Handling Tests & Trials Biblically 2: Coming Forth as Gold + LINKUP

 

Handling Tests & Trials: Coming Forth as Gold - It's been said that either you have just come out of a trial, are presently in a trial, or are about to go through one. Trials expose our hearts. They remove the dross from our lives–those things which keep us from bringing glory to God as we should. But there are things we need to understand about trials and our responses.It’s been said that either you have just come out of a trial, are presently in a trial, or are about to go through one. Trials expose our hearts. They remove the dross from our lives–those things which keep us from bringing glory to God as we should. But there are things we need to understand about trials and our responses.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Handling Tests & Trials Biblically: Coming Forth as Gold

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” In earlier posts we covered anger, depression, fear, worry, and guilt. If you missed any of them, just click on the link. You’ll find them all there.

Last week we talked about how God uses tests, trials, and suffering in our lives as a divine squeeze to let us and others see what’s in our hearts. We looked at biblical and unbiblical perspectives on tests and trials and God’s purposes in them. I hope you’ll take the time to read it if you haven’t, especially, if you’re going through a challenging time.

Today we’ll talk about our responses to tests and trials, how we can please Him during those difficult times, how we become like Christ as a result, and the resources God has given us.

 

Coming Forth as Gold

 

Nothing exposes our hearts as much as trials do. When trouble hits us, it’s easy to see the areas where we’re not fully committed to and trusting in God. But God doesn’t allow tests and trials to trip us up or so He can point His finger at us. God allows, even designs, trials to strengthen and purify us. Job said, “When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10, NASB).

But, as I pointed out last week, we sometimes have unbiblical perspectives regarding trials and suffering. We can believe:

  1. That they’re always our fault.
  2. That they’re always the other person’s fault. We can have a “victim” mentality.
  3. That they’re no one’s fault. This is divine fatalism.
  4. That they’re God’s fault. He causes everything, even sin.
  5. Or the Deistic view—that God isn’t involved in it at all. This is the belief that God created everything, but now He just stands back and watches without getting involved.

Then we looked at some biblical perspectives on trials and suffering:

  1. That they’re ultimately the result of the Adam’s fall (Gen 3).
  2. That God is the remote cause. In other words, He allows them, but He’s never the cause of our sin.
  3. That God is sovereign and He works all things according to His plan and purpose, including trials and suffering.
  4. That they’re always for God’s glory and our eternal good, even though God may temporarily set aside our happiness to accomplish something greater.

So, since God has allowed whatever we’re experiencing and it’s for our good, how should we respond?

 

Responding to Tests & Trials

 

It’s important to understand that we’re accountable for our responses no matter how we feel. We’re to respond in ways that please God. That should be our goal in life no matter what our circumstances.

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Cor 5.9-10).

While it may be easy to justify wrong responses, God gives us the grace  to respond rightly.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Cor. 10.13).

We shouldn’t pray to just “hang in there” or somehow get through trials and suffering. We should ask God to help us grow in the midst of the difficulty and to become more like Christ (Rom 8.28-29; Jas 1.2-4).

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (Jas 1.2-4).

While we may not always rejoice in the suffering itself, we can rejoice in the fact that a sovereign God can work through the trial.

Most of us can look back and see how God has used other trials for our good and how we’ve grown in our faith and trust in Him, not in spite of trials, but because of them.

So, what are some of the specific reasons God allows trials and sufferings?

 

Handling Tests & Trials Biblically: Coming Forth as Gold -


Some of the “Why’s”

 

While we need to be careful of demanding to know “why,” there are some why’s God has revealed in His Word.

  1. Because of unconfessed sin (1 Cor. 11.30; 2 Kings 5.15-27).

In talking about the Lord’s supper in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul said:

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

The Lord’s supper is a time to remember what Christ did and a reminder of the importance of examining ourselves, but self-examination is something we should do on a regular basis.

Because the people had failed to do so and to confess and forsake sin, many were sick, some had died, and some were “weak.”  That word weak means, “having a propensity for sickness.” We might say “sickly.”

