Are you feeling overwhelmed with all sorts of negative thoughts about yourself, people, your situation, and even your relationship with God? These thoughts can bring about depression, anxiety, and fear. What does God say to us when we are feeling overwhelmed? “In the multitude of my thoughts within me, THY COMFORTS DELIGHT MY SOUL.” (Psalm 94:19)
God, with His loving arms, says to us: “Come unto me, I will bring my comfort unto you and bring delight to your innermost being.” When God’s comfort enters into our lives, the negative thoughts will be turned inside out into positive and comforting thoughts focused upon Him.
“Dear Lord, you understand how life seems overwhelming to me. I can’t cope with everything that comes my way. However, your comfort carries me through these times and brings joy out of depression. You also bring peace out of anxiety. I thank you that you are always available with your loving arms outstretched to me. Amen”
Christmas in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1983, was quite different for our family of three. I had always been accustomed to cold weather and snow in Michigan. In Johannesburg, it was the middle of the summer. What could we do with our toddler? We ventured out one evening to nearby Joubert Park to see the annual Christmas displays. We were surprised that the displays had nothing to do with Christmas. Each display depicted a fairy tale story. What did the Three Blind Mice and Little Jack Horner have to do with Christmas? Where was Jesus in the manger? Where was the Christmas music? Finally, in a quiet corner, we found the manger scene lost amid the fairy tales.
Today, those displays remind me of how easy it is to forget Jesus amid all the activity, lights, music, and shopping of the season. We may give Jesus a little corner of our lives as the baby in Bethlehem, but are we willing to allow Him to rule in our hearts and lives?
Seven hundred years before Christ’s birth, the prophet Isaiah prophesied concerning the birth of Jesus Christ. He not only spoke of His birth but revealed the character of the coming Deliverer of Israel. These words are quite well-known, yet do we know the meaning of this description of Jesus? “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
This description of Christ creates a spirit of prayer, worship, and praise unto Jesus. Yes, He came to earth as a baby, but He is unique. He is God in the flesh. Do we take the opportunity to pray, honor, and glorify our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Will you join me in the following prayers based on the greatness of the baby in the manger.
“And His Name Shall be Called:
Wonderful-“Dear Lord Jesus, As I read the Bible, I often treat it as a textbook from which to learn the truth. I can lose the wonder of being in your presence. I can lose the wonder of all that you have done in my life. Please restore the wonder of your birth, life, death, and resurrection in my life. With wonder comes true worship. You are worthy. Amen”
Counsellor-“Lord, you are always there to guide me. When I don’t know what to do, you show me the way. When I need to pour out my heart to someone, you are always ready to listen. Thank you for being my counselor always and in every situation. You are truly the All-Wise God! Amen”
The mighty God-“Dear Lord, I often find myself trying to live the Christian life without you. I try to deal with life’s difficulties on my own. I forget that you are all-powerful and that nothing is too hard for you. Please help me to lean upon your all-powerful arms. Please enable me to trust you in every situation and to remember that nothing is impossible with you. Thank you for your patience on my behalf. Thank you that you are the mighty fortress to whom I may always flee. Amen”
The Everlasting Father-“Dear Lord, because you are the Father of Eternity, you are always with me. You love, protect, and provide for me. Thank you for giving me eternal life. Help me to love you even in a small way as you love me. Please help me to learn at your feet and be quick to obey you. Thank you that I can call out to you as My Heavenly Father, and you always answer! Amen”
The Prince of Peace-“Lord, thank you for dying on the cross for me so that I may have peace with you! I also thank you that when I cast my cares upon you, I may also experience your peace every day. Please work in the hearts of the many people who don’t know you as THE PRINCE OF PEACE. Amen.
This time of year is an excellent opportunity to renew our wonder of the attributes and works of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Jesus is more than the Babe in the manger. He is the Savior of the World and the Lord of our lives. Let’s do more than to keep in Christ in Christmas. Let’s keep Christ in the center of our lives.
“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” (Psalm 112:7)
“We Wish You a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” is a Christmas Carol that people sang since the 16th century in England. It is a song of joy as expressed in the words: “Good tidings we bring to you and your kin. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” However, not everybody receives good tidings during this time of year. We still face trials, sorrow, and pain. We may feel a great sense of loneliness. Yes, evil tidings don’t stop during this time of year: however, there is good news from God.
