Tag: pastoral care

12 Laws of Recovery (an excerpt)

12 Laws of Recovery (an excerpt)

The following was excerpted from the KJV Life Recovery Bible and is used by permission

 

THE TWELVE LAWS OF LIFE RECOVERY

These laws highlight irrefutable truths that you will discover in yourself as you experience recovery while following the Twelve Steps. They provide evidence of the progress you have made and highlight places where growth is still needed. As you experience these laws, you will find—perhaps to your surprise—that the laws of life recovery often give back what they initially seemed to take away.

  1. Powerlessness will result in STRENGTH.

We struggle with the feeling of powerlessness because it feels so much like we are helpless. But God often works healing in our lives through what to us is weakness. It is paradoxical that as we experience recovery in our lives, we will find there is great strength in recognizing our powerlessness.

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)

  1. Humility will result in HONOR.

In our journey of life recovery, it is easy to take pride in the positive changes we are making in our lives. But in God’s plan, honor is not something we should seek. It is something we receive as we learn to live in humility. Humility is the path to being honored by God and by others.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10)

  1. Connection will result in LOVE.”

We all long to be loved, but we overlook the fact that being loved always takes place in an emotionally connected relationship. Prior to our recovery, we lived in emotional isolation from others. But God designed us for connection—for relationship. That’s the only context in which we can experience true love.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. . . . Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:7-8, 11-12)

  1. Willingness will result in GROWTH.

There is the childlike part within all of us that wants to say, “I can do it on my own,” and “I can do it my way.” But true recovery in our  lives begins when we are willing to do it God’s way. That’s not easy, but without a willingness to be open to God’s plan, we will limit our growth. It all begins with a willing and open heart.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Colossians 3:23)

  1. Sacrifice will result in FULFILLMENT.

Before we started on our recovery journey, it was easy to think and act as if fulfillment came from getting, or from what we owned. But again, God’s ways are mysterious and not our ways. We learn in our recovery that sacrifice—doing good and sharing with others, not getting—is the true path to fulfillment.

“But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16)”

  1. Faith will result in HOPE.

In God’s plan for our recovery, problems and trials are a part of the path that leads to a hope that will not disappoint us. It is all in how we handle our problems and trials. When we endure the hard stuff, we build strength of character, which then builds our faith. It is that faith which leads to a hope built on knowing we are loved by God.

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

  1. Surrender will result in VICTORY.

James describes surrendering as being “easy to be intreated.” Here willingness is coupled with surrendering. When we truly surrender ourselves, we are saying to God,  “Your will, not mine.” And a truly surrendered life is a life lived out as a celebration of our victory.

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:17)

  1. Service will result in REWARD.

Our acts of service are not to be done in order to gain a reward. They are done out of obedience to what we are learning as we are equipped to do the work of ministry. We are God’s hands, feet, and mouth. As we are faithful in our service, the reward is the peace and satisfaction that comes as the result of our obedience.

“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12)”

  1. Forgiveness results in FREEDOM.

We are called to be forgiving people. When we hold a grudge, we are in bondage to the person we refuse to forgive. We forget that forgiveness involves only us, and that the person we need to forgive really isn’t part of the process. So there is no real excuse for not being obedient and forgiving others as we have been forgiven by God.

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)

  1. Confession will result in HEALING.

You may have wondered why it is so important to confess your inventory to another person as part of your recovery. Healing comes  as a result of confessing. We experience something powerful when we confess our shortcomings and failures not only to God but also to another person.

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)

  1. Restitution will result in CLOSURE.

Not all acts of restitution are financial repayments, although that can be a very effective way in some circumstances to make restitution. But we need also to make restitution for emotional hurts, or for other non-financial issues. Until we explore ways to make all kinds of restitution, we will struggle with moving on and experiencing closure.

“Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.” (Numbers 5:7)

  1. Responsibility will result in SECURITY.

This is one of the most obvious results of our experiencing life recovery. We have not only made restitution; we have also begun to act responsibly in all areas of our lives. Responsibility is living up to our part of life, not blaming or expecting someone else to make up for our lack. We experience a genuine sense of security when we are doing our part—living responsibly in our everyday lives.