Of course, we need to use caution when viewing the suffering of others. We can’t assume they are guilty of sin. That was the problem with Job’s counselorsContinue reading

Handling Tests & Trials Biblically: the Divine Squeeze + LINKUP

 

Handling Tests & Trials Biblically: The Divine Squeeze - Today we're going to begin talking about how to handle tests and trials. We'll look at both biblical and unbiblical perspectives on them, God's purposes for trials and how we should respond.Today we’re going to begin talking about how to handle tests and trials. We’ll look at both biblical and unbiblical perspectives on them, God’s purposes for trials and how we should respond.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Handling Tests & Trials Biblically: The Divine Squeeze

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” In earlier posts we have covered anger, depression, fear, worry, and guilt. If you missed any of them, just click on the link.

Today we’ll look at tests and trials.

 

The Divine Squeeze

 

It’s been said that either you have just come out of a trial, are presently in a trial, or are about to go through a trial. That thought can stop us in our tracks, because we don’t like trials. At least I don’t and I don’t think I’m alone.

But God uses tests, trials, and suffering in our lives as a divine squeeze to let us and others see what’s in our hearts. J.C. Ryle said, “What you are in the day of trial, that you are and nothing more.” Trials show us what we are really made of!

That may be a little discouraging if you didn’t do so well in a trial or aren’t handling one well right now, but God is a God of second and third chances. That’s good news and bad. The good news is He keeps working with us. The bad news is He keeps working with us. That means when we don’t handle a trial well, He’ll give us another chance either by extending the trial we’re in or bringing another one designed to work on the same heart issue.

Many times I’ve seen someone file for an unbiblical divorce only to find themselves a few years down the road married to someone with the same issues. The world has come up with all kinds of psychological explanations for it, but I don’t believe God will set us free from those patterns until we learn to respond in a Christlike way to the present situation.

My husband spoke with a friend of his one day. His friend was complaining about a situation that was stretching his patience. He commented that God was always allowing something in his life to make him more patient.  My husband’s response, “Maybe it’s time to learn what He’s trying to show you!”

Whether it’s loving our spouses biblically, growing in patience, kindness or unselfishness, learning to truly forgive, or some other area of life, our Divine Teacher, the Holy Spirit is well able to design the right teaching opportunity and homework.

But God also uses tests and trials to remove the dross from our lives–those things which keep us from bringing as much glory to God as we should! He wants us to be able to say, like Job, “When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10, NASB).

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit (Jn. 15.1-2).

 

Unbiblical Perspectives about Tests & Trials

 

Handling Tests & Trials Biblically: The Divine Squeeze - Today we're going to begin talking about how to handle tests and trials. We'll look at both biblical and unbiblical perspectives on them, God's purposes for trials and how we should respond.

 

When we are going through trials and sufferings we can easily develop wrong perspectives about the nature of and reason for them.  Here are some of those unbiblical perspectives:

 

It’s always my fault.

Or it’s always the fault of anyone going through a trial. This was the problem with Job’s comforters.

If you were pure and upright,
Surely now He would awake for you,
And prosper your rightful dwelling place (Job 8.6).

The disciples, mistakenly, believed the same thing:

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him (Jn. 9.1-3).

Sometimes things happen that are not a direct result of personal sin. You could be driving responsibly and be hit by a drunk driver. You could be a faithful employee, yet your company is sold and you lose your job.

 

It’s always someone else’s fault.

Other people have a “victim” mentality about our tests and trials. As we’ve talked about in some of the earlier posts in this series, we’re good at blame-shifting. It’s my spouse’s fault, my boss’ fault …” No matter how irresponsible we have been, we blame someone else.

 

It’s no one’s fault.

We’ve all seen the bumper sticker: “S_ _ _ happens!” This is fatalism.

We’re not just the victim of some random cosmic joke! God is the author and originator of everything in our lives. He is either the proximate or immediate cause or He is the remote or distant cause, that is He allowed it to happen for our good and His glory. Nothing happens by accident.

 

A deistic view of God’s involvement in our tests and trials.

This is the idea that God created everything, but now He just stands back and watches without getting involved.

