Do The Next Things to Walk Out of Depression with Psalm 102

One Rose Blooms at a Time. "Do The Next Thing" to Walk Out of Depression

One Rose Blooms at a Time. “Do The Next Thing” to Walk Out of Depression

My Women’s Bible Study at church is studying Psalms this year.  The speaker who looked at Psalm 102 observed that the author used dramatic verbs to describe his affliction.  “My heart is stricken and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread. Because of the sound of my groaning my bones cling to my skin. I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert….I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled y drink with weeping. Because of Your indignation and Your wrath; for You have lifted me up and cast me away. My days are like a shadow that lengthens, and I wither away like grass (v.4-6, 9-10, ESV).”

These conditions describe depression. This description would warrant a psychiatrist’s prescription for anti-depressant medication.  Since the psalmist probably didn’t have modern day prescription medications, he turned his attention to God and God’s mercy. He remembered the faithfulness of the Lord to the previous generations.  He acknowledged He was dust, and yet worthy of the Lord’s attention.  He called on God because God can change things.  “They [the works of His hands] will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed (v.26, ESV).”  He shifted his focus to the next generation. “The children of Your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You (v.28, ESV).”

Adding a practical suggestion for the person struggling with depression today, the speaker suggested that getting through depression is to focus on, “Doing the Next Thing.”  That could be to change a diaper, wash the floor, tidy up the kitchen. Work on the daily tasks. Get into God’s word.  Listen to God and “Do the next thing.”

As the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 102 did, we can shift our perspective to God and what He’s done and what He will do.  We focus on other people, the next generation.  Then we address the next thing that needs to be done, starting with the immediate and moving forward.

Focusing on God’s ability to help individuals and nations, produces praise to God and releases hope for impossible situations.  He saved the Israelites from being slaves in Egypt.  He delivered on His promises to establish them in Canaan.  He brought forth a Savior in Jesus Christ.  He created a path back to heaven through the sacrifice of His sinless son on the cross for our sins.  “You are the same, and Your years will have no end.  The children of Your servants will continue (v.27,28a, ESV).”  He has our descendants in mind as the events of our lives play out.  This eternal perspective offers hope.  Somehow every generation has gotten through their tough times and produced the next generation.

The very next thing to be done may be the mundane task of preparing this next generation (our kids) dinner. Start at home.  Then include group settings.  There is hope and comfort in coming together to worship God. “He looked down from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven the Lord viewed the earth to when the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord (v22, ESV).”  “He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer (v.17, ESV).”  “He hears the groaning of the prisoner (v20, ESV).”  He takes note of the people when they meet.  As the people lift their voices in worship, He hears.  Again, this gives hope.

Circumstances can be depressing sometimes.  Let us look up, remember how big our God is by what He has done and His merciful nature.  His promises endure forever.  Let us walk out of our depressed state by doing the next thing.  As we do this next thing, and then the next and the next, change happens. Our feelings shift. Our prayers are heard and answers come forth. Our perspective extends to the next generation.  We become part of the people created that may praise the Lord forever.


Sharing in the Victory Over Evil

The Cross Breaks Bondages, Over Every Circumstance, Every Failure, and Every Loss. Photo credit: tmewcf.org

The Cross Breaks Bondages, over Every Circumstance, Every Failure, and Every Loss. Photo credit: tmewcf.org

Sharing in the Victory Over Evil

 

For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. Deuteronomy 20:4 NIV

 

Lord Jesus,

You are the victor over evil

Forgive me for believing Satan’s exhibit was the last chapter

Forgive me for seeing Satan’s bondage more than your ability to break the bondage

You use every circumstance, every failure, and every loss

for your glory

for his purposes

for your victory plan

Because I couldn’t see it, I stopped hoping

I choose to hope again

To wait in hope for your salvation

salvation for the people involved

salvation of these circumstances to be consecrated to your purposes

salvation of my believing in your goodness even in this situation

 

