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!

 

 

Testimony

Comfort one another (a testimony of Christs love to a depressed heart)

In October 2018 I fell and hurt my ankle, it was quite impressive as I fell off a step in soft play with little A and landed full weight on my ankle. One hospital trip later and I am hobbling about on crutches. I pulled the ligaments in my foot, my foot and ankle swelled up and was pretty painful to walk on.

So why am I sharing this today? Because something struck me that I really wanted to share here.

When some people saw my foot they looked very concerned and said things like ‘oh dear, that looks painful’. Which is lovely and I am so grateful for peoples concern and their help.  And they are right, it is was very painful (and still does hurt, 3 months later). However, it is not as painful as the anxiety and fear my dizzyness causes, not as painful as the depression that just keeps coming back and makes the smallest task almost impossible. Because you could see the bruise on my foot you could see the pain I was in. But you can’t see my anxiety, my dizziness, my depression. You can see me hobbling around with crutches trying to do things but you can’t see me fighting the internal things I am dealing with.

Being a Christian with mental illness can be hard, the difference between an illness and fear from not trusting Jesus is hard to understand for some people, even if they have experienced it themselves and are better. I’ve heard a lot of theory’s from many well meaning brothers and sisters in Christ.

But only Jesus knows. He made us, He knows what chemicals make up our bodies and what is wrong with them. He knows what happened to us that has made us like this. He sees all. He sees our pain, He sees our anguish. He sees our heart. Only He knows what is borne out of bitterness, envy, strife and what is not.

I need to say this to myself as well, but God does NOT punish our sins with illness. This is not a punishment for personal sin. It may be a consequence of the fall or even a consequence of sin (which is not a punishment and of which there is always forgiveness available) forgiveness is there for anyone who wants it and being ill does not take that forgiveness away. Our feelings are not an indicator of our salvation as It has nothing to do with us, if you have repented and trusted in Jesus as your Savior, then you ARE saved. And, it is totally possible to have joy and peace in Jesus and still suffer from this, I know because I do have that joy and that peace in me. Even if some days I need to remind myself of that fact.

I do not know why The Lord has not healed me, I don’t know why He let me fall so spectacularly so I pulled all the ligaments in my ankle. I do know that He loves me, that Jesus died and rose again so that I could be forgiven of my sins. I know that He takes no pleasure in anything bad that happens to me, that it hurts Him to see me in pain. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

And I know that He is coming back and when He does, there will be no more dizzyness, depression, migraines, anxiety or pain, I will be free in body as I am in spirit. 1 Corinthians 15:52

So if you are reading this, having a bad day and know The Lord please remember that this is temporary and He has a great plan that involves you:

17 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. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians: 17-18

So tomorrow I will wake up and pray for help to get out of bed as I always do, I will face the day because He lives and He is with me. And if you want Him to be, He will be there with you too.

 

Testimony

Dash Cam

Romans 5:8

My husband received a dash cam for Christmas and as he was setting it up I asked if it recorded sound. He replied yes, but I will switch it off. I was relived when he said that, then I realised something.

Why was I afraid to be recorded talking? What is it I say that I don’t want anyone to hear? This really challenged me so I went to the bible and this is what I discovered.

In Hebrews 4 it says:

 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Why was I so concerned about my words being recorded when The Lord knows my thoughts? Hears everything I say and He is the only one who has the right to judge.

It also says this in Psalm 139:

7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

There is no where that I can go from His sight.

It doesn’t matter what I say, He has heard it, it doesn’t matter what I do, He has seen it, it doesn’t matter what I think, He knows it. And He still sent his son to die for me.

John 3:

 16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 

Christian growth · Lessons from Motherhood

That flat

Recently my husband and I invited some friends over for dinner and the subject of our first flat came up. We loving refer to this flat as ‘that flat’. They were curious as to why so we told them about our first home.

To put it nicely it was a fixer upper, the landlord knew this and told us to do what we wanted with it. The walls were crumbling, the windows leaking, the doors falling off, it had a huge hole in the toilet wall looking out to the street. It was also very cold and damp so every morning there were trails all over the carpet from slugs and snails roaming around, we could hear rats in the basement but it was our first home and we think of it fondly.

As we talked about this my husband said that it was an opportunity to learn about DIY and I loved this because its true, he learned how to fix the windows, he rebuilt one of them, he learned how to seal in the bath, put up shelves, he rebuilt a door frame, we decorated and put in door fittings, plus other things I can’t remember now.

As life has gone on I had forgotten about this and how those first experiences have shaped our lives today, hubby is very good at DIY now and confident in learning how to fix things. Because our home is a lot nicer now I think it is easy to forget how those more difficult circumstances shaped us for good.

Gods word puts it a lot better than I ever can, in Romans 5 it says:

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

My husband could’ve just seen it all as bad and not used it as a way to learn but he didn’t, he chose to learn and grow and this is what the Lord wants from us, He knows that it isn’t easy and we can’t do it without Him so He has given us the Holy Spirit to help us. (John 14)

At the time living in that flat was very hard, and there was no way I would’ve seen it as a positive thing like I do now and I know one day I will lovingly look back on my children’s early years and when I do I hope I can see the growth in me from allowing the more difficult days to shape me and teach me about how to be more like Christ.

Meanwhile I find this promise helps me:

Philippians 1:6