30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 6: Revelation

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we go from darkness to light it is a miracle indeed.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Corinthians 2:10

“God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

Today I am thankful for the revelation of God’s salvation. When we go from darkness to light it is a miracle indeed. Steeped in sin, we are unaware of our inability to understand the truth. By nature objects of wrath, we are completely blind to our need of God until the LORD opens our eyes and drew us to Himself.

In the moment of revelation, we are suddenly able to apprehend this great salvation – how can it be? Sweet grace of God that would show us our sin by His incredible mercy, then reveal His plan that would set us free.

Lord, thank you that You did not leave me in ignorance, but patiently helped me to comprehend Your salvation. 

Day 7: Facing Depression

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

At the heart of our recovery is a belief in the God who reshapes our hopes and expectations into His own. 

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 41:11

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalms 40:1-3

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.”

Today’s topic I tread on carefully. The “loneliness of soul” as depression has been called, is so characterized because it is often so misunderstood.

Shame and self hatred can often come with depression, as this emotional pain is just as significant as physical pain, but we can feel judged and isolated to admit such a profession.

Ever been really discouraged to the point where you just did not have any hope at all? Maybe feel as if you are gasping for air and trying to find hope and meaning, only to be confronted with a wave of strong emotions that threaten to engulf you? Add to these feelings the stigma of feeling this way and it seems there is no way out.

The battle in the mind to overcome negative or sad emotions is real. The motivation to escape the prison of depression can falter as people are overwhelmed with sadness or grief and feel powerless to affect it at all.

Depression is real. Causes can stem from circumstances, sin, a chemical imbalance, mental disorder or our own spiritual battle, to name a few. Fixing depression is not as easy as a bandaid on a physical infirmity that we readily can affect, but God can do all things.

The One Who fearfully and wonderfully made us also chose to be encased in human flesh and can identify with every sorrow and heartbreak we have.

Some of God’s greatest servants encountered depression – but they did not all stay there. David is such an encouragement to me. He confessed and was honest about being depressed, anxious and stressed. Who wouldn’t be in his situation? David knew what it was to suffer greatly, chased in the dessert for 15 years by a mad man who was also depressed. Sometimes even other depressed people can try to bring us down with them, preoccupied with self and ascribing motives to us that just don’t exist. Saul was crazed with jealousy of David and left those thoughts unchecked, fueling them with his false perceptions. Our minds can really get in a fog if we take in the lies and negativity and allow it to go unchecked.

But David’s refuge was God’s word. He did not have a local CVS to run to or Dr. Phil to cheer him up. Hiding in caves, despairing of life – His medicine was to run to God and His word and to cry out to Him.

While sometimes medicine is needed and a great help to sufferers of depression, the greatest healing balm I have found is being in God’s presence reading His word and crying out to Him, just like David modeled for us all.

My visit down depression lane has been brief and intermittent. Personal choices I made while there were what determined how long I stayed and when I would be leaving.

Recognition. A lot of times we don’t see that we have a choice. We don’t realize the state of mind we are in. Walking around in a cloud and sad atmosphere, we are often unaware of and don’t recognize that we are depressed. The first step toward leaving the path of depression was to recognize we are on that path in the first place. With 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts going through our mind in one day, sometimes seeing the source of those thoughts can be dizzying.

Roots. Finding the root of depression helps us to see. If we take those thoughts and examine where they came from, we begin to see the culprit that served as a catalyst in the formation of depression. Painful roots can be lifted out of the dust, healed and transplanted again in the healthier soil of being rooted in God’s love, instead.

Relationship. Victory out of depression is a daily battle in the mind that we often cannot fight by ourselves. We have to fight and choose to overcome, but if we are in a bad state of mind, we might need others to pluck us out and help us gain perspective.

Rescue. Seeing motivations of ourselves and others through biblical and prayer filters helps us to release possession of our thoughts and surrender them to Jesus. Placing them in God’s hands – sometimes again and again – is when we begin to see things from His perspective.