My focus shall rest solely on you

My heart believes in your good intentions for me

Your purposes bring forth your glory

My whole being trusts that your purposes will prevail at the appointed time

My mind remembers your mighty deeds

My spirit rests in your holy loving nature

Now send forth your strength to this weary soldier

Your joy is my strength, I praise you continually for what you are doing in this situation

 

I lift up my voice in song

I believe in your victory over all

Thank you for sharing your victory

You reign on high

You are not moved

Your glory is eternal

 

 


Getting to Peace in the Kingdom of God

Photo: edwardsaquifer.org  Aquifers are geological formations containing ground water that supplies water for wells and springs.

Photo: edwardsaquifer.org
Aquifers are geological formations containing ground water that supply water for wells and springs.

What is it like to live in the Kingdom of God?  The Kingdom of God isn’t just about having a secure place to go after we die.  Many treat it like a heavenly insurance program.  The benefit program starts here on earth.  It starts now. In Romans 14:17, Paul outlines three major benefit categories.  He writes, “The kingdom of God is…righteous and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

The order of these three components matter.  They components build on each other.  The first component achieves right standing with God.  By becoming a member of the Kingdom of God, we have asked God to consider Jesus’ innocent blood as payment for our sins.  Jesus’ choice to make this available to us for all eternity still amazes me.

From this position of right standing before God, we can access His peace.  The peace of God bypasses all logical understanding.  His peace cannot logically be explained.  It’s the gift of confidence He gives.  He guarantees that He makes all things work together for our good and His glory.  This may not seem possible by looking at our circumstances.  Yet, by the very fact that God promises this, and through the stories of other people who have weathered horrific things, we come to believe that peace is possible.  We learn that His peace will take us beyond our feelings and our interpretation of events.  We start to learn and understand His kingly priorities.  We align our priorities with His priorities. This brings a living peace.

We gain more peace by studying God’s word in scripture and letting the promises therein become God’s guarantees for us.  To name a few…

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“My righteous right hand will uphold you” Isaiah 41:10

“You will rest in safety”  Psalm 16:9

“I will be with in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him” Psalm 91:15

After peace, joy follows. Joy must not be confused with happiness.  Joy is the underlying confidence we gain from being members of the Kingdom of God.  No matter the circumstances, joy lives beneath our emotions like an aquifer level of water.  Joy lives beneath the surface of our emotional highs and lows to bring us a steady confidence of God’s commitment to redeem and to restore all things into order for those who call upon His name.

 


Establishing Hope with God’s Truth

The Cougar is comfortable and confident on the rock

The Cougar is comfortable and confident on the rock

Hope involves moving past our emotions.  We shift from being emotionally driven to truth driven.  If scripture says a thing, it can be depended upon.  For example, God promises to care for us into our old age. “Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.” (Isaiah 46:4) It can hold our weight of faith.  When an emotion gets presented with a new truth, the emotion shifts.  Emotions can bend in a new direction after a conversation, a sermon, a dream.

Feelings of anger often stem from unforgiveness. There’s a root core belief, or conclusion from circumstances, or inherited attitude or decision or vow. In inner healing, these things can be addressed. As we give these matters over to God, He replaces them with a personal promise, or tool, or verse. Moving forward becomes a matter of trusting God’s character and His word. We can trust Him for His love, His peace and His joy – even in the midst of very difficult circumstances.

When God becomes our inner strength, hope is birthed. We nurture the truth of God’s strength as our strength in the middle of our weakness (2 Cor 12:9). Likewise, His light guides us through life’s journey, day by day (Psalm 48:14).  He goes before us to establish our steps. He leads.  He guides, He supports.  All the while, He is redeeming us, cleansing us, and renewing a steadfast sprit in us (Psalm 51:10 NKJV). These facts outweigh our emotions.  After we’ve been walking awhile, it becomes easier to see.  These facts become our truth. We have our own stories of how God did these things for us.

