I heard on the news that January 22, 2007 was designated as Blue Monday, the most miserable, gloomiest and most depressing day of the year. Among the reasons cited for this was unpaid Christmas bills and post-Christmas fatigue. In light of this bit of “news”, I thought it was not too late in coming, after all, if I addressed the following issue...(By the way, I felt fine on January 22. In fact, it was my husband’s birthday!):
I really do wish that Pastors would stop reminding us about the "s" word at Christmas. I never heard Jesus mention “suicide” in His teachings and I think He must be saddened that we have to be reminded of it every year along with remembering His birth.
I think it's a well-known fact (about the "s" word) and to hear about it even at church, I think, only encourages the thought and even the very act. Wouldn't it be refreshing if we would just stick with Christ-centered teaching and not be conformed to this world's way of thinking, but rather be transformed by the renewing of our minds from the Scriptures only?
Maybe this sounds like nit-picking, but to some people, this constant reminder (of the "s" word) at Christmas sounds more like a reminder that it is an option, rather than just an innocent statement of fact coming from the pulpit.
Suicide is Satan's counterfeit for "death to self". We hurt so bad sometimes, we feel like we want to die. But what God wants is for us to die to "self". Self-will is like a spoiled child who always wants his way, so he screams and cries and demands his way. Death to self would say that even though I really want something for myself, nevertheless I will accept God's will for the present time for my life, and I will rest in His will for each day to follow.
If we would trust Him, we might see why these trials are coming our way. They usually come so that God will change us, change our heart, to conform us to the image of His Son. We may think it "unusual" (as James says) that we need to have these trials, but I suppose that conforming us to the image of His Son is more in line with God's higher purposes than our temporal happiness.
When we pray, we cannot expect the Lord to give us exactly what we want on our terms, but we can rest in knowing that He will give us what we need according to His will and according to His timing. If His answer is dead silence, that is where our faith will be forced to deepen, as we die to our self and our desires and will.
Getting back to this “Blue Monday” thing...before I knew the Lord, every day was gloomy. And I suppose Monday was the gloomiest of all. But now that I know the Lord, no day is ever as gloomy as it used to be. If I ever sense those feelings coming over me, I focus on the Lord, and on His promises, and on the truth that is found in His Word.
I once heard it said something like this: “My worst day with the Lord is better than my best day without Him”. I can testify that this is true in my life. I used to have a constant battle with depression before I was saved. But now “the battle is the Lord’s”. I have learned to not only put my trust in Him, but I have also learned how to rest in Him. And because of this, I have experienced that “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” that He promises us. (Philippians 4:7)
We really are in a battle, aren’t we? The Bible says in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” It also says in Ephesians 6:11,13, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil...that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
The truth is that when we are feeling unhappy, gloomy, miserable and/or depressed, it’s really not caused by our outward circumstances...unpaid Christmas bills, post-Christmas fatigue, or even because it is cloudy and gray outside. Rather, these outward circumstances are like a mirror reflecting what is really going on in our hearts. They reveal to us how well we are doing spiritually. If “it is well with our soul”, if we are abiding in Christ, filled with His Spirit, and in close communion with Him, we can weather the storms of life. Because, not only is Christ our Redeemer, but He gave us the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter. And the Lord is also our Counselor. He transforms us by the renewing of our minds through His Holy Word.
Before I knew the Lord, I used to "sing the Blues" along with the Allman Brothers...“They call it Stormy Monday, but Tuesday’s just as bad...they call it Stormy Monday...oh, but Tuesday’s just as bad...Wednesday’s worse, and Thursday’s oh so sad...”
Now I “sing a new song”:
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies...The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.” (Psalm 18:2-3,46)
I look at prayer as the most important part of our relationship with the Lord. Just as there is no relationship with people, if there is no conversation, no communion, with them, so it is with God. If we don't talk to Him, commune with Him, fellowship with Him, then there is no relationship with Him...at least not a relationship that can be said to be growing in intimacy with Him.
And if we don't develop our relationship with the Lord through prayer, it will affect our relationship with the Body of Christ. We won't have much in common with each other where it counts, in the Spirit, if we don't spend time in close communion with the Lord. I think that is probably one reason why many Christians don't seem to have a fervent love for one another or “a longing to see each other”, as the Apostle Paul always did. Not only did trials and persecution drive Paul closer to the Lord, but it drove him closer to his brethren as well.
