The Difference Between The Baptism Of Or My By The Holy Spirit And Being Filled With The Holy Spirit
Many Christians believe that being baptized by and being filled by the Holy Spirit are the same thing. They’re not.
Baptism By The Holy Spirit
At the moment of conversion and salvation the believer in Jesus Christ is said to be baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. The baptism and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are related and happen at the same time.
Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV)9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the event where Jesus becomes our Lord and we are joined with other believers in the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:13 (NKJV)13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
Galatians 3:27 (NKJV)27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
When you received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at salvation you were indwelt (permanently present in your soul or spirit) by the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 (NLT)16 Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
2 Timothy 1:14 (NLT)14 Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.
When you are indwelt you are also sealed.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (NKJV)13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Filled By The Holy Spirit
While the baptism and indwelling of the Holy Spirit happen only once at conversion, the filling of the Spirit can happen multiple times after conversion. The idea of being filled by the Spirit is more about an ongoing sense of God's Spirit working in a person's life, not a one-time experience.
There is never any commandment in the Bible for one of us to be baptized by the Spirit, or to be sealed by the Spirit, or to be indwelt by the Spirit, or to be anointed by the Spirit, but there is an imperative command and mandate that we be filled by the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLT)15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To be filled is to be controlled completely by the Holy Spirit. Some Christians describe this distinction by saying believers have all of the Holy Spirit but the Holy Spirit may not have all of them. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit at the time of our salvation but we are filled by Him when we submit to Him.
A command is something that we can choose to obey or not obey. You can choose to be not completely controlled and when you do you can quench and grieve the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 (NKJV)19 Do not quench the Spirit.
Ephesians 4:30 (NKJV)30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
We grieve or quench the Spirit by the way we live.
Stay Filled with the Spirit
It’s not enough to be baptized in the Holy Spirit one time. You have to stay filled with the Spirit. We know that the Holy Spirit came and filled the 120 disciples on the day on Pentecost
Acts 2:1-4 (NKJV) When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (emphasis mine)
but that filling wasn't a one time thing.
Acts 4:23-31 (NKJV) And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’ “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (emphasis mine)
If these people—who were witnesses of Christ’s ministry on earth, death, and resurrection—had to be filled with the Spirit over and over again, don’t you think that we need this constantly filling too? A little dab won't do.
When the enemy works to bring death and destruction in our lives, we have to remind ourselves that the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead dwells on the inside of us. When the enemy comes to frustrate God’s purposes in our lives, we need to remember the Holy Spirit is in us and we need to ask Him to fill us again with his power.
You probably know most of the prophets in the Bible like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel, Jonah, and the others with Old Testament books named for them, but the bible identifies many more prophets. In this blog series we will get to know most of the prophets of the Bible, the ones with books named after them, and those whose names you may not know at all.
The English word prophet in the Old Testament comes from the Hebrew word “nabiy” which means “spokesman” or “speaker”. The Greek word for prophet is “prophētēs”, which can mean “one who speaks forth” or “advocate.” Prophets are also called “seers,” because of their spiritual insight or their ability to “see” the future, as directed by God.
Obadiah, whose name means“worshipper of Yahweh”, prophesied judgement on Edom, Judah’s neighbor to the southeast. The Edomites were decendenta of Jacob's twin brother Edom.
Genesis 25:29-30 NIV Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom. )
Obadiah, who prophesied judgement on Edom, Nahum who prophesied against Assyria, and Habakkuk against Babylon, is one of three who prophesied against countries that and afflicted Israel and Judah throughout their histories.
The prophetic book Obadiah is the shortest book of the Old Testament. There is no information in the book about the man Obadiah, his family, where he lived, or where he was from. Because of his emphasis on Jerusalem, throughout this prophecy of judgment on Edom, it's not a big stretch to presume that Obadiah came from somewhere near Judah's capital.
Many scholars believe that the book of Obadiah the earliest written book of prophecy, perhaps as early as the 840s BC. In the 840s BC. Edom rebelled against Judah.
2 Kings 8:20-22 NIV In the time of Jehoram, Edom rebelled against Judah and set up its own king. So Jehoram went to Zair with all his chariots. The Edomites surrounded him and his chariot commanders, but he rose up and broke through by night; his army, however, fled back home. To this day Edom has been in rebellion against Judah. Libnah revolted at the same time.
Obadiah 1:10-14 NIV Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever. On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them. You should not gloat over your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble. You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster, nor gloat over them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster. You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble.
This passage indicates an invasion of Judah by Edom. Edom was not strong enough to invade Judah is. It's own so it’s believed that their invasion was as an ally of other stronger nations. The behavior of the Edomites described in this passage indicates that they waited to attack and kill the people as they fled from the Philistines and Arabians who had invaded Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 21:16-17 NIV The Lord aroused against Jehoram the hostility of the Philistines and of the Arabs who lived near the Cushites. They attacked Judah, invaded it and carried off all the goods found in the king’s palace, together with his sons and wives. Not a son was left to him except Ahaziah, the youngest.
The Edomites could have easily heard of Jerusalem’s invasion by foreign powers and entered themselves into the fray so that they too might benefit from plundering their neighbors in Jerusalem.
Why Is Obadiah Important
Obadiah uses the name and title “Lord God” to stress God’s sovereign power over the nations. He will not stand ipby and let His people suffer forever.
Obadiah 1:1 NIV The vision of Obadiah. This is what the Sovereign Lord says about Edom— We have heard a message from the Lord : An envoy was sent to the nations to say, “Rise, let us go against her for battle”--
Through Obadiah, God reminded Edom of their poor treatment of His people;
Obadiah 1:12-14 NIV You should not gloat over your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble. You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster, nor gloat over them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster. You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble.
God promises redemption, not to the Edomites but to the people of Judah.
Obadiah 1:17-18 NIV But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and Jacob will possess his inheritance. Jacob will be a fire and Joseph a flame; Esau will be stubble, and they will set him on fire and destroy him. There will be no survivors from Esau.” The Lord has spoken.
The nation of Edom eventually disappeared into history.
Obadiah’s prophecy focuses on the destructive power of pride. It reminds us of the consequences of living in a self-serving manner, of following through on our own feelings and desires without considering their impact on those around us.
Proverbs 16:18-19 NIV Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
Though such pride has been part of the lives of fallen human beings since the tragedy of the fall in Eden, Obadiah offers us a stark reminder to place ourselves under God’s authority, to subject our appetites to His purposes, and to find our hope in being His people when the restoration of all things comes.
Psalm 111:1-10 NIV Praise the Lord . I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. Great are the works of the Lord ; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
Praise For The Lord’s Works
Psalm 111 is a hymn of praise. It opens with the writers announcement that he intends to praise the Lord.
The author starts by describing God’s works in general and then addresses His eternal righteousness and His compassion which are revealed in His mighty acts. These mighty acts of God cause us to seek even more evidence of His righteousness and compassion.
The author reminds us that God keeps His covenants with man. The evidence was His provision of food (manna and quail) in the wilderness, and the conquest of Canaan which fulfilled His covenant promise to Abraham.
He ends with the realization that the wisdom of our praise comes from the reverence and awe of God that penetrates our entire being.
It is the A B C of true wisdom. He who has learned to fear God has learned the first part of wisdom. According to some, the word “beginning” here means the chief, the head, the front, just as, often, in Scripture, “beginning” signifies that. “The fear of the Lord” is the chief part of “wisdom,” the essence of it.
Practical goodness is the proof of a good understanding. A man may have an orthodox head, and yet not have a good understanding. A man may be able to talk very glibly about the commandments of God, and even to preach about them with considerable power; but it is the doing of them that is the main point. - Charles Spurgeon
That praise should never end. We should never stop praising Him. Just as the angels surrounding God’s throne see His greatness and the greatness of His works.
Revelation 4:8 NIV Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “ ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”
In the last month we have been shocked by the suicides of celebrities Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain. Most of us have wondered why would people who appeared to be very successful and had “everything going on” would take their own lives. They both appeared to be happy. I say that with the understanding that we never really know what’s going on when people are out of the public eye. These suicides shocked most of us. Their families and friends are devastated and struggling to trying figure out why they did it. Why they took a desperate step that can never be reversed.
This is a very real tragedy for the families and friends of these two people. However there are thousands of friends and families of people who took that same irreversible step, that are going through and dealing with this same tragedy, the suicide of a loved one. I’m going through it myself with some very close friends. As with Kate and Anthony there were no signs of warning, and we are at a loss as to why. With my friend there were no signs that anyone, including his wife and children, saw that would have caused this person to end his life.