 

So what does the Bible teach about tests and trials?

 

10 Biblical Facts about Tests & Trials

 

Handling Tests & Trials Biblically: 10 Biblical Facts about Tests & Trials

 

1. We all experience trials and sufferings.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16.33).

 

2. Ultimately, trials are the result of the fall.

I’m glad for Adam and Eve that there are no guilt trips in heaven, because everything goes back to the fall (Gen. 3).

 

3. God is always the remote (distant) cause of trials and suffering.

He allows us to make choices, but only when those choices are in keeping with His sovereign will.

 

4. God is never the author of sin.

Even though He allows us to make choices, He never causes or tempts us to sin.

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures (Jas. 1.13-18).

Continue reading

“Responding to Difficult People”

 

Responding to Difficult People

Do you have any difficult people in your life? Most of us do. Is there someone that God has not changed (even though you have been praying and praying) … and it’s hard? So, how does God want us to respond to them?

 

Responding to Difficult People

 

This is the second post in a series about what Paul Tripp calls “Living Between the Already and the Not Yet.”

The first post was “5 Ways God Finishes His Work in Us” based on Philippians 1.6:

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

We talked about Jude 24 and how God tells us that one day He will cause us to stand before Him faultless.

But there is a progression to it. By God’s grace we are progressing from what we were on the day of our spiritual birth (the “already”) and what Jude talks about in verse 24 (the “not yet”).

Here between the “already” and the “not yet” God is progressively changing us as we learn to:

1. Count it all joy (James 1.2-5).
2. Accept His discipline (Heb. 12.5-11).
3. Keep the 2 great commandments (Matt. 22.37-40).
4. Overcome evil with good (Rom. 12.17-21).
5. Trust in His sovereignty (Rom. 8.28-29; 1 Cor. 10.13).

Today in the second post in that series, we’ll talk about how we should respond to difficult, even sinful, people.

 

Difficult Relationships

 

Do you have any difficult people in your life? Is there someone that God has not changed (even though you have been praying and praying) … and it’s hard?

It could be a work situation or a family situation. Maybe you’re being mistreated, insulted or falsely accused?

The truth is, most of us have relationships that are challenging!

In counseling much of what we deal with concerns relationship issues:

  • A couple may come because they can’t be in the same room without fighting.
  • A wife may come because her husband is harsh and unloving.
  • Parents come because a child is disrespectful and angry.
  • Someone else comes because they are still struggling with mistreatment or abuse from childhood.
  • Parents come with a child who is being bullied.

 

How do these things fit into God’s plans and purposes for us?

 

Let’s just say for a minute “Lois” comes in. Her husband is harsh and unloving and not even willing to come for counseling.

Mike Wilkerson in his book Redemption says that we are all fellow sufferers AND fellow sinners. Even when we are sinned against, we complicate the situation by our responses.

So Lois finds herself yelling, complaining, gossiping to friends, and even threatening her husband with divorce. Now things are not going well. In fact, life has gotten hard!

I will often draw what we call the “Y- Chart” and share with her this simple phrase “Only 2 choices on the shelf, pleasing God or pleasing self.”

 

y chart

“Only 2 choices on the shelf, pleasing God or pleasing self.”

 

Pleasing Self

 

Pleasing self starts out easy. It comes naturally to us. But …

Proverbs 13.15 says “the way of the transgressor is hard.”

What starts out easy gets hard; things don’t go well. Our sin only worsens the situation.

Psalm 32.10 says, “Many are the sorrows of the wicked.”

And Romans 2.9 says:

There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil

Synonyms for those two words “tribulation” and “distress” include depression, shame, guilt, anxiety, affliction, agony, hurt, misery, pain, torment, and woe, just for starters.

Doing evil can involve sins of commission or sins of omission. Sins of commission are things we do that we shouldn’t and sins of omission are our failures to do what we should.

 

 

y chart Pleasing self starts out easy, but, eventually, life gets hard!

 

Pleasing God

 

The other way … pleasing God, starts out hard. It goes against our natural way of thinking.

