In my sermon and Bible Studies on depression I say one of the signs that you may be heading toward depression is having unrealistic expectations or others. It’s easier to blame somebody else than ourselves. They are the ones with the problem not us. That’s the way depressed people act sometimes and I can tell you that it’s true I have firsthand experience. We should stop asking God to change the other person, because He won’t in most cases, but ask Him to change us and our attitude. If we always maintain a victim mentality always blaming others we will never walk in the victory that Jesus promises.
We also have an unrealistic desire to be liked by everyone. Well everybody is not going to like you so don’t sweat it. Everybody didn’t like Jesus and we can’t let what others think about us dominate our lives we should be seeking the approval of God and not man.
Psalm 118:6-7 NIV The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.
If we are always concerned about the way others interact with us, always maintaining a victim mentality, and always blaming others we will never walk in the victory that Jesus promises (read my post “Do You Have A Victim Mentality”).
Establish some healthy boundaries, with Jesus within them.
This is for a very dear friend of mine.
A Prayer For Healthy Boundaries
By Debbie McDaniel
Life is precious. Yet all too often, we may find that much of our time is spent around negative, toxic people, draining the life right out of us. Sometimes they’re co-workers, friends, or sadly, even family members.
God never intends for us to spin our wheels, waste our days, trying to make others happy who can never be happy. Because in reality, it doesn’t depend on us. It’s not up to you. They may want you to think it does, as if you possess the power to improve the value of their existence, but that’s not a burden meant for you to carry.
God’s greatest desire is to set us free. And sometimes what propels that change is for some brave soul to be willing to say, “Stop, no more.” One who will choose what is better, and learn to set boundaries that will protect and limit the control an unhealthy person might be placing on another’s life.
Sadly, when we look deep into the mirror of our souls, we may realize that we are the ones who have some unhealthy tendencies that God wants to change. Today’s a good day to stop wasting time in toxic patterns of living. For he has better in store for us.
He can accomplish great things through your prayers. He can move mountains. He can change hearts. Anything is possible through his great power. Understand that though it is never up to you to make someone different, he’s set you in their lives for a purpose, for a reason.
He loves you, he cares for you, and he has good in store for your future.
“So If The Son Sets You Free, You Will Be Free Indeed” (John 8:36).
Lord, Protect Me From The Abuse And Harm Of Toxic People. I Know You Desire To Set Me Free—Free From The Hurt Of Others, But Also Free From My Own Sin And Bondage In That Sin. Help Me Have Eyes To See Toxic Behavior Around Me And In Me… And Give Me The Strength, Courage And Resilience To Break Free From That Toxicity And Choose The Path Of Life. Thank You For Always Protecting And Guiding Me Lord. Thank You For Always Being Good, Gracious, Kind And Loving. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Editor’s Note: Much of the following content is from the post “The Fruit Of The Spirit Inside Will Produce The Outer Fruit Of God’s Presence” published on this blog June 1, 2018.
Galatians 5:22-23 NLT But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Start your day by choosing to show the fruit of the Spirit in everything you do.
What is the fruit of the Spirit you ask?
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is the result of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of a Christian.
Romans 8:9 (NKJV)9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
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.
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.
It is the Holy Spirit's job to conform us to the image of Christ, making us more like Him.
Romans 8:29 (NKJV) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
The “fruit” of the Spirit is the expression of our renewed nature as it is seen by others.
Matthew 7:15-23 (NKJV)15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is in direct contrast with the acts of the sinful nature.
Galatians 5:19-21 (NKJV)19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
This passage describes all people, to varying degrees, when they do not know Christ and therefore are not under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Our sinful flesh produces certain types of fruit that reflect our nature, and the Holy Spirit produces types of fruit that reflect His nature.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
An important point is that the word fruit is singular, and emphasizes the unity of the life in the Spirit as opposed to the instability of life in the flesh. The singular Fruit of the Spirit flows from love of God which produces the character of Christ in the believer..
1 John 4:8 (NKJV) He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV) And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Galatians 5:6 (NKJV) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
John 15:11 (NKJV)1 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
1 Thessalonians 1:6 (NKJV) And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,
Romans 14:17 (NKJV) for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
John 14:27 (NKJV) Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 4:1-3 (NKJV)1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Colossians 3:12-13 (NKJV)12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
Matthew 12:35 (NKJV)35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
Galatians 6:10 (NKJV) Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Luke 12:42-44 (NKJV)42 And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.44 Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.
Titus 2:9-10 (NKJV)9 Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back,10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.
1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV) Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
Matthew 5:5 (NKJV) Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Titus 3:1-2 (NKJV)1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work,2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.
Galatians 6:1 (NKJV) Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
1 Thessalonians 5:6 (NKJV)6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.
It’s a New Day: The Choice Is Yours
by Max Lucado, from Let the Journey Begin
It’s quiet. It's early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.
In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met. For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice.
Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose.
I choose love. No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
I choose joy. I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical… the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
I choose peace. I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.
I choose patience. I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite Him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clenching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I choose kindness. I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
I choose goodness. I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.
I choose faithfulness. Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.
I choose gentleness. Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.
I choose self-control. I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.
Powerful, life-changing messages for a vital time in life. Graduation is a time of excitement and uncertainty. For graduates the question is, will they face the future with or without God? Let the Journey Beginrepack is filled with godly wisdom, encouragement, and guidance from bestselling and trusted author Max Lucado for students about to embark on new steps in their life journey. Graduates will be reassured that they are not alone—God is with them every step of their way. This bestselling book will include thirty-two additional pages of new content, all consisting of excerpts, quotes, and scripture as well as an updated interior design to appeal to a new generation of graduates. Included are pages for personal goals, favorite verses of scripture, and prayers. $14.99
Editor’s Note: Some of the content of this post was taken from the YouVerson Reading Plan, Go Do Say Give :The Freedom Of Surrender To Jesus by Keith Bubalo from his book “Go, Do, Say, Give”:The Freedom and Fruitfulness of Surrender to Jesus”
Mark 8:34-35 NIV Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Surrendering our lives to Jesus is not an oath of perfection; it’s a statement of allegiance. It’s not just one moment in our lives. It’s a reorientation and alignment of our hearts to bring our minds, emotions, and wills into daily submission to his plan and purpose for us. Life is a journey in relationship with Jesus, following him each step of the way. We experience a life of freedom and fruitfulness through a succession of individual days of following him.