Here are some statistics published in a June 7, 2018, Washington Post article published after Kate Spade’s suicide;
Suicide rates rose in all but one state between 1999 and 2016, with increases seen across age, gender, race and ethnicity, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In more than half of all deaths in 27 states, the people had no known mental health condition when they ended their lives.
In North Dakota, the rate jumped more than 57 percent. In the most recent period studied (2014 to 2016), the rate was highest in Montana, at 29.2 per 100,000 residents, compared with the national average of 13.4 per 100,000.
Only Nevada recorded a decline — of 1 percent — for the overall period, although its rate remained higher than the national average.
Increasingly, suicide is being viewed not only as a mental health problem but a public health one. Nearly 45,000 suicides occurred in the United States in 2016 — more than twice the number of homicides — making it the 10th-leading cause of death. Among people ages 15 to 34, suicide is the second-leading cause of death. (Emphasis mine)
“Historically, men had higher death rates than women,” Kaslow noted. “That's equalizing not because men are [committing suicide] less but women are doing it more. That is very, very troublesome.”
“When you do a psychological autopsy and go and look carefully at medical records and talk to family members of the victims,” he said, “90 percent will have evidence of a mental health condition.” That indicates a large portion weren’t diagnosed, “which suggests to me that they’re not getting the help they need,”...(Emphasis mine)
Cultural attitudes may play a part. Those without a known mental health condition, according to the report, were more likely to be male and belong to a racial or ethnic minority.
“The data supports what we know about that notion,” Gordon said. “Men and Hispanics especially are less likely to seek help.”
The problems most frequently associated with suicide, according to the study, are strained relationships; life stressors, often involving work or finances; substance use problems; physical health conditions; and recent or impending crises. The most important takeaway, mental health professionals say, is that suicide is an issue not only for the mentally ill but for anyone struggling with serious lifestyle problems.
Christians And Suicide
I don’t know if Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain were Christians, but I do know that my friend was born again Christian, a loving husband, father, a good friend, and very active in his church. Knowing this about my friend many Christians will ask;
Most of us will agree that Christians can get depressed, but can Christians get suicidal? Good Christians? Many Christians believe, some unconsciously perhaps, that Christians do not and should not become suicidal, because suicide is, after all, something that only happens when you lose all hope, and don’t Christians have the best Hope there is? After all doesn’t God absolutely, 100% have the power to heal depression?
Most Christians will tell you that you have two options, to give in to that temptation and commit an irreversible (but not unforgivable) sin, or believe God’s promise:
“God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
We Christians often over-spiritualize depression and neglect the very real physical needs of a person caught in depression’s grip. On the other hand, non-Christians tend to focus too much on the physical aspects of depression and neglect spiritual health.
No matter what depression may look like, the attributes of God are almost always under attack. Doubt always follows closely on the heels of depression. If you’re a Christian and you’re depressed you’re in good company.
Moses was suicidal.
Numbers 11:14-15 (NLT2)14 I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy!15 If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”
Elijah was suicidal.
;1 Kings 19:3-4 (NLT2)3 Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there.4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
Jonah was suicidal. He asked to be thrown out of the boat, knowing that he wouldn’t survive;
Jonah 1:12 (NLT2) “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”
Paul sounded depressed.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT2)8 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
I’ve been personally concerned about how Christians view depression and suicide for a long time. My wife, who is now with the Lord, battled depression for the more than forty years that we were married. She attempted suicide three times while we were married and at least one time before our marriage (she died of Cardiopulmonary Arrest a complication that arose from the effects of metastatic lung cancer in 2015).
In December 2014, after Robin Williams’ suicide, I wrote and published a post “Christians And Depression”. In it I identified four warning signs that you may be headed for depression and a crash;
And three suggestions that can help get off the collision course toward depression and a crash;
I ended that post by saying If you know that you are depressed, think that you are depressed or headed for depression seek professional help. Look for a Christian mental health professional but if you can’t find a Christian professional, find and go see a mental health professional anyway.
The Struggle Of Suicide
Max Lucado - June 9, 2018
The suicides of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade illustrate an all-too-common tragedy— the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported this week that nearly 45,000 people committed suicide in the U.S. in 2016 alone, and said the suicide rate in the U.S. rose by nearly 30 percent from 1999 to 2016.
While the CDC report isn’t surprising, it is sobering. If a disease saw such a spike like we’ve seen with suicides, we would deem it an epidemic. How do we explain the increase? We’ve never been more educated. We have tools of technology our parents could not have dreamed of. We are saturated with entertainment and recreation. Yet more people than ever are orchestrating their own departure. How could this be? And what can we do?
Suicide victims battled life’s rawest contests. They often faced a mental illness or illnesses and felt the peril of mental fatigue. What you and I take for granted, they coveted. Optimism. Hope. Confidence that all would be well, that she would be well. Their clouds had no silver linings, their storms had no rainbows.
If that describes the way you feel, can I urge you to consider one of the great promises of the Bible? The promise begins with this phrase. “Weeping may last through the night” (Psalm 30:5).
Of course, you knew that much. You didn’t need to read the verse to know its truth. Weeping can last through the night. Weeping may last through the night, and the next night and the next.
This is not new news to you.
But this may be: “Joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Despair will not rule the day. Sorrow will not last forever. The clouds may eclipse the sun, but they cannot eliminate it. Night might prolong the dawn, but it cannot defeat it. Morning comes. Not as quickly as we want. Not as dramatically as we desire. But morning comes, and, with it, comes joy. Joy comes!
Joy comes because God comes.
Mary Cushman learned this truth. The financial Depression of the 1930s all but devastated her family. Her husband’s paycheck shrank to eighteen dollars a week. Since he was given to illness, there were many weeks he didn’t earn even that much.
She began to take in laundry and ironing. She dressed her five kids with Salvation Army clothing. At one point the local grocer, to whom they owed fifty dollars, accused her eleven-year-old son of stealing. That was all she could take. She said:
I couldn’t see any hope …I shut off my washing machine, took my little five-year-old girl into the bedroom and plugged up the windows and cracks with paper and rags. I turned on the gas heater we had in the bedroom- and didn’t light it. As I lay down on the bed with my daughter beside me, she said, “Mommy, this is funny, we just got up a little while ago.” But I said, “Never mind, we’ll take a little nap.” Then I closed my eyes, listening to the gas escape from the heater. I shall never forget the smell of that gas…
Suddenly, I heard music. I listened. I had forgotten to turn off the radio in the kitchen. But it didn’t matter now. But the music kept on and presently I heard someone singing an old hymn.
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
As I listened to the hymn, I realized I had made a terrible and tragic mistake. …I had tried to fight all my terrible battles alone. I jumped up, turned off the gas, opened the door and raised my windows.
She went on to explain how she spent the rest of the day giving thanks to God for the blessings she had forgotten: five healthy children. She promised that she would never be ungrateful. They eventually lost their home, but she never lost her hope. They weathered the Depression. Those five children grew up, married, and had children of their own.
As I look back on that terrible day when I turned on the gas, I thank God over and over that I woke up in time. What joys I would have missed. How many wonderful years I would have forfeited forever… Whenever I hear now of someone who wants to end his life I feel like crying out, “Don’t do it! Don’t”. The blackest moments we live through can only last a little time–and then comes the future.
And you? You’ll be tempted to give up. Please don’t. Open your Bible. Talk to God. Listen for his song. Share about your hurt with someone. Seek help. Place yourself in a position to be found by hope. Weeping comes. But so does joy. Darkness comes, but so does the morning. Sadness comes, but so does hope. Sorrow may have the night, but it cannot have our life.
©Max Lucado, June, 2018
Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (New York, NY: Pocket Books, 1984) 196-198.
Depression: Fighting Dragons
by Jim Burgen from No More Dragons
Being the Hunted
What did Jesus call people who were attacked by dragons, regardless of the righteous way they were conducting their lives? Jesus called these people normal. Jesus made a few promises about what would happen to us, regardless of our faith. Here is what Jesus promised those who love Him the most:
In this world you will have trouble. – John 16:33
Jesus didn’t say, “In this world, there is a slight chance that you will go through hard times.” Jesus didn’t say, “If you don’t have enough faith, you will have trouble.” Jesus didn’t say, “If you go to church, stop cussing, don’t drink too much, and always keep your promises, then you won’t have any trouble.” Instead, Jesus said that trouble will hunt you. Period.
