Monday, November 27, 2017

OVERWHELMED

When I last wrote in this blog I dealt with anxiety and depression from John 12:27 where Jesus said, “Now is my heart troubled.” While there is great encouragement for everyone in this prayer of Jesus, He was addressing something far more ominous than the anxieties that plague modern societies. Jesus stood face to face with His crucifixion where He would bear all the wickedness, selfishness, perversion, and cruelty of humankind. He was not just discouraged, He was overwhelmed.
I thank God that none of us will ever face such an overwhelming circumstance. However, many of us have been in situations where we were overwhelmed. Believers in many parts of the world today are called on to be faithful in ordeals that seem to have no resolution. And I strongly suspect that Millions more of us will face such such difficulties in our lifetimes.
In this passage Jesus gives us strong consolation. Look with me again at John 12:27-28.
“Now is my heart troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. ‘Father, glorify your name!’ Then a voice came from heaven: 'I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’”
Here Jesus shows us how to deal with the crises that we will face.

First, cling prayerfully to the promised purpose of God. We often find ourselves in situations where we do not understand what God is doing. But He has promised that there is a purpose, in your life, and in this world. Jesus certainly knew the purpose for his crucifixion. But none of His disciples understood, even though they had been told. I suspect people walked away from that horror saying, “How could God ever bring any good from this?”

In the midst of the ordeal pray fervently for God's glory. For most of us this will have to be a matter of growth. We pray for our wants and needs. But the desire for the glory of God needs to be developed as a constant in the life of believers.

Finally, remember the assurance of the presence of God. When the Lord told Moses to go back to Egypt to lead His people out of captivity, Moses asked, “Who am I to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” The Lord answered, “I will be with you.” And then He said something very strange. This will be the sign that I have sent you. When you’ve brought the people out of Egypt you will serve Me on this mountain. Moses was going to have to remember that he met God at the burning bush until he got through the ordeal and could say, “Yes God was with me all the way.”
Jesus did not face the cross with the presence of His Father. That was the point. He endured the separation from His Father that you and I have earned. But we do not face trials without the presence of God. At the end of the Great Commission Jesus said, “I will be with you always.” Even when He is not dramatically showing us His presence, we can remember what He has promised.

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http://daveswatch.com/

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

WHEN YOUR SOUL IS DOWNCAST


For the past few days I have been dealing with some severe anxiety and depression. Does the Bible say anything about this? It does indeed. In fact the Bible deals more comprehensively with depression than any other source I know. In places like Elijah in the cave in 1 Kings 19 and quite a number of Psalms God shows us that the cause depression can be physical, dietary, cultural, situational, psychological, moral, or spiritual. It is often caused by several of these simultaneously.
And being tempted in all points like us,(Heb.4:15) Jesus also faced anxiety.
God has spoken powerfully to me in John 12:27,28 where Jesus said,
“Now is my heart troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name!" Then a voice came from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’”
Let me share with you four crucial perspectives by which Jesus dealt with His own anxiety.

First Jesus saw the Perspective of Time.
He said, “Now is my heart troubled.” Your anxiety, and for that matter your crisis, is temporary.
Viktor Frankl rightly directed people to ask themselves how they would want to behave in a particular situation if they were looking at it from the end of their lives. Jesus clearly dealt with more horrific circumstances then you and I can imagine. He endured them for the joy set before Him.(Heb.12:2) While your reason for anxiety is not nearly as great as His, you will share in the fullness of His glory.

Jesus also saw from the Perspective of Purpose.
He asks, should I pray for God to deliver me from this trial? “But,” He concludes, “it was God's purpose for me to be disturbed in trial.” God has put you in this place as well.
Do you remember what Satan said to God when the Lord pointed out Job’s obedience? “But you've put a hedge about him. Job doesn't really love you. He just serves you because you've made it easy for him.”
You need to be in this place for God to prove that He can work even your anxiety together with everything else for good.
The chorus of Laura Story's hymn, Blessings, says,
“What if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?”
You are going through this trial for the high purpose of Almighty God on the earth and in eternity. Stand straight. Be strong. Call upon God for His grace to obey Him in the midst of it.