Learning to follow Jesus takes effort and practice, just like learning anything new. Starting each day with a prayer of surrender is a great way to keep the heart attuned to what God wants. It can be easy to get lost in our spiritual journey—disoriented about where we are or how to get back on track. We can get lost or stuck for various reasons, and we need a simple way to get back on the path. Some people wait for that to happen at the next church service or Bible study. Sometimes it takes a crisis. But we don’t to have to wait to re-calibrate in our journey.
Here is a daily and simple way to realign our hearts. If you’ve ever played any kind of sport, you know each one has its own “ready” or beginning position. It’s the prime starting position to do what comes next. For example, in basketball the ready position is called the triple threat position. From that stance, you are able to pass, shoot, or dribble when you have the ball. In short, you are ready for whatever next action is best.
Think of this prayer as the ready position for your daily journey. It’s a spiritual position of surrender to whatever action—go, do, say, or give—that Jesus asks of you that day, depending on the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you rather than just trying harder in your own strength.
The prayer is a simple way to align your heart with his, with your eyes focused on him, your feet set to follow him, and your hands ready to serve him in whatever way he leads you today.
If you haven’t already, will you bow before Jesus, and say that you’ll surrender to him, and in the power of the Holy Spirit you will go, do, say, and give for his honor and glory?
And now, make this a daily exercise of surrender to him. And why not share your decision with a friend and encourage them to do the same.
To Live Free of Fear, Surrender to God
By Rick Warren
“Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and give up your sins—even those you do in secret. Then you won’t be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless. Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge, and your darkest night will be brighter than noon. You will rest safe and secure, filled with hope and emptied of worry” (Job 11:13-18 CEV).
The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear” (NCV).
How do you learn to live in God’s love so that you can live free of fear?
Every day, you have to surrender your heart to God.
When you wake up each morning, before your feet hit the floor, you have to say, “God, before I even start this day, I surrender my emotions to you. I want you to be Lord of my feelings. I want you to control my mind and my emotions. I surrender my heart to you. I want you to fill me with your love.”
Job 11:13-18 says, “Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and give up your sins—even those you do in secret. Then you won’t be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless. Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge, and your darkest night will be brighter than noon. You will rest safe and secure, filled with hope and emptied of worry” (CEV).
We find three commands and eight promises in that verse. God says if you do this, then he’ll do that. Every promise has a premise.
First, he gives you the commands: Surrender your heart to God every day. Turn to him in prayer. And give up your sins, or confess your sins to God.
Then notice the eight benefits: You won’t be ashamed, you’ll be confident, you’ll be fearless, your troubles will be like water under the bridge, the dark night you’re going through is going to be brighter than noon, you’ll be able to sleep well because you are safe and secure, you will be filled with hope, and you’ll be emptied of worry.
Wow! Who wouldn’t want to experience those benefits? You ought to write that Scripture on an index card and put it somewhere you’ll see it throughout the week. Let it remind you to do those three things—surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and confess your sins—so that God’s love will fill your life and cast out all your anxiety and fear.
Enthusiasm - strong excitement about something : a strong feeling of active interest in something that you like or enjoy. : something causing a feeling of excitement and active interest
Enthusiasm is it’s one of the greatest words in the English language. It is a word that is built deeply into the spirit of man. The word enthusiasm is derived from two little Greek words, en and theos, with theos being the Greek word for God. So "enthusiasm" literally means, in its root concept, "full of God." Maybe that’s why enthusiastic people are so often creative and joyful!
The Bible uses several different words for this idea of being filled with enthusiasm: ardor, zeal, wholeheartedness, or my favorite eager. When you’re eager, you’re enthusiastic. In the New Testament. We are told
1 Peter 5:2 NIV Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; (emphasis mine)
1 Corinthians 14:12 NIV So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church. (emphasis mine)
2 Corinthians 8:11 NIV Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. (emphasis mine)
Romans 8:19 NIV For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. (emphasis mine)
Titus 2:11-14 NIV For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (emphasis mine)
God will help you maintain enthusiasm. He will help you overcome all difficulties, all tragedies, all sorrows, all heartaches; He will give you victory. The word itself tells us that people with enthusiasm will be full of God and will, consequently, create a better world and have a better life individually. Enthusiasm makes life exciting and creative; enthusiasm helps a person accomplish things.
Enthusiastic people are Triumphant people.
2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.
A Prayer For Enthusiasm
By Rick Warren
In order to reach your goals, you have to figure out how to maintain your enthusiasm over the long haul.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great is ever accomplished without enthusiasm.” I believe that with all of my heart. I have found it to be true in my life. You’ve got to have passion, you’ve got to have enthusiasm, or you’re never going to make it to the finish line.
Most people would consider me an enthusiastic person, and I am. But I haven’t been an enthusiastic person for a week or a month. My enthusiasm has not waned over a year or five or 10 years. I have been consistently enthusiastic about the goals that I’ve set for more than 30 years.
How do you do that? How do you stay enthusiastic day after day in spite of delays and difficulties and dead ends and problems and pressures and criticisms? How do you stay enthusiastic for more than 30 years?