If you are alive and breathing, you will have trouble in this world. Either you will hunt the dragon, or the dragon will hunt you. There is no escaping it.
Jesus had every right to make this statement. Jesus believed all the right things, and He had stronger faith and loved God more than you and I will ever be able to. Still, soon after making this statement, Jesus was arrested and nailed to a cross.
Faith, belief, and love do not buffer or barricade your life from trouble and hardship. In fact, sometimes it feels like having faith and doing the right things can attract trouble.
I want to address the dragon that I most often see hunting the people around me: depression. This includes both the deep blues anyone can feel and the diagnosable imbalance that plagues so many. No one asks for this dragon, but he swallows up many people regardless. This dragon is big, heavy, overwhelming, and he has the potential to crush, suffocate, and swallow you up. This dragon doesn’t create bad days or bad weeks. He creates bad childhoods, bad decades, and bad lives. On and on, day after day, year after year, this dragon causes pain with no relief in sight.
Remember that overwhelmingly sad feeling when you learned that someone you loved died? Remember the guilt and embarrassment you felt after your biggest failure was exposed? Remember facing the biggest problem in your life and thinking that it was impossible to fix? Remember that time, as a little kid, when someone held you under the swimming pool too long, and you thought you were going to drown? Roll all of those emotions into one, carry them around with you every day from the time you wake up until the time you fall asleep, and you will begin to understand the dragon of depression.
When you experience the dragon of depression, your entire world is seen only through the lens of sadness, hopelessness, mourning, loss, emptiness, grief, pain, anger, frustration, guilt, and death. Death is always there, looming and lurking: “I can’t live another minute like this. Death has to be better than this. The people around me would be better off if I wasn’t here to hurt them. I can’t do this anymore. This is never going to get any better.”
The dragon of depression is a cyclical prison cell. It’s like a dog chasing its own tail: “I am depressed. Because I’m depressed, I can’t do what I need to do. This makes me feel like a failure. That makes me depressed. Because I’m depressed, I can’t do what I need to do. This makes me feel like a failure. That makes me depressed.”
David, the famous king from the Bible, knew these feelings well:
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of Your unfailing love. Among the dead no one proclaims Your name. Who praises You from the grave? I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. – Psalm 6:2-6
How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death. – Psalm 13:1-3
King David wasn’t alone, and you aren’t either. This might surprise some readers, but Jesus understands what depression feels like. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before Jesus was arrested, He experienced the height of His depression:
Then He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.” Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” – Matthew 26:38-39
If you read Hebrews 4:15, it is clear that Jesus had been tempted in every way that we are, yet He walked through those temptations without sinning. But somewhere along the way, it seems some biblical scholar or translator decided “depression” was no longer included in the long list of ways that Jesus was tempted.
In my opinion, it’s tough to read, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” without concluding that Jesus was struggling with depression. Jesus essentially said, “I’ve been swallowed up to the core of My being with sorrow. The suffocating weight of My sadness is about to crush My life.” Elsewhere, the Bible says this about Jesus’ time in the garden:
Being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. – Luke 22:44
There is a medical condition (hematidrosis) brought on by extreme emotional anguish, strain, and stress during which the capillaries in the skin rupture, allowing blood to flow out of a person’s sweat pores. So for hours, alone in a dark corner of a remote garden, Jesus fell down, curled up on the ground, cried, and prayed so intensely for deliverance from His circumstances that the blood vessels burst inside His skin. You can call it whatever you want, but to me it looks like emotional depression.
Jesus understood, and still understands, depression.
Weeks before Jesus was in the garden, He came face-to-face with everything I’ve just described.
They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet Him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. – Mark 5:1-5
Depression can be caused by many different things. In this guy’s case, depression was caused by satanic attack or demonic oppression. The man in this story was possessed by many demons. If you’re anything like me, you immediately think of The Exorcist or some sci-fi movie, but the reality is that, all through the Bible, we read descriptions of battles being fought in the spiritual realm. The New Testament teaches that while a Christian cannot be possessed by Satan or one of his demons, he can be oppressed.
Satan continues to wage war against Christians by attacking or tempting us.
Depression can also be caused by guilt. Sometimes the weight of our downfalls and sins can cause us to grieve and mourn to the point of depression. That’s one of the reasons King David was depressed. He had just been convicted of adultery and murder, and his child was about to die. He used phrases like, “My bones wasted away… my strength was sapped… Do not forsake me, my God… My heart has turned to wax… my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth… Troubles without number surround me” (Psalm 32:3-4, Psalm 71:18, Psalm22:14–15, Psalm 40:12).
The apostle Peter understood depression after he denied knowing Jesus. After his sin of denying Jesus, Peter wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75). Judas understood depression after he betrayed Jesus to his death. When the weight and guilt of what he had done finally hit him, Judas decided that committing suicide was the only way out of the belly of the dragon in which he found himself swallowed (Matthew 27:1-5).
Depression can also be caused by the difficult circumstances of our lives. Life can get so hard that it makes us depressed, and that’s what Jesus was feeling in the Garden of Gethsemane. He understood why He needed to be sacrificed. He even knew the wonderful outcome that would result from His torture and death. Yet even though Jesus knew that the next few days would ultimately become the most wonderful event ever to occur in the history of the universe, the thought of them still caused Him to collapse to the ground, curl up, and cry until blood seeped from His pores.
Depression can also be the result of a physical illness. Sometimes the circumstances of our bodies can cause us to become depressed. I’m not talking about body image issues causing someone to become depressed (although that happens often). I’m talking about synapses misfiring and chemicals becoming imbalanced. I’m talking about diseases within our bodies. This can be the most difficult cause of depression to wrestle with because you can’t quite put your finger on the reason you are suffering. You’re simply suffering. More on this in a minute.
Regardless of the cause of depression, one factor remains constant: depression always centers on death and pain.
Depression is about death. The naked guy on the beach in Mark 5 lived in a cemetery. When you feel dead inside, you begin to dwell on the things of death, and eventually that place becomes your home. Depression is also about pain. The man would cry out and cut himself with razorsharp stones.
Depression has many causes, it revolves around death and pain, and it has no easy fixes.
Let’s continue with the story about the naked man on the beach:
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of Him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” – Mark 5:6-9
Later in this story, Jesus sends the spirits away and heals the man. That’s when the crowd shows up:
When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. – Mark 5:15
Jesus is bigger, stronger, and Most High over everything.
In the story about the naked man at the beach, the demon of depression recognized and yielded to the authority of Jesus. Jesus is bigger than depression. Whether you personally hunted down your dragon or it stalked and ambushed you, Jesus can set you free again.
Excerpted with permission from No More Dragons: Get Free From Broken Dreams, Lost Hope, Bad Religion, And Other Monsters by Jim Burgen, copyright Thomas Nelson, 2014
In the past few months I’ve published several posts on ministry burnout. Here’s another one that identifies 10 reasons, some of which may surprise you, that you become stressed and in danger of burnout. They are ten of 40 reasons we stress from the book Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray. Along with the reasons for stress Bonnie gives some suggestions to “de-stress” and defend yourself from burnout. The following are excerpts from an article published on iBelieve.com.
10 Surprising Reasons You're Stressed Out (Bold emphasis mine.)
1. You’re good at taking care of others, but bad at filling your own tank.
Why are we so hard on ourselves, when God’s love is gentle? Extend yourself the comfort you want to give others. How can you fill other’s needs, if your tank is empty?
Soul Care Tip: Prioritize enjoying what brings you joy. Take a walk outside today. Let God touch you.
Don’t think about it. Just put on your shoes and go. You’ll return refreshed. Studies show just 10 minutes outside refreshes and helps with anxiety — depression in school, work, and everyday life.
We may feel selfish prioritizing filling our tanks. Yet, God says we can only comfort others, with the comfort we first receive ourselves!
2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT2) He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2. You are good at problem solving, but what you need is rest.
Most problems that stress us can’t be solved in a day. We are such strong thinkers, but it leads us to easily ruminate, which means to obsess about situations or relationships, leaving us feeling depressed or anxious. One way to reduce rumination is by enjoying activities that foster positive thoughts.
Soul Care Tip: Listen to a worship song.
Songs give us a simple way to practice the presence of God. Music is used in therapy to uncover hidden emotional responses in children, helping them find words to express themselves. It’s not just for children. Music helps us pray without words. It’s shown to bring calm and alleviates pain. When you feel too stressed to pray, put on a favorite worship song and let God love on you.