We have thoughts like: “If I let him get away with that, he’ll think it’s ok” or “Do you expect me to be a doormat?” It’s hard! But … Jesus said in Matthew 11.28-30:

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

 

 

y chartWhat starts out “hard” gets easier and our burden gets lighter.

 

A minute ago I quoted Romans 2.9:

“There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil …”

But verse 10 says:

“but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good …”

John 13.17 says, now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. And James 1.25 says it’s the doer of the Word who will be blessed.

So back to Lois … life has gotten hard, there’s tribulation and distress, made worse by Continue reading

Handling Guilt Biblically Part 2 + LINKUP

 

Handling Guilt Biblically Part 2Today we’re going to continue to talk about guilt, what it is, and why we experience it? We’ll look at how the world views it and the biblical perspective on it. Finally, we’ll talk about what God has to say about handling guilt biblically?

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Handling Guilt Biblically Part 2

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” In previous posts we covered anger, depression, fear and worry. If you missed any of them, just click on the link.

Last week we looked in depth at Psalm 38 which was written by David as he struggled with guilt and depression.

Today we’ll look at how guilt and shame are tied to other negative emotions like fear and shame. We’ll also see how the culture has tried to remove all restrictions, including God’s law, to alleviate feelings of guilt, instead of dealing with the root issues. Then we’ll look at what guilt is biblically and how God says to deal with it.

 

An Unholy Trio: Guilt, Fear & Shame

 

A few weeks ago we looked at the first time fear showed up in the Bible. Adam and Eve had disobeyed God and eaten the fruit they had been forbidden to eat. When their eyes were opened and they realized what they had done, Genesis 3 says:

7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

That fear was triggered by guilt and shame. Their response was to hide and when confronted to shift the blame to someone else:

12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Since that day in the garden, human beings have perfected the art of blame-shifting and tried to cover our guilt with all kinds of fig leaves. We’ve blamed our parents, our economic situations, society, cultural demands, and religion just to name a few.

 

The World’s Fig Leaves

 

  • The Psychology Fig Leaf

Secular psychologists told us that religion and society imposed unfair “codes of conduct” on us and that was the root of our guilt. The answer we were told was to throw off those constraints and create our own definitions of what’s right and wrong.

Isn’t that what women’s liberation, the sexual revolution, the right to abortion, the demand to be gay, bisexual, transgender or whatever we desire, are all about? In our attempt to alleviate any guilt, we’ve re-written the code.

  • The Environmental Fig Leaf

Behaviorists came along and blamed the environment. They said we shouldn’t feel guilty. It’s not our fault. It’s because we’re poor and uneducated. Or it’s the way our parents raised or neglected us.

  • The Low Self-Esteem Fig Leaf

The self-esteem movement told us it’s because we don’t feel good about ourselves. We must raise our self-esteem so we can eliminate those negative emotions.

  • The Medical Fig Leaf

The medical world has clouded the issue, too. Drunkenness is now called a disease, alcoholism. Rebellion is oppositional defiance disorder. Sexual immorality is a sexual addiction.

The problem is when we quit calling things what they are, the answers get obscured, as well.

 

The Effects of Living in a Sin Cursed World

 

No one would deny the the environment in which a person is raised has an effect on them. But we have a choice as to how we’ll respond to those factors. And because of our fallen nature we can have a predisposition to certain kinds of sin, weaknesses, where we need to depend on God in a greater way.

And, certainly, we need to examine any “code of conduct” in light of God’s Word. Legalism and false religions are full of man-made rules. But the answer isn’t to come up with what seems right to us.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death (Prov. 14.12).

And nowhere in the Bible are we told to esteem ourselves, but rather, to esteem God and others. We’re not to denigrate ourselves, but neither are we to think more highly of ourselves than we should.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith (Rom. 12.3).

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself (Phil. 2.3).

Whatever our weaknesses, whatever our environment, God has promised that if we belong to Him, He’ll give us the grace we need for every situation.  Continue reading

Handling Guilt Biblically Part 1 + LINKUP

 

Handling Guilt Biblically -

Today and over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to talk about guilt, what it is, and why we experience it? We’ll look at how the world views it, some examples of guilt in the Bible, and we’ll get the biblical perspective on it. Finally, we’ll discuss what we as Christians should do about it?