Positive thinking is not enough. Pulling yourself up by your psychological bootstraps is not enough. Talking yourself into optimism is not enough.
The way you stay enthusiastic for a lifetime is found in the word “enthusiasm.” The word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek word en theos. En is the Greek word for the English word “in.” Theos is the Greek word for “God.” So en theos means to be “in God.”
When you get in God, you will be enthusiastic. It’s the kind of enthusiasm that isn’t affected by the economy or the weather or your circumstances. It’s eternal because you are tied to the eternal God. You are in Christ.
Paul tells us how to do this in Romans 12:11-12. He says, “Never be lacking in zeal,but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (NIV).
If you want to reach your goals this year, you need to get God’s power by being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
Pray this prayer today:
“Dear God, I don’t want to go another day without you in my life, controlling every part of my heart. I offer you my body. I dedicate myself to you. In light of all you’ve done for me, I give myself as a living sacrifice to you as a spiritual act of worship.
“I humbly admit that I need help. I want you to help renew my mind. Help me to think the way you want me to think. Please forgive me for my pride. I don’t want to think more highly of myself than I should. My faith needs to grow, and I need your help to set goals that can be measured so I can manage them. Forgive me for trying to change on my own. “I want to fill my life with love. I want to fill my life with you. Help me to get group support. Help me to take delight in honoring other people, to focus on giving my life away so that you can take care of my needs. I want to nurture my enthusiasm by being in you. Help me to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. I give myself to you. In your name I pray. Amen.”
Editor’s Note: A Prayer For taken from the Daily Hope devotional, How to Stay Enthusiastic for a Lifetime written by Rick Warren.
Editor's Note: Last year the small church that I attend lost several of its members. Three of them were sudden and two of those were totally unexpected with one being a suicide. This is the second week of January and I officiated two funerals on the same day this week. I started this post three months ago but I didn't publish it. After spending yesterday with two grieving families In felt that now's the time.
In life, we all certainly like mountaintop experiences better than valleys — the air is clean, the sun is shining, and the view is amazing. But the truth is, we’re going to go through valleys. It’s inevitable. There is a familiar feeling that many who are going through grief (or loss) may feel...yet many do not have the ability to label it.It is a feeling that envelops a grieving heart, but is so subtle that many do not even realize how it is planting itself deeply down into the roots of their soul.
I don’t know what your loss looks like today and I wouldn’t dare minimize it. Take your time to grieve the loss. Take your time; let time heal the wounds of the loss. But please know: you haven’t lost everything. God is with you. As a born again child of the King, your salvation isn’t lost. Your future beyond this earth is secure.
It doesn’t matter how you feel today. It doesn’t matter if you can’t feel God’s presence. Feelings are temporary and fleeting. What is true is that He is with you. Satan would like nothing more than to convince you otherwise. There are thousands of lies that Satan will whisper in your ear. But that’s just it. They are lies - lies from the pit of Hell, designed strategically to hold you down, destroy you, steal you your hope, and kill the joy of your future. Do not stand for it. (From When You’ve Lost Everything)
The fact is, God does not expect us to have it all together, so it is a real disservice when our Churches create this expectation. We will be unsuccessful at helping hurting people if we have not allowed ourselves to grieve and wail and mourn and go through the lament process ourselves. God understands that life is full of pressures, hurts, stings. He took on flesh so He could relate to us in both our joy and pain.
Philippians 2:7-8 NLT Instead, he gave up his divine privileges ; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.
He wants us to feel and express every emotion before Him and not minimize a thing. There is no “fake it till you make it” in Scripture. When we fake fine, we fake our way out of authentic relationship with God, others, and ourselves.
According to Scripture, pretending we’re fine and suppressing our raw emotions is not wisdom or maturity. Rather, God lovingly says to us that His grace is sufficient.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NLT Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (From Giving Thanks When It’s Tough Doesn’t Mean To Fake It).
Season of Grief, Journey of Faith
Excerpted from Through a Season of Grief by Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard
Understanding Your Grief
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. — Isaiah 40:31
Grief is not an enemy or a sign of weakness. It is a sign of being human.
Grief is the cost of loving someone.
Since grief comes to everyone, why do some people seem to work through it better than others?
“Some people think that going through the losses or crises of life are the exceptional times,” says Dr. H. Norman Wright.
“I see it differently. I see the times of calm as the exceptions. Life really is going through one loss after another, one crisis after another. Instead of avoiding talking about these times, let’s do our homework. When you know what to expect, you’re not thrown by them as much, and you’re going to be better able to recover.”
Lord God, teach me to embrace my grief and not fight it, so that I may experience the true healing that comes from You.
Grief Is a Unique Experience
O LORD, You have examined my heart and know everything about me… Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex… You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. — Psalm 139:1,14,16 (NLT)
You may feel it is useless to talk about your grief because no one truly understands what you are going through.
“You sometimes feel after an experience like this that you’re talking a foreign language,” says Dora, whose daughter died. “You feel like there’s no way anybody can know what you’re feeling. There is absolutely no way anyone can know the depth of your pain. So you feel like it’s futile to talk about it because words can’t express the pain.”
Although countless people have experienced grief before you, each person’s response to grief is different. Your path of grief will be uniquely your own.
Be encouraged that regardless of how your grief appears to you or others, it has a precious uniqueness to the One who created you.
God, who knows intimately your personality, your relationships, and the experiences of your life, knows your grief and isn’t shocked or surprised by your responses.
Father, thank You that my way of grieving is distinctly my own, reflective of all You have sovereignly created me to be and experience.
Grief Runs Deep: Where Is the Hope?
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD. — Psalm 31:24
Dr. Joseph Stowell says, “Even though your heart is breaking and tears are clouding your eyes and staining your cheeks, God does give us something worth trusting in tough times. And that’s Him, and Him alone.”