Psalm 40:3 (NLT2) He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.
3. You are good at listening to others, but find it hard to share your hardships.
We don’t want to bother others. But, what we doubt is whether we’re worth loving. Notice how you feel better after talking to someone about your troubles — even if the problem hasn’t been fixed?
Soul Care Tip: Call a grace-filled friend to have coffee.
T ell your friend about both your hopes and anxieties. Research shows depression is eased, anxiety is reduced, and people bounce back sooner (resiliency) when people share their stories and talk about how they feel when events impact them (rather than just describing what happens).
Galatians 6:2 (NLT2) Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
4. You’re busy getting things done, but you forget to breathe.
Did you know you hold your breath when you’re stressed? Shallow breathing creates tension in your body, raises your blood pressure, and makes your muscles ache with tension and pain.
Soul Care Tip: Pray a Breath Prayer
The minute we stress is a special opportunity to invite Jesus into our day and be refreshed. A powerful, simple way is to pray a breath prayer. It’s a contemplative prayer practiced by the early church to experience God’s peace and “pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT2) Never stop praying.
An example of a breath prayer:
Inhale and whisper the name of God you connect with--“Good morning, Jesus.”
5. You zone out on social media, but you’re actually stressing yourself out.
Research shows the more time people spent on Facebook, Instagram and social media, the more they felt dissatisfied, depressed, or anxious. People avoid sharing negative feelings, so what you see isn’t real, but tweaked.
Soul Care Tip: Take a digital break. Enjoy doing something that makes you smile!
Research found that experiences make people happier and give you a greater sense of vitality— “feeling alive.” Happiness enjoyed during the experience carried lasting benefits. Simply by recalling the memory sparked happy brain activity, elevating good mood.
Exhale and whisper how you feel or a request--“I love you” or “Help me today.”
6. You’re reading before bedtime to relax, but still can’t fall asleep.
Reading an e-book? The blue light from your digital devices wakes your brain up to think it’s daytime!
Soul Care Tip: Read a printed book.
Research shows reading a printed book (it helps more than reading on your tablet) is the best way to relax, and even six minutes can be enough to reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds, according to research by Sussex University. Snuggling up with a good book returns tranquility to your brain and body as you get lost in a story and unplug from constantly multitasking during the day, which is exhausting.
Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT2) For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
7. You pray about what you can do for God, rather than how your heart is doing: your desires, worries and fears.
We often put our worries to the side when we pray. But, the most powerful prayer comes from intimacy, emotional honesty and letting God love you.
Soul Care Tip: Write a letter to Jesus. Confide in the One who calls you beloved.
Grab a piece of paper and start writing about what’s important to you, how you’re feeling, and your worries. You’ll feel better!
Studies show you don’t have to “keep a journal” to reap the benefits of writing. Research shows just 15 minutes of expressive writing makes a difference, leading to behavioral changes and improving happiness.
1 Peter 5:7 (NLT2)7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
8. You are always planning and thinking ahead, but experiencing God’s grace comes only one day at a time.
Our culture trains us to plan ahead. But, when it comes to parenting, marriage, and friendships, people are not plans. Hearts are more like gardens to nurture with grace. One day a time. We plant seeds and fruit grows slowly, nurtured with faith and patience, instead of stress and coercion.
Soul Care Tip: Pray this prayer for grace:
Hold onto me, God. Thank you for never letting me go.
Psalm 143:8 (NLT2) Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.
Whatever’s happening this week, hold onto God’s hand. He’s not letting go of you. He’s walking into every situation you’re facing, with you.
Ask for the strength to do what you must do, just for this one next step. Trust He will provide what comes next. Jesus will not abandon you. You are His beloved.
9. Your strengths are being reliable and responsible, but you find it difficult to ask for help.
Soul Care Tip: Pray this prayer for help:
Help me, Jesus.Thank you for the gentle ways you love me.
Psalm 86:11-13 (NLT2)11 Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.12 With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever,13 for your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death.
Psalm 18:35-36 (NLT2)35 You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great.36 You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.
We may not know the way but the God who loves you not only knows the way – He intimately knows your way. No matter what, He will lead you all the way.
10. You are good at performing, but God wants your heart, more than your work. God sees what your soul needs is to be known and loved.
We stress when we hide our hearts and go into survival mode, going through our checklists and ignoring what we need most: love.
Soul Care Tip: Pray this prayer for courage:
I’m worried about too many things.
Give me the courage to lay down burdens You never intended me to own.
Give me the courage to choose what’s better for me today— to simply rest.
I choose You.
Deuteronomy 33:1-2 (NLT2)1 This is the blessing that Moses, the man of God, gave to the people of Israel before his death:2 “The LORD came from Mount Sinai and dawned upon us from Mount Seir; he shone forth from Mount Paran and came from Meribah-kadesh with flaming fire at his right hand.
Don’t wait until your life is stress-free before spending time on what really matters to God: loving your heart. Let Jesus hold you and your worries together so you can take a break and choose what’s better: feeding your soul. Be renewed. Be loved.
Bonnie Gray is the author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace and Whispers of Rest. An inspirational speaker and retreat leader, she has touched thousands of lives through storytelling, visual arts, nature, prayer and meditation. Bonnie’s writing is featured on Relevant Magazine, (in)courage, and Christianity Today. She lives in California with her husband and their two sons. Visit her at thebonniegray.com.
In the past several weeks I’ve published two posts about God’s relationship to mankind. In the first, “God Is A Globalist Not A Nationalist” the post points out that Scripture is clear that God respects no nation’s boundaries He's a globalist not a nationalist. In the model prayer that Jesus taught His disciples He said pray;
Matthew 6:9-10 NIV “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
That kingdom has no geographic boundaries.
The last thing that Jesus said to his disciples was to go into to all the word not as a nation but to make disciples, and citizens of God’s Kingdom.
Matthew 28:18-20 NIV Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
“Today 60 % of all Christians inhabit regions equaling two-thirds of the world’s area: Asia, Africa and Latin America. We find more Christians attending worship in China than in all of Western Europe. Today in Scotland, less than ten percent of Christians attend church, while in the Philippines this morning, you will find seventy percent of that nation’s Christians in the pews. In Nigeria alone, there are seven times as many Anglicans as there are Episcopalians in the United States. Korea now has four times as many Presbyterians as we have in this country.
There are black faces, brown faces, yellow faces, red faces, white faces. With flat noses and pointed noses, black eyes, brown eyes and blue eyes, round and almond-shaped eyes. All of them, our sisters and brothers from every tribe and nation, are gathered in this morning’s joyful feast of the people of God.” - From the Sermon Cracks In The Wall by Victor D. Pentz
Galatians 3:28 (NLT2) There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
That's globalism not nationalism!
The second post was “God Is A Globalist And Not A Nationalist, And He Loves Diversity”. In that post I point out that God is all about diversity as evidence by the diversities of the Gifts of the Spirit for the church.
I Corinthians 12:4-6 NKJV There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
“The Church is called to be a Christ-centered community of diversity. “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).
Too often the divisions of the world are brought right into the church. Instead of reflecting the light of Christ, we mirror the broken world. Women are discriminated against, racial segregation persists and whenever an international conflict arises, those in the church are frequently uncritical cheerleaders for our nation’s side in the hostility.
What can we do to live with our differences in a way that honors Christ and is good for the church?
First, open your own life to change. In 1 Corinthians 13 the scripture tells us, “Love does not demand its own way.”
Second, recognize that you don’t have the right to judge the motives of others. “Who are you to pass judgment on the servants of another? It is before their own Lord that they stand or fall” (Romans 14:4).
Third, we need to recognize that there is sometimes more than one right way to think and to behave. The choice is not always between right and wrong. Yes, some things are black and white, evil or good. Don’t allow controversy over opinions to be the center of your conversation. Welcome one another. “Welcome one another … but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.” (Romans 15:1; Romans 14:1).
Fourth, we need to recognize that no one of us, and no single group of people like us, can stand alone. We need each other to do what God calls us to do in the world. As Paul wrote, “We do not live to ourselves and we do not die to ourselves.”” - From the Sermon Diversity: Living With Diversity Romans 14:1-9 by Craig M. Watts
What Does the Bible Say About Racism?
By Megan Bailey (Bold emphasis mine)
God makes it clear that no man is superior to another.
