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What Does the Bible say about Depression

What Does the Bible Say About Depression

What Does the Bible Say About Depression?

There is much sin that carries shame.  Shame is only increased when we see ourselves struggling in an area that Christians are just not supposed to struggle with.  What do you do when you can’t seem to overcome even though you know you are supposed to be an overcomer?  What do you do if you struggle with depression when you know that Christians are supposed to have the joy of the Lord?

Before we go too far, it is important to note many Christians suffer from depression.  You may think that I am only speaking of those Christians who don’t really go to church, pray, or read the Bible, but I’m not.  Pastors suffer from depression.  Pastor’s wives suffer from depression.  You may go to church and look around at all the smiling faces and feel that you are the only one in your church suffering from depression, but it’s simply not true.

Who in the Bible Suffered from Depression?

We know that many strong, Godly characters in the Bible trekked their valley of sadness.  From Hagar to David to Elijah, depression is seen in the lives of people who loved God and whom God showed favor.  Martha’s depression led to anger.  Job wept and cried aloud.  Jonah was bitter in depression.  Moses suffered deep depression for a long period of time.

One of the greatest tools of the enemy is to make us believe we are the only ones that feel the way we do; that we are the only ones who struggle as we do.  But the Bible is clear that no temptation has seized us that is not common to man.

What is Depression?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, depression is a “mood disorder that is marked by varying degrees of sadness, despair, and loneliness and that is typically accompanied by inactivity, guilt, loss of concentration, social withdrawal, sleep disturbances, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.”  To use the word ‘disorder’ can be overwhelming.  It can seem as if there is no hope and that is exactly what a person feels.  Depression is negative emotions pressing down upon our spirit, weighing us down.  We can’t find our joy, our smile, our laugh.  And even if we appear to have joy and laughter, it is surface only.  Deep down, the pain and despair ominously rule our hearts.

Depression is to be pressed down emotionally, mentally, and physically with the weight of issues and problems big enough to destroy our life while we are helpless to stop it.  It is the outlook and estimate of a future that promises increasing hardship to the point of blinding a person from the present blessings.  A depressed person is unable to enjoy the goodness of God they already have because of the shadow of what will soon be lost.

Depression is a mental posture toward life that challenges our faith.  It is a perspective.  I don’t mean to diminish depression one bit.  I do intend to define it for what it is and now allow it to be more than it is.  It is a powerful grip on the negative reality in the absence of faith that God can change things.  It is the focus of our minds.  It has a death grip on our attention strangling joy and peace to death.

Depression is not is a rival to God and His mighty power working in us to create an abundant life for us.  Despite how deep it may exist and how powerful it runs through our veins; it is no match for the healing power of God.

What Are the Causes of Depression according to the Bible?

The Bible would teach us that depression is an issue of directional perspective.  God’s plan for us is what we have not seen, and depression establishes itself in what is seen.  We get depressed when we see the tragedies and coming nightmares that we feel we can’t avoid.  We want to see God change the things in our life.  We want Him to reach out and change our circumstances and bless our environment so that we can get out of the depression.  We look to be blessed outwardly to inwardly.  God’s ways are higher than our ways.  He doesn’t bless from the outside in but from the inside out.  Depression is the hopelessness that comes in the absence of God’s blessings.  We look outwardly first and when things are not good all around us, we get depressed inwardly.  God doesn’t work that way.

Ok, sometimes, He does bless us when we are down and depressed.  He blesses us outwardly to support our inmost spirit.  He does something good in our life to give us hope in our spirit.  But if our relationship with God was dependent upon everything around us being good, or at least more good than bad, we would become like spoiled children who want what they want no matter what.  We would be unable to praise God until He blesses us outwardly.  We would take Him for granted and worship Him for His gifts.

Therefore, the Lord allows every human being to walk through their own blessing desert.  Sometimes, He will make us experience a lack of outward blessing and see what we will do.  When we stop praising and start griping, stop worship and start complaining, He is revealing our spoiled rotten hearts that only follow Him for what He will give to us.  But true life abundant comes when we can praise Him in the dark hours of life.

Depression Presents an Atheistic Viewpoint

If depression had a voice, it would say, “God is not going to change anything.  He is not really who He says He is.  The God you read about in your Bible is not real.  He’s made up.  Nobody and nothing is going to make things any better so just get used to it.”

Depression creates a response in us that suggests there is no God.  We act and respond to life as if there is no God who loves us, who can change things, who wants to change things, who even cares.  But the truth is that God is alive and well.  He is still the God who replaces the spirit of despair with a garment of praise.