When your heart is breaking, you can place your hope and trust in the Lord.
Anne Graham Lotz defines hope: “Biblical hope is absolute confidence in something you haven’t seen or received yet, but you’re absolutely confident that whatever God has said is going to come to pass.”
She also declares that “Jesus is your hope for the future. One day Jesus Christ will come back, and He will set all of the wrong right. Good will triumph over the bad. Love will triumph over hate. Righteousness will triumph over evil. He’s going to make it all right, and you can have absolute confidence that that’s going to take place. That’s your hope.”
Sovereign God, I choose hope. I choose faith. I choose life. Give me an unshakable faith in You.
Grief Lasts Longer Than Expected
Grief ’s unexpected turns will throw you again and again. You may feel that for every step forward, you take at least one step back.
The grieving process generally takes longer than you ever imagined. Please don’t rush this process. Remember, what you are feeling is not only normal, it is necessary.
“It’s been seven years, and I’m still going through it,” says Dr. Larry Crabb, whose brother died in a plane crash. “I don’t know if it’s a very holy thing to admit, but when someone says, ‘Well, it’s been a week, a month, a year — Larry, for you it’s been seven years. Get a grip. Where’s your faith in Christ, for goodness’ sake?’ I get really angry.
“Knowing the Lord and His comfort does not take away the ache; instead, it supports you in the middle of the ache. Until I get home to heaven, there’s going to be an ache that won’t quit. The grieving process for me is not so much a matter of getting rid of the pain, but not being controlled by the pain.”
We read in the Psalms that David grew weary with the process of grief and cried out to the Lord. Then he left the timing in God’s hands.
Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of Your unfailing love. -- Psalm 6:2-4
I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief. -- Psalm 6:6-7
Heavenly God, I cannot even begin to put my grief in a time frame. Thank You that I don’t have to. Comfort me and support me as I lean on You.
He Will Carry You
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to You, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. — Psalm 61:1-3
The Lord will carry you if you ask Him. When you are feeling so weak you cannot take another step, ask Him to lift you high into His loving arms. Then rest in Him with an open and listening heart. This does not mean your problems will disappear, but it does mean you will have Someone to share them with.
“If you are someone who does not know Jesus Christ as your Savior and you have just been widowed or bereaved, you have a tremendous burden,” says Elisabeth Elliot. “You are tired, and it is too big a burden to carry. The Lord says, ‘Come to Me, you who are tired and over-burdened, and I will give you rest.’”
To receive peace and rest in Christ, the instructions are clear. Jesus says, “Come to Me.” You must first approach Him and then talk to Him and quietly listen.
Lord, I come to You. My heart is worn out, and I need You. Take my heavy burden today. Amen.
Editor’s Note: This post was written in January 2018 and titled “Stop, Take A Breath, Then Exhale - Less Stress In 2018”. It has been modified and updated for 2019.
If you are like me everything after the middle of November is a blur with all the activity of getting ready for Thanksgiving. It didn’t matter if we were having friends and family over or if we were going to visit, it was still busy. Then there was all the activity of December. Projects for those less fortunate, shopping for gifts, all the Christmas parties, the church activities, the shopping for Christmas dinner, cooking dinner, going out for dinner, WHEW! Then comes New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with all the football games, the cooking, the New Year’s Eve services, the “Watch Night” Services, WHEW again!!.
On January 2nd we needed to take a breath. Those of us who are retired or able to take off some time from work did just that. We were able to take some time to relax and breathe.
As we start a new year we set our New Year’s resolutions and think about our goals, hopes, and wishes for the year ahead. The hectic pace of the last two months caused me to take a hard look at the toll the breakneck pace affects the intimacy of our relationship with God. I know that I’m not alone when I say that when we are constantly on the move we don’t take stop and spend time with God so that we can experience the beauty of His love.
In a book study of Overwhelmed: Winning The War Against Worry, that I led a couple of years ago, the author, Perry Noble, said that he heard someone say once “If I were the devil, I would invent a device you could hold in your hands that would ensure you’d always have your schedule in front of you and give people access to you anytime they wanted”. “The devil doesn’t want to make you bad; he wants to make you busy. Because if he can make you busy, then eventually he can make you bad.”
It doesn’t matter if all those things that you are doing non-stop is ministry, and you are “Working for the Lord”. It’s amazing how many God loving pastors, preachers, apostles, evangelists, and teachers, who have lost their families because they thought they were doing “the Lord’s work”. Here’s the typical excuse; “The devil never takes a day off so I can’t”. Well, I don’t think that the devil should be your example.
When we are always running from one appointment to the next, one project to the next, one deadline after another, never taking the time to stop, rest and reflect we are heading for a crash.
God doesn’t want you to crash so He commands us to rest. Yes that’s right, He commanded us to rest.
Of the Ten Commandments the one that God spent the most time explaining was the one to rest.
Exodus 20:8-11 (NKJV)8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Shabbat is the original Hebrew word for our English word sabbath and means “to cease, to end, to rest.”
The Bible calls those who will not work lazy,
Proverbs 6:6-11 (NKJV)6 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler,8 Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest.9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?10 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep--
11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.
And that those who don’t work shouldn’t eat,
2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NKJV)10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
But the Bible says that those who will not rest are disobedient .
Exodus 31:14 (NKJV) You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.
Deuteronomy 5:12 (NKJV)12 'Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.
Here’s something that I read a couple of years ago in a blog post by guy named Steve Graves about the balance between work and rest. It’s an excerpt from Work Hard Rest Hard.
