VIDEO A Vision of God in a Time of Crisis – Choose the Best

Choose the Best

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Do you remember your grammar lessons? In English, two types of adjectives are comparative and superlative. Comparative adjectives rank two different nouns: “Jim is the taller of the two boys.” Superlative adjectives compare a noun to a group at either the upper end or lower end, “Jim is the tallest of all” or “Tom is the smallest of all.” Akin to these rankings are a set of three adjectives that are more subjective: good, better, and best.

In life we would like everything to be clear-cut, making choices easy: good or bad, black or white, yes or no. In reality, most of life—including the Christian life—is more subjective. Among all the options, how do we know if what we do with our time, talent, and treasure is good, better, or best? How do we set priorities for our life? Today, the first day of 2019, is a good day to seek wisdom to make the best choices possible through prayer, Scripture, and wise counsel.

Jesus said the best choice is always to make God’s Kingdom our priority, our best choice. Everything else will fall into place accordingly.

We live by demands when we should live by priorities. J. A. Motyer


A Vision of God in a Time of Crisis (Isaiah 5-6)

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7 Bible Figures Who Struggled with Depression

 

We rub shoulders every day with people who are desperate, hurting, and lonely. We may not even be aware of the dark road they travel. Sometimes we notice, but often we don’t. Maybe we’re too busy, preoccupied, or overwhelmed ourselves. To be honest, many days, we might be those people, the desperate, the hurting, the lonely.

Just needing someone to notice.

To slow down.

To take time.

To care.

Though the Bible doesn’t use the word “depression” except in a few translations and verses, it’s often referenced by other similar words, such as “downcast,” “brokenhearted,” “troubled,” “miserable,” “despairing,” and “mourning,” among others. Throughout the Word, there are a number of stories about godly, influential men and women of faith, who struggled and battled through dark times of hopelessness and depression. Many of us may find ourselves struggling there today.

But we don’t have to stay stuck there. There’s hope.

7 Stories to Remind Us That We’re Not Alone in Our Battles:

David was troubled and battled deep despair. In many of the Psalms, he writes of his anguish, loneliness, fear of the enemy, his heart-cry over sin, and the guilt he struggled with because of it. We also see his huge grief in the loss of his sons in 2 Samuel 12:15-23 and 18:33. In other places, David’s honesty with his own weaknesses gives hope to us who struggle today:

“My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” Ps. 38:4

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Ps. 42:11

Elijah was discouraged, weary, and afraid. After great spiritual victories over the prophets of Baal, this mighty man of God feared and ran for his life, far away from the threats of Jezebel. And there in the desert, he sat down and prayed, defeated and worn:

“I have had enough Lord, he said. Take my life, I am not better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings 19:4

Jonah was angry and wanted to run away. After God called Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach to the people, he fled as far away as could. And after a storm at sea, being swallowed by a giant fish, and then being saved and given a second chance, he obeyed. He preached God’s message to the people of Nineveh. God’s mercy reached out to all people who turned to Him. But instead of rejoicing, Jonah got mad:

“Now O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:3

And even after God reached out to Jonah again with great compassion, he responded, “…I am angry enough to die.” Jonah 4:9

Job suffered through great loss, devastation, and physical illness. This righteous man of God lost literally everything. So great was his suffering and tragedy that even his own wife said, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Job 2:9

Though Job maintained his faithfulness to God throughout his life, he still struggled deeply through the trenches of pain:

“Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?” Job 3:11

“I have no peace, no quietness, I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Job 3:26

“I loathe my very life, therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.” Job 10:1

“Terrors overwhelm me…my life ebbs away, days of suffering grip me. Night pierces my bones, my gnawing pains never rest.” Job 30:15-17

Moses was grieved over the sin of his people. In his feelings of anger and betrayal from his own people, Moses, as a leader, was about ready to quit. He came down from his mountaintop experience with God, commandments in hand, only to find the Israelites in complete chaos and sin. His heart-cry to God on their behalf was desperate:

“But now, please forgive their sin – but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” Ex. 32:32

Jeremiah wrestled with great loneliness, feelings of defeat, and insecurity. Also known as the weeping prophet, Jeremiah suffered from constant rejection by the people he loved and reached out to. God had called him to preach, yet forbidden him to marry and have children. He lived alone, he ministered alone, he was poor, ridiculed, and rejected by his people. In the midst of it, he displayed great spiritual faith and strength, and yet we also see his honesty as he wrestled with despair and a great sense of failure:

“Cursed be the day I was born…why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?” Jer. 20:14,18

Even Jesus Himself was deeply anguished over what lay before Him. He knew what was to come. He knew that God had called him to a journey of great suffering, he knew what must happen in order for us to live truly free. Our Savior and Lord was willing to pay the price on our behalf, but it wasn’t an easy road. Isaiah prophesied that Christ would be “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Is. 53:3

We can be assured, that in whatever we face, Jesus understands our weakness and suffering, our greatest times of temptation and despair, because he too traveled that road, yet without sin.

In the garden, through the night, Jesus prayed, all alone, calling out to His Father, asking Him for another way:

“And He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.’ And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.'” Mark 14:34-36

The Bible says that so great was his anguish, that he sweat “drops of blood.” Luke 22:44

What’s true about all of these stories and many others is this: God was with them. Close. Near.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Ps. 34:18

He was there in the good days and in the dark days too. He didn’t condemn them for their questions and pain. He didn’t tell them to just tough it out. He reached down to their deepest pit of suffering, and lifted them out.

He cared.

He showed compassion. He offered mercy. He brought hope. He instilled purpose. He gave victory.

And He still works in the same way today.

Our world desperately need joy-givers, hope-bringers, those in our lives who will help us remember what real grace is and where lasting help is found.

The greatest truth is this, we have a Savior who understands our pain, who knows about every weakness and hurt, and reaches out with compassion and hope.

He is Healer. Redeemer. Restorer. And friend.

He will never waste the seasons of suffering we face, but will use it, in some way, to bring good, to instill purpose, to help others, and to make us stronger.

Depression is a common, yet very treatable condition that affects many people in our world. Yet statistics tell us that only about one-third of those who are depressed actually receive treatment. This is unfortunate since 80-90% of those who do seek treatment often report feeling better within just a few weeks. It’s also known that depression is the linked cause for over two-thirds of suicides reported each year.

Help is available. Don’t feel the need to try to hide your pain, or struggle through on your own. Talk to a friend or counselor. Seek out professional treatment and care.

If you find yourself in dark places today, know that you’re not alone. Not ever. God knows your way, is with you always, and has good still in store.

Note – If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts and tendencies, please get help. Don’t try to face this on your own. There is hope and healing, and there are many who will journey through this trial with you. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) at any time day or night 24/7, to talk to someone who understands. Or go online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org for more information and help.

Debbie McDaniel | Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer

Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor’s wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead’s facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/DebbieWebbMcDaniel, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also at http://twitter.com/debbmcdaniel and http://www.debbiemcdaniel.com.

https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/explore-the-bible/7-bible-figures-who-struggled-with-depression.html/

Jesus: Our Intimate Friend

Matthew 26:47-50

I’ve counseled plenty of people who argue that they are not worthy of God’s love. Of all the passages I could point to that describe the Lord’s devotion, today’s is the one I think best showcases the unqualified friendship He offers His followers—even when they become wayward.

The night before His crucifixion, Jesus was praying at Gethsemane when Judas Iscariot approached with a band of men. The betrayer stepped forward and kissed the Lord. And what was Jesus’ response? According to Matthew, one of the other disciples, the Lord called the man “friend.” (See Matt. 26:50.)

Judas expected Jesus to establish His kingdom on earth and drive the Romans out of Israel—surely anyone who could calm a storm at sea could easily remove an oppressive government! But Judas’s interest in Jesus was more personal and political than spiritual. In fact, John reported that his fellow disciple stole from the money box (John 12:6). Today the man’s name is synonymous with those who betray others for personal gain.

In spite of Judas’s greed, blind ambition, and betrayal, Jesus never stopped loving him—and still used the word “friend” to address the disciple. The Lord does not place conditions on His love or reject people who fail to meet certain standards. He simply cares for us as we are.

We cannot earn Jesus Christ’s love and friendship. He takes the initiative, reaches out, and draws into fellowship those who are willing. None of us are worthy, but we are privileged to live in His love anyway. In the Lord, we find a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24).

