Gifts from God · My Faith

Hope in the midst of depression and anxiety

Revelation21 4:2

I had no intention of taking a couple of weeks off in the gifts of God study but as it is February, winter is still here (though we have had some sunshine!) I want to keep going with this to encourage myself and anyone else who may struggle in the winter months.

Despite being very tired I am actually not feeling too bad. I have been spending more time in the Lords presence and He has guided me to make some changes which have helped my fellowship with Him so much. This really does help me in my difficult days.

I have thought about the next gift and prayed about it and want to talk about hope. Something that the Lord gives to all who have repented, follow and love Him.

Vines Expositor Dictionary says:

Hope (Noun and Verb), Hope (For):

in the NT, “favorable and confident expectation” (contrast the Sept. in Isa 28:19, “an evil hope”). It has to do with the unseen and the future, Rom 8:24, 25. “Hope” describes

(a) the happy anticipation of good (the most frequent significance), e.g., Tts 1:2; 1Pe 1:21;

(b) the ground upon which “hope” is based, Act 16:19; Col 1:27, “Christ in you the hope of glory;”

(c) the object upon which the “hope” is fixed, e.g., 1Ti 1:1.

In Rom 15:13 God is spoken of as “the God of hope,” i.e., He is the author, not the subject; of it. “Hope” is a factor in salvation, Rom 8:24; it finds its expression in endurance under trial, which is the effect of waiting for the coming of Christ, 1Th 1:3; it is “an anchor of the soul,” staying it amidst the storms of this life, Hbr 6:18, 19; it is a purifying power, “every one that hath this hope set on Him (Christ) purifieth himself, even as He is pure,” 1Jo 3:3, RV (the Apostle John’s one mention of “hope”).

I love the fact that the hope we have is a happy anticipation. It is going to happen! The Lord is coming back and we will be with Him!

It also says that in Romans 15:13 that God is the God of hope. He is the author of it. So this means that when we repent and turn to Him then He gives us hope. Hope in our salvation and hope in the Lord Jesus, that one day we will be with Him in glory.

I don’t know about anyone else but it’s this hope that keeps me going, it’s this hope that gives me joy as it means that I am saved! No more searching, no more looking for answers as Jesus is the answer!

This gift is the reason I get up in the mornings, the reason why I keep going through the tough times, because I know one day it will be over and I wont be dizzy, anxious or depressed anymore. It also means that I can live joyfully now in this wonderful anticipation of being with Jesus in glory. It means that I need not worry (though I still do sometimes), I can be grateful and see all the wonderful things in this life that Jesus has given me. It means that I can lift up my voice in praise to my God, the author of my Hope! I can look to Him with love and follow Him, knowing that He is leading me home. That everything I face in this life is ultimately so I can grow, become more like Him as He desires to spend eternity with me.

I have heard it said that we shouldn’t just focus on ‘this bus ticket to heaven’. And while we must remember that our life for Jesus starts now, for those of us who find life really hard, who struggle to face some days, this bus ticket is  what we hold onto tightly as we look to Jesus. Don’t ever let go of your ticket and don’t let anyone tell you that your hope is not important, we are there a lot longer than we are here. Gods word is what matters and this is what it says:

 

   For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1Thessalonians 4:18)
Sweet brethren, are you depressed? Is your anxiety gripping you so tightly that you can’t breathe? Are you worried? Tired? Don’t want to be here anymore? Be comforted be these words as I am, just hold on, don’t let go for He is coming and then:
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

 

 

Gifts from God

The Gift of Praise – A testimony

This week as I’ve been thinking about the gifts Gods gives us praise kept coming to mind. I cannot find any scripture that calls praise a gift but as I mediate and read scriptures on it I think it is. A special one that we can share with The Lord as He gives us the ability to praise and we give Him our praise.

There are times when praise doesn’t come as easy as depression seeps in but I know The Lord understands. If we read the psalms there are many that start with lamenting but end in praise as the author reminds himself of who God is. I do not believe that David will have always felt like praising, some psalms where written in dark, cold and gloomy caves while on the run but he still reminds himself of Gods goodness by praising Him.

In my early walk with the Lord, I cried everyday for a year, I spent three years pouring myself out to him asking for a release of the anxiety, depression and agoraphobia that so gripped me. It was very hard but when I was able I would listen to some music and cry, and say to the Lord I choose to praise you, despite my feelings. I asked over and over to be able to stand in a congregation of my brothers and sisters in Christ to praise Him.