Jesus presents Himself as the truth.  The truth is not what we see or feel but what He says.  Jesus said in this world, we will suffer through some magnificent pain, but we can still have hope because He has overcome and will help us to overcome as well.  The Bible teaches us that He even uses the worst moments of our life to create change in us and around us necessary to bring us into greater blessings.

He’s either God or He’s not.  If He is a liar, then He is not God.  Depression is a fight in the arena of our faith.  Can we believe God is still good when everything seems bad?  Can we trust a God who seems to have abandoned us?  Can we grasp any hope when it seems that all is lost?  This is what faith is all about.  It takes no faith to praise God covered in blessing.  We only need faith in the absence of blessing.  But it is the amount of faith we have that determines what blessings we can handle.

If I only praise God when things are good, then I will respond to God not with love, but with a demand to do what I want.  In this case, I am God and God becomes my servant.  There is no salvation in this mindset.  To ensure that I have faith in Him as God, I must live in dependence on Him, leaning on Him as the giver of every good and perfect thing.  Dependence however is born out of lack.  Without seasons lacking in goodness, I will diminish God to my personal slave.  But in hard times, I am forced with the decision to really believe or truly doubt.  The moment I choose to keep responding to God as if He really is God is the moment my faith increases.  I choose to believe what He says more than what I see.

Depression is overcome when I understand that blessings do not flow into me from my environment but out of me from my faith.  Depression requires a change of mindset.

Is Depression a Sin?

Depression is the sadness evolving from patterns of thought which do not reflect the existence of God as we know Him through Scripture.  We usually define sin as a willful violation of the known will of God.  Depression is sinful in that it is keeping you from rejoicing always as the Lord has commanded, but it is different in that we don’t choose to be depressed.  The word for this in Scripture, which is often translated into the word ‘sin,’ is ‘iniquity.’  Often in the King James Version, this word is used.  David, in Psalm 51 said, “Wash away all my iniquity.”  Iniquity is unchosen sinful thoughts that lead to unchosen behavior.  So we are doing what God has commanded us not to do, but it is not a choice.  In fact, we would give anything to have the power to stop doing what we are doing.

Depression is the emotional state developed because of spiritual cognitive distortions.  Cognitive distortions are habitual patterns of thinking that are not accurate with a negative outlook.  But often, depression is caused by things that are very true and very real.  When I say depression is a spiritually cognitive distortion, I am referring to a blindness to the unseen reality of things.  Let me give you an example.

In Scripture, the prophet Elijah kept receiving word from the Lord that he relayed to Israel’s king that allowed them to know exactly where the enemy was going to attack.  Every attack was thwarted.  The opposing king was so angry when he found out that Elijah was messing everything up that he took a huge army to Elijah’s home to kill him.  Elijah’s assistant walked out of the door to see their home surrounded by this army and he was scared out of his mind.  But then watch what happened:

2 Kings 6:15-17
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (NIV)

As Christians, we are taught there is an unseen reality as God works above our circumstances.  We can’t see this realm, but we have faith it is there.  To think that all is lost is to ignore the unseen reality of God’s chariots of fire coming to our rescue.

Depression nevertheless is something we want to confess to the Lord.  Confession is simply the acknowledgment that we are struggling and need the Lord to help us.  It is our commitment to get better, to change our thought patterns, to increase our faith.  And when we make this commitment, the Lord honors our faith and gives us the strength we need to have faith in the unseen reality of God even when all we can see with our human vision is darkness and trouble.

The Bible says God covers Himself in darkness, but it also says He is the Light.  So, which is it?  The answer is that it is both.  God understands like a good father that raising a good son or daughter requires both reward and discipline.  Discipline is found in the dark times of life, but God is still in the dark.  He is still working for our good.  It is just that at that moment what we need to move our us toward a more blessed existence is a little bit (or a lot) of darkness.  But don’t think for a minute that God has abandoned you.

 

How Do I Overcome Depression?

Depression is what occurs because of spiritual cognitive distortions, or a lack of faith that God will do what He has promised.  Increased faith, however, does not turn to joy.  Increased faith must first bring us to a place of peace.  We must trust that the Lord has us in His hand and find peace knowing that even if He allows some hard times, He will not leave us there.  He will lead us all the way through the valley of the shadow of death into the green pastures and still waters (Psalm 23).