This process develops “established hope” in us. This is God’s goal for all His children. We ask to become more like Jesus. God takes this prayer request seriously. He’s begins to build a foundation of faith. Our hope levels rise as He does His work. We partner with God by believing what He’s said and standing on His word.  Daily we build on this foundation of trusting God’s truth over our emotions.  Each day adds to the building process and our hope increases.  Over time it becomes established fait


Choosing Joy This 2016 Christmas

We can Choose Joy this Christmas 2016. Photo image: negu.org

We can Choose Joy this Christmas 2016.
Photo image: negu.org

It’s the Christmas season 2016. We celebrate Christmas as the season of Joy.  “Joy to t he World,” as the hymn rings out.  For many, the season does bring joy.  For others, it brings heartache reminders of lost loved ones. Some cry because they don’t have the Hallmark Christmas they believe should be for everyone.

The truth is that none of us have families where it is “all as it should be,” as designed by God’s original design plan.  Nonetheless, I thank God for the good things, and there are many.  We live in a peaceful land.  I have a roof over my head and food on the table.  I am blessed with many wonderful friends and family members.  I do not take these lightly.

Even in good circumstances, people say hurtful things that cut to the heart.  This happened to me this week, and I found myself in the bathroom crying and feeling rotten.  I knew I couldn’t leave till I forgave that person.  I forgave them as an act of obedient.  It wasn’t how I felt.  But I know enough not to harbor any hurtful exchange, and to forgive the words, the moment, the misunderstanding of the heart.  I laid it down and asked God for a fresh heart to love this person and continue on. I had apologized for my part sincerely, and as best I knew how.  I had forgiven her for the things she had said that hurt me.  Now I had to wait for my friend to figure out what she would do.  I asked for comfort from the sting of the words.  He granted me this.  However, I felt raw and robbed of joy for the season.  Walking past the Christmas tree, I wanted to cry all over again.  I settled for sad.  I looked sad; I felt sad; I sounded sad.

At that point, God prompted me with an idea, “You could choose joy.”  Of course, I didn’t feel any joy at the moment.  I was about to reject the idea altogether.  He said, “You’ve forgiven her.  You know the friendship will continue.  You know there’s moments coming where you’ll laugh together again.  I’ve offered to take care of the issue and work on her heart. You know reconciliation is coming.  I know how you feel right now.  But you can choose to walk in the joy of forgiveness, and the joy of knowing there’s a new chapter coming.  You are invited to divinely exchange your sad feelings with the mantle of joy. You can consciously choice to be joyful…Now.” Really?

I knew the situation wasn’t able to give me joy right now.  But I could allow for the privilege to forgive and allow God to restore joy.  I could choose to focus on the other parts of the day, and the season, that were joy-worthy.  I could choose to stand in faith-filled confidence that we two friends would get to happiness together in each other’s company again.  I could choose to return to joy without losing the three days of sadness that it might take for this friend to respond to my voiemail, and revisit the accusation with a fresh set of eyes.  I could believe this would happen.  And meanwhile I could literally choose joy now.  It would not be based on the circumstances actually happening, yet. Rather, it was a choice based in confidence that God would restore the situation.

Choosing joy wasn’t a false pretense.  It didn’t circumvent my part of heart searching and getting to genuine repentance and forgiveness.  It wasn’t shoving the incident under the carpet where it would smell in three days.  It wasn’t burying the incident without processing.  It wasn’t pretending it had never happened.  Now it followed a genuine business meeting with Jesus laying out my flawed part of the exchange.  True repentance, forgiveness and willingness to move forward transpired before God.  He had heard and given his commitment to help.  Now it was time to proceed.  And it was his suggestion to “choose joy.”  Ephesians 5:2 says to “walk in love.”  Even when we don’t feel like it.  This time He spoke about joy.  I chose to put on a smile, allow Him to do what I could not do with my friend.  And pick up my lengthy “Things to To List” and move forward in JOY.  I told my face muscles to move from a scowl  into a smile.  I said, “All right.  Very funny God.”  Then I smiled again, and turned the corner from Sad Street to Pathway to Joy.