Racism: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
The civil rights movement happened over 50 years ago, yet we still have a lack of understanding about how to treat each other with respect. Racism isn’t a problem we can ignore as it’s a very pertinent issue in today’s society.
As Christians, we should seek to understand how God wants us to react to racism. The Bible is the source of knowledge for Christians, and it directly addresses the problem. Racism has been an issue throughout history, including when the Bible was written.
Stories of Racism in the Bible
The problem of racism can be found in Bible stories. God chose to work with the nation of Israel, however made it a point to tell them that they were not superior to anyone else because of this. Leviticus 19:34 states “the stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Despite this, some felt that Israel and its descendants were racially superior to those around them because they descended from Abraham. They believed that their salvation was completely secure because of their lineage. John the Baptist told them “Do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Matthew 3:9).
God told Peter what had always been true; that “God is no respecter of persons”
Acts 10:34 (NLT2) Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.
The Gentiles were just as much of God’s plan as those in Israel and no group was superior to the other. Peter spoke to them and stated “But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him”
Acts 10:35 (NLT2) In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.
Nationality, lineage and race never determined where the Israelites or gentiles stood with God. People like Ruth, Rehab, and Luke were all gentiles who came to God. In contrast, God’s chosen people of Israel suffered defeat and near-annihilation because they consistently disobeyed God’s Word. It is clear that God does not support the authority of any ethnic group above another.
Racism is a Sin Against God
Most people know that racism is wrong. But as Christians, we should seek to understand why it’s morally wrong in the eyes of God as well. Through more education, we can better explain to others why racism shouldn't be tolerated and how to overcome the distorted thinking.
Most Christians know that Genesis 1:27 says that we were all made in the image of God. No matter what color you are, you are no more worthy or deserving of dignity than any other human. In addition, all believers of Christ are one with Christ. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.
Galatians 3:28-29 (NLT2)28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.29 Our most important identity is not our gender, socioeconomic status or race; it’s that we are Christian. We continue to be more alike than we are different because we are all cut from the same cloth. We are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Christ came down to earth to break down the walls between people, not to build them up
Ephesians 2:14-16 (NLT2)14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
We have all been made in the image of Christ and were born into the same dark world. How can we not all draw near to each other as members of this same family?
Being partial to a group of people over another in itself is a sin according to James 2.1.
James 2:1 (NLT2) My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
When we treat people differently and build up space to create an “us” vs. “them” mentality, we are not reflecting God.
Spreading the love of God is one of the best arguments against racism. Matthew 22:39-40 says that real love loves as we hoped to be loved.
Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT2)37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
No one can honestly say that racism treats our neighbors as how we would like to be treated. You cannot share love and find the best in people when your life is filled with prejudice, ignorance and misguided convictions. But true love rejoices in finding what is best in others.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT2)4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Reconciliation With God
The good news is that despite what racial tendencies you may have had in the past, they can be forgiven if you choose to accept God into your heart truthfully and ask for His forgiveness. The Gospel tells us that we aren’t just brought near to God, we are also brought near to those we once considered so different from ourselves
Ephesians 2:11-13 (NLT2)11 Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts.12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.13 But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
God will help you restore your relationships with groups you mistreated. It’s important to not only reconcile with God, but to remove the prejudice and restore relationships with those you once hurt. You can create healthy relationships that create appreciation for each other.
God can bring peace where there was once violence and kindness where there was once anger. He does this within our hearts when we accept Him, and do so again with others. Since we belong to Jesus, we are a part of His movement to bring more reconciliation between people and God.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (NLT2)18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
As His representatives, we have the opportunity to share how the life-changing message of the Gospel creates a healthy relationship with God and healthy relationships between people, no matter who they are.
This is another in the Ministry Burnout series, Burnout.
This post does has nothing to do with the Sabbath Day as the day the church gathers for worship. I wrote a post a long time ago that shows that is doesn’t matter when we worship (Saturday of Sunday). It could be Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday...you get the point. The important thing is that we worship.
The Commandment about the Sabbath Day says as much about rest as it does anything else, in fact this Commandment is the one with the most written about it. This Commandment tells the Israelites to take a day off.
The Hebrew word shabbāt, translated in English as Sabbath means intermission. It is from a root word, shābat, that means, to repose, i.e. desist from exertion; cease, celebrate, cause; rest, rid, still, take away. According to this, not resting is a sin. It doesn’t matter if your day of rest is Saturday or Sunday or any other day.
The Bible calls those who will not work lazy, Proverbs is full of sayings about being lazy and the circumstances from it.
Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son. Proverbs 10:4-5 NIV
Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless go hungry. Proverbs 19:15 NIV
The Bible calls those who will not rest disobedient.
“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. Deuteronomy 5:12-15 NIV
In addition to a Sabbath Day God also commanded a full Sabbath year every seventh year. In the Sabbath Year the land was able to rest from sowing and reaping so that the ground could replenish itself of nutrients.
The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord . For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord . Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten. Leviticus 25:1-7 NIV
This post is not about a day or a year.but about shabbāt, an intermission, a time of rest for recovery and regeneration.
The Sabbath is a defense against ministry burnout.
6 Reasons to Keep the Sabbath
by Stephanie Hertzenberg
Saving Sunday for God can help you more than you know.
The seventh day is supposed to be kept holy. The Bible makes it clear that the Sabbath is meant to be a day of rest and prayer. The only work meant to be done is spiritual work through means such as prayer. Most people are aware of this fact, and many are aware that this is where the tradition of a non-working weekend originates. Few people, however, actually avoid work on the Sabbath. They may not go in to the office, but they still do plenty of work. They go to the grocery store or clean the house or pay the bills. This pseudo-rest, however, is not what the Bible meant by “keep the Sabbath holy.”
The Sabbath is meant to truly be a day of rest. It is meant to be a day without work that is not immediately and overwhelmingly necessary. Few people live their lives with a true Sabbath, however, keeping the Sabbath has multiple benefits even in the modern era. Truly observing the Sabbath will allow you to live a more Biblical life. It also has some surprising benefits in this fast paced modern world. Here are six reasons to keep the Sabbath in today’s world.
1. It lets you focus on God instead of squeezing Him into a busy schedule.
If you are like most people, you have a pretty busy schedule. You likely work long hours during the day and try to fit necessities such as grocery shopping, cleaning the house and doing laundry into a few hours after you get home from your job. In those same hours, you are trying to cook dinner, spend time with friends or family and relax a little. Given how little time you have during the week, your weekends are likely packed as well as you try to take advantage of those two work-free days. As a result, God is often put on the backburner and squeezed into the few free moments that crop up between cooking dinner and driving the kids to soccer practice. Keeping the Sabbath allows you to make God the focus of an entire day rather than trying to fit Him in around endless errands and chores that somehow seem more important in the moment.
2. It is good to let your brain and body rest.
People are talking more and more about the importance of taking a break both physically and emotionally. Staying on the go or in “work mode” all the time is hard on a person. When you keep the Sabbath, however, you get an honest break. There is no work to do and no errands to run. There is nothing that you are supposed to be doing but focusing on God. Your mind and body can truly rest for the day instead of worrying about all the things you feel you “should” be doing instead. When you keep the Sabbath, your spirit is nurtured while your body and mind get a much needed break.
3. It can help you reconnect with friends and family.
For all the time and energy most people spend trying to connect with their friends and family, some people actually get very little return on that investment. They race from meeting with one friend to having dinner with a family member. They spend half the time they are with one person keeping an eye on the clock so that they are not late for a meeting with a different friend. This means that they never really get to connect with their friends and family. Instead, they are always watching the clock.
Keeping the Sabbath means that there is nothing to do but connect with God and those close to you. You have no errands to run or work to do, so you can enjoy the time you spend with your friends and family. There is nothing else to distract you or draw your attention away from those important bonds.
4. You might be more focused during week.
How much time do you think you waste in a week? If you are like most people, your answer will probably be “not much.” If you really think about it though, you actually likely waste a great deal of time each day. You spend 10 minutes after breakfast scrolling through Facebook. You have to stay half an hour extra at work to get your report written because you took an extra-long lunch hour that involved playing several levels of mahjong on your computer. You watched half an episode of a reality TV show even though you had no interest in it. This all adds up to a lot of wasted time, much of which people try to make up on weekends. When you keep the Sabbath, though, you have six days with which to get things done, not seven. This forces you to be more productive during the week and really use your time wisely. It is a tricky adjustment to make, but it will make you more.
