Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Week Fifty-Three - Four Pills for Depressed People

It seems odd to talk about depression at this most wonderful season of the year, but Christmas can be a downer for the mother trying to create something out of nothing; the father burdened by the financial pressure; the pastor praying for inspiration; and the broken families finding it hard to rise above the challenges to find the joy of the season.

Let's focus on four simple things that can help.

Good exercise. Sitting on the couch counting your miseries will not work. Better to get up, take a walk, run a while on that treadmill, or do a few jumping jacks to get the blood flowing. It helps clear the brain and makes room for new ideas. Exercise is a key to not only physical health but also mental health. So, as long as you remain stationary, your problems will remain there with you. You might be unable to outrun them, but an active body means fewer can cling on! Even the pounds must eventually give way, giving you more energy.

Good diet. And while you are sitting on the couch, are you stuffing your mouth with chocolate and Cheez-Its? Has your diet been fast food and processed meats? You may feel sluggish because your body cries for something fresh and real. My mother used to tell me, "If God made it, you can eat it. If man touched it, you need to beware." So put that clip on the chips and grab a banana! Feed your body foods God made and see if it doesn't respond more positively.

Good sleep. More and more, the medical community is discovering the benefits of a good night's sleep. If you are struggling here, it is no wonder you feel tired and depressed. If there is a medical issue, get it sorted. Meanwhile, good sleep comes when we are right with the world, content and thankful for what we have, and go to bed without worries. It also comes easier when we have put in a good day's work and are tired enough to sleep. 

So, exercise, diet, and sleep are basic, but the fourth pill for depressed people, and the one most missing in today's society, is a good Lord's Day. God designed our week to be six days in which to do our work and one day to rest and focus on Him. For the Israelites, it was the Sabbath. But in the New Testament, Christians began gathering on the first day of the week, Sunday.

I have found benefits from observing both. I work from Monday to Friday, rest and play on Saturday, and rest and focus on the Lord by attending His house on Sunday. 

Church attendance creates a place to get away from my problems and focus on others, listen to God's Word, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart. Christ gave Himself for the church. It is an undeniable part of God's plan for His children. When I skip church, I skip something God designed, and when that part is missing, I am vulnerable to depression. I need the strength and encouragement I draw from fellowship with other believers in collective worship.

We can exercise, eat right, and sleep to strengthen our mental state, but if we fail to exercise and feed our spiritual side, we miss out on a vital part of emotional and mental health. So make it a point this Sunday and for the next several Sundays to attend church. Then, look and see if that little pill hasn't boosted your outlook!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Week Fifty-Two - Adoration

The night skies blazed with the splendor of heavenly angels announcing the birth of a Saviour, and there in that lowly manger, creation knelt in adoration of Immanuel, God with us. The Christmas story incites such adoration and wonder that words often fail to capture the beauty, so today, let's look at one thought - love.

Within the manger lay the fulfilment of prophecy, the expression of humility and sacrifice, and the promise of eternal love. Do you love Him? 

Spurgeon wrote, "It is a wonderful thing to be able to say with assurance, without any ifs, ands, or buts, that you love the Lord. Saying you hope you do, or trust you do, is a poor and shallow experience. Don't stay there. Don't let your spirit rest until you are sure you love Him. Don't be satisfied with a superficial hope that Jesus loves you and a faint trust that you love Him. That's not enough."

The apostle Paul said positively and plainly, "I know who I have believed." Job said, "I know that my redeemer lives." Do you have that confidence? Solomon wrote, "I have found him whom my soul loveth." Have you found Him? If you have, or when you do, you gain a positive knowledge of your love for Jesus. You embrace a joyful certainty of your love for Him and will adore Him.

Spurgeon said, "True love for Christ is, in every situation, the Holy Spirit's work, and must be wrought in the heart by Him. He is the efficient cause of it; but the logical reason why we love Jesus lies in Himself. 