The path to peace first begins with an understanding that what we feel may not reflect the true status of the moment because we are blind to the unseen reality of God.  What we may feel can cause us to believe that what we see is all there is, but the fact is that there is more to our situation than what is visible, there is more than what we know or understand.  God is everywhere all the time.

The path to overcoming depression must first come to a place of peace.  So how do we find peace?

Philippians 4:4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

It may seem empty to say rejoice in the Lord when it seems the problem is the inability to rejoice.  But we are not commanded to feel joyful here, but to rejoice.  There is a difference.  To rejoice is to go back in your mind and find some things that God has done in your life.  If you are having a hard time finding anything good, keep looking.  Ask someone else to help you.  Don’t make a list of good and bad at the same time.  That’s not rejoicing.  To rejoice, force yourself to be thankful for what good things God has done.  Maybe the only thing you can come up with is that He gave you life now and died on the cross so you can enjoy Heaven later.  If that’s all you got, it’s still big.  Don’t let how you feel keep you from saying the words.  Keep saying them.  Learn to give thanks for every good thing you see.

Be gentle.  If you want to overcome depression, you cannot allow how you feel to dictate how you act around other people.  Often, depression will make us withdrawn, snarky, or just in a bad mood.  Gentleness means to be mild in manner, appropriate in response, and fair-minded.  Depression can cause negative behavior towards someone who doesn’t deserve it.  You are just in a bad mood.  Well, again, force yourself to not be this way even if you feel it.

It may seem like I am asking you to be fake at this point, but that’s not it.  I am asking you to obey God instead of your own emotions.  Who is your God?  Are you God or is He God?  Your behavior will answer that question.

The next step is prayer.  Prayer is a conversation with God.  The Holy Spirit is our comforter, but we encounter the Holy Spirit when we go to God even if we are just telling Him how we feel.  When Elijah told God that he felt alone and abandoned by God, God responded by letting him take a nap, then sending an angel with a hot meal.  I am not promising you steak and potatoes, but what I am saying is that God will meet you in prayer and His goal is to comfort you in your pain.  Cry out to Him and let Him meet you in prayer.

We are supposed to pray with thanksgiving.  So after, you have confessed your sadness, your negativity, your depression, remember the good things God has done and let those memories remind you that God has brought you through hard times before.  Remember that there are lessons necessary for future blessings that can only be learned in the dark so give thanks even for the darkness.  Give God thanks for trying to teach you something that will benefit you later and even benefits your children and their children.  Give thanks.  If you pray, this is good, but you must move in your prayer to a place of giving thanks.  Again, it is not what you feel, but what you do.  You may feel depressed but give thanks anyway.

God’s promise in Philippians for those who practice this behavior is to release supernatural power from Heaven to bring a type of peace that should not be present according to the visible situation.  It is a peace based on the unseen reality.  It is a peace based on the faith that God will keep His promises.  God will remove the spirit of despair and dress you in a transcendent gown of peace even though nothing you can see or know has changed.  But your faith has increased, and your vision has shifted.

 

Should A Christian Take Medication for Depression?

Many Christians, pastors, and teachers are against medication.  I am not.  I believe the Biblical approach to overcoming depression requires us to be able to think clearly.  We must be able to take captive our thoughts and force them in obedience to the truth of God taking into account the unseen reality of work God is doing on our behalf.  Gaining control of our thoughts can be difficult when the emotions run too hot.  There is a place when the emotional struggle of depression prohibits a person from having the ability to take captive their thoughts and focus on God’s truth.  When it gets to this point, I believe it is a place for medication.  Never take depression medication or any other medication without consulting your physician.  You may need an appointment with a Christian psychiatrist to get a prescription.

It is true that many people are over-medicated.  However, a Christian psychiatrist will help you to find the balance you need.  But the medication must also work together with Christian counseling.  Medication without counseling will not end well.  To overcome behavior, we need to learn the psychology of the behavior and find interventions to curb and finally stop the behavior.  When combined with regular Christian counseling, along with the pattern given to us from Scripture I have already shared, the medication will more than likely be a temporary help to think clearly so you can comprehend the principles being taught in counseling.

 

How to Take Captive Your Thoughts?

