Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘God’s Presence’

7 Truths to Remember in Troubled Times

SOURCE:  Family Life/Dennis – Barbara Rainey

Concerned about economic, political, racial, and moral instability in our culture?  Disheartened by struggles in your personal life?  Here’s what to focus on when the ground shakes beneath your feet.

Years ago our family of eight and some dear friends of ours with their two kids vacationed in a small condo on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. It was a beautiful setting and a wonderful time for our families, but one night we were introduced to an experience that Southern Californians face regularly.

At 2 a.m. we awoke to a boom that made us think a truck had hit the building. Then we noticed that everything was shaking. We jumped out of bed and hurried to the living room where all our children were sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags. The chandelier over the dining room table was swinging.

It was an earthquake—not very large, but very unsettling. We felt disoriented and confused. We wondered how long it would last and what we should do. The earth is supposed to be steady and solid, and now it wasn’t. When it finally stopped we couldn’t go back to sleep for hours because our fears had been awakened and our security threatened.

Unsettling times

Does our experience describe how you have felt recently? Many Americans have felt shaken by economic instability, racial conflict, mass shootings, and terrorist threats in recent years. Even the current political races have left us feeling anxious, troubled, disoriented. We wonder what to do. We feel afraid as the ground shakes beneath our feet.

Many followers of Christ feel just as unsettled over the unprecedented transformation in the moral climate of our culture. The world’s views on human sexuality, especially, have changed so quickly that Christians are now labeled as bigots for holding to biblical standards. We don’t know how to act, what to say or not say.

And inside our individual homes, many may be feeling disoriented and disheartened because of illness, hardships, failed relationships, or recent deaths of friends or family. Like a friend of ours who just received a cancer diagnosis—her world has just been shaken. Perhaps your world has been shaken, too.

Our stability

A couple of years ago I (Barbara) was reading through the book of Isaiah, and I came across a passage I had never noticed before. Isaiah 33:5-6 says, “The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.”

I was struck by that phrase in the middle: “and he will be the stability of your times…” At the time our country was experiencing an economic downturn. Everyone in America was feeling the impact.

When life feels insecure and unstable—not just in the world outside but also inside your family—remember that God is ultimately in control. No matter what is happening around you or how unsteady the world feels, He is our sure and stable foundation.

In many ways, America has been a pretty stable country for the last few decades. But it may not continue to be. When you feel the ground shift beneath your feet, it’s good to remember that Jesus is your Rock and your Fortress. He will be the stability of your times.

Dealing with the hardships of life

Life will never be easy. We will always face problems and hardship. That would be true even if our culture felt more stable than it does today, for the Scriptures promise us, “In the world you shall have tribulation.”

So how will we deal with loss, with grief, with fear, with suffering? How do we respond when things don’t go our way? And how do we teach our children to face the hardships of life?

Christians today need to know more about God, more about ourselves, and more about the mission God has given us. Here are seven things to remember:

1. God is alive. He has not disappeared. He is eternal, all-powerful, and all-knowing, just as He has been from the beginning of time. As Isaiah 40:28 tells us, “… The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”

2. God never changes. Psalm 90 (KJV) begins, “Lord, Thou has been our dwelling place in all generations … even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” Inspired by these words, Isaac Watts wrote the following verses in the enduring hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.” They remind us that our fears, though circumstantially different than his in ages past, are still the same:

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

We all fear the loss of life, health, freedom, and peace. We fear the unknown future. But do you know who will be with us? Jesus, the One who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

3. God offers eternal life. If you have received Christ as your Lord and Savior, your sins have been forgiven because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. You are a child of God, and as Romans 8:38-39 tells us, “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is encouraging.