5. It forces you to slow down.
If you are like most people, you are always on the go. You are running from work to various errands during the week, and even your “relaxing” weekends are jam packed with things to do. You are running from lunch with a friend to Bible study to dinner with your parents. If you have children, you are likely facilitating them in doing the same thing. You are probably driving them from piano practice to a soccer game and then to a friend’s house for a sleep over that night. From dawn until dusk, you are constantly on the go. As a result of this daily chaos, many people forget the value of stillness. Keeping the Sabbath forces a person to be still and to rest. You have to slow down, stop and take a breath. While many people would see this as wasted time, such moments of stillness are essential to avoiding burnout and mental or spiritual exhaustion.
6. You are reintroduced to the idea of self-imposed limits.
Most of the limits you probably deal with in your daily life are externally imposed. You cannot get anything else done in one day because there are not enough hours. You cannot buy anything else because you cannot spend any more money. Even entertainment has become more or less limitless. Binge watching TV shows, for example, has become popular because no one enforces self-imposed limitations. Instead, you watch the show until you have finished it.
Keeping the Sabbath is not something that is an externally imposed limit. There is no one standing outside your door telling you “no, you cannot go do work today.” You have to decide for yourself that you will keep the Sabbath, and you are responsible for enforcing it in your own life. Regaining this sort of self-control will only aid you in other areas of your life. It will also help you remember that there can be too much of a good thing.
Keeping the Sabbath can do more than keep you living a more purely Biblical life. It can help your emotional and mental health as well as your soul. It can help you reconnect with family and friends as well as with God. It can help you stay calm and even help you be more productive during the week.
The idea of giving up a full day is frightening, but the results are worth it. So go mark off this Sunday on your calendar, and tell those chores and errands that they will have to wait until another day. You have an all-day appointment with God.
Our relationship with God deepens when we risk being open and honest as we talk with Him. When we become convinced that God is really our friend we really know how He feels about us and that we can talk to Him about anything.
Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
One of the things that keeps us from being bold is the misconception that we have to be perfect. We fake it pretending to have our lives in order, smiling and saying all the right things. When we’re born again, God forgives us and sees us as righteous. I’m sure that each of us has been hesitant to say what we really thought, felt, needed, or longed for. It's at those times we need to open up but it’s hard to do unless you are in close a relationship, and in order to become close you have to be vulnerable. So if we want our prayer lives to go beyond where they are now we are going to have to risk opening up to our friend, God.
Be careful not to cover up your emotions in order to look like a “good Christian.” Without becoming open we are unable to rely fully on God. When we realize this we can passionately seek Him, obey in His strength, and confess with repentance, when we miss the mark.
We can look to Jesus as our example of being open. He permitted Himself to express a full range of emotions, positive ones like joy, love, and compassion and some we would consider negative like, anger, indignation, and impatience.
Jesus didn’t ignore His emotions or keep them hidden, He shared Himself openly. I think we should also be open with Him.
That’s not alway easy though. It’s easy to talk about expressing joy, but in real life we struggle with sin, injustice, pain, and temptation. These thing arouse feelings that aren’t comfortable. It seems riskier to be honest to when we feel isolated, guilty, irritated, intimidated, ashamed, angry, inadequate, rejected, or worthless.
Don't worry God can handle it.
Don’t Give Up: Tell God Exactly How You Feel
By Rick Warren
“I can’t be quiet! I am angry and bitter. I have to speak” (Job 7:11 GNT).
God can handle your emotions — he gave them to you, after all! He can handle your anger, doubt, fear, questions, grief, and even your complaints. Be honest; tell it to God. Get it off your shoulders. Spill your guts! Tell God exactly how you feel: “God, I hurt!” This is exactly what Job did.
Job was brutally honest with God: “I can’t be quiet! I am angry and bitter. I have to speak” (Job 7:11 GNT). He continued to unload in the verses that follow: “Why do you keep me under guard? Do you think I am a sea monster? I lie down and try to rest; I look for relief from my pain. But you — you terrify me with dreams; you send me visions and nightmares until I would rather be strangled than live in this miserable body. I give up; I am tired of living. Leave me alone. My life makes no sense. Why are people so important to you? Why pay attention to what they do? You inspect them every morning and test them every minute. Won’t you look away long enough for me to swallow my spit? Are you harmed by my sin, you jailer?” (Job 7:12-20 GNT).
If you were God, how would you react to that? Maybe get angry? Is that what God did? No! Because God understood Job. God understands you, too, and he understands your hurt. God isn’t surprised when you say, “God, I don’t like this. This stinks. It hurts!” Who do you think created those emotions? Who do you think gave you the capacity to get angry and express those feelings? God did. God is not surprised by your emotional state.
God let Job get it off his chest. It was a catharsis, a kind of cleansing so that Job could get clean and be healed.
The right response to unexplained tragedy is not “grin and bear it” or pious platitudes but honestly telling God your struggle. Lamentations 2:19 says, “Cry out in the night . . . Pour out your heart like water in prayer to the Lord” (NCV).
Job questioned God’s actions, but he never stopped trusting God. Did you know that trusting God with your feelings is an act of worship? “Job stood up, tore his robe in grief, and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped” (Job 1:20 GW).
Go ahead. Express all your feelings. Release your frustrations. God can handle it!
10 Real-Life Emotions Jesus Expressed
By Cindi McMenamin
(All Bold Mine)
Several years ago, I heard a wise person pray, “Break my heart, God, with what breaks Yours.” I’ve never forgotten that prayer request. And through the years I’ve often wondered if my emotions line up with God’s.
Do I get upset at the same situations that angered the heart of God or do I spend time and energy protesting what Jesus wouldn’t have bothered with? On the other end of the emotional spectrum, do I turn a blind eye at what moved Jesus to tears or fail to notice the people and situations that stirred His compassionate heart and caused Him to take action?
Jesus, God in the flesh, experienced a wide range of emotions during his 33 years on this earth. Scripture tells us what He felt and experienced, specifically, during his three-year public ministry. And while we might tend to think that being unemotional means being more spiritual or Spirit-controlled, Scripture clearly shows that Jesus exercised a healthy amount of emotion and self-control.
Here are 10 emotions Jesus expressed so you can see if your feelings and responses line up with His:
1. Joy–at pleasing His Father.
While Jesus is often referred to as “A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”
Isaiah 53:3 (NLT2)3 He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
He was also one who knew joy.
John 15:10-11 (NLT2)10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.
Yes, your joy will overflow!Jesus told His followers if they keep His commandments, they will abide in His love just as He has kept His Father’s commandments and abides in His Father’s love. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full,” Jesus said. What joy was Jesus referring to? The joy that came from complete obedience to His Father. The joy that came from fulfilling His mission here on earth. The joy that came from pleasing His Father in Heaven.
Hebrews 12:2 (NLT2)2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
How can the word “joy” exist in the same sentence as the words “enduring the cross” and “scorning its shame”? Because Jesus knew not only the joy of complete obedience to His Father, but the joy of what was to come – the eternal reward, being reunited physically with His Father in Heaven, having secured for eternity the salvation of all who would believe.
Do you find delight in pleasant circumstances or knowing that all is well in your world? Or do you know deep joy by focusing on the eternal rewards of obedience to your Heavenly Father, sensing His smile as you surrender daily, and fixing your minds on what is to come
Colossians 3:2 (NLT2)2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.
2. Exhaustion–from the demands of ministry.
Do you ever start to think I can’t face any more people or pressures right now? Do you find that to cope you need to slip away and have some quiet time to yourself? If you feel that way after trying to be all things to all people, then you need boundaries in your life and work and a reminder that you are not responsible for everything. But if you’re feeling that exhaustion and overwhelm because of a continual pouring out in ministry, Jesus did too. Even the Son of God had to withdraw by Himself from the crowds after an extended time of ministry in order to refuel and re-energize through rest and quiet communion with His Father
Matthew 14:13 (NLT2)13 As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns.
Mark 6:31 (NLT2)31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.
When you need to get away from people, is it because you’re tired of them? Or is it because you long to be with Your Father to refuel, refocus, and reprioritize? You can identify with the heart of Jesus when you pull away now and then to rest in and commune quietly with your Heavenly Father.
3. Anger–at the hypocrisy of the religious.
Instead of being angry with sinners and how they lived, Jesus was indignant toward the so-called “religious” who touted a spotless image on the outside, but cultivated critical, hardened hearts on the inside. Jesus used harsh words toward the religious elite of his day saying things like,
Matthew 23:31-33 (NLT2)31 “But in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.32 Go ahead and finish what your ancestors started.33 Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?