If you have been in church or listened to any sermons at all, you know how you should think, but actually forcing your mind away from traumatic and overwhelming thoughts combined with powerful emotions can be daunting.  I want to walk you through the principle of taking captive your thoughts.  First, I want you to see where this principle comes from:

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NIV)

Depression is a battle.  It is a battle of the mind.  We are fighting for the peace Christ has given to us.  He has given us this gift, but like a purse snatcher, the enemy comes in and tries to steal what God has given.  We have to fight to get it back.  This passage of Scripture says we have been given the weapon to demolish strongholds.  What is a stronghold?  If you were in my office and trying to leave and I reached out and grabbed your shirt so you couldn’t leave, that is a stronghold.  An emotional, mental, or spiritual stronghold is something that is keeping us from where we want to be in our spirit.  It keeps us from the gifts God has given.  But we have a divine weapon.

This Scripture says that we demolish arguments and pretensions.  In other words, our divine weapon is our ability to take captive our thoughts and refuse to allow anything that sets itself up against the truth of God to remain in our mind.  But how do we do this?  Let’s take a look at this passage from the book of James:

James 3:3-6

3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. (NIV)

Talking, using our words forces our minds to move in a different direction.  Like the rudder of a ship, your words will move your heart, mind, and soul.  When you are experiencing the hopelessness of depression, go through the process we discussed from Philippians above, but do it out loud.  Use your words.  Move your tongue.

When we speak, it forces our minds to focus.  When we don’t speak, our mind is able to entertain many thoughts at once.  Often Christians just keep telling themselves to stop thinking about the negativity in their life.  But this is not enough.  You must also consider the unseen reality of God and His promises and verbally remind yourself of the truth according to Scripture and the promises of God.

When we use our tongue, it forces the thoughts from one side of our brain to the other side which is not as emotional.  The tongue literally forces us to move to the other side of our brain in our thoughts.  This side of the brain is more analytical and not emotional which also gives us a greater ability to ponder the promises of God and apply them to our situation.

Depression is not easy.  Don’t get frustrated if you begin to do these things and you continue to struggle.  Remember the Bible says not to despise a small beginning and God finishes what He starts.  So hang in there.  Be consistent.  It will be difficult at first and seem like nothing is happening.  But the Word of God does not return void.  If you follow these Biblical principles, you will come out of it and the Lord will help you before you know it.

What Does God Think About Abortion

What Does God Think about Abortion?

We have heard from preachers and politicians telling us what God thinks about abortion, but what does God actually say in the Bible?  I want to share with you from Biblical principles the many-faceted angles of abortion and what God thinks about it.

Jeremiah 1:5
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. ” (NIV)

This is the word of the Lord spoken to the prophet Jeremiah. God knew Jeremiah before He was formed in the womb.  He knew him.  He was familiar with him.  He knew his name, his personality, his essence.  These words remind us that abortion is taking the life that already existed in the eternal realm that has been placed in the womb to become flesh on this Earth.  Nevertheless, what doesn’t exist cannot be known.  God knowing Jeremiah before the womb reminds us that conception in the womb is life.  It is known by God and for man to take this life is not acceptable to God.

We read how John the Baptist, still in the womb of Elizabeth, jumps for joy within her belly when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, comes to visit her.  John and Jesus knew one another in transcendence before their physical bodies were fully formed.

So many Christian articles about abortion are simply statements of why abortion is wrong or a sin.  Anyone with faith in the Bible as the Word of God, along with the logic that nothing can be known that doesn’t exist, makes it clear that abortion is not godly.  Nevertheless, should the question of right or wrong be the focus of believers?  Should our focus be in the politics and polity of abortion laws?

 

 

Should I fight to make abortion illegal?

Not everyone considers abortion sinful.  The Bible clearly teaches us not to judge those outside the church.  If someone has no issue with abortion, it is not productive to argue the point with them.  Biblically, we know the laws of a nation can bring blessings or curses down upon that nation so working to make abortion illegal is a noble cause. Telling someone who has had an abortion that they have sinned against God or holding up signs that say “God hates abortion” doesn’t really convey love to those who may wonder if God can still love them after they’ve had an abortion.

The response of the church to abortion must be anchored in love then morality.  Many will disagree with me here, but Jesus’ morality is wrapped in transformation.  Jesus did not require the woman caught in adultery to confess her sin, renounce it, or even ask for forgiveness.  He prioritized mercy above morality.  It is not that He was not concerned with morality because His command to her was to go and sin no more.  He first gave mercy, then morality.  Isn’t this God’s way?  He died for us on the cross while we were yet sinners.  This love draws us to Him, makes us want to listen, to follow Him.  Then comes morality as He teaches us to be holy as He is holy for this is the way to abundant life.  Love followed by morality strengthens a person’s sense of being loved.  Morality before love makes the law of God more important than the child of God.  Jesus criticized people like this in Scripture telling them their actions were the same as putting a stone around someone’s neck and throwing them into the sea.