Real Hope. We need to tell ourselves the truth. The many discouraging thoughts are not always true. They might be convincing, but lies, nonetheless. This is not going to last forever. As long as we want change and are willing to be on the hunt for healing, your hope is sure and changed. The hope we have in Christ is abiding and eternal. Where we are now is not.

Trying to escape depression with a fake hope just won’t work. Happy little phrases and anecdotes are not a real solution. But we are never without hope if we approach our internal struggles biblically. What does His word say? Reflecting on His promises rather than our ever-looming reality is a life preserver ready to be used, if we let it be.

The circumstances surrounding the revelation of my children being harmed provoked depression and overwhelming grief that seemed insurmountable. My expectations were blown out of the water and I could not see how I could ever recover. If it had not been for God’s presence before and throughout, surely I would not have survived.

The night before the revelation of sin in our family, God awoke me to write a song. Usually my heart is filled with praise when I write Him a song, but this night my soul was in anguish. Complete fear gripped my heart and the LORD began to reveal to me that my life was going to change dramatically. I did not know that as I wrote the song and sought God’s face, the father of my children was harming one of my children in that moment.

The next day the LORD walked with me as truth was unfolding that broke our hearts and rocked our world. Shock and horror filled my heart and I felt I was not even in my body. The stress added to the pain and brought all of my autoimmune diseases out of remission. Trying to function with simple tasks felt impossible. It was in this place of despair that my brain would not turn off. Sleeping was difficult, anxiety consumed me over the constant barrage of attacks, accusations and court dates. The ominous doorbell ringing again and again with more subpoenas frightened my children and I as we felt like puppets on strings being thrown around carelessly through a process we did not ask for.

Deep sadness emanates often from a place of suffering. It threatens to snuff out hope with the grim reality of its tentacles wrapping around our mind again and again, proliferating a message of doubt and hopelessness.

But we need not be trapped by depression’s lure. The choice depends on us, if we will see the escape. God’s love reaches deeper than the deepest pit and demolishes the lies that depression tells us.

At the core of depression can be unbelief formed in the chasm of broken expectations. At the heart of our recovery is a belief in the God who reshapes our hopes and expectations into His own.

We become disheartened when life has not lived up to what we hoped for. We are set free when we realize it is not our life, after all. Sadness for self is removed when we don the attitude and reality that our lives are wrapped up in Christ’s. If we really believe that we no longer live but that Christ lives through us, then we see our lives as living for One.

Adopting the mind of Christ is paramount to overcoming thoughts in a mind filled with troubling thoughts. Christ sought to glorify the Father. He did not consider Himself, but only others around Him. His zeal for God consumed Him.

If we are real, zeal for self can often consume us. God knows that. He wants us to lift up our eyes to Him and see where our help comes from. Self can be a burden, but we are free when we can lay self down and see our problems as potential to glorify God in it.

Moving past depression is not easy, but it is possible. Feelings are powerful, but they are not more powerful than God’s Word, which never returns void.

Rather than desiring an escape from pain, we can ask for God to be with us in the pain and to give us His perspective as we navigate through the mire of emotions and pain. The more we seek God, the more we get answers to our questions. The more we ask, the more we receive. God is not limited by our limits and the Maker of us all has the remedy for every suffering – emotional or physical.

The song, “Draw Me Near” was the song I wrote on the night before my life and the life of my children was changed forever and now serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness at all times. If our hope is in anything other than God, our emotions ride a rollercoaster.

Lord, help us to trust You with our emotions. You made our hearts and can heal them, too.

Worshipful Wednesday: Revelation’s Invitation

His Revelationisan invitation (1)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

His revelation is an invitation; the imperfect enveloped by the perfect – filled to know Him and represent Him on the earth.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalm 75:1

“For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A psalm of Asaph. A song. We give thanks to you, O God! We give thanks! You reveal your presence; people tell about your amazing deeds.”