“And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised.” (Genesis 17:9-10)”

KJV Life Recovery Study Bible

c.1998,2017 Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved

A Sermon for Brian and Jayson

A Sermon for Brian and Jayson

The recent suicide of a colleague got me to thinking about the despair and depression that many face and it took me back to 2005 and the death of an old friend’s younger brother. This is the sermon I wish I could have been there to preach for Brian and I wish I could be there to preach this for Jayson. I could not, in either case, be there but I want to share their sermon in hopes that it will provide comfort for those who are newly grieving or are grieving still…

There exist what I call Psalms in the Key of Mourning. Let us look at one:

Psalm 88

Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out before you day and night. May my prayer reach your presence; listen to my cry.

For I have had enough troubles, and my life is near Sheol.
I am counted among those going down to the Pit. I am like a man without strength, abandoned among the dead. I am like the slain lying in the grave, whom you no longer remember, and who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest part of the Pit, in the darkest places, in the depths. Your wrath weighs heavily on me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. Selah

You have distanced my friends from me; you have made me repulsive to them. I am shut in and cannot go out. My eyes are worn out from crying. Lord, I cry out to you all day long; I spread out my hands to you. 10 Do you work wonders for the dead? Do departed spirits rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Will your faithful love be declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Abaddon? 12 Will your wonders be known in the darkness or your righteousness in the land of oblivion? 13 But I call to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer meets you.
14 Lord, why do you reject me? Why do you hide your face from me? 15 From my youth, I have been suffering and near death.
I suffer your horrors; I am desperate. 16 Your wrath sweeps over me; your terrors destroy me. 17 They surround me like water all day long; they close in on me from every side. 18 You have distanced loved one and neighbor from me; darkness is my only friend.

 

We can relate to the psalmist, can’t we? What should we learn from the psalmist?

Cry out to God, He is there

In the blackest midnight, God is there. Another Psalm teaches “Even though I walk through the darkest valley of death’s shadow, I do not fear for You are with me.” God the Son, incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ, walked through the same valleys we walk. That is why we do not fear. The LORD has walked the path ahead of us, and guiding us by the hand, leads us along our paths.

He is El Roi (Pronounced as El Roe-ee), the God who sees.

Genesis 16:13, NASB: “Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God who sees’; for she said, ‘Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?’

El Roi is best translated, “You are the God who sees me.” He is the God who is watching us and will tend to our needs.

There are times when we refer to YHWH Shammah, the Lord who is there. In those references, we are referring to God being in the midst of His holy people, the redeemed.

God understands your deepest pain and there is rest planned

Revelation 22:1-5

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

In the words of the song, “No more dying there, we are going to see the King.”

No longer will there be any curse-All of the attendant griefs and struggles that come with our fallen nature will be, in that moment, gone. When we shall see the King of Mercy, every tear is promised to be gone.

Revelation 21:4 (ESV)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

My dear friend, indeed you weep for the moment and my heart breaks for your pain so that I weep with you. But that weeping cannot last forever, God has promised not to allow it.

 Grieve the darkness

Weep and mourn; the Lord draws near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). The Lord God, Himself binds your wounds. The very One who cried out that God had forsaken Him can understand your despair and will pour oil on the wound and bind it up so that your hurt can heal.

Trust the Savior, he is an immovable rock

I have dealt with deep depression, though I do not share it much, and I want to share two verses from Isaiah the Prophet that have always been a comfort to me in the darkness of depression.

Isaiah 43:11 (KJV)

11 I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no savior.

Isaiah 44:8

Do not be startled or afraid. Have I not told you and declared it long ago?
You are my witnesses! Is there any God but Me? There is no other Rock; I do not know any.

Like Spurgeon, I have learned to kiss the waves that cast me upon the Rock of Ages. A final verse for your comfort:

Malachi 3:6 (KJV) I, the Lord, change not.