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Handling Guilt Biblically Part 1

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” We have already covered anger, depression, fear and worry. If you missed any of them, just click on the link.

Today we’re going to start talking about guilt, but first, I want to tell you about a man I know. This man was under a lot of pressure. He was suffering from poor health. He seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders. He even seemed to be in a daze at times. He couldn’t focus. He was sad and depressed. And He thought about his problems all the time.

It was affecting him physically. His heart would race wildly and he was stressed out. All he wanted to do was sleep and, yet, when he tried to sleep he couldn’t.

If you’ve ever been around someone like that, it gets uncomfortable. There’s only so much you can say. That was the case with this man. He said his friends came around less and less and eventually some just quit coming. Maybe that has happened to you, either you have felt like this man or been one of his friends or both.

If you were trying to help my friend, how would you diagnose his problem?

Could he be clinically depressed, be suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome or have PTSD? Does he need medication?

It’s possible that you have met this man, too.

The man is David, and David was experiencing pressure at the hand of a loving God. David had sinned and God was dealing with him.

In Psalm 38 David said this:

1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!
2 For Your arrows pierce me deeply,
And Your hand presses me down.

3 There is no soundness in my flesh
Because of Your anger,
Nor any health in my bones
Because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head;

Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
5 My wounds are foul and festering
Because of my foolishness.

6 I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly;
I go mourning all the day long.
7 For my loins are full of inflammation,
And there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am feeble and severely broken;
I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.

9 Lord, all my desire is before You;
And my sighing is not hidden from You.
10 My heart pants, my strength fails me;
As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.

11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague,
And my relatives stand afar off.
12 Those also who seek my life lay snares for me;
Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction,
And plan deception all the day long.

13 But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;
And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth.
14 Thus I am like a man who does not hear,
And in whose mouth is no response.

15 For in You, O LORD, I hope;
You will hear, O Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me,
Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.”

17 For I am ready to fall,
And my sorrow is continually before me.

18 For I will declare my iniquity;
I will be in anguish over my sin.

 

A Closer Look

 

Let’s look closer at what David said:  Continue reading

Handling Fear & Worry Biblically Part 2 + LINKUP

 

Handling Fear & Worry Biblically Part 2 - When sin entered the world it was accompanied by an uninvited guest … FEAR. Yet, the Bible tells us over 450 times, “fear not” or similar words. Find out the two root causes of fear and learn to overcome it biblically in your own life.

 

Handling Fear & Worry Biblically Part 2

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” We’ve covered anger and depression. Last week we started talking about fear and worry. If you missed any of them, just click on the link.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Fear & Worry

 

Last week I said that some sins are so common they’ve almost become acceptable, even among believers in Christ. Though we may spin them with words like: concerned, disturbed, or troubled, fear and worry fall into that category. Last week we focused on worry, how it comes from a divided mind, that it has sinful roots, and how it’s a form of idolatry. Today we’ll focus on fear.

 

Fear

 

The minute Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God, an uninvited guest called “fear” showed up, too. Genesis 3:

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

When Cain killed his brother Abel and was banished, he responded with self-pity and fear. Genesis 4:

13 And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”

We fear what God will do. We fear what people will do. We fear what people think of us. We fear someone taking advantage of us or not loving us. We fear being disrespected. We fear all over the place.

 

“Fear Not”

 

Handling Fear & Worry God's WayYet, in His Word, God told us not to fear over 450 times.

He told a fearful mother:

17 … Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18 Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation” (Gen. 21.17-18).

He assured the nation of Israel of His help and deliverance by telling them to “fear not” (Is. 41.10, 13, 14). And in chapter 43 He said:

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.

In Exodus 4 God reassured a fearful, insecure future leader:

Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’”

10 Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

11 So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

And when he persisted, God sent his brother Aaron with him (Ex. 4.13-17).

In the New Testament, Paul told a nervous young preacher named Timothy:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1.7).