I believe we are all designed to have a balanced rhythm of work and rest. Here are ten insights that have helped me recapture and maintain that sense of balance in my life’s journey. They’re not rocket science, but I’ve found their simplicity and clarity helpful:
Create A God-Space And Recharge
I led another study based on the book, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference by Philip Yancey. In that study I learned of how to create a God-space. A God-space is a place where you shut out all the noise, and it’s just you and God. It’s a space filled with God’s presence and nothing else. Your God-space can be anywhere and at anytime. It can be your bedroom, your bathroom, or your prayer closet. It can even be when you are walking down the street or surrounded by a group of people. You can shut them all out and still be aware of everything that’s going on around you. It takes practice to learn to create your personal God-space but when there it’s just you and God. I’m not talking about some New Age or Eastern religious mystic thing. I’m talking about being filled by the Holy Spirit. He does the recharging.
Ephesians 5:18-20 (NLT)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.
In your God-space you can even “stop time”. I don’t mean that time actually stops. Here’s something else I learned in that study. The author Philip Yancey has a chapter section “Stopping Time”. In it Philip talks about a surgeon, Anthony Bloom, who after his conversion to Christianity, and many years as a surgeon, became a priest. He describes in his book “Beginning to Pray” , about a technique that he used for creating his God-space. He calls “stopping time”. The practice of stopping time gradually transformed Bloom’s life with God. He concentrated on living in the present, recognizing that the past is irremediably gone and the future is irrelevant, because who knows whether it will happen or not.
He started by just stopping everything that he was doing for short periods of time during the day. One minute, two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes. He just shut out everything. Just a short time of quietness. It could be in prayer or just being quiet. The first thing that he noticed, and we should take note of this ourselves, the world didn’t stop. His medical practice didn’t fall apart. For us whatever it is that is waiting to be done will wait. After these quiet times he was more efficient when he went back to the tasks at hand.
Anthony Bloom’s example is a good one but the best is the example of Jesus who often removed Himself from the hustle and bustle of ministry and took time to recharge.
Matthew 14:21-23 (NLT)21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home.23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Luke 5:15-16 (NLT)15 But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases.16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
Luke 6:12 (NLT)12 One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.
Last year I wrote “Take Time To Recharge”. In it there is a section “Finding Solitude” which is an excerpt from Pressing Pause a book by Ruth Schwenk. Ruth says even Jesus, God in the flesh, needed solitude, and that he knew and practiced discipline of solitude, a time to recharge.
In 2018 Stop, Catch Your Breath, Then Exhale
Catch Your Breath
by Max Lucado, excerpted from Less Fret, More Faith
Rest is not lazy
Time for rest must be taken daily and weekly. God told Moses,
Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed. — Exodus 23:12 NIV
This was not a suggestion, recommendation, or piece of practical advice. This was a command. Rest! Once a week let the system reboot. Once a week let the entire household slow down. The Israelite who violated this law paid for the sin with his or her life. Today the death penalty is still in effect, but the death is a gradual one that comes from overwork, stress, and anxiety.
The Bible does not see rest as a sign of weakness or laziness but as a mark of reverence.
To observe a Sabbath day of rest is to announce, “God knows what I need more than I do. If He says to rest, I will rest.” And, as we do, our bodies and minds will be refreshed.
Never has rest been more important. We move at too fast a pace! Our adrenaline spigot is seldom shut off. As we race for late-night flights and add early-morning meetings, we are stretched beyond our limits. High adrenaline output depletes the brain’s natural tranquilizers and sets the stage for high anxiety. Many of us have been trained to associate relaxation with irresponsibility, so some rewiring is needed.
Don’t overdo it. Understand your limits. If you think you have no limits, then you have more than most people.
Once you have reached your limits, stop. Don’t work until you drop. Find a pace of life that works for you, and stick to it.
Maintain regular breaks during the day. Naps are biblical.
Give your mind a rest from technology. Turn off, unplug, detach from social media, news, and all the tech toys that deplete energy.
Learn to relax. To relax is to disengage and let go. An hour or daylong Sabbath is not the time to catch up with your work. It is a time to entrust your work to God. After all, He worked for six days and then rested. The world didn’t fall apart. It won’t for you either.
Verse for Reflection
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. — Matthew 11:28-30
Pray It Through
Lord, Break me of the need to be busy pursuing a sense of self-worth. Make me secure in who you are and who you have made me to be, and as a result, teach me what it means to truly rest. In your holy name, amen.
Excerpted with permission from Less Fret, More Faith by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado
God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Bear Is Not In The Bible But He Will Help You Stand In Temptation
Editor’s Note: The following is taken from the post “That’s Not In The Bible - “God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Bear” published on this blog in August 2016.
There are a lot of quotes and sayings that well meaning people, even Christians, believe are in Bible but aren’t. We’ve heard many of these things over the years in church, from our parents, other relatives, friends, and other people we respect. Most of these quotes are not bad in themselves most of them are meant to encourage and inspire, but some of them are direct contradictions of scripture. Sometimes what we don’t really know about what’s in the Bible can actually hurt us when we confuse something that “sounds like it came from the Bible” with biblical truth.
A lot of things that you hear Christians, even Christian leaders, say that are in the Bible are not there, and if they are not there they don’t carry the authority of Scripture.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Psalm 119:89 (NKJV) Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.
Isaiah 40:8 (NKJV) The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever."
One of those quotes or phrases that we hear a lot is; “God will never give you more than you can bear”. That sounds like something that would be in the bible doesn’t it? Certainly God, who we know loves us wouldn’t let us go through situations that stretch our abilities as human beings to handle or understand. Things like being struck with a debilitating illness in the prime of life, one of our children dying young, losing a job right after you go into major debt, the promising start-up company that hires you to lead their growth suddenly close down, facing foreclosure, why is your spouse saddled with chronic illness ending in death, and all this happening one right after the other? All of these things happened to my wife and me.
Those are things that we really can’t bear, but since we have been taught that we shouldn't question God or ask why, we try the find something in the Bible, or what sounds like scripture so that we can try and make sense of what’s happening, and to rationalize it.