God will not change. His promise to be with His people forever and death will not change that. Death is no more than God’s butler; he will show us to the King’s Throne Room.

Let us pray:

Almighty and most merciful God, we call out for your comfort. Our hearts grieve with words we cannot express. We can only groan in our despair but You search the heart and know our pain. Would you bind up our wounded hearts and minister peace to us? Amen

 

The Bible on Comfort

The Bible on Comfort

In an effort to minister to troubled hearts, we are bringing you this Quick Scripture Reference Guide on Comfort. We pray that, as you study, the Holy Spirit, who is the God of all comfort, will minister peace to your soul.

Friends should comfort each other (Job 2:12-13)
God comforts us (Isaiah 40:1-11)
God promises to comfort those who mourn (Matthew 5:4)
God’s Holy Spirit is our Comforter (John 14:16)
Jesus has overcome the world’s troubles (John 16:33)
God comforts those who are hurting (2 Corinthians 1:3-11)
Christians should comfort each other (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
All pain will end (Revelation 21:3-4) [(2013). 

Peirasmos (Word Nugget)

Peirasmos (Word Nugget)

We are currently living in a time of testing and so I thought this word nugget might be helpful. It is a word familiar to all the Apostles and indeed Christians throughout the ages.

 

peirasmos:

Original Word: πειρασμός, οῦ, ὁ
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Transliteration: peirasmos
Phonetic Spelling: (pi-ras-mos’)

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:

peirasmos

1) an experiment, attempt, trial, proving

1a) trial, proving: the trial made of you by my bodily condition, since condition served as to test the love of the Galatians toward Paul (Galatians 4:14)

1b) the trial of man’ s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy

1b1) an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances

1b2) an internal temptation to sin

1b2a) of the temptation by which the devil sought to divert Jesus the Messiah from his divine errand

1b3) of the condition of things, or a mental state, by which we are enticed to sin, or to a lapse from the faith and holiness

1b4) adversity, affliction, trouble: sent by God and serving to test or Proverbs one’ s character, faith, holiness

1c) temptation (i.e. trial) of God by men

1c1) rebellion against God, by which his power and justice are, as it were, put to the proof and challenged to show themselves

This word is used 21 times by the New Testament Writers:

  • Matthew 6:13: “us not into temptation, but deliver us from”

  • Matthew 26:41: “ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing,”

  • Mark 14:38: “lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready,”

  • Luke 4:13: “devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.”

  • Luke 8:13: “and in time of temptation fall away.”

  • Luke 11:4: “us not into temptation; but deliver us from”

  • Luke 22:28: “me in my temptations.”

  • Luke 22:40: “that ye enter not into temptation.”

  • Luke 22:46: “lest ye enter into temptation.”

  • Acts 20:19: “with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the”

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God”

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13: “but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye”

  • Galatians 4:14: “And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised”

  • 1 Timothy 6:9: “be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many”

  • Hebrews 3:8: “in the day of temptation in the wilderness:”

  • James 1:2: “when ye fall into divers temptations;”

  • James 1:12: “is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive”

  • 1 Peter 1:6: “need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:”

  • 1 Peter 4:12: “concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,”

  • 2 Peter 2:9: “how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto”

  • Revelation 3:10: “from the hour of testing, which shall come upon all”

Testing/Temptation/Tribulation is assured (John 16:33, James 1:2) We may take comfort, however, in the fact that God has made a way of escape for us.

Temptation is always only a single inducement-the Tempter comes to get us to charge God with being insufficient. Sometimes we will fail and give in to that temptation and other times we will answer, as Jesus did, with “it is written.” In between testing’s we may rightly pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Truly, no Christian wants to pass through the furnace of trials but therein our faith is refined like precious metal. We can paraphrase Spurgeon, “I have learned to kiss the waves that smash me upon the Rock of Ages.