4. God has won the battle. He has defeated death. History will culminate in Christ’s return. No matter what we experience in the world, we can find peace in Him. In John 16:33 Jesus tells us, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

5. God is still in control. He is not surprised by anything going on in the world, or in your life. He is the sovereign, omnipotent King of kings. Even in times of uncertainty and chaos, Romans 8:28 (NASB) is still in force: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” So is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB), which tells us, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

6. God will provide for your needs. Especially in times of economic uncertainty it’s easy to grow anxious about the most basic things, like whether we will keep our jobs, or whether our families will have enough to eat. But in Matthew 6:26-33, Jesus tells us we should not be worried about what we eat, or what we will wear:

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

7. God has given us good works to do. Jesus’ words also remind us that there is more to life than meeting our daily material needs. When we seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness, we operate according to His priorities—we’re concerned about building our family relationships, and connecting the hearts of our children to God’s heart, and impacting future generations by proclaiming Christ. We’re concerned about God using us to reach and influence others with the gospel. That’s what life is really about.

Second Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we are ambassadors for Christ. Have you considered that your best opportunities to fulfill this role—to represent Christ and His Kingdom—may come in times like these when so many need help and encouragement?

Consider this: If you are feeling troubled by the instability in our world, then many of the people you encounter each day are concerned and fearful as well. What makes you different is that you have a firm foundation in Christ. This is an opportunity for you to shine. If you have built your home on the Rock (Matthew 7:24-27), you will remain unshaken. That in itself is a witness to the watching world that there is something different about Christians. And if you then reach out to help others who struggle without that foundation, that makes you rare indeed.

When life feels insecure and unstable, focus on these timeless truths. Read the never-changing Word of God with your spouse and to your children. No matter what troubles we are experiencing in our world and in our families, He is in control. He will not abandon us. He will provide for us. This may look different than you expect, but His promises have not expired in the 21st century.

Depression: God Is Not Silent When We Suffer

SOURCE:  familylife.com/Edward T. Welch

If we know anything about God, we know that He comes close to those who suffer, so keep your eyes open for Him.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Never has so much been crammed into one word. Depression feels terrifying. Your world is dark, heavy, and painful. Physical pain, you think, would be much better—at least the pain would be localized. Instead, depression seems to go to your very soul, affecting everything in its path.

Dead, but walking, is one way to describe it. You feel numb. Perhaps the worst part is that you remember when you actually felt something and the contrast between then and now makes the pain worse.

So many things about your life are difficult right now. Things you used to take for granted—a good night’s sleep, having goals, looking forward to the future—now seem beyond your reach. Your relationships are also affected. The people who love you are looking for some emotional response from you, but you do not have one to give.

Does it help to know that you are not alone? These days depression affects as much as 25 percent of the population. Although it has always been a human problem, no one really knows why. But what Christians do know is that God is not silent when we suffer. On every page of Scripture, God’s depressed children have been able to find hope and a reason to endure. For example, take 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV):

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Come to God with your suffering

You can start to experience the inward renewal that the apostle Paul experienced when you come to God with your suffering. God seems far away when we suffer. You believe that He exists, but it seems as if He is too busy with everything else, or He just doesn’t care. After all, God is powerful enough to end your suffering, but He hasn’t.

If you start there, you’ll reach a dead end pretty quickly. God hasn’t promised to explain everything about what He does and what He allows. Instead, He encourages us to start with Jesus. Jesus is God the Son, and He is certainly loved by his heavenly Father. Yet Jesus also went through more suffering than anyone who ever lived!

Here we see that love and suffering can co-exist. And when you start reading the Bible and encounter people like Job, Jeremiah, and the apostle Paul, you get a sense that suffering is actually the well-worn path for God’s favorites. This doesn’t answer the question, Why are you doing this to me? But it cushions the blow when you know that God understands. You aren’t alone. If we know anything about God, we know that He comes close to those who suffer, so keep your eyes open for Him.

God speaks to you in the Bible

Keep your heart open to the fact that the Bible has much to say to you when you are depressed. Here are a few suggestions of Bible passages you can read. Read one each day and let it fill your mind as you go about your life.