Well I hate to tell you this, “God will never give you more than you can bear”, isn’t in the Bible it is a misquote of;
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV) No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (MSG) No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.
The Greek word Paul used is that is translated temptation is peirasmos which can also be translated “testing.” or “trial”. Practically speaking, this term could be translated “temptation and testing.”.
The statement that “God will never give you more than you can bear” is wrong because God does not bring or give, His children, temptations, trials, or tests. Every temptation is a test; every test is a temptation and while God allows them they don’t come from Him.
James 1:13-15 CEV Don't blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and he doesn't use evil to tempt others. We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead.
Temptation and sin constantly test us today so we look to the Bible and in it we find that Paul told the Christians in Corinth that God is faithful and that He give us the ability, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that is in us, to withstand the temptation and the consequences of sin.
This is not an escape from temptation, nor simply a hope of strength to overcome in the future, but a present power to endure in the midst of temptation, a glorious promise for the sorely tried. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
He does make a way of escape the temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit who is in us.
John 14:16-17 (NKJV)16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
Romans 8:11 (NKJV)11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Hebrews 2:17-18 (NKJV)17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
Temptations are a lot different for the trials and tribulations that come upon us, often without warning, in this fallen world. Some, in fact many of them, come as a consequence of our own actions. The premise of this saying suggests that a God who loves us would never let us get past the breaking point. When some well meaning person says to us “God will never give you more than you can bear” and the reality is that you have reached the point of exhaustion and are about to lose it, you start to think that God is either a masochist, doesn’t really know how much you can bear, or that there is something wrong with you because you’re overwhelmed and God isn’t helping.
Here is what Paul was telling the believers in Corinth;
God will not allow you to be tried above the strength he gives you; but as the trial comes, he will provide you with sufficient strength to resist it. You can be sure that there is a way out, just as there was a way in; and that the trial shall never be above the strength that God shall give you to bear it. When Paul says he won’t give what is beyond what you are able, he means, not beyond what you are able with God’s help. Those of us who are helped are not independent of the power of God. He will never let us stumble or fail so that we don’t recover. In other words, he will never let a test or trial cause us to lose our salvation. We know that because of a couple of other things in Scripture..
John 6:39 (NKJV)39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.
Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Luke 22:31-32 (NKJV)31 And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
2 Corinthians 9:8 (NKJV) And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
1 Corinthians 15:10 (NKJV)10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
The Question Then Is What Do You Do When Things Get Too Much To Bear
Jesus tells us to come Him;
Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
David, who we know had all sorts of problems in his life told us to give them to the Lord;
Psalm 55:22 (NKJV)22 Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
He tells us to help each other;
Galatians 6:1-5 (NKJV)1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who arespiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.5 For each one shall bear his own load.
It’s pretty clear that God doesn’t expect any person to handle everything that comes to them alone. The Scriptures never say that God won’t give you more that you can handle what they do say is that if you trust God He will be with you through it.
God Will Help You To Stand In Temptation
Editor’s Note: This section is from the YouVersion Reading Plan Uncaged by Pastor Jud Wilhite from his book Uncaged: Released to live in the Freedom of God’s Promises.
One of the greatest obstacles to enjoying the uncaged life is our ongoing struggle with temptation. No matter how spiritually mature or devoted we are to following Jesus, as human beings, we will always face temptations. Understanding and appropriating God’s promises, however, can empower us in this battle. We can accept his grace and live in his power to find freedom.
We’re all baffled at our own behavior at times. Maybe you need to control your temper, stop tearing into people, or blowing up. But then that person starts driving you crazy again, pushing your buttons. You know that guy or girl is no good for you. You know you should get to church on the weekend. You know what you should do, but you are constantly tempted to cave. Paul bottom-lines it for us: “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong” (Romans 7:21). The struggle with temptation is baked right into life. Wanting what’s right but doing what’s not right. But Paul gives us the ultimate solution to our sin problem: “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25).
Our freedom has been won on the cross, but we still struggle to live in that freedom. It’s a battle to grow into the person you really are in Christ. But you don’t resist temptation to hang onto your salvation. You resist it to grow, thrive, and receive all of the good things God wants to give you. That’s why I’m grateful for this promise of God: I will help you stand in temptation.
God is aware of the temptations you face. I don’t believe he leads you to sin, but he does allow temptation and testing. In fact, the term temptation can also be translated “trial.” God sees to it that no temptation will be too much for you to bear. He always shows you a way out. Resisting temptation is not like flipping a switch. You’re caught in a spiritual battle! You have a spiritual adversary who wants to hold you down in destructive habits and make you lose sight of God’s promises. And you don’t have to look for the fight—the fight will find you. You will find yourself facing difficulties you don’t understand. Yet, difficulty teaches humility, which empowers your future victory. Don’t let the testing become a ground to give into temptation. Stand firm on the promise that he will show you a way out and that victory is possible.
Live free in the promise: I will stand with you in temptation
Romans 7:21-25 NIV So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And 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.
Ephesians 6:12 NIV For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Psalm 42:5 NIV Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Several years ago I wrote the post “Spiritual Warfare - What Do You Do When You Hit Rock Bottom, The Bottom Of The Barrel?”. In that last post, and in “Spiritual Warfare - You’re In A Fight To The Death -4 ” I wrote that when you reach rock bottom you may feel like a failure. You let pride and the desires of your flesh get the best of you over and over. But even with all your failures God isn’t finished with you. You may be at rock bottom, the bottom of the barrel, but that’s not the end.
Being at the bottom of the barrel is just like being in a pit with no apparent way out. You begin to scratch and crawl, and scream for help. It feels as if the walls of the pit are closing in on you. The longer you’re in the pit you more you begin to lose confidence, first in yourself, and then in God.