Last Sunday (4 years later) I stood in front of the congregation at Church and sang. I had never in my life done that before. We all sang together to The Lord Jesus and it was wonderful. I am in awe of how good God has been to me. He has answered my prayer above and beyond how I would ever have hoped. I don’t believe however that the praise I gave on Sunday was any less pleasing To Him than the praise I choose to do when I am unwell.

I hope this post is an encouragement to anyone reading, please know that Jesus understands your pain and calling out to Him in your pain is massive act of trust and faith (even though I know it doesn’t feel like it) and that can be done in many ways. This was one of the ways I do it. I still now, pour out my heart when I sing to Him and you will find me many times crying without shame as I give it all to Him and worship His name. Because, I love Him.

I thought I would share a couple of songs that I used to listen to (and still do) when things are bad.

In future posts I will share more of the things I do that help me in the difficult days. I hear too many times of Christians feeling shame with mental illness and that is not how the Lord wants us to live. I hope what I share is a blessing and a help to those who feel this way. You are not alone.

Gifts from God

Gift of salvation – Can mental illness take it away?

Romans 5:8

On Sunday I had the privilege of sharing my testimony at Church. It reminded me how far God has brought me which is good thing to meditate on when depression and anxiety seep in.

My pastor said to me that sometimes when we look back we can see how different things really have become. And he is so right. I find it very easy to think that because I haven’t been divinely healed that healing hasn’t happened at all, when it has. That nothing has changed, when, in fact, everything has.

All this is because of an awesome gift that God gave me in May 2013.

I was very ill, I was house/sofa bound and I was getting sicker. I couldn’t trust Drs, I had cut out my family and friends, I had no where to go, so I turned to God and He heard my cry.

And my life changed completely, even though I didn’t start to notice the physical changes until 3 years later. But I was saved and that gave me such Joy despite my feelings that I spent 3 years everyday reading His word and talking to Him. My anxiety and depression were still very difficult to live with but I received such comfort from the Holy Spirit, it was an amazing journey.

When anxiety and depression take over it is so hard to remember this gift, it is tempting to start thinking that salvation has been taken away but it does not depend on us or how we feel! If we have repented of our sins, and turned to Him He saves us!

Romans 6:23 says:

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Remember the definition of gift from my last study? No strings attached, there’s nothing we can do to be saved, Jesus did it on the cross 2000 years ago! He took our punishment for us, it’s done. No matter how deep the depression how gripping the anxiety, it cannot take our salvation away because we did nothing to receive it in the first place! Would you take a Christmas present from someone just because they were ill? This is so much more!

It means something else too, that one day (if we are not healed in this life) we will never feel this way again.

In revelation 21:4 it says:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

The week before I shared my testimony I sat sobbing as we sang to Jesus, the toll of looking after 2 children and a poorly husband while feeling dizzy is so hard and I am battling a bout of depression as a result of that and other burdens I have. But when I shared my testimony and meditated on that day it reminded me that I am still saved, that over the years as my mental and physical health has gone up and down The Lord has never taken away that gift he gave me in May 2013. My salvation is secure.

Are you struggling? I recommend spending time thinking about your testimony as those of us who have repented and turned to Jesus all have one. Write it down, remind yourself of it and look at what the bible says about the gift of salvation. It really is worth it, I promise.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Gifts from God

The Gift of Faith – Can a depressed person have faith?

Ephesians 2:8

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to do a study on faith this week and this is what I have found. This is part of my gifts from God series that I am doing to help me through the winter as a suffer from mental health issues. Christmas gift giving may be over but Gods gifts can be received any time 🙂

I have heard many Christians who suffer from depression (myself included) say, how can I be a Christian with this? We wonder if we have any faith at all and how can we possibly be trusting God?

But lets look at what God says on this subject as He is our authority.

First lets not forget what we discovered last time about Gods word, how it is implanted in us so now matter how we feel its still there.

The first verse I want to look at (quoted above) says that saving faith is a gift of God and not of anything that we do, so all we have to do is repent and believe on Him and we are saved! We didn’t look at this last time so maybe now is a good time to look at the definition of the word gift:

  • Gift: a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present. (source)

Willingly! God willingly gives us this saving faith!! With no strings attached! Or according to Merriam-Webster a gift is:

  • something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation (source)

How wonderful is that?

Here’s the next verse I want to look at:

 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews12:2

This verse has been so encouraging for me in my dark times, when I have been reminded of it it’s given me encouragement to keep going and seeking His face.  It says that He is the author and finisher of our faith! Isn’t that amazing? This means that our faith has nothing to do with how we feel as it is Jesus who began it, Jesus who sustains it and Jesus who finishes it when we come to glory! So, just like His word, He keeps giving this gift whenever we ask for it.