    • Read about Jesus’ suffering in Isaiah 53 and Mark 14. How does it help you to know that Jesus is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief?
    • Use the Psalms to help you find words to talk to God about your heart. Make Psalm 88 and Psalm 86 your personal prayers to God.
    • Be alert to spiritual warfare. Depressed people are very vulnerable to Satan’s claim that God is not good. Jesus’ death on the cross proves God’s love for you. It’s the only weapon powerful enough to stand against Satan’s lies. (Romans 5:6-8, 1 John 4:9,10)
    • Don’t think your case is unique. Read Hebrews 11 and 12. Many have walked this path before you and they will tell you that God did not fail them.
    • Remember your purpose for living. (Matthew 22:37-39, 1 Corinthians 6:20, 2 Corinthians 5:15, Galatians 5:6)
    • Learn about persevering and enduring. (Romans 5:3, Hebrews 12:1, James 1:2-4)

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

Try one step at a time

Granted, it seems impossible. How can someone live without feelings? Without them you have no drive, no motivation. Could you imagine walking without any feeling in your legs? It would be impossible.

Or would it? Perhaps you could walk if you practiced in front of a large mirror and watched your legs moving. One step, wobble, another step. It would all be very mechanical, but it could be done.

People have learned to walk in the midst of depression. It doesn’t seem natural, though other people won’t notice either the awkwardness or the heroism involved. The trek begins with one step, then another. Remember, you are not alone. Many people have taken this journey ahead of you.

As you walk, you will find that it is necessary to remember to use every resource you have ever learned about persevering through hardship. It will involve lots of moment by moment choices: 1) take one minute at a time, 2) read one short Bible passage, 3) try to care about someone else, 4) ask someone how they are doing, and so on.

You will need to do this with your relationships, too. When you have no feelings, how to love must be redefined. Love, for you, must become an active commitment to patience and kindness.

Consider what accompanies your depression

As you put one foot in front of the other, don’t forget that depression doesn’t exempt you from the other problems that plague human beings. Some depressed people have a hard time seeing the other things that creep in—things like anger, fear, and an unforgiving spirit. Look carefully to see if your depression is associated with things like these:

Do you have negative, critical, or complaining thoughts? These can point to anger. Are you holding something against another person?

Do you want to stay in bed all day? Are there parts of your life you want to avoid?

Do you find that things you once did easily now strike terror in your heart? What is at the root of your fear?

Do you feel like you have committed a sin that is beyond the scope of God’s forgiveness?Remember that the apostle Paul was a murderer. And remember: God is not like other people—He doesn’t give us the cold shoulder when we ask for forgiveness.

Do you struggle with shame? Shame is different from guilt. When you are guilty you feel dirty because of what you did; but with shame you feel dirty because of what somebody did to you. Forgiveness for your sins is not the answer here because you are not the one who was wrong. But the cross of Christ is still the answer. Jesus’ blood not only washes us clean from the guilt of our own sins, but also washes away the shame we experience when others sin against us.

Do you experience low self-worth? Low self-worth points in many directions. Instead of trying to raise your view of yourself, come at it from a completely different angle. Start with Christ and His love for you. Let that define you and then share that love with others.

Will it ever be over?

Will you always struggle with depression? That is like asking, “Will suffering ever be over?” Although we will have hardships in this world, depression rarely keeps a permanent grip on anyone. When we add to that the hope, purpose, power, and comfort we find in Christ, depressed people can usually anticipate a ray of hope or a lifting of their spirits.

FREQUENTLY-ASKED QUESTIONS

Is it okay to get medication?

The severe pain of depression makes you welcome anything that can bring relief. For some people, medication brings relief from some symptoms. Most family physicians are qualified to prescribe appropriate medications. If you prefer a specialist, get a recommendation for a psychiatrist, and ask these questions of your doctor and pharmacist:

    • How long will it take before it is effective?
    • What are some of the common side effects?
    • Will it be difficult to determine which medication is effective (if your physician is prescribing two medications)?

From a Christian perspective, the choice to take medication is a wisdom issue. It is rarely a matter of right or wrong. Instead, the question to ask is, What is best and wise?

Wise people seek counsel (your physicians should be part of the group that counsels you). Wise people approach decisions prayerfully. They don’t put their hope in people or medicine but in the Lord. They recognize that medication is a blessing, when it helps, but recognize its limits. It can change physical symptoms, but not spiritual ones. It might give sleep, offer physical energy, allow you to see in color, and alleviate the physical feeling of depression. But it won’t answer your spiritual doubts, fears, frustrations, or failures.