That’s the time we need to grab hold of this;
Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
1 John 5:14-15 NLT And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
CRY OUT, CONFESS, CONSENT
I call to You, Lord, who are worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. The waves of death swirl about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelm me. The cords of the grave coil around me; the snares of death confront me. In my distress I call to You, Lord; I call out to my God. From Your temple You hear my voice; my cry comes to Your ears. — 2 Samuel 22:4–7
O, my Strength, come quickly to help me. — Psalm 22:19b
Reach down from on high and take hold of me; draw me out of deep waters. Rescue me from my powerful enemy and from foes, who are too strong for me. — Psalm 18:16–17
Bring me out into a spacious place; rescue me, Lord, because You delight in me. — Psalm 18:19
To You I call, O Lord my Rock; I believe You will not turn a deaf ear to me. For if You remained silent, I would be like those who stay in the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help. — Psalm 28:1–2
I call with all my heart; answer me, O Lord. I want to obey Your decrees. I call out to You; save me and with Your help I will keep Your statutes. Help me rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in Your Word. — Psalm 119:145–147
Lift me out of this slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. Set my feet on a rock and give me a firm place to stand. Put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to You, my God. Cause many to see and put their trust in You, Lord. — Psalm 40:2–3
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. — Psalm 139:23-24
Father, I want to acknowledge my sin to You. I don’t want to cover it up. I will confess my transgressions to You, Lord, and You will forgive the guilt of my sin. — Psalm 32:5
I confess that You are my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; You are my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. You are my stronghold, my refuge, and my savior — save me from anything that seeks to destroy me. — 2 Samuel 22:2–3
There is no one like You, my God, who rides on the heavens to help me and on the clouds in Your majesty. You, Eternal God, are my refuge and underneath me are your everlasting arms. Drive out my enemy before me, Lord, saying “Destroy him!” — Deuteronomy 33:26-27
Blessed am I! Who is like me, a person saved by the Lord? You are my shield and helper and glorious sword. — Deuteronomy 33:29
Lord, may Your hand be ready to help me, for I am choosing Your precepts. I long for Your salvation, O Lord, and for Your law to be my delight. Let me live that I may praise You, and may Your laws sustain me. I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten Your commands. — Psalm 119:173–176
You are my lamp, O Lord; You turn my darkness into light. With Your help I can advance against a troop; with You I can scale a wall. As for You, my Father, Your way is perfect; Your Word is flawless. You are a shield for all who take refuge in You. For who is God besides You? And who is the Rock except You? — 2 Samuel 22:29–32
If You are for me, who can be against me? You did not spare Your own Son but gave Him up for me. How will You not also, along with Him, graciously give me all things? — Romans 8:31–32
You know the plans You have for me, O God. Plans to prosper me and not to harm me. Plans to give me a hope and a future. — Jeremiah 29:11
Thank You, God, for Your willingness to lead me to triumph. — 2 Corinthians 2:14
God, You arm me with strength and make my way perfect. You can make my feet like the feet of a deer; You can enable me to stand on the heights. You train my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me Your shield of victory; You stoop down to lift me up. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn. — 2 Samuel 22:33–37
Nothing is too difficult for You, my God. — Genesis 18:14
Into Your hands I commit myself. Redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth. — Psalms 31:5
Praise be to You, Lord, for showing Your wonderful love to me when I was besieged and felt cut off from Your sight. You heard my cry for mercy. — Psalm 31:21–22
What better place than from the bottom of the pit to call out to Jesus and pray to Him using Scripture? Jesus prayed using the Word of God! Do you?
Editor's Note: Some content in this post is from Get Out of That Pit Scripture Prayers by Beth Moore from her book Get Out of That Pit
Beth’s journey out of the pit has been heart-rending. But from this and the poetic expressions of Psalm 40 has come the reward: a new song for her soul, given by her Savior and offered to you in Get Out of That Pit. This is Beth’s most stirring message yet of the sheer hope, utter deliverance, and complete and glorious freedom of God. From her first breath of fresh air beyond the pit, it has never been enough for Beth Moore to be free. This best-selling author and Bible teacher who has opened the riches of Scripture to millions longs for you to be free as well—to know the Love and Presence that are better than life and the power of God’s Word that defies all darkness. Beth’s journey out of the pit has been heart-rending. But from this and the poetic expressions of Psalm 40 has come the reward: a new song for her soul, given by her Savior and offered to you in Get Out of That Pit—friend to friend. This is Beth’s most stirring message yet of the sheer hope, utter deliverance, and complete and glorious freedom of God: I waited patiently for the Lord He turned to me and heard my cry He lifted me out of the slimy pit He set my feet on a rock He put a new song in my mouth It is a story, a song—a salvation—that you can know too. Get Out of That Pit is also available in Spanish, Sálgase de ese pozo $17.99
Here we are again. This time its a wall and a partial government shut down. It seems that every few days here, in the United State, have some sort of crisis. The past two years most of them have, in my opinion, been politically motivated and driven. The crisis are driven by fear, anger, hate, and money. People at all ends of the political spectrum from ultra-conservative to ultra-liberal have taken advantage or them to advance a political or financial advantage.
We have heard, and I have said myself, that we are to pray for our leaders, and where we believe that leadership is evil and corrupt, to pray for their removal. In a series of posts that is ongoing (Diversity), I have written that God is not a racist and that the church and Christianity is made up of all people no matter their color, ethnicity, age, sex, or nationality. Although implied in every one of those posts, but never mentioned, is a call for unity in our nation. Although implied in every post, but never mentioned specifically, is the need to pray for unity in our nation.
We Christians like to, quote and pray;
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Of course we should humble ourselves and pray, but the part we often forget is to turn from our wicked ways. Maybe that’s why God has not forgiven us and healed the land because we have not turned from our wicked ways.