"...Pray Without Ceasing..." (1 Thess.5:17)
Charles Spurgeon once said, “As we breathe without ceasing, so must we pray without ceasing.” We shouldn't think that we can only be in a certain place at a certain time, only on our knees with our heads bowed and our eyes closed in order to pray, though that is the best kind and is foundational. We are also told to pray without ceasing which means anywhere, anytime and at all times. While driving down the road, or washing dishes, we can talk to the Lord.
We don't pick a set time to have a relationship with a friend. It’s an ongoing thing. So we shouldn’t think that we can only have a set time to have a relationship with the Lord. We really do have time to pray if we have a relationship (and not a ritual) with Him.
My mother-in-law’s favorite song was “In The Garden” and that’s how she lived her life in the Lord:
I come to the garden alone While the dew is still on the roses And the voice I hear falling on my ear, The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice, Is so sweet the birds hush their singing, And the melody that He gave to me Within my heart is ringing.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.
Every once in a while, I hear someone say, "Yes, but that's only in God's eyes."
This is usually in response to some spiritual Biblical truth, such as the truth that we Saints are "justified", or "righteous" in Christ. Despite the clear teaching of Scripture that Jesus became sin for us so that we would be the "righteousness of God" in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21), these well-meaning folks would still insist that we aren't really righteous. That He gave us the gift of His righteousness, but yet is somehow still keeping it from us. The gift that's never really given.
Appearances and performance-based thinking has so clouded their thinking, that they actually deny the Scripture without meaning to. And it's done under the stealthy costume of, "Yes, but that's only in God's eyes."
Walking by faith, and not by sight, on the other hand, will insist that if it's in God's eyes, then I should conform my belief to His. I should take His word for it, and throw aside my own opinion.
"...let God be true but every man a liar", even if that man is me. Whatever is in God's eyes (His opinion, shall we say), ought to be in mine.
As believers in Jesus Christ, if we are not under the Law (and we're not, Rom. 6:14), then what should be our attitude toward the Law?
Is the Law sin? In other words, is it bad? No, of course not (Rom. 7:6). The Law reflects the character of our Lord. The Law is holy, and just, and good, and spiritual (Rom. 7:12,14). We should delight in the Law, as to its content (Rom. 7:22) and agree with the Law that it is good (Rom. 7:16).
The Law is a beautiful gem, reflecting the shimmering glory of the Lord we love.
So, we should love the Law. . .without being under it.
It does not have any hold over a dead man, and we died in Christ. We were crucified with Him, and a whole new Life has been given to us. And this Life fulfills the Law. And so there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1).
The Law is beautiful, but it's letter kills (2 Cor. 3:6), because it's so beautiful and good that it demands the very perfection of God. And those who rely on it for their standing with God will perish in their imperfections, their sins.
A higher and more beautiful "Law" has superceded the Law which kills. It's the Law of life in Christ Jesus WHICH IS BY GRACE (pardon the shouting). In Him we have Life. And in Him the Law is fulfilled, despite our outward performance. In Him we are fully accepted by God, and even the sins we have yet to commit are forgiven.
The Law is beautiful and good, but a higher and more beautiful "Law" has superceded the Law which kills. We have been freed from its killing power, and thus made free to be followers of Jesus, whom we love.
And that's what Rom. 8:2 means when it says, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
In his book, The Attributes of God, in the chapter on The Love of God, A.W. Pink expresses his concern about the "low state of spirituality among professing Christians", and that there is so little real love for God. He says that if we realize how much God loves His people then "the more will our hearts be drawn out in love to Him."
This is good to point out, because we want to be like Him, be imitators of Him. And our love for others is an outward expression of our inward love for the Lord, and it’s what we are called to do.
But I think that the problem of the low state of spirituality is more than just not being "acquainted with His love" for His people, but that we are not better acquainted with Jesus Christ. If we want to love God more, it begins with knowing Jesus intimately. "In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily..." (Col. 2:9).