If you choose to take medication, please consider letting wise and trusted people from your church come alongside of you. They can remind you that God is good, that you can find power to know God’s love and love others, and that joy is possible even during depression.

What do I do with thoughts about suicide?

Before you were depressed, you could not imagine thinking of suicide. But when depression descends, you may notice a passing thought about death, then another, and another, until death acts like a stalker.

Know this about depression: It doesn’t tell the whole truth. It says that you are all alone, that no one loves you, that God doesn’t care, that you will never feel any different, and you cannot go on another day. Even your spouse and children don’t seem like a reason to stay alive when depression is at its worst. Your mind tells you, Everyone will be better off without me. But this is a lie—they will not be better off without you.

Because you aren’t working with all the facts, keep it simple. Death is not your call to make. God is the giver and taker of life. As long as He gives you life, He has purposes for you.

One purpose that is always right in front of you is to love another person. Begin with that purpose and then get help from a friend or a pastor.

Depression says that you are alone and that you should act that way. But that is not true. God is with you, and He calls you to reach out to someone who will listen, care, and pray for you.

HE is God on the Mountain AND in the Valley

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors [AACC]

On The Mountain, and In The Valley

As you walk through the valley of the unknown, you will find the footprints of Jesus both in front of you and beside you. -Charles Stanley

The man who gazes upon and contemplates day by day the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, and who has caught the glow of the reality that the Lord is not a theory but an indwelling power and force in his life, is as a mirror reflecting the glory of the Lord. -Alan Redpath

Moses knew what it meant to be on the mountain top.

Exodus 24 records that “Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days… Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights” (Exodus 24:15-18 ESV) experiencing the presence and glory of God.

Moses also knew the anguish of the valley.

He came down off of the mountain carrying the two tablets that God had given him – “The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.” (Exodus 32:16), only to find that the children of Israel had “made for themselves a golden calf, worshipped it… and sacrificed to it” (Exodus 32:8 ESV)

Moses was so distraught and enraged that he “threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.” (Exodus 32:19 ESV)

“Mountain tops” and “valleys.” Have you experienced the glory and presence of the Lord in one instant, only to turn the page and battle sin and brokenness? Anger…lust… fear… pain of loss… worry… anxiety. And you find yourself questioning the validity of the work that God had begun to write in your life, and on your heart.

What I love though about the story, is how God not only spoke to Moses on the mountain top, but He also spoke to him in the valley, telling him how to deal with the pain and problems he had encountered (Exodus 32:33, 33:1&5).

He is God… on the mountain. And He is God, in the valley.

Notice what Moses does next. He first dealt with the issues of sin and idolatry (rather harshly I might add – 3000 men died) (Exodus 32:28).

He then “rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone.” On the top of the mountain, “the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there.” (Exodus 34:4-5 ESV)

God then proclaims His glorious nature to Moses;

The Lord, the Lord…

A God merciful and gracious…

Slow to anger…

Abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…

Forgiving iniquity… and transgression, and sin…

“And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped.” (Exodus 34:8 ESV)

What’s interesting is that after experiencing the presence of the Lord, and worshipping, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai… he did not know that his face shone because he had been talking with God.” (Exodus 34:29 ESV)

This reminds me of the passage in Acts 4 where the religious leaders “saw the boldness of Peter and John and, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13 ESV)

If you haven’t noticed, the connection here is the presence of God.

Because of Christ, the Hebrews writer encourages us to “then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 ESV)

Practice being in the presence of God every day. It brings cleansing… and healing… and it will draw you to worship. His presence brings light to your darkness… hope to your anguish, glory to your valley.

That will turn your life around.

Darkness – Not Always Bad

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Karl Benzio/Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network

We typically think of darkness as something negative or bad, and it’s often associated with evil. Nightfall, devoid of light, blackened, lost, secret, closed, blinded. The Bible often uses darkness to portray “not in God’s light” … certainly a place we don’t want to be.

For a time as a child, I was afraid of the dark.  Some people even carry these fears through their teens and into adulthood. However, I have learned through personal experience that darkness is not all bad. And darkness does not have to be synonymous with the absence of God. Sometimes when darkness comes, it signifies that we are under the shelter and in the shadow of our Lord. (Psalm 91:1) Know that as a child of God, nothing happens to you that He has not allowed.

