Thursday, April 19, 2012

Prose - God Can Help Those Facing Depression by Pastor Randy Starr

If you are like me you read things you wished were written actively by a blogger but for one reason or another it is just a printed piece, or an emailed item (which tends to get deleted or everlastingly archived never to be seen again).  Well, I love good articles written by pastors or missionaries or by other good men.  This is one reason why I am creating a "new" (to me) section, and label, called prose.  I trust you will enjoy it, and that it would be an encouragement and a challenge to you, as it has been to me.
This article is taken from "The Mt. Zion Report" which is Mt. Zion Baptist Church's newsletter [Apr. 2012, Vol. 22, Issue 1] and is written by Pastor Randy Starr.

God CAN Help Those Facing Depression

Psalms 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

This winter, we examined the matter of depression in light of the Scriptures for five Wednesday nights. We found that this problem can range from mild discouragement or serious despondency to severe despair. Sorrow over a loss is not depression or despair. It is normal. Jesus expressed sorrow in the Garden (Matt. 36:37-38) and at the death of his friend, Lazarus (John 11:35). Sorrow is the emotion of loss. However, Jesus was not depressed. Depression is accompanied by hopelessness, disinterest, and often self-pity. Although when a person doesn’t seek God OR resolve to hope in God in their sorrow, it can turn to depression.  “Emotions are like dashboard lights to alert us to turn it over to God again.” (Jim Berg). We must remind ourselves of the following truth:  2 Corinthians 4:18 “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Depression is often accompanied by:
  • Insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Poor appetite or overeating; restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unkempt appearance; Stooped shoulders
  • Headaches; backaches
  • Moodiness, seldom laughing; frequent cries
  • Nothing is funny to the depressed; sad look
Causes of depression may be organic (a reaction to medication, illicit drugs, poor eating habits, medical problems, or fatigue). Or depression causes may be inorganic (loss of a job, friend, relative, respect, a goal, control of your life, or fellowship with God). How can we handle the issues of depression? God has the answers. In this series, we explored eight of these practical steps to overcome depression. If you would like the five messages on depression, write or email us for your free CD. Be encouraged today. God does have help for those who are depressed.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mark 8:10-13 Despondency in Dalmanutha

10 And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.
11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him.
12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.
13 And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side.

     We have the sad account in this section of Scripture where the Lord Jesus entered into parts of Dalmanutha (on west side of Lake Galilee).  There the Pharisees demanded from Him a sign that He was indeed the Messiah.  They were acting like the Devil himself, tempting Him for a sign.  Perhaps they were motivated by Satan.  At any rate they wanted a concrete sign from Him.  If they had known the Scriptures and believed in it they would have seen signs all around them.  The Lord’s birth alone fulfilled many of the Old Testament prophecies.  John the Baptist’s preaching would have been a sign.  The healing miracles that Christ performed were a sign.  How about the feeding of the five thousand, and then the four thousand?  That too was a sign.  There were signs everywhere.  But the Pharisees probably relying on their philosophy and beliefs were looking for their sign.  They wanted Christ to perform a “sign from Heaven.”  It wasn’t enough that the Old Testament Scriptures were fulfilled in front of their very eyes.  John’s thundering voice in the wilderness was ignored.  The miracles were counted as suspicious and from the Devil.  They wanted the Lord Jesus to perform for them on their terms.  But the Lord will have none of it.  God doesn’t come to us on our terms.  He is Creator and Savior.  He speaks through His Word.  If we don’t pay attention to His sign, then we are left with nothing, just like the Pharisees who tempted Him.  The Lord’s reaction is sad.  He, the Bible says, “sighed deeply,” that means his sadness came from the very depths of his heart.  It is astounding that unbelief breaks the heart of God.  He loves us so much, and wants us to take Him at His Word, to believe on Him as He teaches us in the Bible.  “There shall no sign be given unto this generation,” that is, none of their sign that they demanded will be given to them.  God doesn’t honor unbelief.  The only sign, that the cross references in the other Gospels mention, is that of the Resurrection.  But even the very act of the Lord’s Resurrection itself was of no use to their blinded hearts.  You would think that a Risen Savior and an empty tomb would have been good enough signs, but no.  Signs are only good when people take heed to them.  And in this case, because of their sin and pride, the Lord does not honor their superficial request for a sign.  One of the saddest verses in the Bible is verse 13, “and He left them.”  There were signs everywhere, but as the saying goes, there is none so blind as those who refuse to see.  And what a terrible thing it is for the Lord Jesus to have to leave them alone, and be broken hearted.  How many people today, just like the Pharisees, have such pride and sin and unbelief that even today, while His tomb is empty, are still looking for God on their own terms. 
     How many Christians today want a sign?  Did God preserve His Word?  Show us a sign! They say.  Which original language text is it in?  Which translation? Where is it exactly?  And what about other signs, Can we speak in tongues?  Can we gain more of the Holy Spirit?  Can He move this furniture and give us warm fuzzies? We demand a sign!  And God is not pleased.  He has given us His Word.  That is His sign to us.  May we open our eyes to His Word, read it, obey it, put it to the test, prove it and make it our own.  Let us trust in the sufficiency of His Word.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gen. 34:25-31 - The Folly of the Sons of Jacob