Our hearts need to be occupied with Jesus Christ Himself. Our thoughts need to be directed to Him continually. If we would develop our relationship with our Lord, not only would we love Him more, but we would find in Him, and through our relationship with Him, a greater capacity to love others. If we abide in Christ, we will be filled with the Spirit, and when we are filled with the Spirit, we will have the fruit of the Spirit, the first of which is love.
God’s love is uninfluenced by anything that is in us, and God’s love is eternal and everlasting. To be loved not because of who we are, but simply because we are His is so important for Christians to know and rejoice in. And that is what sets us free to love God more and to love others more.
Pink sums it up by saying: "...let no Christian call into question God’s love when he is brought under painful afflictions and trials. God did not enrich Christ on earth with temporal prosperity..." But He did give Him the Spirit "without measure" (John 3:34).
It makes me think of the Scriptures that say "the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20-21), and "seek those things which are above" (Col 3:1). And Romans 8:5-6, which says, "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
We just need to be more spiritually minded in order to be of any earthly good!
After a messy trojan/worm/virus attacked our computer, I've had it in shop for a week and a half, and now it's back! This is really good. Thankfully I had an old Windows 98, 366mghz, 256K RAM, 4 gig hard drive dinosaur that got us by, but how I appreciate having the super-duper one back!
Technical sidenote: I was using AVG anti-virus when the virus struck. It turns out, according to the computer geeks at the shop, that there were several accumulated viruses that had apparently escaped the notice of AVG (so THAT"S why my computer was bogging down and buggy!).
At their recommendation, I now am using Norton anti-virus, and it has alrady "caught" a couple things trying to sneak in (adware/spyware...not too serious, but when accumulated can seriously slow things down). Norton does supposedly use more "resources", but I have a gig of RAM memory, so don't even notice it. RAM memory is the best investment you can make to keep things running smoothly.
Really, I love George Washington. But I hate to let an opportunity pass to point out how self-abasement sometimes looks like humility (or humility sometimes results in unbiblical self-abasement).
Anyway, the prayer is "A Prayer For Wednesday Morning", and can be viewed in its entirety here (See #7).
The beauty and eloquence of the prayer are beyond dispute, but the theology leaves much to be desired. The baby of the New Covenant (regeneration and the New Creation) is thrown out with the bathwater of sins confessed.
When Washington says, "[I] humbly acknowledge the corruption of my nature...", he is using the language the Scripture uses of an unregenerate person, born in sin and unchanged.
He who is in Christ is a New Creation (2 Cor. 5:17), with a new nature (spirit) which is one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17). The old man (nature) has been crucified with Christ.
This is why Paul, in Rom. 7, was careful to point out that the "sin" which dwells in our flesh, our very members, is not us ("I find that it is no longer I who do it, but sin which is in me.")
When Washington says, "[I] desire to be vile in my own eyes, as I have rendered myself vile in thine," he will be hard-pressed to find any such thought in the New Covenant epistles, since the child of God has been declared righteous, and has the awesome love of God promised in such a way as that *nothing* shall separate us from it. Not exactly "vile" in the eyes of Him who has given us His very righteousness.
Of course, we certainly were vile in His eyes before He gave us a new heart, as promised in His prophecies of the New Covenant. "...such WERE some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. 6:11)
Washington's thinking on this, which is all too common, is actually destructive to walking by the Spirit, which is why Paul gives the foundational imperative in Rom. 6:11, "Reckon [consider, choose to believe] yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
If someone thinks of themselves as still "the Old Man", even if saved by grace, they will be more inclined to act like the Old Man.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have gone from being "vile" in His eyes, to being "the apple" of His eye. Bask in that, and follow Him.
My Grace Walk Radio message was already delayed for a couple of days, since I was out of town for Christmas.
Then last Friday, I booted up my [main] computer, and had a nasty virus (I-Worm/Luder.A, a trojan worm designed to steal information, if you care). Seems the only safe solution is "wiping" and "reformatting" the hard drive, which is what is being done now, or as soon as my computer gets to the front of the repair line at Computer Wizards.
Anyway, my recording and radio-uploading programs are unavailable until later this week or first of next week.
By the way, I was told that a day or two after my virus, my anti-virus software company, AVG, updated to protect against I-Worm/Luder.A. Thus rages the quiet battle between the evil hackers and the heroic anti-virus guys.