During times of darkness, there are actually treasures to be found (Isaiah 45:3), along with learning and growth. When darkness comes, most people run from it and consequently don’t see God’s protection or the lessons God has for them. Others distract or soothe themselves from the uneasiness of the darkness by turning to food, fear, alcohol, porn, power, control, anger, or other patterned or habitual knee jerk responses. Some simply sleep through it as if nothing is happening.

When events don’t go our way and we feel emotionally uncomfortable, our natural reaction is to assume the situation is against us. This leads to believing the lie that nothing positive can come from the situation, even though we know from experiences in school, sports, or the arts that we have to practice to get good results.

The “no pain, no gain” maxim is true for spiritual growth as well. When we are born again, we aren’t mature, fully equipped believers. Spiritual transformation is a process that involves work, effort, self-reflection, self-examination, learning from mistakes, and applying our new skills and relationship in times of adversity. So we must embrace the dark times as opportunities for growth.

Today, when you find yourself in the midst of physical and spiritual darkness, turn to your God for strength. Don’t run. Rather, look for the treasures in those secret places. While in the dark, turn to His Presence … His Word … His Spirit. And you will soon see His Lighthouse guiding you step by step. Look for how He wants to grow or strengthen you, especially in the areas of life that are holding you back. Always search for the positives in the storm, because they always are there.

Running from adversity or growing in it is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father God, I know that You are perfect in all Your ways … therefore it is impossible for You to be careless. Nothing happens to me that You have not allowed. When I experience times of darkness – times that You could have prevented – it sometimes feels as if You are being careless with me. Thanks for always having a plan for my growth and success, and giving me courage to follow Your perfect plan instead of my inadequate one. I pray, Father, that You equip me to navigate in the darkness … and that You will teach me how to use that equipment. I pray this in the name of Jesus, who experienced the darkest of times while paying for my sins;  – AMEN!

The Truth

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. 

Isaiah 45:3

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

Isaiah 41:10

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 

Psalm 91:1

 

A Very Present HELP

SOURCE:  Charles Spurgeon

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Ps 46:1 ESV)

A help that is not present when we need it is of small value. The anchor which is left at home is of no use to the seaman in the hour of storm; the money which he used to have is of no worth to the debtor when a writ is out against him.

Very few earthly helps could be called ‘very present’: they are usually far in the seeking, far in the using, and farther still when once used.

But as for the Lord our God, He is present when we seek Him, present when we need Him, and present when we have already enjoyed His aid.

He is more than ‘present,’ He is very present. More present than the nearest friend can be, for He is in us in our trouble; more present than we are to ourselves, for sometimes we lack presence of mind.

He is always present, effectually present, sympathetically present, altogether present. He is present now if this is a gloomy season.

Let us rest ourselves upon Him. He is our refuge, let us hide in Him; He is our strength, let us array ourselves with Him; He is our help, let us lean upon Him; He is our very present help, let us repose in Him now.

We need not have a moment’s care or an instant’s fear. ‘The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.'”

–Charles Spurgeon in Chequebook of the Bank of Faith.

Hide the Pain, Suffer Longer

SOURCE: Adapted from  Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network

Most of us are very selective about the parts of our lives we voluntarily bring into God’s presence.

We hesitate to bring traits that we consider shameful … partly because we actually believe He doesn’t see them, and partly because we are ashamed to even think about them again. Some of us are so used to living with pain, loneliness, guilt, fear, anxiety, and stress that it never occurs to us to ask God for help in dealing with various elements of these problems. We assume help is not available and that the pain is an unavoidable guaranteed sentence from which there is no relief.

You see, it’s as if we believe we can accumulate degree-of-difficulty points (like in diving) for overcoming hardship and pain, commonly called the martyr syndrome or victim mentality. Many times I notice people trying to one up each other by making their own path harder, then even bragging about it. “You think your life was hard, wait till you hear this” kind of mentality.

