In 1835 a man visited a doctor in Florence, Italy.He was filled with anxiety and exhausted from lack of sleep.The doctor examined him and found that he was in prime physical condition.Concluding that his patient needed to have a good time, the physician told him about a circus in town and its star performer, a clown named Grimaldi.Night after night he had the people rolling in the aisles.
“You must go see him,” the doctor advised.“Grimaldi is the world’s funniest clown.He’ll make you laugh and cure your sadness.”
“No,” replied the despairing man.“He can’t help me.You see, I am Grimaldi!”
Depression is:An ancient problem.It’s not something that just happened this week.From the very beginning, people have been depressed.The psalmist asked the question to his own soul, “Why am I so depressed?Why am I so cast down?”
Charles Spurgeon, a great preacher, had a life filled with depression.Here’s what Spurgeon said about depression.“Before any great achievement, some major depression usually comes upon me.My success appalled me.It was just then, when the curtain began to rise upon my life’s work, that depression set in, and the Lord was preparing me for a larger blessing in my ministry.”
Here are a few ways to deal with despondency:
1.Understand that even when God is silent, He is working in our lives.
2.Regardless how bad things may seem at the time, never stop talking to God.
3.Claim the promises of God.Jeremiah said, “I’m still going to pray.I’m still going to claim his promises.He called me and I said He would be a spring of living water, and I’m going to believe that if I keep preaching, it’s going to show up.”Sure enough, Jeremiah preached another 20 years.He preached 40 years total.
Remember, I talked about Spurgeon’s depression?Look what else he said:“Depression forces me to go back to the promises of God’s faithfulness.Here’s what I’ve found.God was preparing me for something greater.The cloud is darkest before dawn breaks.It overshadows before it yields its deluge of mercy.Depression has now become to me as a prophet in rough clothing.A John the Baptist heralding the near coming of my Lord’s richer blessing for my life.”
GospeLines Prayer:Father, when I am led into the wilderness of despondency, remind me that You are present.It is in those times that I need you more and seek you less.Awaken me to the healing which only you can provide.Amen and Amen
It’s not a typical winter morning in Houston.At 34 degrees, it’s unseasonably cold.I can hear the wind howling through a number of places that need to be caulked.On balance, however, my home is warm and comfortable as the central heat comes on and off.
After watching the news and weather, a story appears concerning the number of homeless who refuse to go to shelters to get out of the elements.
It is amazing to note those who deliberately choose to sleep in makeshift dwellings – usually constructed of cardboard.Some are shown with blankets and coats, but most don’t have enough coverage in this temperature.Thank God it isn’t raining as well.
How do you react when you see those images on TV?Do you ignore the homeless when you pass them in your car or when walking to work?
Do you hear what I hear?Do you hear the cry of the needy?
When you have coats hanging in your closet that aren’t being worn and extra blankets, do you take them to a shelter or church that provides for your less-fortunate brothers and sisters?Or is it someone else’s problem?
GospeLines Prayer:Father, we know that any one of us could find ourselves in a similar position.No matter how educated we are or how much money we make, we could be but a paycheck away; it only takes one catastrophic illness to wipe out our savings (if we had any to begin with…).
When we see our brethren in dire circumstances, let us not react as though it isn’t our problem.
We need to hear Your word – Deuteronomy 15:7 (The Message)
7-9 When you happen on someone who's in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don't look the other way pretending you don't see him. Don't keep a tight grip on your purse. No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. Don't count the cost. Don't listen to that selfish voice saying, "It's almost the seventh year, the year of All-Debts-Are-Canceled," and turn aside and leave your needy neighbor in the lurch, refusing to help him. He'll call God's attention to you and your blatant sin.
It was one place I had looked forward to visiting during my pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Just two miles outside Jerusalem, in the small town of Bethany, there is a small cave-like structure. The walls are narrow and the room at the bottom of the steep rock stairway is small and dark. You must stoop to enter the cavern that was hollowed out by loving hands, the place which visitors and locals alike call this place Lazarus' Tomb.
The apostle John referred to the miracle which occurred here as the "Seventh Sign." It was the last in a series of works which Jesus performed to point the people to faith in the Son of Man as the Messiah and redeemer. His best was saved for last! Lazarus, a beloved friend, had been dead long enough for his body to begin to decay. The Lord's disciples urged him to hurry the journey, but Jesus knew something they didn't know. When they arrived the family ushered them to the place of burial. With a word, the Lord Jesus raised Lazarus back to his earthly existence. Glory!