Jesus prayed from the Perspective of God's Glory.
Jesus knew that His purpose in eternity and upon this Earth was to glorify God the Father. That is our purpose as well. Many of you know that activity, especially good, wholesome, productive activity is a great help in dealing with depression. I know of no activity that so effectively counters anxiety and depression as that of praising God out loud. Our anxiety is worsened because we are so focused on ourselves. And until we break our self-preoccupation with praise of Almighty God, it will keep us bound.

Finally, Jesus experienced God's Presence.
God thundering from the heavens was a rare occurrence, even as Jesus walked upon this Earth. But the presence of God is not rare for a believer in Jesus Christ. And nothing usher's you into nearness with God like recognizing His presence and praising Him, praying and glorifying His Name. When you connect with the reality, purpose, and Glory of God, you will sense His presence as never before. Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your reasonableness be evident to all, the Lord is near.” The King James Bible says, “Let your moderation be evident.” In 1 Timothy 3:3 this word is translated, “gentle.” There the King James used the word, “patient.” The point is, you don't need to be anxious, the Lord is near you.

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http://daveswatch.com/

Sunday, September 24, 2017

PRAYER AND SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Spiritual activity always seems bring spiritual attack. No one plans a mission trip without facing a barrage of demonic distractions. Years ago I went to a Continuing Witness Training Clinic. That week our bank contacted my wife that we were hundreds of dollars in overdraft. It was a mistake on the part of the bank. But they didn't figure that out until the next week. If I remember right my poor wife also had to deal with a plumbing crisis that week. I believe God allows such spiritual attack, among other reasons, so we will pray. We should not be surprised at the enemy’s attacks when an entire church begins praying like we have never prayed.
But note what Jesus said about satanic attack in Luke 10:19.
“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
I am greatly encouraged by these words. But I do not for a moment think Jesus wants us to try to appropriate this promise without prayer.
Ephesians 6 is the most familiar passage in the New Testament dealing with spiritual warfare. There Paul by the Holy Spirit tells us to put on the all the armor of God because we struggle against spiritual forces. And he lists as our armor fundamentals of the Christian faith, truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the word of God. And the call to our spiritual protection concludes with a broad call to prayer.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayer and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
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Monday, September 11, 2017

ARE YOU DISTURBED?

I doubt seriously if I am the only person to be confused and disturbed about things we see around us. I am horrified by the bizarre extremes of the sexual revolution being forced down our throats. At the same time those who would to some extent agree about that are proclaiming America first, which sounds to me like selfishness encoded in national policy. I am aware this will offend some whom I love. But the Bible is clear about this. God is a globalist. “For God so loved the world.” Are you in tune with God? Yet, many who agree that we ought to be concerned about developing countries, or even for the disadvantaged around us, demand that we also support every wild sexual perversion. They assume suggesting that these things are immoral or even unhealthy violates someone’s civil rights.

I recently read The Benedict Option. And I recommend that you read it. While I do not agree with everything Rod Dreher said in the book, I do believe his major premise. We have lost the culture War, and we need to focus on being a holy church in spite of it.

While I believe this is true it does not make me less confused or disturbed. What is the will of God for us in these days? The most peace I've gotten as I have prayed about this came last week as I read 2 Timothy in my devotional time. Does this passage not clearly describe what we see all around us?

2 Timothy 3:1-5
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Let me suggest some obedient responses to the world where God has posted us to serve Him in these days. We must carry out these things together.

Believe
We need to Believe the Bible in a world that rejects it. We need to submit to the authority of God and His word over us even when we do not understand. You are being bombarded by the notions of our society just like everyone else. The world, the flesh, and the devil are planting their values in you. And there are some things that you believe that are wrong because the times in which you live have influenced you. Only God's word can deliver you from contemporary misinformation. We need to hold to it as an anchor for our lives even when we are not able in our own strength to persuade others.