Psalm 76:1

“God has revealed himself in Judah; in Israel his reputation is great.”


As a worship leader it makes me smile that this Psalm opens up with instructions to the musicians. “To the tune of Do Not Destroy” – I wonder what that tune sounded like.

Either way, God’s people had something to sing about, indeed. The fact that our Creator, the King of this universe, Holy and perfect, reveals Himself to imperfect man is beyond understanding; it is astounding. Overwhelming.

Those who violated His covenant and chose fake gods over His presence – those people – He chose to love and to show Himself to.

His revelation is an invitation; the imperfect enveloped by the perfect – filled to know Him and represent Him on the earth.

As we catch a glimpse of Who He is – just a part – we are overcome with His awesome presence and led to a deeper walk with Him.

Seeing part of His character motivates us to desire to be like Him. Seeing One so Holy, so far above us, Who would choose to stoop down and help us to see, causes us to act on that revelation and to be His ambassadors on this earth.

Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to us, moment by moment. Help us to bask in Your presence and take what we know of You to the uttermost parts of the world.

 

Mundane Monday: Stubborn Hope

 

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The hope we have in Christ is sure and steady; a never failing, firm foundation.

Scripture of the Day:

Ephesians 1:18

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”

Sleepy eyes and Mondays go together like peanut butter and jelly. It can take awhile to get back into the swing of things, but reality and deadlines hit us square in the eyes whether we like it or not.

But here we have eyes of another sort being opened. A revelation of our souls to know the hope of the amazing salvation and eternal rewards that God has for His people. What an encouragement on a Monday, right?

Problem is that our work weeks and lives can be daunting, and hope is often deflated or crushed when challenges arise.

But this hope does not depend on any surrounding circumstances.

No, it is a fact predetermined in Heaven. A quiet stirring in our souls, reminding us that this is not our home. This stubborn hope looks out at the landscape of life and smiles inwardly at the promise within.

We are called to this hope. More than that, this hope is a certainty that God will use all things for our good. This hope is the knowledge that every wrong will be righted. This hope is that God sees and redeems. This hope is that our salvation has been achieved forever and cannot be stolen.

Our hearts can be strengthened to carry on if we will allow our hearts to focus on God’s hope instead of focusing on the hopes the world has, which are merely temporal.

Finding this hope might seem like an esoteric enigma, but it is so simple we often stumble over it. Searching for hope in people leaves us bankrupt, but searching in His living Word gives us a living hope that never fades, reserved for all who believe in Jesus.

Lord, thank You that You have not left us without hope. No matter what happens in this life, we have You, our treasure – both now and for all eternity – to guide us.

 

Truthful Tuesday: Sacrificial Worship

Sacrificial worship

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Real worship is not consumerism, but being consumed by God’s greatness.

Scripture:

Genesis 22:7

“Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father?” “What is it, my son?” he replied. “Here is the fire and the wood,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?””

Romans 12:1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”

As a worship leader, I am constantly seeking ways to provoke myself to sincere, passionate worship.  This morning I was reading “Face Down” by Matt Redman and read his perspective on the discussion between Abraham and Isaac when they went to the region of Moria to sacrifice to God.  This same place is said to have been the place where Christ was ultimately crucified.  What a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s provision.

Abraham and Isaac were going to worship God.  Everything that was necessary for their act of worship was there, except for one thing – the sacrifice.  The son noticed the need and willingly provided himself.  God provided the Lamb.

When we come to worship God, whether it is in our homes or at church, where is our sacrifice?  The music is there, the stage is set, and we need to respond.

In an entertainment-saturated society, it can be easy to approach worship in a consumer-like fashion, but worship is not worship if it does not cost us something.