I’m thinking that might have been the equivalent of cussing today.
Jesus’ anger with how the religious leaders of his day spiritually oppressed others echoes God’s disdain for Israel’s “shepherds” in Ezekiel 34. Jesus even described false prophets as those who come in sheep’s clothing “but inwardly they are ferocious wolves”
Matthew 7:15 (NLT2)15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.
Do you feel anger toward leaders in the church and religious community who abuse their power, care more about their own comfort and image than that of other believers, and “fleece the flock” in the name of service to God? Are you enraged by anyone who would, in the name of Christ or spirituality, lead other believers astray or interfere with the discipleship and growth of a new believer? Do you loathe legalism to the point of calling it what it is? Jesus did. And He made no apologies for such.
4. Disgust–at greed, racism, and oppression of the poor.
Jesus was absolutely indignant toward the money changers in the temple. Not because “you shouldn’t sell stuff in church.” Not because “the church had become a marketplace” (as you may have heard while growing up in Sunday School). But because the religious leaders were financially oppressing and even cheating those who wished to honor God through a sacrifice in the temple. Their unlawful money-changing and price-fixing tactics in the Court of the Gentiles prevented non-Jews from honoring God with sacrifices. Their actions were downright racist and Jesus was disgusted with it. (See upcoming post “God Is Definitely Not A Racist)
John 2:13-17 (NLT2)13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables.16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”
This exclusion, racism, and profiteering from the good intentions of others enraged Jesus into pulling an Indiana Jones-style cleanup act in the temple, complete with a handmade whip. Sharp words weren’t cutting it anymore. This time He overturned tables, threw chairs across the room, and left the place a decimated mess! Emotional? You bet. Out of control? No. More like unbridled righteous anger and zeal for the house of God that consumed Him.
Psalm 69:9 (NLT2)9 Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.
Does oppression of the poor, exclusivity in worship, unethical handling of the church finances, or an attitude of racism in the church provoke that kind of disgust in you? Perhaps it should.
5. Sorrow–at the ravages of sin and death.
When Jesus’ close friend Lazarus died and his sister Mary said those words wrought with disappointment, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32), Jesus evidently felt sorrow. Certainly, Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead and that is why He let him die and remain in a tomb for four days (John 11:4-7, 14). Yet we read that, “When Jesus saw [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” and “Jesus wept.” (verses 33-35). For Mary? At the thought that He disappointed her? For the loss of Lazarus?
Jesus saw the ravaging result of sin and He knew better than anyone that death was not a natural part of life, but the most unnatural thing anyone created in the image of God has to experience. It wasn’t God’s perfect plan. And coming face to face with the agony that humans experience from the sting of death moved Him to weep. Shortly thereafter, Jesus fulfilled His purpose for coming to this earth by dying on a cross to eradicate the sting of death and rising from the dead to conquer the grave.
1 Corinthians 15:54-55 (NLT2)54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Does the loss of a loved one, believer or not, move you to tears? Do you hold within you an ache for someone who has been ripped from your life? While we have the hope and assurance that those who are trusting Jesus alone for their salvation will live eternally, the temporary separation caused by death still grieves the heart of God.
Psalm 116:15 (NLT2)15 The LORD cares deeply when his loved ones die.
If losing someone through death moves you to tears, it moved the Son of God to tears, too.
6. Compassion–for the lost and downtrodden.
I used to be critical of unbelievers who lived an ungodly lifestyle. Those who found themselves living on the streets were there because they had rejected Christ and made a series of bad choices, resulting in burned bridges and a lack of relationships, I concluded. Yet, Jesus had compassion on those who were suffering, whether it was from physical ailments;
Matthew 9:20-21 (NLT2)20 Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe,21 for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”
or the direct result of sin
John 9:1-3 (NLT2)1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.
Regardless of how they got where they did, Jesus saw people as created in the image of God and showed compassion on them–even the dirty, disfigured, leprous, rebellious, contagious, and forgotten.
When you see someone who is living with the consequences of their sin does it make you cringe or cry? Is your heart moved to pray for that person’s relief, healing, comfort, and salvation? Is your compassion strong enough to cause your hand to extend in action, help, or hope for another? That’s what Jesus would do.
7. Frustration–at slow learners and their lack of faith.
In Matthew 17, when a man brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus, claiming Jesus’ disciples couldn’t cast out the demon, Jesus’ harsh words were evidence of his growing frustration with people who had seen all the signs and should’ve known better than to doubt who He was: “‘You unbelieving and perverse generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.’ Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment” (verses 14-20).
Jesus also expressed frustration at His own disciples who just didn’t get it. After teaching earlier in the day about the Kingdom of God and growing in faith, Jesus was awoken from a sound sleep by his disciples who were accusing Him of not caring if they drowned in a storm that was threatening to overturn their boat. Jesus responded by commanding the wind and waves to “Be still.” He then turned to His followers, in apparent frustration, and asked, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:35-41).
While you are following God’s command to disciple young believers, you can rest assured that Jesus understands your frustration when someone has been taught in the Word of God and given the best instruction available and still can’t apply their faith in a stressful situation.
8. Agony–at impending suffering.
When Jesus sweat blood and tears in the Garden of Gethsemane just before being arrested, it wasn’t out of fear of what was to come. It was more like agony, knowing He would bear the sins of the world on His shoulders, knowing He would endure the temporary separation from His Father’s enabling. And that caused Jesus to pray so intently, and in such agony, that He sweat blood and tears as He prayed: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…” In His humanity, He dreaded what was to come. But in His faith and pure obedience to His Father, His agony made for surrender: “Yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Do you dread an upcoming surgery? A chemotherapy session? A trial or interview in which you must revisit something painful or distressing? Jesus understands. Hebrews 4:15 assures us we have a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses, and has not only “been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” but has also endured more suffering than we will ever have to experience ourselves.
9. Empathy–for the pain of others.
We have no record of Jesus feeling sorry for Himself or dwelling on any of His personal suffering. For instance, He didn’t talk for months about that trying time with the devil in the desert (John 4:1-11) or constantly put down the people whom He served who left Him once the handouts stopped. He didn’t rouse up personal support from His disciples after Judas betrayed Him. Instead, Jesus was empathetic toward others and the physical and emotional pain they were experiencing.
As much as Jesus suffered physically through His arrest, torture, and crucifixion, His heart and mind was on the emotional pain His mother was experiencing as she witnessed the torture and death of her firstborn son. Her care and provision, after His death, was paramount on His mind.
John 19:25-27 (NLT2)25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene.26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.”27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.
Do you hurt along with others when they hurt physically, emotionally, and spiritually? Jesus never minimized anyone’s pain, compared it to someone else’s, or told someone “don’t cry.” He hurt along with them.
10. Forgiveness–in the face of betrayal.
Prior to being arrested, Jesus told His disciples that all of them would fall away that night because of Him.
Matthew 26:31 (NLT2)31 On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
They essentially deserted Him during His darkest hour even though just hours earlier at dinner they had each claimed they would never leave His side. Yet, Jesus extended grace toward all of them after rising from the dead. He even made sure that he reiterated His love for Peter three times – the same number of times Peter denied His love and even knowledge of Jesus!
Jesus commanded us to be different from the world by loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us.
Matthew 5:43-44 (NLT2)43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
How much more difficult it is to love and forgive someone who at one time confessed their love for us and then betrayed us? Can you extend grace, love, and forgiveness even to those who have wronged you in a very personal way? When you do, you are expressing the same love, grace, and forgiveness that Jesus showed.
Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their walk with God and their relationships.
I have a friend that has been searching to find God’s will and his own purpose for many years. More than five years ago he suggested that I lead a Bible Study, which I did, on how find God’s will. I’ve written blog posts, and even have an entire category on God’s. I’ve said that God isn’t hiding His will from us, and listed a number of things we can do to find it. I’ve written about praying and asking God to confirm or not that things you want to do are His will for you. I’ve written being specific and persistent in prayer and then patiently waiting for answers.
My friend say he has done all those things, and I believe him. Just yesterday he asked me what do you do when you have been seeking an answer and guidance for something you have been praying specifically and persistently for many years even to point of saying to God, if this isn't your will please take the dream away. I said you may have already gotten your answer and refused to accept it. You may still have to wait. God may be trying to redirect you. None of the answers yesterday or anyone the past seemed to help my friend. I didn't have any more answers.