Spiritual Renewal Themes in Revelation

Spiritual Renewal Themes in Revelation

Revelation is one of the more complex books in the Bible but at the same time, we see principles for Spiritual Renewal and we also see the restoration of the creation during the Millennial Kingdom

God Rules Over All
God is sovereign. He is greater than any other power in the universe. Nothing and no one can compare to him. When we look at the turmoil in the world today, the problems we face, the pain we have suffered or the pain we have caused others, we may wonder whether God will really be able to right all the wrongs. But John wrote this book to assure us that though evil may seem to win today’s battles, God is all-powerful and will assert himself for his people. In the end, all things will be made new in Christ.

God Is the Source of Hope
The book of Revelation reveals to us the ultimate source of hope—Jesus Christ. He is coming again and will deal with the problems of our sin-scarred world, restoring what is broken and dealing with the injustices around us. Life is never hopeless, regardless of what has happened to us or what we have done. We can focus on God’s love, grace and forgiveness. He has made our restoration possible in Christ, and Christ will return to complete his task of renewal throughout all creation. If we are looking to Christ, we can hang on to our hope despite the difficult circumstances that we may face.

The Pain of Consequences
Every one of us cries out for justice. When evil and injustice prosper, we begin to feel angry. It often appears that people get away with their selfish and wicked deeds. But in reality God will judge all wicked actions. Those who openly defy him will ultimately face the awful consequences of their sin. Those who turn to God in repentance for forgiveness need not fear the future day of judgment. Judgment is an awful thing, and the pain of sin’s consequences should motivate us to turn our lives over to God and obediently follow his plan.

Excerpted from the NIV Spiritual Renewal Study Bible c.2005 by Zondervan

The Bible’s Answers to Fear

The Bible’s Answers to Fear

This is a season when many are in fear and so we are providing this Reference Guide on Fear in hopes it will help you.

 

  • God promises to protect us (Genesis 15:1)

  • God will not forget us (Genesis 46:3)

  • God leads us through the dark, frightening valley (Psalm 23:4)

  • The Redeemed have no need to fear any longer (Psalm 27:1)

  • God is our source of strength (Psalm 46:1-3)

  • We need not fear darkenss nor violence (Psalm 91:5)

  • We need not fear bad news (Psalm 112:7)

  • Nothing is outside God’s control (Isaih 46:9-10)

  • God does not chnage so we need not fear (Malachi 3:6)

  • We are seald in the hands of Jesus (John 10:28)

  • We are secure inthe Holy Spirit until the Day of Redemption  (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30)

  • Love drives out fear (1 John 4:18)

The Bittersweetness of Suffering (Sermon Notes)

The Bittersweetness of Suffering (Sermon Notes)

“Tribulation” This is not the Great Tribulation; it means simply trouble. Since the awful persecution of the church by the Roman emperors is not called the Great Tribulation, surely our small sufferings are not the Great Tribulation. But the church in Smyrna endured much tribulation, and they suffered for the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Suffering is assured to the believers

         It was promised to us by Jesus

John 16:33 “In the world ye shall have tribulation”

Suffering perfects our faith

James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

 

We sometimes walk through the dark valley of the Shadow of Death

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

 

There are different types of suffering for the Lord: Persecution, sickness, loss. Any type of suffering is permitted by our Lord Jesus for His glory.

 

“Poverty” denotes the lack of material possessions. The early church was made up largely of the poorer classes. When the wealthy believed in Christ, their property was confiscated because of their faith. “But thou art rich” denotes the spiritual wealth of the church—they were blessed with all spiritual blessings. Notice the contrast to the rich church in Laodicea. To that church He said, “You think you are rich, but you are really poor and don’t know it.”

 

Let me drive this home for you. Neither physical riches nor physical poverty is a measure of God’s favor on your life. It is no sin to be wealthy but it is a sin to lust after money and riches. Any finances that God puts into your hands are for you to use to bless others. (James 1:27)

 

The Christians of Smyrna knew poverty because they were robbed and fired from jobs in persecution for the gospel. Early Christians joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven (Hebrews 10:34). This kind of economic persecution was one important reason why Christians were poor in Smyrna. Even today, this is a common form of persecution against Christians. Think of the bakers who are dragged into the courts or the photographers and florists, all because of their faith and unwillingness to celebrate unrighteousenss.