The word also says that:

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Philippians 1:6

That means if He has started it He will carry it to completion!

If you are having a dark day, a day were moving feels like an impossible task, a day where you have to live from moment to moment please be encouraged that this does NOT mean you have no faith, in fact as you move from moment to moment, despite your feelings whether depressed or anxious or whatever it looks like for you (I have had some very bad anxiety days where I know I wouldn’t have got through without the Lords care for my faith) He will take care of us and sustain our faith.

The last thing I want to share is this:

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matthew 17:20

If you look at this verse and others where the Lord tells someone they have little faith what does he do? He builds them up, helps them, encourages them. (Matthew 8:23-27) He says even with little faith, I can do great things. And what happens when He does that? Our faith grows! As I meditate on this I can see how it all works for my good as I step out in Faith (in Matthew 8:23-27 they called out to Him, that is stepping out in faith), He gives me the faith, then my faith grows. It’s always worth remembering that He created us for fellowship with Him and is working in us so we can be with Him, He loves us so much. And this is not based on how we feel.

Be encouraged! He has not given up on us! He will build up our faith He will care for it as it is His gift to us! Why not do a study for yourselves, pick one of the verses I’ve shared as a starting off point, see what awesome things you can discover about this gift from God. Then come and tell me. I’d love to know!

 

Gifts from God

Gifts from God

So Christmas is over and New Year is upon us, for those of us that struggle with mental health issues the beginning of a new year can actually be quite daunting as the days are dark and the winter seems long.

I was reading James the other night and found a passage that gave me such hope and caused me to mediate on all the wonderful gifts that we can have from God. So I have decided to do a study on the gifts of God and share it here to keep me accountable and also to encourage anyone else who has the same issues as I do.

Christmas may be over and the fun of present opening long gone, but these gifts are there every day for us to receive joyfully and I invite anyone reading this to join me in exploring these gifts so that we can look/ to Him for our help and encouragement through the long winter days.

If you wish to join me, I will share them on my Facebook page but also you can sign up to my blog posts on the right hand side margin. Please do feel free to add any comments or insights you have yourself.

So, like I said I was reading James, and came across an awesome passage of scripture which I decided to study deeper and I am so glad I did its

James 1:21:

21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

There were two words which stuck out to me, one was implanted and the other receive so I looked at the definitions:

  1. Receive: be given, presented with, or paid (something).
  2. Implant: insert or fix (tissue or an artificial object) in a person’s body, especially by surgery.

I then did a little a googling and found this quote by John Piper:

Now verse 21 says that this word didn’t come and go. It was implanted. It took root. It is in us and is part of us. This is amazing. I pray the Lord causes this truth to sink in and grip you. We are born again by the word. And the word stays. Indeed, verse 21 says that this implanted word “is able to save your souls.” Don’t underestimate the power and the importance of the word of God.

When we read Gods word it is implanted in us! So that means that even on those dark days, His word is still in me. There’s no getting away from that fact!

Spurgeon had this to say about the word receive:

“The first thing, then, is receive. That word ‘receive’ is a very instructive gospel word; it is the door through which God’s grace enters to us. We are not saved by working, but by receiving; not by what we give to God, but by what God gives to us, and we receive from him.”

How awesome is that? This is a gift with no strings attached, we just receive it, that’s all we have to do.

 I looked for other bible verses about Gods word and there was so much, here is a few that ministered to my soul:

  1. Gods word is perfect Psalm 19:7
  2. Gods word is pure Proverbs 30:5
  3. Gods word is true Psalm 119:160
  4. Gods word is our nourishment Matthew 4:4
  5. And it will never fail Matthew 24:35

So what should we do with this awesome gift?

Receive it and let it dwell in us Colossians 3:16  says:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

In other words, read it, mediate on it, talk to Jesus about it! Use it to help and encourage others.

So with all this in mind I want to share one more piece of scripture to encourage you to read and receive this wonderful gift from God.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

John 15:7

Ask in His will and He will give it us. But His word has to abide in us and we have to abide in Him, is this true of you? Are you born again? Are you receiving his word?

I know this time of year is hard but I hope this encourages you to pick up your bibles and read it, it is so powerful and wonderful and so much better than gifts given one day a year that are forgotten about a week later. We get to open this one every single day and receive the wonderful truths found there.

 

God bless you and I hope you have a blessed new year in the Lord!