Live
1 Peter 2:12 calls us to live godly lives before the world around us.
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they may accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
This will mean being honest even if it costs you your job. This means being godly and generous even though others will take advantage of you. What else might this mean in your life?

Love
The most important expression of godliness in our lives is love. I am not talking about sentimentality. We need the ultimate absolutely selfless agape love set out in 1 Corinthians 13, demonstrated in the life of Jesus, and striven for by the early church. We will need to love, minister to and forgive one another, our neighbors and even our enemies.

Teach
These are crucial days for us to teach sound doctrine to the church. And we need to teach anyone who will listen, even though again in 2nd Timothy Paul says in the last days people will not endure sound doctrine. In 2 Timothy 2:25,26 Paul speaks of teaching even those who would oppose a godly teacher.
“Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will”

Stand
Even in these days when it seems we have lost the culture war, we need to do our best to stand against wickedness, to stand for righteousness, justice godliness, and faith. There may be times where this will be impossible. It would have been a death sentence to publicly oppose the Nuremberg racial laws in Berlin in 1942. But there were some who believed they needed to do their best to fight evil, even though it would cost them their lives.
There is always hope that God will turn things around. Recently my granddaughter invited me to read The Mysterious Benedict Society. The children who are the heroes in the story sneak into an institute that is getting ready to take over the world by overwhelming all who “love the truth.” At one point it seems to them that they themselves cannot resist the barrage of untruth thrown at them. In that time they receive a message from those supporting them from outside saying, “What has been lost may yet be found. Have hope.” With God there's always hope.

And most important, Pray.
Prayer is more crucial in these days than it has ever been in all of history. Who knows if God will not delay this ultimate destiny by sending revival in nations all across the earth, possibly one final time before the end. Even if He does not, our prayers may bring hundreds of thousands to Christ in the midst of tribulation. Many will stand against that old serpent the devil by the word of our testimony, by the blood of the Lamb, and who through our prayers will not love our lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)

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http://daveswatch.com/

Monday, June 5, 2017

HOW CAN WE KNOW 3

Last week I dealt with the first of four questions of How Do We Know. I had to begin with the question, “What do you know?” My second question may be preliminary to the first. It is about thinking. And while our thinking should proceed from what we know, our thoughts and attitudes often determine our convictions.
Question #2
“What do think, and why do you think it?”
Our attitudes and opinions need to be examined. Often what we know or believe we know is preceded by attitudes. It may offend some of you for me to say most of our politics are made up of opinions. This is true however traditional or radical you think your ideas are. Some years ago I gave a man a gospel booklet in effort to explain the gospel to him. As he looked at it he blerted out, “You know, the Jews killed all the prophets.” It is also true that all the Old Testament prophets were Jewish. I am not exactly sure what either of these things have to do with the gospel. But I suspect he wanted to start any religious conversation by defending his hate for the Jews.
I went to a state college. And although I did not think or pray about it at the time, I am convinced that I went to the school where God wanted me to study. Most of my professors and many of my friends made no profession of faith at all. It was invigorating for me to feel like I was going against the stream of thought around me. But for many years after graduation, I would begin to think about something I had come to believe and discover it was not right in any way and totally incompatible with my Christian faith.
All of us are tempted to cling to whatever facts seem to bolster whatever we think in the first place. That is why it is so important to regularly examine our thinking. Simply asking the question, “Why do I think that?” is often enough to alter the course of our thinking in ways that protect us from pitfalls. I suggest that you start asking yourself this question and see if you do not detect thinking that is faulty in your own opinion.
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http://daveswatch.com/