In the Bible, we see many people who triumphed over the evil tidings in their lives. Joseph overcame many evil tidings, including betrayal, slavery, and prison, to become the prime minister of Egypt. Ruth overcame the evil tidings of the death of her husband and living in poverty. She would soon marry Boaz and become the great-grandmother of King David.
God gives us his Word to encourage us as we face the evil tidings of life that may come our way. Every day, “bad news” can surprise us. We don’t ask for it, but it is a package delivered to the doorway of our lives. How can we triumph even amid heartbreaking news? Psalm 112:7 gives us an answer to this question.
Typically, our first response to bad news is to be afraid or fearful. Fear paralyzes us. It causes us to focus on the bad news instead of our Great God. God tells us that we do not have to be afraid of the “evil tidings” that enter into our life. God knows that fear will keep us from seeing Him. Fear causes us to doubt the goodness and the power of God. For this reason, God gives us many verses that command us to “fear not.”
“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob,and he that formed thee, O Israel, FEAR NOT: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
” FEAR THOU NOT; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God:I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, NEITHER LET IT BE AFRAID.” (John 14:27)
When fear departs amid the bad news, then we can do the next step in facing our bad news. We now can “fix our heart” upon the Lord. Our bad news is an opportunity to focus on God. We can focus upon all of His attributes and promises. When we fix our hearts upon the Lord, it may not change our circumstances, but it will change how we face our situations. We will understand with the Apostle Paul that God’s grace is sufficient for the “evil tidings” that may come in our life.
Once fear has departed, and we have fixed our heart upon the Lord, then we can have faith in Him. Faith is responding to all that we know about God. The more we know the Lord, the more we will be able to trust Him. True faith knows that God will never leave us, nor forsake us regardless of the “bad news” that may come our way. His love is unchanging. He loves us with an “everlasting love.”. Faith in our Lord will dispel any fear in our life. It will enable us to bear whatever “bad news” that comes our way.
In summary, when we receive bad news, Psalm 112: 7 tells us three ways to respond to the “evil tidings.”
Do not allow fear to dominate our thoughts and actions.
Fix our hearts upon the Lord. Let our thoughts focus on the Lord.
Place our faith in the Lord. He will carry us as we face the “bad news’ in our life.
When “evil tidings” enter, God has a way of turning those evil tidings into an opportunity to see Him work in our lives. God will turn those “evil tidings” into “good tidings” that will draw us closer to Him, and bring glory to His name.
“Dear Lord, the news that I receive is not always positive. I see people who are suffering. I visit those who have marital problems. I talk with those who have a loved one who is dying. I see people who have turned away from you. I also face difficulties from time to time in my life. I tend to meet the bad news with fear. Help me to turn my eyes off the “bad news” and fix my heart upon you. Please, increase my faith. Help me to believe that you will take this “bad news” and make it into a blessing. Thank you for your excellent plan for my life. Amen”
With all of our activities, worries, and work, we can find it quite easy to forget what is most important in our lives. We are focusing on the minors and ignoring the primary purpose for our lives. Majoring on the minor things does not just happen today, but it happened in the lives of God’s people in the Old Testament. Jeremiah made this clear: ” (Jeremiah 2:32)
Why do we allow activities to crowd God out of our lives? Many times we are not even conscious of God’s absence. Each day passes, and God becomes more and more distant. How do we return to God?
Our return to God begins with God. He will often bring things into our lives that will humble us and make us see our need for God once again. He breaks us to remake us. God always has His hands wide open, saying: “Come back to me.” Will we?
“Dear Lord, we get so busy doing many things that we find it easy to forget you. We don’t want to forget you, but it just happens. Thank you for your patience with us. Please help us to return to you with a heart of humility and love.
Trouble, trials, and tragedy strike every person who has ever walked upon the earth. When crises come, do we blame God? Do we ignore God, or do we trust Him?
King David had his share of problems, but he never forgot the goodness of the Lord. He writes: “O taste and see that the LORD IS GOOD: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” (Psalm 34:8) How does God show His goodness in the troubles, trials, and tragedies of life?
1) God shows His goodness in His attributes. “The Lord is Good” Every trait reflects His Goodness. We see this goodness in His love, in His Compassion, in His Mercy, as well as His Longsuffering. The more we know God, the more we can trust Him in a time of crisis.
2) God shows His goodness in His promises. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great His promises bring hope, encouragement. and strength in times of trouble.