For many, pain of some kind has been such an integral part of growing up that, in a weird way, it is hard for them to navigate life without the pain, almost waiting for the other shoe to drop, feeling they don’t deserve any luck or good fortune. People like this seem to sabotage success, and even go out of their way to create problems. When  we are preoccupied with our struggles, we can even forget God is with us and will provide help.

God really desires to heal the hurting parts of your life.

However, some of the pain has been with you so long, it becomes part of your identity. Sometimes, we are so addicted to certain painful patterns that we find it difficult to break free from them. Only repeatedly exposing them to God’s healing presence and applying His instructions in the BIBLE will bring you long-term healing and freedom.

Today, turn to your Lord when you are hurting. He will share and reduce your pain.

Remember, the Bible is the book about suffering, especially spiritual suffering. The Bible tells how God loved us so much that He miraculously provided a way for ultimate healing. He also has many promises for the smaller daily sufferings we experience. Turn to your Lord when you are in pain and rejoice in these circumstances as you remember that He is with you. He has joy, peace, and comfort, as well as a message for you. He is communicating to you through your pain.

How you deal with pain is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father God, I am so grateful to You, Lord, grateful that I can come to you no matter what condition I am in … just as I am. Thank You, Father. I am relieved that I don’t have to “clean up my act” before I come to You; You already know the worst about me. When I am hurting, I want to be with someone who understands me without condemning me. When I am happy, I delight in being with someone who loves me enough to celebrate with me. I pray that You help me bring more and more of myself to You. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who divides my pain and multiplies my joy, Jesus Christ;  – AMEN!

The Truth
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 

Psalm 126:3

 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus 

Romans 8:1

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 

1 Peter 5:6-10

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to set the captives free, and recover sight to the blind, and to set at liberty them that are bruised,  Luke 4:18

On The Mountain, and In The Valley

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors

As you walk through the valley of the unknown, you will find the footprints of Jesus both in front of you and beside you. – Charles Stanley

The man who gazes upon and contemplates day by day the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, and who has caught the glow of the reality that the Lord is not a theory but an indwelling power and force in his life, is as a mirror reflecting the glory of the Lord. – Alan Redpath

Moses knew what it meant to be on the mountain top.

Exodus 24 records that “Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days… Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights” (vs. 15-18 ESV) experiencing the presence and glory of God.

Moses also knew the anguish of the valley.

He came down off of the mountain carrying the two tablets that God had given him – “The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.” (Exodus 32:16), only to find that the children of Israel had “made for themselves a golden calf…worshipped it… and sacrificed to it” (32:8 ESV)

Moses was so distraught and enraged that he “threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.” (32:19 ESV)

“Mountain tops” and “valleys”. Have you experienced the glory and presence of the Lord in one instant, only to turn the page and battle sin and brokenness? Anger…lust… fear… pain of loss… worry… anxiety. And you find yourself questioning the validity of the work that God had begun to write in your life, and on your heart.

What I love though about the story, is how God not only spoke to Moses on the mountain top, but He also spoke to him in the valley, telling him how to deal with the pain and problems he had encountered (Exodus 32:33, 33:1&5).

He is God… on the mountain. And He is God…in the valley.

Notice what Moses does next. He first dealt with the issues of sin and idolatry (rather harshly I might add – 3000 men died) (32:28).

He then “rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone.” On the top of the mountain, “the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there.” (Exodus 34:4-5 ESV)

God then proclaims His glorious nature to Moses;

The Lord, the Lord…

A God merciful and gracious…

Slow to anger…

Abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…

Forgiving iniquity… and transgression…and sin…

“And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped.” (34:8 ESV)

What’s interesting is that after experiencing the presence of the Lord, and worshipping, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai… he did not know that his face shone because he had been talking with God.” (34:29 ESV)

This reminds me of the passage in Acts 4 where the religious leaders “saw the boldness of Peter and John and…they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (vs. 13 ESV)

If you haven’t noticed, the connection here is the presence of God.

Because of Christ, the Hebrews writer encourages us to “then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 ESV)

Practice being in the presence of God every day. It brings cleansing… and healing… and it will draw you to worship. His presence brings light to your darkness… hope to your anguish…glory to your valley.

That will turn your life around.

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