Saturday, May 27, 2017

HOW CAN WE KNOW 2

Question #1
“What do you know, and How do know it?”
When someone asks me if I know anything, I am tempted to answer in jest, “I don’t even suspect anything?” The fact is many people today think you cannot know anything in relation to spiritual matters. That is nonsense. How could you know that it is impossible to know anything? The primary argument against spiritual knowledge began with men like David Hume who believed anything that cannot be proved in a scientific laboratory is mere sophistry. Following in Hume’s trail the philosophic school of Logical Positivism put forth the assertion, “No statement is meaningful that cannot be proved true or false.” The problem with that was, like Hume’s proposition, that it failed its own test. That statement cannot be proved true or false.
Such thinking evolved into the notion that you do not know anything that is possible to doubt. That too defeats itself. Humans have an infinite capacity to doubt. I can doubt that all other people exist. I can even doubt my own existence. But these are not reasonable doubts. They do not correspond to any of the information gleaned by our five senses, social interaction, or reasoning. It is possible to know certain things with some measure of accuracy. And it is important to discern the foundations of your knowledge.
There are at least four sources of human knowledge. We have some instinctive knowledge. You may not have the amazing instinct of a migrating bird. But you are born with some knowledge. At least you were born knowing how to frown, blink, and cry aloud. And you instinctively knew what frowning or crying meant. You have sensual knowledge that you gain from your five senses. Possibly my earliest memory comes from crawling into a red ant bed at the end of our dirt driveway. I learned quickly to avoid ant beds. You also have instructional or informational knowledge. What you are taught may be the easiest of these sources to question. How do I know something I am taught is true? But a person who can not learn from those who teach him, will not survive to adulthood. We have spiritual knowledge, knowledge that is planted in us by the Spirit of God. The majority of this may come after a person is indwelt by the Holy Spirit upon conversion to Christ. But I suspect the fact that most people on earth and in all history have believed in God or in supernatural reality is evidence of spiritual knowledge. I also think the fact that all persons are aware of right and wrong and generally agree on what is right or wrong is spiritual knowledge. And you have reasoned knowledge. Interestingly enough, this knowledge can only come from something else that you already know.
Ask yourself what you do know, especially about spiritual things, and decide how you came to know each of these things. Does something seem to be self-evident? Was it confirmed by personal experience? Did some knowledge come from revelation or scripture that you have come to trust? Did you reason it from other truths in which you have been convinced? If you cannot come to some foundational truths that other knowledge can be based upon, you will not know anything. This is true in all areas of learning.
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Monday, May 22, 2017

HOW CAN WE KNOW?

After the children in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe get into Narnia they discover that Lucy's friend, Mr. Tumnus, has been arrested for “fraternizing with humans” and other high crimes against the white witch. They don't know where to turn to find secret friends. Luckily a Robin finds them and leads them along.
After they have followed it for some distance, hopping from tree to tree, Edmond pulls Peter aside and points out that they don't know anything about this bird, and they don't even know which is the right side.
Peter is taken aback at first. But then he answers, "But Robins are good birds in every story I've ever read."
"Yes," Edmond answers. "But how do we know?"
Edmond has already shown himself to be a self-centered stinker. And although the other children don't know it yet, he has become an out and out traitor. But Edmond actually did a good thing by forcing Peter to think about why he believed what he did.
We live in a skeptical world. But its challenges help us tighten grip on how we know truths that are so important for believers.
For the next few weeks I want to encourage you to ask yourself some questions that will help you get a grip on the foundations of your own thinking.
1. What do you know?
and
How do you know it?
2. What do you think?
and
Why do you think it?
3. What do you want?
and
Why do you want it?
4. What do you believe?
and
Why do you believe it?
Let me encourage you to begin thinking about these questions. I will deal with one of these pairs of questions each week. And I would like you to share these questions with anyone who will think or talk with you about them.
I am not primarily posing these questions as a defense against those who might challenge you. But I believe anchoring your own convictions will prove to be a powerful apologetic. I pray for God to make our knowledge steadfast in His love, in His grace, in His revelation, in Himself.
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http://writingprayerfully.blogspot.com/
http://daveswatch.com/