God’s compassion for us comes out of His understanding of the original sin that we often forget.  We don’t sin because we are bad people.  We sin because we were born with the condition of sinfulness.  If a baby is born with a defect that disallows them to walk, we are not angry with the baby.  We have compassion for their condition.  With sin, we forget it is a condition that we must be rescued or saved from.  Too often, our view of sin doesn’t span wide enough.  We act as if there is no condition causing sin, but the Bible clearly teaches there is a sinful nature.  All of Scripture is not about people no longer sinning as much as transforming them in the Spirit so they are set free from the law of sin and death, the sinful nature.  God breaks the chain of our slavery to sin.  Our greatest concern must be the condition that leads to sin more than the sin itself.

Political posturing to make abortion has great merit, but has the church become so consumed with this that it has forgotten our first calling from the Lord is to minister to individual people as they suffer from the pain of sin.  We can walk and chew gum at the same time.  We can be active politically in the abortion arena.  Our first priority must be loving those whose lives have been hurt from the effects of abortion.  Changing the law is important for God’s protection over our nation, but it will not save a single soul.  To be active politically but absent in personal ministry is an earthly response to a spiritual issue.

 

How can abortion be sinful if God commanded the death of the unborn?

For many, the struggle is found in the Christian message of love from a God who commanded the death of many people including pregnant women and children.  The average Christian has lost sight of God’s command for Israel was to defeat the city of Jericho and kill every man, woman, child, and animal.  Surely, in a city this large, there would have been many pregnant women.  How can a God who protects the sanctity of life destroy the unborn?  Another difficult passage is the Old Testament ceremony regarding the suspected infidelity of a wife.  The priest was to take bitter water and give it to the wife whose husband is unsure of her fidelity to Him and then declare:

Numbers 5:19-22
Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse —“may the LORD cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.” (NIV)

Many outside the church claim the Christian stance of God’s sanctity for life has no basis because of passages such as these.  What they miss is that God and God alone is Judge.  He has the authority to dispense consequences though none of us do.  In the human realm, it is the same.  If I see someone robbing a bank, I can call it wrong.  Perhaps, I can make a citizens’ arrest.  But I don’t have the authority to condemn them to prison for any number of years.  Only those endowed with this authority can do this.  But we allow judges to hand down punishment even though they, themselves are not perfect.  It is a necessary, though a  highly imperfect, system in an attempt to maintain order.

Remember, the Bible places people into two categories: perfect and imperfect.  The first group only has one member.  His name is Jesus.  The rest of us belong to this other group.  Judges have authority to hand down consequences because it has been given them by man.  God’s authority, however, is based on His perfection.  Only the one who has never sinned can justifiably condemn those who have.  Like any kind Father trying to help their children live their best life, He motivates us with a promise of blessing to our children when we live according to His statutes, but the absence of these blessings, which is what a curse is, when we don’t follow this way also fall upon our children.  It is not that God does not value life.

He is the Good Father using both reward and punishment to help his children take the best path that He alone who is omniscient can know.

 

Is it ever ok to have an abortion?

A person’s lack of understanding of God’s authority to bless and curse must not be allowed to deceive us into believing that abortion is acceptable to God.  We should, however, have a posture of patience and mercy for those who do not understand.  Abortion is not acceptable to the Lord.  No person, no human being, has the moral authority to take the life of another innocent human being.  Judges may give the guilty a death sentence, but this is a man-made government attempting to establish order.  This is controversial enough, but to sentence to death an innocent baby is so far beyond what any human has the authority to demand.

What about in the case of rape, incest, or the danger of the mother?  These are beyond difficult situations.  Secular society will rationalize these moments, but the Bible calls for faith in the heart of a Christian.  Should I walk into my wife being raped, would it be acceptable to God for me to kill the rapist?  Yes, it would be.  I know that is going to throw many of my Christian brothers and sisters, but Scripture teaches this:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-3
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal, (NIV)

We can not equate rape with abortion however because we know God allows and disallows our behavior according to the hearts of men made clear by their pattern of behavior.  In other words, a rapist is trying to do great harm, perhaps kill his victim.  A baby in the womb has not such intention so this comparison is apples and oranges.  Those who criticize the pro-life community will often use against this group, their support for the death penalty.  This is an unfounded comparison.