Continually Being Filled

“For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15) 

This prophecy of the angel Gabriel, bearing as it does a tremendous testimony to the character of John the Baptist, contains the first reference in the New Testament to the unique Christian doctrine of the filling of the Holy Spirit. John was the first Christian witness, directing his own disciples to Christ (John 1:35-37) and clearly preaching the gospel of salvation through Christ alone (John 3:26-36). It is significant that he was filled with the Holy Spirit all his life. Jesus is also said to have been full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) and was undoubtedly so filled from the time of conception (Psalm 22:10), but the explicit statement is made only of John.

The fullness of the Spirit is available for every believer, of course. In the New Testament, both of John’s parents were said to be so filled on a specific occasion (Luke 1:41, 67). The disciples of the Lord were filled with the Spirit many times (Acts 2:4; 4:31; 13:52). Peter was said to be filled with the Holy Spirit on at least one special occasion (Acts 4:8), and Paul at least twice (Acts 9:17; 13:9). One of the qualifications sought in the first deacons was that they were to be men full of the Holy Ghost (Acts 6:3), and one of those chosen, Stephen, was specifically so described (Acts 6:5; 7:55). Barnabas was another Spirit-filled Christian believer (Acts 11:24). Undoubtedly there were many others. In fact, every believer is commanded to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The reference in this key passage is not to a one-time event, but to frequent fillings. “Be continually being filled” is the literal rendering. HMM

A Friend of God

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

—James 2:23

What higher privilege and experience is granted to mankind on earth than to be admitted into the circle of the friends of God?…

It is well for us to remember that Divine-human friendship originated with God. Had God not first said “You are My friends,” it would be inexcusably brash for any man to say, “I am a friend of God.” But since God claims us for His friends, it is an act of unbelief to deny the offer of such a relationship….

The spiritual giants of old were those who at some time became acutely conscious of the presence of God. They maintained that consciousness for the rest of their lives….

The essential point is this: These were men who met and experienced God! How otherwise can the saints and prophets be explained? How otherwise can we account for the amazing power for good they have exercised over countless generations?

Is it not that indeed they had become friends of God? Is it not that they walked in conscious communion with the real Presence and addressed their prayers to God with the artless conviction that they were truly addressing Someone actually there?   MMG013-014

I pray that I might catch a glimpse of what it means to walk in conscious communion with You, and might increasingly move into the intimate joy of experiencing You as a personal Friend. Amen.

 

He will be very gracious unto you at the voice of your cry

He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when He shall hear it, He will answer thee.—Isaiah 30:19.

 

That was the Shepherd of the flock; He knew

The distant voice of one poor sheep astray;

It had forsaken Him, but He was true,

And listened for its bleating night and day.

 

And thou, fallen soul, afraid to live or die

In the deep pit that will not set thee free,

Lift up to Him the helpless homeward cry,

For all that tender love is seeking thee.

Anna L. Waring.

 

Our Divine Shepherd followed after His lost sheep for three and thirty years, in a way so painful and so thorny that He spilt His heart’s blood and left His life there. The poor sheep now follows Him through obedience to His commands, or through a desire (though at times but faint) to obey Him, calling upon Him and beseeching Him earnestly for help; is it possible that He should now refuse to turn upon it His life-giving; look? Will He not give ear to it, and lay it upon His divine shoulders, rejoicing over it with all His friends and with the angels of Heaven? For if our Lord ceased not to search most diligently and lovingly for the blind and deaf sinner, the lost drachma of the Gospel, till He found it, how is it possible that He should abandon him who, as a lost sheep, cries and calls upon his Shepherd?

Lorenzo Scupoli.

 

In A Calm Repose

“I will make them to lie down safely.” Hos. 2:18

Yes, the Saints are to have peace. The passage from which this gracious word is taken speaks of peace “with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground.” This is peace with earthly enemies, with mysterious evils, and with little annoyances! Any of these might keep us from lying down, but none of them shall do so. The Lord will quite destroy those things which threaten His people: “I will break the bow and the sword, and the battle out of the earth.” Peace will be profound indeed when all the instruments of disquiet are broken to pieces.

With this peace will come rest. “So he giveth his beloved sleep.” Fully supplied and divinely quieted, believers lie down in calm repose.

This rest will be a safe one. It is one thing to lie down, but quite another “to lie down safely.” We are brought to the land of promise, the house of the Father, the chamber of love, and the bosom of Christ: surely we may now “lie down safely.” It is safer for a believer to lie down in peace than to sit up and worry.

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” We never rest till the Comforter makes us lie down.

 

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