We Christians also like to point to the fact that we are no longer under the Law of Moses but are under the law of Christ.
Matthew 22:36-40 (NKJV)36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'38 This is the first and great commandment.39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
Galatians 6:2-4 (NKJV)2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
The Law of Christ is a law of love. The solution to the problems that we have in this nation is love. The kind of love that God has for mankind, an unconditional love. That’s not a love that excuses hate and division. It’s a love that disciplines hate and division. It’s the kind of love that Jesus had for mankind when He sacrificed Himself so that we would have the opportunity for eternal life. It’s the kind of love that doesn’t see race, color, ethnicity, sex, or nationality. It’s a love of unity. The kind of unity that Jesus talked about.
John 15:9-12 (NKJV) 9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 13:34-35 (NKJV) 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
1 Corinthians 16:14 (NKJV) Let all that you do be done with love.
If we have this kind of love we will be united. Let’s pray for unity. I believe that if we add to the prayer of 2 Chronicles 7:14 where we humble ourselves, and turn from our wicked ways, a prayer for unity that we will see fewer and fewer crises and God will indeed heal our land.
A Prayer for Unity in Our Nation
By Debbie McDaniel
“I in them and you in me--so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:23
Often in times of greatest need, we may find ourselves giving way to the stress and strain by battling one another, and forgetting who the real enemy is. Harsh words spoken, friendships broken; we choose sides and draw lines. Feelings get hurt. Betrayal runs deep. It gets harder to forgive and keep moving forward. And sometimes we get stuck, right there in the muddy mess of it all.
Yet it’s in those very times of tension and struggle, that we need, more than ever, to come together as one, unified, and strong.
And we can be assured, it’s in those times, that Satan is fighting the hardest. For he knows that’s when we have the greatest potential to make a difference in this world.
He knows that we’re stronger together as we encourage one another on. He’s aware that we’re courageous and brave when we’re covering one another in prayer. He understands that the unity of believers through the power of Jesus Christ, is a force that can’t be reckoned with. For it’s hard to tear apart a cord of three strands, which can’t be easily broken.
That’s why he’s determined to fight harder. And he’s there, in the midst of it all, cheering on the battle. He loves it when we target one another. He laughs at evil, riots, and violence. He gains momentum when we forget that he’s the cause.
Don’t be unaware.
His schemes are cunning and cruel. He’ll twist words and truth, trading them for lies, and stirring up fires.
Let’s say “No more.”
Let’s choose to set aside our differences and look to the greater purpose in this life. To honor Christ as King. We’ll never agree on everything. And that’s never been the goal anyway.
Let’s choose to live out the Truth that says, “Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14
All that you do. All that you say. All that you stand for. Let’s do it with love. For perfect love, which comes from Christ, casts out all fear. And that is what gives us power to move forward, propelled with His strength, surrounded in peace, eyes on the One who gives us breath each day, filled with greater unity in our land.
May God bless us with His peace and unity in our Nation.
We are needy of you. We’re aware, more than ever, of our own weaknesses, and of the struggle with dark forces that try hard to divide us and gain more ground. We say “No more.” We stand our ground. We ask that you would fill us with your Spirit of love and unity among believers all across this nation. We ask that you would help us to set aside our differences and look to the greater cause, the cause of Christ. We ask that you would help us to truly live a life of love. We know that this is only possible through the power of your Spirit, so we ask that you would move across our land in fresh ways. With fresh filling and awareness. Turning your people back to you. Drawing others to come to know you. We thank you that you are always with us, and give us great purpose and hope.
In Jesus' name.
Psalm 51:1-19 NIV Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar. (emphasis mine)
A Cry For Forgiveness
In this Psalm David prays for remission of sins which he confesses fully. This is the fourth and most profound of the Penitential Psalms. The depth of individual experience, the sense of sin, and the plea for forgiveness are unsurpassed in any other psalm.
it describes a worshiper who goes to the Temple for pardon and cleansing.
Whether David composed the poem or not, his experience seems to have occasioned it.
The Psalm has four major points which serve as a model for us when we confess sin and pray for restoration of the fellowship that God wants us to have with Him.
A Cry for Mercy.
Have mercy on me, O God. David openly admits his sin. He accepts all responsibility. He doesn’t blame anybody else. He also admits that he doesn't deserve forgiveness so he pleads for mercy. That mercy is based on God’s loving-kindness. He asks that his sin be wiped out and washed away.
Micah 7:18-19 NIV Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
Isaiah 43:25 NIV “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
A Confession of Sin.
For I know my transgressions. David emphasizes the fact that he knows and is constantly aware of his sin, and acknowledges that his sin is more than sin against man. In fact he says that he knows that is sin is against God. The depth of his confession is apparent in his desire to be completely open with God regarding in despondency because of his sin.
A Plea for Cleansing.
Cleanse me... wash me. The verbs are extremely significant. David starts by asking for i external cleansing. Cleansing with hyssop and washing are related to ritual acts. He then shifts to an internal cleansing. He asks for a new heart and renewed spirit.
Ezekiel 36:26 NIV I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
A Vow of Consecration.
Then will I teach. David vows to to testify to others as evidence of God’s forgiveness and his changed nature. He acknowledges that his sin requires more than the ritualistic burnt offerings.
Psalm 50:9-11 NIV I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine.
Instead of ritual David offers his broken spirit and contrite heart.
A Prayer for Restoration.
Then you will delight. David says that after offering his broken and contrite heart then God will accept his ritualistic sacrifices. This appears to place an emphasis on works being a requirement of sacrifice. We know that after Jesus’ sacrifice works is no longer a requirement, but a result of forgiveness.
Titus 3:4-7 NIV But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
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.