 

 

“The blasphemy of them which say they are Jews … but are the synagogue of Satan.”  Insofar as we can tell, the synagogue in Smyrna was aiding the Roman persecution of the Jews. These are not Gentiles who call themselves Jews but are not. History tells us they were very hostile to the Church in Smyrna and, consequently, hey are a synagogue of Satan. Perhaps they were like the Members of the Circumcision faction in Galatia, who sought to force non-Jews into receiving circumcision in order to have a relationship with God, thus subjecting themselves and their followers to a legalistic perversion of the Torah. To be clear, this was not all of the Jews in Smyrna and probably not even the Jewish laity. It was most certainly the leaders of the synagogue and, possibly, the more civically prominent members of the congregation.

 

Do not fear: Literally, this is better translated “stop being afraid.” The Christians in Smyrna suffered under persecution, and they were afraid. Sometimes we think that Christians who endure persecution are almost super-human, and we sometimes don’t appreciate the depths of fear they struggle with. There were things which they were about to suffer, and Jesus wanted them ready to stand against those things.

 

“Fear none of those things” is the encouragement of the Lord to His own in the midst of persecutions. This is the second time in this book that the Lord has offered this encouragement. Throughout Church History, especially during the time of the Reformation, we see that multitudes went to their death singing praises to God.

 

 

“The devil [Satan] shall cast some of you into prison.” Christ labels Satan as being responsible for the suffering of the saints in Smyrna. You and I tend to blame the immediate person or circumstance which serves as Satan’s tool, but the Lord Jesus goes back to the root trouble.

 

Remember the story of Job. Satan was given permission to test Job, but within defined limits. No persecution, no suffering comes without the permission of God.

 

“Ye shall have tribulation ten days.”  There are two important points in view here. First, the “10 Days” symbolize 10 periods of persecution under Rome’s emperors.

 

  • Nero—64–68 (Paul was beheaded under his reign)
  • Domitian—95–96 (John was exiled during that period)
  • Trajan—104–117 (Ignatius was burned at the stake)
  • Marcus Aurelius—161–180 (Polycarp was martyred)
  • Severus—200–211
  • Maximinius—235–237
  • Decius—250–253
  • Valerian—257–260
  • Aurelian—270–275
  • Diocletian—303–313 (the worst emperor of all).

 

This is certainly a valid idea but it is hardly the point. When we have ALL of Revelation in view, it is clear that the “10 Days” is indicative of a short period of time.

 

That you may be tested: If this attack came from the devil, then why couldn’t these Christians in Smyrna just rebuke Satan, and stop the attack? Because God had a purpose in their suffering, and so He allowed it. God uses suffering to purify (1 Peter 1:6-7), to make us like Jesus (Romans 8:17), and to makes us truly witnesses of Him. In all ages, the blood of the martyrs has been seed for the church.

“The saints at Smyrna had not been given a pep-talk on ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ They had no testimony on ‘How Faith Made Me Mayor of Smyrna.’ They were not promised deliverance from tribulation, poverty and reviling. In fact, the worst was yet to come.” (Havner)

Most specifically in this case, God allowed this attack so that they may be tested, in the sense of being proven. Through their suffering, God displayed the true riches of the church in Smyrna to everyone, including themselves – even though He knew they were rich already.

 

The Christians in Smyrna would be tested, but they passed the test. This church, compared to the other six, has no evil spoken against it. Only this church among the seven survives today, and it has survived through centuries of Roman and Muslim persecution.

 

That you may be tested: God is also interested in testing us. We may not have the same opportunity to suffer for Jesus that the Christians in Smyrna had, but we can have their same heart. We may never be in a place to die a martyr’s death, but we can all live a martyr’s life. Sadly, many Christians avoid persecution of any kind by conforming so much to the world that they are no longer distinctively Christians. This wasn’t the case with the Christians in Smyrna. They were tested and they passed the test.