But I read something today, and I want to share it with my friend. In a section of his book, It's Not What You Think: Why Christianity Is About So Much More Than Going to Heaven When You Die , Jefferson Bethke, writes in the search for answers from God we need more than just the facts we need facts plus intimacy for the full picture.
The Table Isn’t What You Think
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Growing up I always thought, if only Jesus would just show up in my room and take away all my doubts, fears, and questions, then everything would be ok. In fact there were years I’d cry out to Him to do that very thing. If only He could give me all the facts, then I wouldn’t doubt anymore, I wouldn’t hurt anymore, and I wouldn’t feel alone.
But what’s crazy is that exact thing happened to two disciples, right after Jesus died, and surprisingly nothing happened. They were bummed because to them they just wasted the last three years of their life after they saw Jesus die on the cross. But Jesus shows up to them and actually shows them how it was supposed to happen the whole time. He basically becomes their Bible study partner, going page by page through the Bible, and yet nothing happens. You think they would faint, have the heavens open up or something, because God Himself is opening the Bible and teaching them. But nothing happens.
But later that day, they ask Jesus to stay for a meal, and He sits down breaks the bread and it says in an instant, “their eyes were opened.” It didn’t happen when they got all the facts, it happened when they sat with Jesus. The first has to do with the answers, the second has to do with intimacy. With relationship. With love.
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32 NIV
Do you just want the right answers from Jesus or do you want to sit at the table with Jesus?
Possible Reasons That Our Prayers Aren’t Answered
Excerpts from “6 Reasons Our Prayers Go Unanswered” by Lesli White
All of us have had experiences when our prayers seemed to go unanswered. Sometimes days, weeks, or even years will go by at a time and we still find ourselves wondering, when is God going to answer this prayer? The important thing to remember is that God hasn’t forgotten about you or abandoned you. The Bible tells us “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8). God has also promised to answer every prayer according to His marvelous grace, His infinite powerful, and in keeping with His infinite love and faithfulness. Our attitude should be one of implicit confidence that He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.
God Might be Answering a Bigger Prayer
Our God is a merciful God. Sometimes we forget this when we get so caught up in the pain we’re experiencing, the people we’ve lost and the things we don’t have. We start focusing on all the ways that God hasn’t measured up to our standards and find ourselves disappointed time and time again. Instead of focusing on the blessings we’ve been given, we focus on what God hasn’t done for us. This is human, but it doesn’t mean it’s right. It also doesn’t mean that God has abandoned us. It means that what He wants for us is in His time. Not ours. And sometimes God’s plans are bigger than our own. You might pray for love to come into your life at a certain time, but if it had, God wouldn’t have been able to make you more strong and independent. If things had fallen into place at the college you prayed for, you may not have attended the school that shaped so many of your future friendships and dreams. Just because God isn’t granting the prayers in the way we want Him to doesn’t
You’re Dwelling on Worry
One reason your prayer may not be answered is because you’re dwelling on worry. Worry, feeling uneasy or troubled seems to plague multitudes of people in our world today. It’s human nature to be concerned about the bad situations in our world and in our personal lives, but if we’re not careful, the devil will cause us to worry beyond what’s reasonable. While it’s human nature to worry about the things that are going on in our personal lives and in the world around us, it’s important that you don’t dwell in worry. John 15:7 says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
It isn’t God’s Will
John 15:7 says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” So that means if we tell God what we want, He will give it to us, right? Well, not exactly. If you’re wondering why things aren’t going according to your plans, here’s the short of it. We aren’t aware of God’s Will. It’s important that we pay attention to the word “abiding” in this verse which means “to live in, dwell in and remain in.” When you have an intimate relationship with God, you begin to know His heart and have a clearer sense of the things you should pray for and what His will truly is for you.
Your Prayer isn’t to the Glory of God
Is your prayer to the glory of God? One of the most important questions we face in prayer is whether our petition is for our own selfish interest, pride or attainment, or whether it is really to the glory of God? Answers to prayer are supposed to honor God and bring glory to Him. This is one of the main reasons we offer prayer in the name of Christ. Jesus assured His disciples that if they remained in Him and His words remained in them, whatever they wished would be given to them. Prayer that is offered in the name of Christ and to the glory of Christ is prayer that God can answer.
To worship God in spirit and in truth is to declare that God is worthy of our reverence. We do this in spirit through our heart, the seat of our emotions, based on the truth of who He is, the truth of who we are, the truth of what God does and has done for us, and the truth of what is going on in our lives.
We all remember the story of the conversation that Jesus had with the woman at a well in Samaria. If you don’t know the whole story you can read it in John chapter 4. In the conversation, Jesus revealed that He knew all about this woman. She had been married 5 times, and the guy she was living with now with was not her husband. This made her uncomfortable, so she changed the subject from her personal life to religion, asking why the Samaritans worshiped at Mount Gerizim and the Jews at Jerusalem. Jesus’ response was that a day was coming when that it didn’t matter WHERE a person worshiped God. What mattered was HOW they worshiped Him. He said they must worship Him in spirit and in truth.
But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:23-24 NLT
So the question is just how do we worship God in spirit and in truth?
Let’s first look at a definition of worship; it’s “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity”. To Worship then, is to show reverence and adoration for (a deity); to honor them with religious rites. The deity I’m talking about, of course, is Jehovah, God Almighty.
Eugene Patterson the creator of “The Message” Bible translation says that worship is “A tribute to God when He comes.”
We worship when we come into God’s presence. God’s presence makes us who we are. His presence sets us apart from others. And every time we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.
We don’t have to be in a church or any specific place to feel God’s presence and worship Him. Psalm 139 says that God's presence can be wherever are.
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord , You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. Psalms 139:1-10 NKJV
We know that God isn’t confined to a church building or only available at certain times of day. So we don’t have to wait until we come to church or a certain time of day to worship Him. We don’t even have to wait until we feel spiritual.
Worship is all about responding to who God is and what He’s done for us. It’s about being so into God that we can’t help responding out loud or with our actions. Worshiping God is just about focusing on Him.
God doesn’t require some kind of perfect, complicated worship act. He just wants it to be authentic and genuine.
Here’s what He wants in worship.
Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord . “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.Isaiah 1:16-20 NIV
We should be so tuned in to God that we’re feeling His presence in our lives in big and small ways all the time. It’s about who He is, what He does, and our response to those things. Worship isn’t about us. It’s about Him.
Worshiping God isn’t just something you do, it’s the way you live. Worship can be as intense as spending an hour every day in quiet time listening and talking to God. It can be something as simple as when you go to work, or to volunteer, or to talking just talking to someone on the street and thanking God for the opportunity that He has given you. You realize that it’s because of Him that you get to do any of these things.
To worship God in spirit and in truth is to declare that God is worthy of our reverence. We do this in spirit through our heart, the seat of our emotions, based on the truth of who He is, the truth of who we are, the truth of what God does and has done for us, and the truth of what is going on in our lives. We do it with a heart inclined toward God and in submission to Him. We worship God when our attitudes, actions, and words declare that He is worthy of our praise.
Worship Is Not What You Think
From the "What If Christianity Isn't What You Think?" Reading Plan by Jefferson Bethke from his book It's Not What You Think: Why Christianity Is About So Much More Than Going to Heaven When You Die (Italics mine)
When I was growing up and I heard the word “worship” I always thought it meant Hillsong United, Chris Tomlin, and Michael W. Smith. But the more I dug into the scripture the more I realized the word “worship” is more about the affection of our heart. It’s not music, it’s the very air we breathe. It’s whatever we give our time, energy, money, and attention to. It’s whatever is on the throne of our heart. That’s what we worship.
The Psalmist though makes the bold statement to say that whatever that thing is—i.e. money, sex, power, our boyfriend, our reputation, etc—when you worship it, you actually become like it. It’s as if we have a metaphorical mirror in our hearts and whatever we center or orbit around, we start to reflect and become like. When we worship sex, we too become an object. When we worship money, we too become a transaction. When we worship power, we become a pawn.
Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them. Psalms 135:18 NKJV
It’s because we were created with an image on us, namely the image of God. We were created to reflect Him. His goodness. His beauty. His love. And that’s what makes us human. But because of sin that image has been fractured and we can now choose to reflect other things. But the beauty of Jesus is He fully imaged God so that through Him we can begin to too. He put the true mirror back together, and calls us back to Himself to say no to false idols and things and put Him back in His proper place.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.