Why do we love Jesus? Because He first loved us. 

Why do we love Jesus? Because He gave Himself for us. We have life through His death; we have peace through His blood. Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor. 

Why do we love Jesus? Because of the excellency of His person. We are filled with a sense of His beauty! an admiration of His charms! a consciousness of His infinite perfection! His greatness, goodness, and loveliness, in one resplendent ray, combine to enchant the soul until it is so enraptured that it exclaims, "Yes, He is altogether lovely.

Blessed love is this - a love which binds the heart with chains softer than silk, and yet firmer than the hardest metal."

Do you know this deep, deep love of Jesus? Is it real in your heart, solid and confident? Such is the love of God toward you, and He longs for your love in return, a love that adores the Saviour.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Week Fifty-One - The Day Star

There are two very interesting words in the Bible to follow. One is the word water, and the other is the word light. You will find them from Genesis all the way through Revelation. Makes for a great study.

As I sat in church on Sunday, the pastor preached on Zacharias' prophesy of Jesus' ministry and God's purpose for the Messiah, closing with these words, "to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:77-79).

When I heard the word light, my mind took off with the idea of God bringing light into darkness. This is the beautiful picture of Christmas that is often overlooked. In the darkness of the hillside, angels blazed with light. In the dark and dreary manger lay the Light of the world. But we needn't stop with the Christmas story as we think about light into darkness. We can apply it further. God brings light into darkness. Actually, He is light, and in Him, there is no darkness. (1 John 1:5)

So, if you are blind and in the dark, He invites you to His light. "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Corinthians 4:4).

If you are looking through the darkness, shine the light of His Word upon your life to find your way. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105). "The entrance of thy words giveth light; It giveth understanding unto the simple" (Psalm 119:130).

If you are growing discouraged with the darkness around you, set your sight on the Light - look to Jesus. He is the dayspring, the day star. "A light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19).

Let the lights of the season remind you that life shines brightest when we look to the Light! 

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Week Fifty - Dirty Fingers

I have been reading this year from Spurgeon's devotional collection entitled Morning and Evening. Tom and I enjoy reading from the same devotion book because it gives us things to discuss. We have been reading only the morning ones while on furlough, and when the New Year comes, we will switch to reading the evening ones. Anyway, as I read the devotion on 2 Corinthians 6:17, I just couldn't cut it down, so I will share most of it with you. I hope it challenges your heart as it challenged mine.

He writes,

"The Christian, while in the world, is not to be of the world. He should be distinguished from it in the great object of his life. To him, "to live," should be "Christ." Whether he eats, or drinks, or whatever he does, he should do all to God's glory. You may store up treasures; but store them up in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. You may strive to be rich; but let your ambition be to be "rich in faith," and good works. You may have pleasure; but when you are merry, sing psalms and make melody in your hearts to the Lord. In your spirit, as well as in your aim, you should differ from the world. Waiting humbly before God, always conscious of His presence, delighting in communion with Him, and seeking to know His will, you will prove that you are of the heavenly race. And you should be separate from the world in your actions. If something is right, though you may lose by it, it must be done; if it is wrong, though you would gain by it, you must scorn the sin for your Master's sake. You must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Walk worthy of your high calling and dignity. Remember, O Christian, that you are a child of the King of kings. Therefore, keep yourself unspotted from the world. Do not dirty the fingers which are soon to sweep celestial string; do not let your eyes, which are soon to see the King in His beauty, become the windows of lust - do not let those feet, which are soon to walk the golden streets, be defiled in muddy places - do not let those hearts which are before long to be filled with heaven and to overflow with ecstatic joy, be filled with pride and bitterness."

And so the challenge is before us. In this world of darkness are we shining a clear light? Is our walk different, our words seasoned with salt, and our joys placed on heavenly things? We are bound for an eternal, holy kingdom. Are we keeping our eyes on the heavenly goal or dirtying our fingers digging in the dirt here below?