The pain of having a child from rape is more than what I can know or that anyone could know who has never gone through such a nightmare.  However, the principles of Scripture remain.  The Lord would call for us to lean on Him remembering that He is the God who makes streams in the desert, pathways in the wilderness, and brings life from death.  He would call for us to lean upon His promise:

1 Corinthians 10:13
13 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. (NIV)

What is this escape but a way to move out from underneath the pressure creating temptation.  For some, this may be allowing the baby to be adopted.  For some, it may be raising the baby as a way of overcoming how our spiritual foe, Satan, would want to steal our joy, peace, and love.

This is so much easier for me to say this than for someone to endure it.  This is why I have no right to judge, neither does anyone else.  It’s easy to say a mother should stand up in court and offer forgiveness to the one who murdered her little boy because that is what Jesus would do.  But woe to anyone who judges another without walking in their shoes.  This is why the Bible says not to condemn one person for a speck of dust in their eye when we have a whole plank of wood in our own.  But the error of me judging someone who struggles to put their faith in the promises of God does not change the promises of God.  In all of these, the Lord calls upon us to let Him strengthen our faith.  Faith in His promises allows Him to take what was meant for evil and use it for good.  He takes that born in the spirit of death and subjects it to the spirit of life.  He reverses and defeats evil that all people might know that God is alive and His way is true.

 

How to minister to someone who has had an abortion?

Those who have had an abortion must be loved before they will believe that God still loves them.  As we love them, they will learn to trust our love for them.  They will be confident that our priority is their well-being.  Trust opens the door to speak of the dangers of immorality.  These will be words of life, not condemnation.  Those consumed with guilt because of abortion need to be reminded that the only sin that keeps the Lord from receiving them into His arms is their rejection of Him.  He will never reject anyone who comes to Him, but He will not force His way into the heart of someone rejecting Him.  They need to be reminded that their action was not the end, but the Lord has made provision for those who perish before reaching an age of understanding.  They need to know they will see their baby in the Heavenlies.

Love before morality opens a hardened heart to hear the truth of Scripture regarding forgiveness and the Heavenly reunion with babies they have never seen.

The Bible teaches morality without a doubt.  The Ten Commandments clearly reveal this and of course, the sixth commandment is “Thou Shall Not Murder.”  Christ, however, has not called us to be moralists, but Christlike.  The priority of moralists is to declare what is moral and what is not.  However, our priority as believers is not to teach morality, but to love.  Often, these will overlap.  For example, the negative consequences of abortion ranging from physical complications, emotional anguish, and mental health can be destructive to someone.  If we love them, we will guide them away from all destructive behavior as we ourselves attempt to live away from these same behaviors.  The separation between morality and love is found in the intent.  The intent of morality is to decide, teach, promote, and demand the right behavior.  Of course, to demand the right behavior without love tears people down.  Christians are commanded to build one another up.  The intent of love is heart transformation, so a person experiences the abundant life Christ has for them.  This distinction should affect our response to the issue of abortion.  Christians should care about the laws of the land and whether abortion is legal, but a higher priority is to help those who are suffering from the injurious effect of abortion.

Morality is truth regardless of impact, but we are taught to speak the truth in love.  Love is patient.  Love is kind.  It does not bring up past mistakes to do harm.  God does not break a bruised reed and neither should we.  We should never beat down someone who is already deeply hurt.  The power of God’s love is the message it sends to a sinful world.  The cross symbolizes God’s love for us even at our worst.  The Bible says we love God in response to Him loving us as we are in all our imperfection and sin.  Love transforms.  Morality without love embitters.

 

How to deal with the guilt that may come from having an abortion?

Many of you reading this may carry a weight of guilt because of an abortion.  I want to clearly say to you today that God loves you just like you are.  His compassion eclipses His wrath.  And I want you to know that the Bible teaches us that we all need God because all of us have broken His law.  As humans, we have placed greater emphasis on certain sins, but the Bible does not teach this.  Consider this passage for example:

Romans 1:29-32
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (NIV)

Even though the human imagination supposes some sin is worse than others, it is only the immediate consequence of some sin that is greater than the immediate consequences of others.  God is more concerned with the long-term effect than the immediate consequences of any sin.  He considers all sin equally dangerous because the ‘little’ sins open the door to ‘bigger’ sins.  There are no ‘big’ sins without preceding ‘little’ sins.   This is what Solomon meant when he said it was the ‘little foxes that ruin the vineyards.’  What we see as little sins may actually be more dangerous because they are equally corrupting to our soul but much harder to detect.  If I killed a man, I would be fully aware of this, but I can easily justify and turn a blind eye to a small lie told to someone to make myself look better.  The way human society assesses sin, including the church many times, is not Biblical.

