Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Holiday Depression

The Christmas holiday season is a wonderful time of year for most people. Those who celebrate this season get excited about Christmas for various reasons. For some it is the idea of giving & receiving gifts. For others it is about the smells of delicious food that fills the air (soon to be eaten). Yet for others the Christmas season is about the various activities that range from singing Christmas carols, holiday parties, giving & receiving gifts, going to church, or volunteering at a shelter or nursing home. All of these are wonderful ways of expressing, sharing, and celebrating the birth of JESUS CHRIST and the tremendous love displayed through his sacrifice. However there is one very important aspect of the Christmas holidays which is often overlooked . . . depression!

Unfortunately depression among people is often at its highest during the Christmas season. There are many reasons for this. Some people are depressed because they went over their budget in their holiday shopping and now are unsure how they will pay their bills. Other are depressed because they have lost their job, business, or perhaps their home. They cannot provide for their families as they would like to. Some people have lost loved ones (either through death or separation) and the pain of their loss is often refreshed (even intensified) during this time of the year. Yet others are lonely with no one to share and enjoy the holidays with. These are just a few of the many reasons people tend to become deeply depressed during the Christmas season. Many documented studies have shown that suicide rates dramatically increase during the Christmas holidays. The Christmas season itself is such a wonderful time of the year and it almost seems impossible that such sadness and pain exist. Especially in today's world with a host of problems that range from the economy, war, politics and countless issues of great importance, many people have lost hope and thus the spirit of depression settles in.

For those who are feeling depressed, it may seem like you are all alone in your pain, but GOD is actually right there with you. The devil wants you to believe you are alone and there is no hope for things to get better. Remember the devil is a liar (there is NO truth in him). I know from personal experience it can be hard to see the sunshine when the storm is raging around you. It is important to know that even if you feel you have no strength to fight your way out of depression, GOD will help you. In fact HE is already fighting for you. Do not take my word for it . . . here is GOD's word to you . . .

Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."


2 Chronicles 20:15 (NIV)
"He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's."


Here are more scriptures to encourage and give you hope . . .


Psalm 34:17 (NIV)
"The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles."


Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."


Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."


Psalm 30:5 (NIV)
"For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."


1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV)
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."


Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)
"and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor."


Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
"but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."


2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."


Romans 8:32-39 (NIV)
"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


Philippians 4:6-8 (NIV)
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."


Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
"I can do all this through HIM who gives me strength."


Psalm 147:3 (NIV)
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."


Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
"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."


1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."


Luke 18:1 (NIV)
"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up."


Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)
"Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."


Isaiah 51:11 (NIV)
"Those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away
."


Each one of us knows at least one person who is feeling down and depressed. Let's remember and pray for those who may be having a hard time seeing and feeling joy in their hearts during Christmas. May GOD's love, peace, grace, and mercy be comforting to all those who are feeling down at this moment. May their trust in GOD be strengthened knowing that HE has the power to take their situation and use it for good.

Be encouraged knowing that GOD loves you and HE has a wonderful plan for your future. Things will get better for you. If you want to believe this but have trouble finding hope, take time to find little things to thank GOD for. Go out and find someone you can help. This will help change your perspective. Perhaps you think there is nothing in your life to be thankful for. Well if you are reading this message you can be thankful you are alive, thankful you can see, thankful you can read, thankful you can understand the words . . . you can even be thankful you have access to the internet to view this message.

My friend, GOD has wonderful things ahead of you. If you believe but just are not sure what to do, just stand still, pray, watch and see the salvation of the LORD. HE is going to move positively on your behalf. There is a song called, "Always" in which the lyrics say, "forever GOD loves you always . . . Don't worry, HE will be there always . . . and just because you've had some bad days . . . It doesn't mean it's going to be this way always." More simply quoted, "trouble don't last always!" It's going to be ok! You are going to be ok!

Therefore in the spirit of positive thinking, may you and your loved ones have a wonderful, joyful, peaceful, loving, merry Christmas!

I pray these words have been a blessing for you as they are for me (bringing us in closer relationship with our FATHER). Please feel welcome to reply and share your thoughts by posting them here or privately at tpbiblestudy@comcast.net.

If this message has touched your heart and you do not know JESUS CHRIST as your Lord & Savior but want HIM in your life you can accept HIM right now wherever you are. Pray this prayer out loud, "Dear GOD, I ask forgiveness for all of my sins. I believe that JESUS CHRIST is your son. I believe that JESUS suffered and died on the cross, was buried, and was resurrected for me. I accept JESUS as my Lord & Savior. Come now and live in my heart. I accept you as head of my life. In the name of JESUS I thank you, Amen."

If you have just prayed this prayer I say to you "GOD bless you and Congratulations"! If you do not have a church home, pray and ask GOD to lead you to a local (Bible believing) church in your area where you can be baptized in the name of JESUS, fed the Word of GOD, and fellowship with other Christians.

