to himself, he sent his only son, Jesus, who is God as well, to suffer and die in order to conquer evil and provide salvation from evil. Jesus entered into our suffering. He himself was tragically murdered. However, His death and resurrection from the grave prevents evil from ever conquering good completely.  In a Christian worldview, God always overrules evil with good even though for the moment, as with Jesus’ death, evil may seem to win.

3. In a Christian worldview, there is hope because of salvation in Jesus Christ. He conquered death, rose again from the grave and now provides eternal life and the forgiveness of sins.  Not only is evil like that in Texas overcome, but our own sinful heart can be forgiven and our relationship with God can be restored. We personally can have victory over evil and sin in our own life. We do not have to be captive to our own sinful condition.

4. In a Christian worldview, we have the hope of eternal life. For those who have accepted God’s gift of salvation which is free to us but came at great cost to him, it is not death to die. Yes, that is right, it is not death to die.  When God speaks of death in the Bible, he speaks of eternal death which is separation from God in Hell for those who reject Jesus’ gift and do not believe in him. For those who do accept his gift of salvation such as those at the First Baptist Church, death is not eternal. It is a passage way to eternal life. The Bible says that for those who have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ to be absent from this earthly body is to be instantly present with the Lord in Heaven.

5. In a Christian worldview, evil such as we saw in this situation is punished. Perhaps the killer supposed in his worldview that his ticket to freedom from the carnage he had caused by his evil actions was to kill himself thus ending life and entering a state of non-existence. No jail, no remorse, no guilt, no dread, he felt as many who commit such atrocities do, that killing themselves was the end. However, in a Christian worldview, this man went to Hell. He will stand before God in  the final judgement for his sin as we all will someday and then he will be condemned to eternal death in the Lake of Fire. There is no hope for him, no second chance. His fate is sealed. His worldview was horribly wrong in so many ways and at so many levels. Worldviews do have consequences.

What is your worldview? What are it’s consequences for your future? How do you process events such as these terrible tragedies? Do you believe that the universe happened from a “Big Bang?” Do you believe in the evolutionary process, the survival of the fittest, that life is random, futile, and meaningful only for the strong who survive? Do you believe that good and evil are simply cultural norms?  Do you believe there are no moral absolutes based on a moral absolute being who is designer, creator and ultimate authority, GOD? May we ask you to consider the Christian worldview. Use the resources below to learn more and consider God.

For those who have a Christian worldview, do not be discouraged even in the face of hard questions. God is in control. He does overcome evil with good. We are part of his plan in doing so. Share God’s good news contained in the Christian worldview with others. Share God’s love by reaching out to others and loving them. Pray for God’s help and strength for those touched by this and other effects of man’s sin, and look up for the Lord can come at any time.

Do you have questions? Would you like to talk about your spiritual life and relationship with God?  Contact us by clicking here or visit us for a service soon.

Click here for other helpful articles that can help answer questions about God, the universe, his relationship to you and more. 

Check out these other helpful articles below on our website for more information about God.  ​

 
 


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