So when it comes to abortion, the human consequence is greater.  This is true, but God gives us a list in Romans that all lead to the same place of destruction.  There are some that seem ‘small’ such as gossip and disobedience to parents and some that seem ‘larger’ such as hating God.  God judges all of these as equally wicked and perilous to the good life He wants for us.  The only person who is perfect enough to judge you is God and He does not see abortion as somehow beyond redemption.  In fact, God has already forgiven you.  When He died on the cross, He died for all sin.  If God knows how many hairs are on the top of every head in the world, He surely knows every sin each person will commit.  In foreknowledge, He knew every sin you would ever commit and He died on the cross for your forgiveness.

Don’t let anyone, not even other Christians, convince you that God will not forgive.  Forgiveness is a gift that He has already left on your porch.  Like an Amazon package, it is waiting there for you to bring into the home of your heart.  It is a free gift.  The only unpardonable sin is to refuse to open the gift of forgiveness.  Let today be a new day.  If God is Judge and He has forgiven you, then who are you to condemn yourself?  Let God be the Judge.  Accept His judgment that all sin was crucified on Calvary and thrown into the deepest sea.  His blood shed on the cross has made you clean.  Accept His forgiveness.  Stop beating yourself up. Start living a new life in the grace of His mercy.

Now, go and live blessed because you are, then go and be a blessing to others because they need it.

Biblical principles Christian Counseling

We need hope

We Need Hope

 

With all of the negative news everywhere it seems, it is difficult to keep a positive outlook on things.  I have spoken with many people who are struggling with depression and anxiety because the perfect storm of world crisis.  Covid, the coming election, protests, riots on top of the usual stressors of work, family, parentings, marriage, and money.  It can be as overwhelming as a squirrel trapped in the dog pound.  Everywhere you turn, life bares its teeth, growling, ready to bite your head off with no place to run.  We need some hope.

We must remember the principles of God are not dependent upon our circumstances.  When God promises peace, the promise is not conditional to your dilemma.  God can and will keep His promises.  They are yes and amen in Christ and Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Whether you are living in a 1st world crisis as simple as a getting a flat tire on the highway or a 3rd world food shortage struggling to stay alive, His promises remain.  If God has promised it to us, we must not allow the drool from growling teeth to create doubt in our life.

Often, we are waiting for promises that have already been delivered.  Too often, it seems that God is withholding His promises from us, but faith, hope, and love remain constant, steadfast.  God doesn’t withhold His love.  The Bible says faith is a gift from God like a tattoo inked upon our soul (Ephesians 2:8-10). And hope, like love is the essence of God’s presence who never leaves us nor forsakes us.  As God is love, He is too the God of hope (Romans 15:13).  We need some hope!

But with all of the promises of the Kingdom of Heaven, hope must be grasped tightly with determination.  It is in you, but have you taken hold of it?

Hope is different from faith.  Faith is a belief that God will do something specific.  I have faith that God will protect my son as he travels the world on a Navy ship.  Hope has no specifics.  Hope is what we have when our situation overwhelms our mind that we can’t even conceive what could be done.  Hope simply believes that God can do something.  Hope is knowing He is above every situation and able to execute His unseen plan for our good.  Do you believe God is able to work things according to His will and our good even in the most overwhelming moments?  This is hope.  Sometimes, it is all we have.  We can’t even imagine what would make the situation more bearable, but we are confident that God does, and if He chooses, He is able to flip our condition from dark to light, from grim to possible, from death to life, from devastating to life-transforming.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Without hope, there is no joy nor peace.  We need hope to find the greater blessings of God.  And hope is the linchpin of trust.  Until we can, at the least, say with confidence that God is able to do something even when we have no idea what that something might be, we will never really trust God.  We will never truly experience joy nor peace.  Hope holds our hand and walks us to trust who gives the gift of joy and peace.

Whatever overwhelms you, remember that God is able to do whatever He wants to change everything for your good any second.  It could be right now, five minutes from now, or five years from now.  But rest assured, God knows what we need and He will not leave us here forever.  Hope is the belief that God is still in control of the chaos.  He still reigns in the madness.  There is no storm that can break His peace.  There is no demon that can kick Him off the Throne of Heaven.  You may not can see anything to have faith in, but take hold of the hope that God is still in control.  When you can grip hope with all your might, peace and joy will soon follow.