If you have any questions please send an email to: tpbiblestudy@comcast.net

GOD bless you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Be Thankful

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)
"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

Most people who have a relationship with JESUS CHRIST would agree it is easy to thank GOD for the good things we receive in life. For example, we would be thankful for certain achievements such as a graduation, a promotion on the job, a new car, a new home, a marriage, and the birth of a baby. When good things happen to us, being thankful comes about so effortlessly it can sometimes be perceived by others as a mere gesture or cliche. But how do we respond when bad things happen? Are we as likely to be thankful to GOD when we flunk out of school, lose a job, lose a car, lose a home, get divorced, or when a child dies?

Being thankful during the low moments in our lives is one of the greatest challenges we will ever face. Unfortunately we all will experience tragedy in our lives. Accepting JESUS as our LORD & Savior does not make us immune to bad things happening in our lives. In life it is certain we all shall face some of life's most painful truths. JESUS himself confirmed this when HES said . . .

John 16:33 (NIV)
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

So then how do we thank GOD in the midst of tragedy and heartache when the last thing we want to do is thank HIM? I know from my own personal experiences it is incredibly difficult to thank GOD when you feel your world is falling apart. What has helped me be thankful in those moments is to think about what I still have and not focus on what I have lost.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Trusting GOD through our most difficult moments could be the hardest part of our walk with the LORD. How does a child thank GOD while being molested? How does a person thank GOD after being raped? How does a healthy person thank GOD after suddenly being diagnosed with a terminal illness? If GOD is love then why would HE allow such things to happen? I do not know why GOD allows such things to happen. It certainly does not make logical sense to me. However I do know the very nature of GOD goes far beyond our human logical thinking.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Although I may ask GOD why a certain thing has happened, I realize GOD does not owe me any explanation. However in my own life GOD has revealed things later on that changed my perspective on how I viewed those events. The late Bishop David Ellis once said, "Never count any day as a 'bad day' until all the days have been counted in. Because what you thought of as a 'bad day' might later prove to be a 'good day' in your life." For example, I have a friend who had a supervisor position at Chrysler Automotive Company. While working for Chrysler he was making a lot of money and doing very well for himself. But things began happening to him on the job which made him very unhappy and discouraged. Ultimately he made the decision to leave his well paying job in order to enter law school. Although it was a very hard process, several years later he graduated from law school and began working as a licensed attorney. One day he was watching television when the announcement was made that Chrysler was filing for bankruptcy. Had he not left several years prior, he would have been directly effected by those circumstances.

Many people know the story of Joyce Meyer. She was molested and raped by her own father from childhood until she left home in her later teenage years. She speaks openly about how this tormented her life many years afterwards. Today Joyce Meyer Ministries is known throughout the world as she travels regularly speaking before thousands (and millions through her television & radio ministry) spreading the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST. Joyce once said, "Give GOD your pain and let HIM turn it into your gain. Give HIM your mess and let HIM turn it into your message." In explaining why she shares her testimony about what happened to her, Joyce said, "I want people to know how good GOD is. Your struggle is worth it. Your journey is worth it. Don't give up!"

Romans 8:28 (NIV)
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Often times GOD moves in such a way that does not allow us to clearly see what lies ahead for us. Since we know that GOD uses all things to work together for our good, perhaps thanking GOD in the midst of our trouble is also an act of faith. We don't thank GOD for the bad thing that happened, but instead we thank GOD for using that bad thing to make our lives better. We thank GOD for using that tragedy to better the lives of others. Someone can be encouraged by your life when they see how you made it through your most difficult moments.

I do not have all the answer this is for sure. Although I understand 1 Thessalonians 5:18, it most certainly is easier said than done. However I can tell you I have tried it. In my life I have thanked GOD during incredibly hard times and the LORD brought me through it. Therefore I am asking you to find a way to thank GOD during the hard moments of your life. I know it is a hard thing to do. But think of it this way . . . what have you got to lose by giving this a try?

I pray these words have been a blessing for you as they are for me (bringing us in closer relationship with our FATHER). Please feel welcome to reply and share your thoughts by posting them here or privately at tpbiblestudy@comcast.net.

If this message has touched your heart and you do not know JESUS CHRIST as your Lord & Savior but want HIM in your life you can accept HIM right now wherever you are. Pray this prayer out loud, "Dear GOD, I ask forgiveness for all of my sins. I believe that JESUS CHRIST is your son. I believe that JESUS suffered and died on the cross, was buried, and was resurrected for me. I accept JESUS as my Lord & Savior. Come now and live in my heart. I accept you as head of my life. In the name of JESUS I thank you, Amen."

If you have just prayed this prayer I say to you "GOD bless you and Congratulations"! If you do not have a church home, pray and ask GOD to lead you to a local (Bible believing) church in your area where you can be baptized in the name of JESUS, fed the Word of GOD, and fellowship with other Christians.

If you have any questions please send an email to: tpbiblestudy@comcast.net

GOD bless you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

JESUS Is Our Savior!

John 3:16-17

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

Have you ever watched a televised sporting event and seen someone holding a sign that says, "John 3:16"? It is one of the most widely recognized Bible verses. Many people have this scripture memorized, but what does it really means to our lives? Often times in our society when a significant phrase becomes so common within the culture the depth of its true meaning gets lost.