 

 

 


Looking for the Living Hope

A Living Hope Lets the hopeless find hope, the broken be healed, and the oppressed go free, again and again

A Living Hope Lets the hopeless find hope, the broken be healed, and the oppressed go free, again and again

For so many, the holidays seem full of hope and joy at seeing family members.  I have spent enough Christmases without family to not have the hope that comes from being with familiar family members.  In those years, being part of the family of God offered me the hope of a larger family that has many surprise members.

Paul writes about a living hope in 1 Peter 1:3,  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who…has begotten us again to a living hope.”  Jack Hayford comments, “It is the song of the gospel and the message of the Kingdom of God:  ‘Let the hopeless find hope, let the broken be healed, let the oppressed go free!’”  This piece is tucked in his devotional quoting his book, A New Time and Place every year at the beginning of the Christmas season.

Hayford continues, “It is not a matter of fortune or luck.  It is a matter of love.  It is the way of the King.  He reverses situation. He turns impossibilities on their heads.  He transforms darkness into dazzling light and plants living hope in the lives of all who come to Him.”


The Promise of Life Beyond the Box

"Because I live, you will live also."  John 14:19

“Because I live, you will live also.” John 14:19

What happens when we die?  Everyone wonders about this question at some point.  Some settle it with, “We end up in a box, and that’s the end of it.”  But the majority of people believe there is an afterlife.  Most people have a vague notion of a heaven.  Many people think they are going to heaven without having investigated what it might take to get there.

Jesus talked a lot about what the Kingdom of God is like, both on earth and in heaven.  According to Jesus, all are welcome.  But few will get there.  “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14. To His followers, He promised eternity with God the Father.

John 14:19  reads, “Because I live, you will live also.”  When we die, we do not end up in a box.  There is life beyond death.  We don’t come back as an insect or some other animal.  We keep going.  We keep our lessons, we keep our love of good.   Our good works unto God live on after us on earth.  God evaluates all our works in heaven.  All that is not done unto God gets forgotten and eventually wisps away.  But what we invested in others lives on.  What we talked about that honors God lives on in this eternal book. “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard.  A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.”  Malachi 3:16. The prayers (not just wishes) we prayed are still being answered.  We plant, but God makes things grow.  1 Cor 3:7.

People miss loved ones when they die.  We feel sad.  The hope remains that we will see them again. The angel came and confronted Mary Magdalene after Jesus was murdered, “Do not fear.  He is not here.  He is risen and alive.”  Matthew 28:5  Since Jesus lives, we do too.  Jesus told one of the two men hanging on crosses next to his that he would be with Jesus in heaven that day.  “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”  Luke 23:43 This is our hope.  This is our confidence.  We live on, in heaven, with Jesus.

 


10 Reasons to Celebrate Positive Social Markers in the World

Child Mortality Rates are the Lowest in History.

Child Mortality Rates are the Lowest in History. (Chart from the web.worldbank.org)

Johnny Enlow spoke at an Aglow conference in Sacramento in May 2014, and outlined these 10 positive Social Markers.  The media and many forwarded group emails highlight enough bad news and reasons to mourn events in the world that bring trouble and sorrows to many.  Before Christ comes back for His spotless bride (the church), there will be an Age of Restoration of

All Things.  This is a time to rally our faith and raise our requests to the Lord expecting to see His glory unfold on the earth in positive ways.

To counter so many bad news headlines, let us look at some positive trends our of world statistics.

A Fresh Look at the Societal Marker Scoreboard

1.  Evangelism Statistics

There are 2.6 billion Christians on planet earth currently.  That’s 1 in 3.

In 1900 it was 1 in 27 people who claimed to be Christians

150-200 million are in China.