25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.
26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went out.
27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.
28 They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field,
29 And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house.
30 And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.
31 And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?

Anger unchecked and not curtailed by temperance leads to destruction.  Here we see the violence that the sons of Jacob exacted upon Hamor and Shechem and the men of the city.  V. 31 explains their reasoning:  “Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?”  But Dinah wasn’t innocent in this matter too (as we have already seen).  There could have better ways of handling this situation but because Simeon and Levi acted in wrath they committed a barbaric act.  For this act of violence they will receive a curse and be scattered (Gen. 49:5-7).  We need to be reminded to turn away wrath (Pro.  29:8), that anger rests (or is welcomed and nurtured) in the bosom of fools (Ecc. 7:9), and to hate one’s brother, in the eyes of the Lord is equivalent to murder (1 John 3:15).  Just as Jacob lamented his family’s reputation (v.30), so should we ever think of our Lord’s reputation and cause whenever the follies of sin appear.  “…And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19b) says the Bible, and we would do well to obey it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pfeiffer's Epilogue - Well said

“In the days of Herod the Great, in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire, in the city which had been the birthplace of King David a millennium earlier, Jesus the Messiah was born.  History took little note of His life.  Only a few devoted disciples openly espoused His cause.  The religious leaders attributed the miracles He performed to Beelzebub, the Prince of the Devils.  To Roman officials He was an insurrectionist; to the Jews, a blasphemer.  In the hour of his trial, His disciples forsook him and fled.  He was crucified as a malefactor, between two thieves.

Yet His life and His death introduce a new age.  From apparent defeat came the triumph of victory.  The death of the cross is heralded as the divinely provided atonement for sin.  The resurrection brings the assurance of life eternal."

This is taken from Charles F. Pfeiffer's book "Between the Testaments." (An excellent and succinct survey of the background to the Persian and Hellenistic eras and how exactly it contributed to the spreading of the gospel).

Rejoice and be glad! The tomb is empty and all our labors for Him aren't.  Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mark 8:1-9 Seven Hampers of Blessing - The Feeding of the Four Thousand

1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them,
2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:
3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.
4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?
5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven.
6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.
7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.
8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.
9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

The Lord supplies the miracle and the sustenance.  The disciples wondered; they were once again overwhelmed (v.4).  How often do we like the disciples of old forget God’s work in our lives.  We tend to forget that if there is ministry work to do, that the Lord Jesus provides the wisdom and strength to get it done.  The Lord gave to His disciples, and in turn the disciples were able to minister a feast to the people.  The people wanted to be filled with the Lord’s Word, and now after three days of listening, they were hungry.  The Lord was not about to send them away hungering.  He always meets our needs!  The word for baskets in v.8 literally means “hampers.”  This is no doubt how God blesses us, he daily loads us with benefits! Ps. 68:19 says: “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.”  The Seven baskets (or hampers) loaded with loaves and fishes are an object lesson to the disciples to trust God to supply for the duty they were called to do and their object lesson is for our benefit too.  Dare we work the ministry without the power of God?  No way!  We might as well ask what the disciples did in v.4 – "From whence can a man satisfy these men?"  But thank God for His supply of power for the work of the ministry, and strength to live the Christian life.  Indeed without Him, we can do nothing (Jn. 15:5).

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Homily: The centrality of the Lord's resurrection in Gospel preaching

Acts 1:15-22:
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.
21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

Acts 2:14-36:
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.