What does this sacrifice look like?  It will be different for everyone, but it begins with a contrite heart, provoked to in Holy fear to be in awe of the sacrifice that God made for us. Complacency is not on the altar, nor distracted sheep going through the motions.  No, just grateful hearts, spared death, alive in Christ, laying down their burdens and overcome with God’s amazing love.  Basking in His Word, afresh with new revelation, we lie prostrate before the King of kings.

Lord, we worship YOU!  You are Holy, perfect and beyond our comprehension.  Help us to worship You in spirit and truth.  Be glorified in our worship services and provoke our hearts to sincere worship. 

Mundane Monday: The Discovery of Hidden Sin

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Leviticus 4:27-28

“If any of the common people sin by violating one of the LORD’s commands, but they don’t realize it, they are still guilty. 28 When they become aware of their sin, they must bring as an offering for their sin a female goat with no defects.”

Psalm 90:8

“You are aware of our sins; you even know about our hidden sins.”

Psalm 19:12

“But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.”

Proverbs 28:13

“The one who covers his transgressions will not prosper, but whoever confesses them and forsakes them will find mercy.” 

John 3:20

“”For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”


“I did not mean to” is the common plea of our hearts when we are caught in a sin.  Somehow we perceive our guilt is lessened if we did not intend to sin.  We judge our intentions always in the best light, but our actions betray us.  Funny this is, when we perceive someone else’s sin we can be quick to assess their actions and assume the worst in their intentions.  We condemn, but we would never want such a judgment upon ourselves.

We are often taken aback when we become aware of sin in our lives.  The surprise over the revelation of our sin is possibly due to our inability to recognize our own sin unless the Holy Spirit reveals it to us and our perception of ourselves is biased.

We would rather sanitize our sins with excuses or rationalizations than face the shocking reality that we are guilty.  Guilt is heavy and we cannot escape it.  It has to be dealt with and our flesh resists accepting the blame.

I confess that Leviticus is not my favorite book of the Bible.  Something about blood being splattered left and right for people’s sins is gruesome.  But then, so is sin.  The progression of the list of unintentional sins committed by various people – the commoner, the leader, the High Priest, the congregation of Israel – at first seems repetitive, but God has a purpose for every word in His word.

All have sinned.  All are accountable.  No one escapes the gravity and consequences of sin.  We all fall short of the glory of God and all must bear the penalty for our sin.  I am amazed at how kind God is to show us our sin and to ensure that every sin is covered.  Our hidden sins matter just as much as our known sins.  God does not want us to be deceived.  He wants all to be free from slavery to sin.

Sometimes we really are ignorant that a thought or an action is sinful.  God gave us the law to help us understand, but also to cause us to see our need for His salvation.  In His incredible mercy, God knew that we often do not see our sin and He fulfilled every law Himself.  How different this is from trusting man to cover our sins.  A person might be able to sympathize with our shortcomings, but could never pay for them.

When we see sin, there are two different responses.  Conviction is different than condemnation.  The revelation of sin is oil on our head and a blessing.  Even though it hurts, thank God for His mercy in convicting us of sin.  Condemnation is judgment without mercy.  The enemy loves to accuse us.  We are, in fact guilty.  No way around it.  But the soul who is teachable and receives instruction from the Holy Spirit is no longer under the law, for grace has come to all who will accept it.

His grace is free to all, but came at a great cost. The guilty go free and are proclaimed as innocent, but Jesus did not pay that cost so we could continue in our sin – that would not free us at all.  He paid it with His great love and compassion so we could look up from the mud pile we are in, step out of the miry clay and into the grace of God to see and know the greatest joy of this life – Himself.

The moment of the revelation of sin is a crisis we all will face.  We might want to resist facing up to our sins and owning them, but that is a miserable occupation.  Covering our iniquities with excuses never feels as good as repentance and God’s covering.  Give up.  We are all caught, whether in a known or hidden sin – caught by the loving arms of God, if we let Him.

Lord, You are worthy of praise!  Thank you for showing us our sins, that we might confess them, turn from them, find mercy and know the God of this universe!