30,000 are coming to God every day

35 million Christians live in India

 

2.  Holy Spirit Knowledge

700 million people around the world claim a relationship with the Holy Spirit

That is roughly 1 of every 10 people on the planet.

120 million are Catholic charisma tics.

Pope Francis encourages people to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

3.  Extreme Poverty Rate

In 1990, 33% of the world lived in extreme poverty

In 2014, 20% of the world live in extreme poverty

Bill Gates hopes that by 2020 we could have extreme poverty eliminated

Bill Gates is contending against extreme poverty rates

God will bless whoever worked toward this goal.

Eventually the church will embrace this role.

Heaven passes around good news.

 

4.  Child Mortality rates

2.65% decrease every year since 1990

Child Mortality rates are at the lowest in history

 

5.   Teen pregnancy in USA

Down 60% since 1990

Lowest since 1940 (when they first started tracking the statistics)

 

6.   Abortions

In 1990, there were 1.4 million abortions in USA

In 2013,  800,000 in USA  (Lowest ever)

Less abortions in 2013 than before Rowe v Wade passed

87 abortion clinics closed in 2013

7.  Sexism Against Women

Discrimination against women has been improving.

We live in a time where it  is the best stage ever for women.

Things have never been better

There are laws in place that protect women that are being enforced.

8.         Racism

Best state ever in history or our country.

USA voted for an Afro American president – twice.

This is an amazing fact.

Some minorities think, “If a black man can be elected President, I can do anything.”

It’s happening, whether we know it or not.

“No bullying” is a policy that many communities are adopting.

Awareness on this issue his been increasing.

Valuing an individual comes from heart of God

Those fighting for this have God’s heart

9.         Government Accountability

In general, it’s never been harder to be a dictator.

Cameras around world capture so many things that force honesty.

Truth comes out with social media – electronic trail

10.       Malaria

Lowest rates in history

The effect of the momentum is positive.  Be encouraged!

 


Prayers for the Parched: Spirit of Gratitude

Let us join the Heavenly Hosts on Praising you

Let us join the Heavenly Hosts on Praising you

Having been firmly rooted and now being built up in him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.  Colossians 2:7

Lord,

I pray for a spirit of gratitude

Develop in me an attitude of gratitude

I pray for a willing heart to say thank you

Forgive me for my grumblings and murmurings

Teach me to speak in thankful terms at all times

Help me change my heart so I can change my words

 

Lord, it is your goal for me to be firmly rooted

You are instructing me on how to be established in Christ

In all things, I am learning to give thanks

Thank you for the privilege of giving thanks

May you be glorified in this process


Determining to Believe God is at Work – Part 3

Determining to Believe God is at Work in our Circumstances Brings Hope

Determining to Believe God is at Work in our Circumstances Brings Hope

This series is looking at hope and how to have hope when our circumstances don’t seem to be changing.

Hope believes that right now things are changing, even if we can’t see the difference.  Hope believes that right now God is working on my circumstances.  I can align my belief with a choice to believe that God’s got a plan at work on things even as I see no change in the natural.

Sometimes just saying out loud a truth can be very helpful.  “Right now God is bringing conviction to people.  Right now God is working on getting the attention of my loved ones on Him, even if they don’t believe in God or attend church.  Right now God is working on our government.  Right now God is giving me favor with my boss.  Right now, God is at work on my prayer requests that agree with scripture.  Right now, God is fulfilling His words in scripture and prophecy.”  These sentences are true and cut through the soulish doubts to the spirit part of us, and we are strengthened.

2 Corinthians 3:18 confirms that “we all, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  This is ongoing, not just on good days or super spiritual days.  We are constantly moving forward every day, little by little.  With the Holy Spirit, we can believe He is at work and it is for good purposes.

Click here to see Determining to Believe God is at Work – Part 1

Click here to see Determining to Believe God is at Work – Part 2