In my own personal experience, when I saw the movie "The Passion Of CHRIST" I was deeply moved and overcome with heavy emotion. It was a very graphic example of what JESUS must have truly suffered while on HIS way to the cross. It was very hard for me to watch and afterwards I felt so unworthy of HIS sacrifice on my behalf. It was then I began to really understand the concept of grace & mercy as it comes from our FATHER.

I visited Jerusalem and had an incredible time visiting many of the ancient historical sites. While in Jerusalem I received new revelation to John 3:16-17. I went to the ancient "old city" of Jerusalem which is inside the modern city. While there I walked the path where it is said JESUS carried the cross to HIS crucifixion. This path known as the Via Dolorosa (aka The Way Of The Cross) has 14 stations or marking points to note the events that occurred along the way. For example, it marks all 3 times where JESUS dropped HIS cross (including the spot where it is said that Simon the Cyrenian was forced to help JESUS carry the cross up to Golgotha. This path leads into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Church of the Resurrection). The Holy Sepulcher is a temple that was built over top the site of the location where JESUS was crucified (Calvary aka Golgotha), and the tomb where HE was buried and later arose from the dead.

The evening on which I visited the "old city" was Christmas Eve as celebrated by Orthodox Christians who follow the Gregorian Calendar. This calendar recognizes December 25 Christmas Day on January 7, and originates from the ancient Julian Calendar. On this night (Christmas Eve) there were many people in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher praying during a special church service. Being there I was deeply moved much in the same way as watching "The Passion Of CHRIST".

Isaiah 53:5

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed
."

I use to read this scripture and think about it in reference to GOD's healing of our physical illnesses. While this is certainly true, through GOD's revelation I now know the meaning is much deeper. When Isaiah says, "by his wounds we are healed", it speaks to our spiritual relationship with GOD that was broken by Adam's sin in the garden of Eden being healed (restored). I have always felt this in my heart but received confirmation while at the Holy Sepulcher. There is no greater relationship than with our Heavenly FATHER who is the creator of the universe. In comparison to all that exists, HE loves us so much that HE would sacrifice HIS son JESUS so we may be reconciled with our FATHER.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Jerusalem I highly recommend you visit the "old city" and the Holy Sepulcher. Here are a couple of links you might find interesting.

video documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqhdbUh8TkY

general info: http://www.bibleplaces.com/holysepulcher.htm

detailed info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Holy_Sepulchre

JESUS is truly our Savior! HE saved us from being separated from GOD for eternity! All we have to do is believe and accept HIM as LORD. HE looked beyond our sin and gave HIMSELF for us. Even though we reject HIM and are far from deserving such grace and mercy, HE yet gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. If you never have the chance to visit Jerusalem, know that GOD is present with you where you are at this very moment. HE loves you right where you are! You may have just made the worst mistake of your life, but GOD will forgive and restore you. HE wont force it upon you. Just be open to receive and HE will gladly restore you. If you are ready, HE has it available for you right now.

We live in very hard times. The economy of several countries is on the verge of collapse. Many people have lost jobs and homes. We are no longer isolated by country or continent. Because of the internet, mobile phones, ipads and similar technology, we have grown into a global community. As a global community our way of life as we knew it is no more. Today we all are embarking towards an uncertain future. Why has our Heavenly FATHER who loves us so much allowed this to happen? I do not have an answer for this. However I am convinced with certainty that GOD knew this day would come, and HE has given us hope in JESUS CHRIST. Yes indeed we have been given the gift of Salvation through JESUS. In the risen JESUS CHRIST we also have a Savior who cares about and meets our daily needs.

The times we live in are gloomy and the general talk from the media paints a picture of hopelessness. But all is not lost. GOD is not on a mission to harm us. HE is on a mission to bless us. GOD has not forgotten us. HE is right here with us and has delivered us through HIS son JESUS.

Here is what JESUS said . . .

John 16:33
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

I pray these words have been a blessing for you as they are for me (bringing us in closer relationship with our FATHER). Please feel welcome to reply and share your thoughts by posting them here or privately at tpbiblestudy@comcast.net.

If this message has touched your heart and you do not know JESUS CHRIST as your Lord & Savior but want HIM in your life you can accept HIM right now wherever you are. Pray this prayer out loud, "Dear GOD, I ask forgiveness for all of my sins. I believe that JESUS CHRIST is your son. I believe that JESUS suffered and died on the cross, was buried, and was resurrected for me. I accept JESUS as my Lord & Savior. Come now and live in my heart. I accept you as head of my life. In the name of JESUS I thank you, Amen."

If you have just prayed this prayer I say to you "GOD bless you and Congratulations"! If you do not have a church home, pray and ask GOD to lead you to a local (Bible believing) church in your area where you can be baptized in the name of JESUS, fed the Word of GOD, and fellowship with other Christians.

If you have any questions please send an email to: tpbiblestudy@comcast.net

GOD bless you!