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Thursday, December 3, 2020

Purity 281: Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



Purity 281 12/03/2020 

Good morning!

Today we are trying something new.  Instead of a photo I’m posting this short video from yesterday that I took in Esperance NY as the flurries were flying in.   I was struck by the fact that the sun still shines even in the midst of a storm.  The photo I took initially showed the pines and the sun but didn’t make it clear that there were snow flurries and a rushing wind.

At many times in our lives we go through “storms”, but if we look for it, we can always find signs of God’s presence even in the darkest days.  Yesterday, our hopes that my mother would be released from the hospital by the end of the week were dashed as we received reports that she needs further treatment and improvement that will take her into next week.  Despite this fact, my mother contacted me last night stating she was feeling better and showed no signs of fear or disappointment, maintaining a positive attitude.

As I will be teaching tonight at Celebrate Freedom to help others to leave the hurts, habits, and hang-ups of the past behind and to live the new life that Christ has given them, I know that sometimes healing is a process and it takes time, testing our patience and faith. But as my mother’s positive outlook in spite of a setback shows us, our road to recovery is easier to travel if we take each step with hope and expectancy. 

When we walk through life with faith in the promises of God, we might not know every bend in the road or how long we will have to trudge it through but we know that no matter what, God is with us and our final destination is a good one.  Until we get there, we are to enjoy the journey and continually share the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.   The winds may howl, and the snows may fall, but my Lord and Savior is with me through it all.       

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This morning’s meditation verse was:

Romans 6:19 (NLT2) 
19 Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this.

 Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin.

 Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

 

The purpose of Christianity isn’t just to “go to heaven” although I must say that the assurance of eternal life is a foundational truth of our faith that gives us the power to destroy the fear of death.  But with God’s forgiveness of our sins and this knowledge of our salvation, we are to be transformed. We are to be holy – set apart for God’s use. We are to live the new life that God has given us through our faith in Christ. 

Our salvation and peace with God, if rightly understood and fully realized, results in our love for Him that appreciates what He has done for us and who He is in and of Himself.  This love for God should cause us to look at our pasts with shame and regret and fill us with a determination to turn to God and His ways for our lives, knowing that He has given us the power to overcome.  

Experiencing the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, and self-control) comes from walking in the Spirit – adopting God’s ways and will for our life and making His thoughts our thoughts by renewing our minds.  

We accomplish this by renouncing our lawless ways and making ourselves dedicated to being more like Christ.  This process IS NOT beating ourselves up and whipping ourselves into obedience.   While discipline does have a role in our sanctification, the process is more like agreeing with God that the “work” of your repentance has already been done and you have been changed.  Once we believe we are transformed, our obedience to God’s way become a natural expression of who we are in Christ.

So believe you have been changed and live it.  Go to God in prayer for strength and wisdom will you go but keep walking in His direction. Its okay if you stumble or fall, but let’s pick ourselves up and see where God has to lead us. I assure you that the further you walk with God the more your old darkness falls into the past and the light of your new life shines brighter for all to see.   

Today we continue to share from Anderson & Baumchen’s Finding Hope Again, where they discuss the three next areas in which we need to resolve our conflicts and come into harmony with God’s will for our lives in order to be free from depression.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work:

Rebellion vs. Submission

We live in a rebellious age. Many seem to think it is their right to criticize and sit in judgment of those who are in authority over them. When sown, the seeds of rebellion reap anarchy and spiritual defeat. If you have a rebellion problem, you may have the worst problem in the world. Scripture instructs us to submit to and pray for those who are in authority over us. Honoring your mother and father is the first of the Ten Commandments that is accompanied by a promise (see Ephes. 6:1, 2). The New Testament clearly calls for submission to authorities:

Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same (Romans 13:1-3).

There are times when we must obey God rather than humans (see Acts 5:29). When a human authority requires you to do something that is forbidden by God, and restricts you from doing what God has called you to do, then you must obey God rather than a human. The same principle applies when people try to exercise control over you when it exceeds the scope of their authority. A policeman can write a ticket for you for breaking the traffic laws, but he cannot tell you what to believe or prevent you from going to church. It is also legitimate and necessary to set up scriptural boundaries to protect yourself from abuse by tyrants. Such occasions, however, are rare.

Living under a repressive political regime, critical boss or abusive parents can be depressing if we let it. But oppressors do not determine who we are unless we let them. It takes a great act of faith to trust God to work through authority figures who are less than perfect, but that is what He is asking us to do. This is critically important for a right relationship with God, and such a relationship is essential for complete recovery from depression.

Pride vs. Humility

Depressed people are usually filled with shame and guilt, whether it is real or imagined. Pride often keeps them locked in a pattern of false thinking that robs them of the help they need. I should be able to work this out myself! they commonly think. That is tragic thinking because we were never intended to live this life alone. God created Adam and Eve to live dependent upon Him. All temptation is an attempt to get us to live our lives independent of God.

Pride is an independent spirit that wants to exalt self. "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). Pride says, "I can do this, I can get out of this myself." Oh, no we can't! Such arrogant thinking sets us up for a fall because "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling" (Proverbs 16:18). We absolutely need God and we necessarily need each other. Paul says, "We are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3, emphasis added).

Shame and self-deprecation are not humility; humility is confidence properly placed. That is why we put no confidence in our flesh; our confidence is in God. Self-sufficiency robs us of our sufficiency in Christ because only in Christ can we do all things through Him who strengthens us (see Phil. 4:13). God intended for His children to live victoriously by having great confidence in Christ, and in His ability to make us able. "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor. 3:5, 6).

Bondage vs. Freedom

It has been estimated that 25 percent of those who struggle with severe depression are chemically addicted. This addiction may be to prescription drugs, alcohol or street drugs. Drowning your sorrows in drugs and alcohol only adds to the downward spiral of depression.

On the other hand, the fear of becoming addicted to prescription drugs has kept many from taking antidepressants, which would often help them. That is unfortunate because the possibility of becoming addicted to antidepressants when properly administered is virtually nil.

Others think that taking even legitimate drugs to relieve depression would indicate that they don't want to depend on God. That is a false dichotomy and faulty reasoning. It does not take into account that many of our needs are met in Christ as we live interdependently upon one another. Would you deny yourself food because you don't want to be dependent upon it for daily existence? Are you not trusting God if you take medicine that would heal a sick body?

There is also a strong correlation between depression and sexual bondage. Many women who struggle with depression have been sexually abused, and many depressed men are sexually addicted. Addictive behavior is degrading and spiritually defeating for those who are supposed to be alive in Christ and dead to sin (see Romans 6:11). The sin-and-confess, sin-and-confess cycle only adds to feelings of defeat and depression.

We believe that Christ is the only answer for those in bondage to sin, and that the truth of God's Word will set them free. If you are struggling with a chemical addiction or sexual bondage, we encourage you to see two of Neil's books, Freedom from Addiction and A Way of Escape.

Habitual sin will keep us in bondage, which is very depressing to those who want to live free in Christ. Paul wrote,

The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (Romans 13:12-14).

Repentance and faith in God are the only answers for breaking the bondage to the sin that so easily entangles us. You can be free from such bondage because every believer is alive in Christ and dead to sin (see Romans 6:11).


Finding Hope Again: Overcoming Depression.

 

------------------------------more on tomorrow--------------------------

 

God bless you all!


 

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