3) God shows His goodness in His Actions. “Thou art good, and doest good” All that God does is Good. (Psalm 119:68) We may ask why does God allow this or that to happen; however, God’s actions demonstrate His wisdom. Our heartaches enable us to trust God and what He is doing in our life. “All things work together for good to those that love God.” (Romans 8:28)
4) God shows His goodness in His Love. “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3) God’s love is His motive for what He is doing in our lives. Our trials are an expression of His love. He knows that our tests only make us a stronger Christian.
5) God shows His goodness in His Wisdom. ” In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3 ) God’s thoughts are way beyond our comprehension. God’s ways are not our ways. We may try to outguess God, but His way is always the way of wisdom.
Amid trouble, trials, and tragedy, remember the reality of God’s goodness. His goodness is an anchor for our soul in troubled times. Have you tasted His goodness lately?
Ruins tell the story of decay, neglect, and destruction. We can also face times of ruin and decay. We feel hopeless and in despair. The Prophet Jeremiah experienced a time in his life when he was in the midst of the ruins of Jerusalem. Babylon had destroyed the city. All hope was gone. How did Jeremiah handle this hopeless condition? How can we manage our desperate situation?
Jeremiah, amid the ruins of Jerusalem, looked up to God. He said in Lamentations 3:21: “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.” He knows in himself there are no answers: ” My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:” (Lam 3:18) Jeremiah knows in himself there are no answers; however, he knows that his hope is in God alone.
When we are facing hopelessness in our lives, our only hope is in the Lord alone. We must take our eyes off the ruins around us and in us. Our focus can only be on the Lord. Jeremiah focuses on five attributes of God that bring great hope in his life in spite of the ruins around Him.
1. God is Merciful– “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed” (Lamentations 3:22) God’s forgiveness brings restoration and hope in our life. As we come to Him with a repentant heart, He takes the mess of our life, and He restores us
2. God is Compassionate. “because his compassions fail not.” (Lam. 3:22b) His compassion gives us a reason for hope. He takes our hopeless situation, and in His love, He rebuilds our life.
3. God is Faithful– “They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness“. (Lamentations 3:23) God’s promises give us hope amid the ruins of our lives. God’uses His promises to rebuild our lives.
4. God is Omnipresent. (He is with me) “The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore, will I hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:24) God’s presence gives us hope. He walks with us amid the ruins. He is with us throughout the rebuilding project of our life.
5. God is Good. “The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” (Lamentations 3:25) God’s goodness brings hope to us. We know that God will take the ruins and make our life into something beautiful and glorifying to Him
What will we do amid our hopelessness? Will we stay defeated and discouraged, or will we look up to our great and mighty God? Jeremiah discovered great hope in a hopeless situation, and so can we!!
Guilt can paralyze us! Guilt can cause us to doubt God. Guilt can kill our joy and peace. Guilt can isolate us from others. Guilt can even bring us to the point of taking our own lives.
What causes guilt in our lives? Guilt is caused by our own sins. Guilt also occurs because of regrets in our life. We think of things that we could have done in our life that we never did. Guilt is also caused when we feel as though we failed those whom we love.
Guilt never brings us to God, but takes us further away from Him. We often confuse guilt with conviction. Conviction comes from God. His purpose is to bring us back to Himself. His conviction says: “Yes, you have sinned, but you can repent and confess your sin to me and you will be completely cleansed and forgiven” (See 1 John 1:9)
Guilt doesn’t come from God, but from within ourselves. Also, guilt can come from others who want to manipulate us to do their bidding. Lastly, guilt can come from Satan, who is called the “accuser of the brethren”. Whatever the source of our guilt it must not find a home in our lives.
What can we do with our guilt? “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.” (Psalm 25:7) We can take our sin and guilt to God and leave it there. His mercies are new every day. When we come to God with a repentant heart, He will never send us away unforgiven. He assures us time and time again of His love and mercy. He will never hold our confessed sin against us.
A Prayer Concerning Our Guilt “Dear Father, I thank you for your mercies that are new every morning. I thank you for your love that never quits on me. You know the regrets, the guilt, the sins that have come into my life time and time again. You have seen the results of my guilt. Yes, I have tried to deal with my guilt on my own, but without success. Father, you alone can take my guilt and shame from me. You alone can restore the confidence, joy and peace in my life when I deliver all my guilt unto you. Thank you for your work of restoration and cleansing in my life. Amen.”