 

2 Root Causes of Fear

 

2 Root Causes of Fear - Instead of addressing Adam’s fearful feelings in Genesis 3, God addressed the roots of sinful fear:

11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

In that short verse He summed up the two causes of fear: who we are listening to (11a) and sin (11b).

Yet, God does not intend for His people to live in fear.  Continue reading

Handling Fear & Worry Biblically: Acceptable Sins? + LINKUP

 

Handling Fear & Worry Biblically -

Handling Fear & Worry Biblically

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” We started with anger and then looked at depression. Today we’re going to begin looking at fear and worry.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Fear & Worry: Acceptable Sins

 

Some sins are so common that they have become acceptable, even among believers in Christ. Fear and worry, certainly, fall into that category. Some of us realize they’re wrong and try to spin them in a little better light with words like: concerned, disturbed, or troubled.

So, what is worry? Why would something that comes so naturally be sinful?

 

Worry

 

The Greek word for worry is merimnao. It’s a combination of two words: merizo (to divide) and nous (mind). It means to have a divided mind. It’s translated in various ways: worry, anxious, anxiety, or care.

There is a kind of care or concern that is good. Paul said he had deep concern for the churches (2 Cor. 11.28) and he commended Timothy because of his care for believers.

19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state (Phil. 2.19-20).

But worry is an overly-anxious concern. It demonstrates a lack of faith and trust in God, His character, and His sovereignty.

Jesus addressed worry in Matthew 6.19-34. In this passage, He forbids it three times:

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 

31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

The Apostle Paul, also, addressed worry when he said:

Be anxious for nothing … (Phil. 4.6a).

 

The Sinful Roots of Worry

 

Worry is idolatry. It involves allowing your thoughts and concerns about the future or your current circumstances to become more important than thinking and acting God’s way. Those things about which you worry have become your idols: finding a spouse, the opinions of others, money, success, good health, your children, etc.

When we worry, we often have an inordinate focus on things.

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt. 6.19-21).

But Jesus warned us that we can’t be focused on the things of this world and still have a single-minded focus on and trust in God.

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

When we worry, we are putting our trust in some other god. We’re looking to something else as our refuge or savior. The answer is repentance and renewing our commitment to trust in God and God alone.

 

Worry Is Unbelief

 

Jesus said worriers have “little faith.”

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

The fruit of repentance in the life of a believer is a renewed faith and trust in God. We walk that out by focusing our minds on God’s care and trustworthiness (Matt. 6.25-30), His omniscience (Matt. 6.31-32), and His promises (Matt. 6.33).

And by obediently taking care of today’s responsibilities today:  Continue reading

Handling Depression Biblically: “How?” – Part 4 + LINKUP

 

Handling Depression Biblically - Part 4

Handling Depression Biblically – Part 4

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” We started with anger and then moved on to depression. Three weeks ago we discussed the medical, cultural and biblical definitions of depression and two weeks ago we looked at the lives of two of the prophets, Elijah and Jeremiah, and how God ministered to them when they experienced feelings of depression.

Last week we looked at depression in David’s life.  As we looked at Psalm 32 we saw how David’s sin with Bathsheba affected his emotions and led to what we would describe as depression. Today we’re going to talk more about how a failure to handle the events and responsibilities of life in a biblical way and other sins can cause feelings of depression. Then we’ll talk about how, as believers, we should respond to feelings of depression.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Cain & His Unpleasant Emotions

 

In Genesis 4, we read about Adam and Eve’s two sons, Cain and Abel.

² … When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected (NLT).

Cain’s offering was rejected by God and Cain became dejected. The NKJV says his countenance fell.

Hebrews 11.4 says, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous.”

God didn’t just reject Cain’s offering out of hand. Abel responded to God in faith, he believed God and obeyed Him. Cain’s disobedience and rebellion was first exposed by his offering. He followed the dictates of his own heart and brought what seemed right to him. Genesis 4 goes on:

“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

God was personally dealing with and warning Cain about what was going on in his heart. His response should have been repentance, instead he remained angry at God and his brother will pay the price.

One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

Cain lures his brother out into the field and then kills him out of anger and jealousy.

Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”

“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

Given another opportunity to repent and confess his guilt, he responds with defiance and rebellion.

10 But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11 Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. 12 No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.”

13 Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment is too great for me to bear! 14 You have banished me from the land and from your presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer. Anyone who finds me will kill me!”

His response: “It’s too much! It’s not fair!” He was filled with self-pity and feelings of depression.

“Someone will kill me.” He becomes consumed with fear and guilt.

His sinful choices put him on a downward spiral of sin that lead to dejection, anger, self-pity, depression, fear, worry, and guilt.

 

Colleen’s Story

 

In a course that my husband teaches, the downward spiral is illustrated by what happens in the life of a hypothetical college student. We’ll call her Colleen.

Colleen is a good student. She heads off to college with lots of encouragement from her family and teachers to study hard and keep her grades up. College life is new and exciting. She’s making friends and doing well in her classes.

But one night as she heads to the dorm to study, a new friend says they should go to Starbucks and hang out for a while. She protests, but after some convincing gives in and jumps in the car. They stay late and she’s too tired to study. The first time she gets away with it, but soon it becomes a habit. One morning she fails a pop quiz and pretty soon her grades are slipping. When an exam comes up, Colleen cheats.

Then her parents call and ask her how she’s doing. She lies and tells them she’s doing great.

Soon she’s experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression.

If she went to the clinic on campus and told them about her feelings, it’s likely she would be given a prescription to help her feel better. But are her feelings really the problem?

Often, our feelings are like the warning lights on the dash of our cars. They’re telling us something is wrong under the hood. If we disconnect the lights or cover them up somehow, we won’t solve the problem. In fact, we’ll probably have a bigger problem somewhere down the road.

Something is wrong in Colleen’s heart. She has let fun and pleasing her friends become more important than pleasing God.

 

What Does Colleen Need?

 

Colleen needs to repent. She needs to ask God to forgive her and she needs to accept His forgiveness. She needs to call her parents, admit that she lied, and ask for their forgiveness. She, also, needs to confess what’s she’s done to her professor, ask for forgiveness, and be willing to accept the consequences. Then she needs to become faithful in her studies.

Hard. Yes.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb. 12.11 NKJ).
As challenging as this might seem, if she’s willing to respond God’s way, she’ll be on an upward path, instead of the downward spiral she’s been on, and her feelings can improve quite rapidly. But even if the feelings of depression and discouragement don’t leave immediately, she can have peace with God and know that He’ll use all that’s happened for good in her life. And she’ll grow in her Christian walk as she learns to live righteously before Him.


If You’re Depressed

 
What if you’re experiencing feelings of depression?

Continue reading

Handling Depression Biblically – Part 3 + LINKUP

 

Handling Depression Biblically - Part 3

There are numerous reasons that a person might feel depressed. We can be depressed because of a loss or a set back, because of a lack of sleep, or because of illness. And I don’t have to tell you ladies about hormonal issues. And, sometimes, there is no known cause other than living life in sin-cursed bodies in a fallen world.

It’s, also, true that a failure to handle the events and responsibilities of life in a biblical way can cause feelings of depression. But we must be very careful about making assumptions where others are concerned.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” We started with anger and then moved on to depression. Two weeks ago we discussed the medical, cultural and biblical definitions of depression and last week we looked at the lives of two of the prophets, Elijah and Jeremiah, and how God ministered to them when they experienced feelings of depression. We, also, discussed the difference between depression and discouragement. If you missed them, you may want to read them first.

 

Handling Depression Biblically – Part 3

 

Today we’re going to look at David’s life and talk about the “S-word,” sin, as it relates to depression.

I can already feel someone’s blood pressure starting to rise, so allow me to make a few disclaimers before we get started.

First, there are numerous reasons that a person might feel depressed. We can be depressed because of a loss or a set back, because of a lack of sleep, or because of illness. And I don’t have to tell you ladies about hormonal issues. And, sometimes, there is no known cause other than living life in sin-cursed bodies in a fallen world.