 

 

“Be thou faithful unto death”—and they were. They were martyrs for Him. He promises them “a crown of life.” Remember that He is addressing the believers who lived in Smyrna, the crown city. It is interesting that to them He is saying that He will give crowns—not crowns of flowers—or of anything else perishable—but crowns that will be eternal.

 

The Crown of Life is life itself: everlasting, undiminished, incapable of loss. So often we think of Life Everlasting in terms of time and it is true that Everlasting Life will not end but it is so much more than unending life. Everlasting Life, because it is IN Jesus, who IS life, is quality of life. Everlasting Life is perfect; it does not diminish because it cannot. Everlasting Life can no longer be shortened by sickness or dimmed by death. In the instant we put off this pitiful rag and take up the dazzling majestic robe of life that Christ gives, we will have total and complete quality of life unto the age of the ages. Christ, Himself, is our life; He is our crowning glory.

Scriptures for the Suffering

Scriptures for the Suffering

Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses. He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy, the time for mourning and the time for dancing. — Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Trust in God at all times, my people. Tell him all your troubles, for he is our refuge. — Psalm 62:8

You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they listed in your book? — Psalm 56:8

Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light. — Matthew 11:28-30

Comfort for the depressed Lesson Notes

Comfort for the depressed Lesson Notes

First, a definition of depression: Depression is a prolonged feeling of despondency or dejection.

Is depression sinful? No, it isn’t. Depression is a warning built into both the body and the spirit to alert you that something is wrong, most likely very wrong. Feelings of depression should never be left unattended as the disease can turn deadly without warning (suicidal thoughts and/or actions)

Depression has only two source categories, bio-mechanical error or spiritual error and there are differences in how both should be handled. In either case, wisdom commands that care begins with your doctor to determine if the depression is caused by a physical problem or a spiritual.

Physical causes of depression include:

  • Side effects of medication
  • Poor sleep and/or poor respiration during sleep
  • Dietary issues
  • Prolonged physical illnesses such diabetes, cancer, lupus

Any or all physical causes of depression can be remedied by your doctor. Spiritual causes of depression, on the other hand, require more sensitivity and care. I want to focus on care of depressed people.

Realize that it is not always your fault. Sin separates us from communion with God and sickness is a part of the curse.

 God is able to comfort the hurting (2 Samuel 22:29-31, Hebrews 4:15) All too often we come to the idea that God does not understand us or how we are feeling. We need to disabuse ourselves of this idea and remember that the 2nd Person of the Trinity, the Divine Son, walked on Earth as a man and is, forever, the God-man in heaven.

We remember the words of the Apostle in his letter to the Hebrew Christians telling us that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.”  In the hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, we are reminded that “Jesus knows our every weakness.”

God is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) One of the titles of the Holy Spirit is Comforter. As the Spirit of Christ, He knows all of our cares and sufferings and draws close to minister to us in our times of darkness. The Holy Spirit is the Shepherd of Psalm 23 through Whom we fear no evil. He also illumens the Scripture and hymns to our minds to bring the peace of God into our lives.

Abraham had hope when there was no cause for hope (Romans 4:18-22) So also may we have hope when there seems to be no reason for our hope. In the blackest midnight of our sufferings, Christ is our hope. He is our hope of life everlasting, our hope of no more suffering, and our hope of everlasting peace.

In the Eternal State, God will wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4) At last, in the Eternal Kingdom, when Jesus,  Himself, is the reward of our suffering, every tear will be wiped away. Every travail will be worth it.

This is our hope, that we will be with Christ forever. That hope can sustain us through any darkness and any depression.

 

Depression, Quick Scripture Reference Guide

Depression, Quick Scripture Reference Guide

In advance of Sunday’s lesson on the Bible and Depression, we are offering this Quick Scripture Reference Guide on depression:

 

  • Depression often follows exhausting times (Judges 15:18)

  • God is able to comfort the hurting (2 Samuel 22:29-31)

  • God is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18)

  • Abraham had hope when there was no cause for hope (Romans 4:18-22)

  • In the Eternal State, God will wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4)