Leave me a comment to tell me how you are doing with all the junk going on right now.

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

 

 


Find HopeFinding Hope to Rebuild What is Broken

​I have been sharing excerpts from my new book With All Your Heart. I have appreciated all of the encouragement from folks and I am grateful the Lord is using With All Your Heart to minister to people on a deep level. Today, though I wanted to depart from my book. I want to share some of what I taught recently at a homeless mission, Church Under the Bridge, that our church partners with.

In the book of Nehemiah, we find the nation of Israel obliterated. Babylon has conquered them and as was the custom then, to maintain control, many of the Israelites were relocated to Babylon and many Babylonians were relocated to Israel.

 

 


guard your heart

Guard Your Heart

Do you believe God has a beautiful plan for your life?  If you don’t, you are denying Scripture and the very words of God.  He has said that He has a plan for your life and that plan is beyond comprehension filled with hope, purpose, and prosperity of the soul (Jeremiah 29:111 Corinthians 2:9-10Ephesians 2:10).  These bring meaning and enjoyment to life.  But how do we find this plan?  let’s consider this passage:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

 


Refuge in the LordHow to Find Refuge in the Lord

Have you ever wondered how to find refuge in the Lord?

I love the imagery we get from Proverbs 18:10 when it says the Lord is a strong tower and the righteous run into it and they are saved.  Clearly, the Lord wants us to see Him as a refuge when times are difficult.  When we are hurt, afraid, anxious, or fearful, He is our refuge.  But how do we find refuge in the Lord? And this brings us to our Verse of the Day: As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
Psalms 18:30 (NIV)

 


 

crucifixion of christ

It Was Personal – The Crucifixion of Christ

How often have we heard the story of the crucifixion of Christ?  We must never stop telling the story of the God who sent His only Son to take the punishment of sin for every soul that has ever lived.  It is a powerful story, but it is a gruesome story.

We sing songs and whitewash the gory details so often to tell the wondrous story that saves our souls, but we can never forget it was the most victorious moment for Hell.  The air was full of demons crowded around to see what they believed to be the defeat of Heaven’s Hero.  Entering into the hearts of people in the crowd to lie about Jesus, to falsely accuse Him, to drive the Roman soldiers to delight as they scraped away Jesus’ flesh in the flogging.  They didn’t think twice about attaching a living human being to wooden crossbars with nails driven through the flesh, tendons, and muscles of the wrist and the tops of his overlapping feet.  Blood splattered to the delight of the crowd and every perverted demon. 

Though mortal, He had infinite knowledge of all things which includes you and me.  The Bible says that nothing has been made but by Him.  As He pushed on the nail driven into his feet to extend his body and open his lungs for one more breath, He knew exactly why and for whom He did this.  Knowing each and every human being by name, by face, by personality, He did it for each of us.  He endured for those who would believe and for those who never will.  He is no respecter of persons.  Whosoever believes will be saved.  He thought of my face as the sturdy thorns were driven into His.

Fully aware of my sins and yours, He remained silent before His accusers.  The shameful decisions we wish to hide, He knew every detail that He might cover them fully.  He was pierced for our transgressions.  He did not fight the nails.  He did not squirm or flinch, but cherished every ring of the hammer upon His nails.  He held still as Roman soldiers struck Him in the face.  He could have called each one of them by name.  He knew their Mom, their Dad, their pain, their joy, their lost dreams, and their lost childhood.  He was bruised for those who bruised Him.  He considered it all joy that these bruises would bring healing to every hurtful word, every abusive moment, every neglectful act He already knew we would face.

He saw my face when I sat in my room alone struggling in depression.  He saw your face when despair and hopelessness overwhelmed.  It was for you and for me.  And it was not easy.  It was Hellish.  He took our defeat that we might live in His victorious resurrection.  In Heaven, He calls out our name before His Father.  He calls us by the nickname given to us by our grandmother.  It was for you that He embraced the suffering of the cross.  And it was not easy.  The crucifixion of Christ was not simple.  It was Hell on Earth.  It was complete humiliation and torture beyond anything any of us will ever know.  And it was personal.  

When we whitewash the bloody details of the cross, we lose the depth of His passion for our soul.  He must remember He suffered, bled, suffocated, and died in matchless pain.  And He did it with you in mind.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

 

God bless you all.  You are all in my prayers.  May the crucifixion of Christ be ever on your mind today, that He did it all for you.

 

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net