Many godly men and women have struggled with feelings of depression, including: the “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Spurgeon; the great reformer, Martin Luther; and poet and hymn writer, William Cowper. Last week we talked about “The Weeping Prophet,” Jeremiah, and Elijah, who defeated and killed 400 prophets of Baal, only to become so depressed afterwards that he wanted to die.

But it’s, also, true that a failure to handle the events and responsibilities of life in a biblical way can cause feelings of depression. So while we must be very careful about making assumptions where others are concerned, we need to address sin as a possible cause of depression.

 

David

 

If anyone had a reason to suffer from depression, it was David. It seems the man God called “a man after His own heart” (Acts 13.22) and “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Sam. 23.1) had plenty of opportunities.

When Samuel came to anoint the next king of Israel from among Jesse’s sons, his father didn’t even call him in from the field (1 Sam. 16.5-13).

When he stood up to the giant Goliath, his brother made fun of him.

26 Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”

Then, even though he killed the giant and served Saul faithfully on and off the battlefield, Saul continually broke his promises to David (1 Sam. 18.17-19) and, eventually sought to kill him out of jealousy (1 Sam. 18.8-11).

And even though God had proclaimed him the next king, years went by while he was pursued by Saul, disrespected by others (1 Sam. 25.9-11) and, even, threatened by his own men (1 Sam. 30.6).

After he became king, he was betrayed by his close friend and his own son (2 Sam. 15.10-12).

Frequently, in the psalms, David cried out to the Lord because of his trials and distresses. But perhaps the clearest example of his struggle with depressed emotions takes place after his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11.2-5). In Psalm 32 he gives us a snapshot of what he learned about sin, confession, and forgiveness.

When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah (NLT).

A good description of many of the physical feelings connected with depression.

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
    and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
    And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

And verse 1:

Oh, what joy for those 
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those 
whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

What he learned:

Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
    that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
    that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

10 Many sorrows come to the wicked,
    but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.

God shows us the way to live righteously. When we follow His instructions, we will, generally, experience feelings of peace and joy. That doesn’t mean we’ll never have challenges, losses, or disappointments. But when we respond God’s way we can trust Him to give us the strength to walk through them, in spite of feelings to the contrary.  Continue reading

Handling Depression Biblically – Part 2 + LINKUP

 

Handling Depression Biblically - Part 2 - Depression, if you’ve ever suffered with it, you know it can be a dark, discouraging place to be. At its worst, it’s been called the “dark night of the soul.” But there is hope for those experiencing discouragement, depression, and hopelessness.

Did people in biblical times experience feelings of depression? Is so, what can we learn from their lives and God’s interaction with them?

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” Previously we covered how to handle anger in God honoring ways. You can click the link above to read those posts.

Last week we began discussing depression, in particular, the different definitions of depression: the medical definition, the cultural and the biblical.

 

Handling Depression Biblically – Part 2

 

Last week I said that no one is immune to feelings of depression. For some it’s a mild sense of sadness, for others it can feel debilitating. Today we’re going to look at the biblical definition again and how it compares to discouragement. We’ll, also, look at Elijah’s and Jeremiah’s lives and how they responded to these feelings.

 

Depression or Discouragement?

 

The feelings involved in both depression and discouragement are much the same. They can be extremely painful and difficult and can tempt us to give in to them. The depressed person responds by shutting down. He or she stops functioning in some or all areas of life.

She may stop going to work, quit cleaning the house, avoid people, or refuse to get out of bed altogether. But when a person is discouraged, as I’m defining it here, he or she keeps going, keeps handling life, in spite of their feelings to the contrary.

So, I would define depression as, “a debilitating mood, feeling or attitude of hopelessness which becomes a person’s reason for not handling the most important issues of life.”

The difference between discouragement and depression is immobility. With depression there is an almost total reliance on feelings and those feelings become the basis for their action or inaction.

Numerous people in the Bible experienced feelings of discouragement and/or depression, including: Elijah, David, Jonah, Jeremiah, and Cain.

Today we’ll look at a two of the prophets, Elijah and Jeremiah, and next week we’ll talk about David, Jonah, and Cain.  Continue reading