Beloved, today's troubles come in all sizes. Whatever problem you are battling, I want you to know that it can end with glorious triumph. Nothing, not even death itself, can claim victory over the mighty hand of Jesus our Lord. Allow your fears to be turned to courage because He who has power over the grave is also able to make your life a testimony of His riches and grace.
GospeLines Prayer:Almighty God, You are exalted above heaven and earth. You reign as King over your kingdom, ruler of all that lives and dies. With a word, You silence Your adversaries and breathe new life into Your church. Circumcise my heart, O Lord, and cut away the sin that hinders Your work. Deliver me from the tragedy of defeat, and enable me to live victoriously. Amen and amen.
Another year is gone.This morning my wife asked what I thought the best and the worst times of the past year had been.My response was, "Many people died; but, many people were born."
I was actually thinking about the many wars and the violence around the world while trying put it all into perspective.As many are giving up their lives (or having them taken away), other new lives are being given to the world.And with those new lives come new opportunities - opportunities for good or opportunities for evil - depending upon how those new lives are directed.
As we talked, my thoughts turned from physical lives to spiritual lives and again, I said, "Many people died; but, many people were born."However, this time I meant many people died spiritually (were lost) and many people were born anew (saved).
Scripture tells us that "…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2nd Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
The old has gone!The new has come!Praise You Jesus!
All our ungodly past, all our sins, all our old worldly attitudes of prejudice, unforgiveness and pride are gone when we move into Christ.It is as if we were born again; a new person born to replace the old who died on a cross of wood.
Read these words of Paul.If fact, read them in two different translations so their full meaning and message can be written on your heart and in your mind by the Spirit of God…
"But far be it from me to glory [in anything or anyone] except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) through Whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world!For neither is circumcision [now] of any importance, nor uncircumcision, but [only] a new creation [the result of a new birth and a new nature in Christ Jesus, the Messiah].Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule [who discipline themselves and regulate their lives by this principle], even upon the [true] Israel of God!" Galatians 6:14-16 (AMP)
"For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate.Can't you see the central issue in all this?It is not what you and I do - submit to circumcision, reject circumcision.It is what God is doing, and He is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God - His chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!" Galatians 6:14-16 (MSG)
He is a God of New Beginnings, a God of Second Chances.Cast all your burdens on Him and be in Christ from this day forward - a new creation, not born of the flesh but born of the Spirit - and receive the peace and mercy of all who walk in His light.
GospeLines Prayer:Lord God, our most merciful and forgiving Father, we praise Your name and the name of Your Son Jesus.We thank You for giving us a chance to start over, to be born again fresh and new.Direct us by the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in your Son's light in all our ways as we start our lives over as new creations in Jesus.When we stray, recreate us again - make us over and over until we are pleasing in Your sight - clay shaped by Your hands, suitable for Your use in the true Israel of God.Lord, we ask in Your Son's Holy Name, Amen!
“…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.”
Parenting teenagers is a terrific challenge.In my case, the gap between father and son is a long span of forty years.While shopping for him one day, I told the clerk I was looking for something for my 17 year old.A few moments later I overheard him asking his assistant to go over and help those grandparents (referring to me!) find something for their grandson.UGH.
The barrier in parent/child relationships is more than the years which separate us, but that's something you already knew. For the past six months I have tried to "get back in touch with my son."It seemed that we were making progress; at least we weren't arguing about the small stuff anymore.But I prayed that God would give me a visible sign, something tangible, so I would know that my efforts were not wasted.
Then it happened.We were ending a brief phone conversation yesterday.I said the usual "Good-bye," and he responded, "Later Dude."I had heard him say that so many times before when speaking to his best friend and his older brother, but he had never said it to me.Praise God for small victories!
I wonder if God is more concerned about my relationship to Him than I am?Is our Lord as brokenhearted when we don't have time for Him as we are when our children seem too busy for us?Before we drift apart, let us nurture our spiritual relationship with our Heavenly Father on a daily basis by spending more quality time with Him.
GospeLines Prayer:"Father, have I seemed aloof and distant from you?It's just that I have been so busy, you understand, don't you?My work is so demanding and my friends need me so much, and when I get home in the evening I am so tired.You understand, don't you?Tell you what, next week we will sit down and have a long chat, OK?Is that a tear I see in your eye, Father?"Amen and amen.