The View From Here


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It was a nice summer evening and I was weed whacking. Everything was going well until suddenly I was surrounded by a cloud of angry bees that started to attack. I dropped the weed whacker and started to run hitting at the little attackers as I went, but it was too late they had already entered my clothing and were stinging my body. What could I do?  I had to get the bees out, so I started to throw off clothes. To this day, I laugh at thinking back to what must have been an unusual sight for the neighborhood.  A random man frantically running and swatting himself leaving a trail of clothes behind. Why bring this story up? I think it offers a great picture for how the Bible encourages us to deal with temptation in our lives.

The word flee means, “To run away from danger or evil or to hurry toward a place of security”. Usually when this word is used in the Bible and outside it is in relationship to people running for their lives. It is a picture of pure desperation; a willingness to do anything to make it out of some place or situation alive. This can mean many kinds of radical action.  We see an example of this in the story of Joseph. His master’s wife had decided he was attractive and she wanted him to sleep with her. “Slthough she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her. Now one day he went into the house to do his work, and none of the household servants were there. She grabbed him by his garment and said, ‘Sleep with me!’ But leaving his garment in her hand, he escaped and ran outside” (Genesis 39:10-12). In this case, avoiding the temptation of sin required Joseph physically run away.

Other times, when the Bible encourages fleeing, it might not speak of physically running, but it does talk of radical action. “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry” (1 Cor. 10:14).  What does it mean to flee idolatry? The Bible defines idolatry as anything that we seek completion or satisfaction in outside Christ alone. So fleeing would consist of something different depending on what you have let become your god.  It could mean not doing something, going somewhere, thinking on something, participating in something, loving something (the list is endless). The point of fleeing is to do whatever it takes to break free of, avoid worshiping, looking for satisfaction in, or being complete in anything other than God.

Finally, we are encouraged to flee the passions of youth (2 Tim. 2:22; 1 Cor. 6:18). These passion are sexual desire (outside God’s good purpose), anger, PRIDE, selfishness and self-centeredness, etc. Fleeing these would involve abiding in Christ and avoiding that which builds or feeds these passions. How do we flee these?  The answer is found in the verse stated above, “Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” None of this can be done outside Christ, so then when we flee the flesh we should run to Christ to hide and abide in him.

If I heeded the advice given me in scripture, and if I treated temptation similar to those bees, then I would find victory in God’s power. That kind of radical action, that willingness to do everything and anything to be free from an attack, is exactly what I think the Bible is talking about when it encourages us to run like the wind.  Yes, my battle with the bees is a funny little story, but it also is an awesome example of How God calls us to live.

Posted by Jamie Mead with
in Hope

When You Feel Blue

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Some change the scenery; others, their appearance. A doctor might change a prescription. Many try to hide it, hold their head erect, "whistle a happy tune, so no one will suspect...." And then, a few think there's nothing so uplifting as bringing others down. There might be one or two who talk to themselves. In fact, this is a remedy found in the Bible. In Psalm 42-43, a guy gives himself a pep talk and instruction. If you're blue, his message is for you.

Take a moment to Read Psalm 42 and 43.

The writer, the Psalmist, is depressed. As you read verses 1-4, it is evident. He feels far away from God, saying he "thirsts" for God. Being in the presence of God and feeling the joy that comes from praising and worshipping is just a memory. Have you ever felt that way? Instead of peace and joy, there is empty longing and discontent. There can be many reasons for feeling lost, forgotten and unloved. We don't know why the Psalmist feels this way. When I am depressed, I find myself focusing on the "why," the reason for my being down. But the Psalmist doesn't do this. The reason not given right away so your focus can be drawn towards something else.

Notice that verses 5, 11 and 43:5 are similar--almost identical. These verses are like the chorus or refrain in a song we might sing today. The chorus is always the part people remember best, because it is repeated. When words are repeated in the Bible, then God is drawing your focus to it. He wants you to remember it.

Again and again, God is telling you to look into your Soul and see your depression as though it were a foreigner, an alien, an invader. The Psalmist has been depressed for a while, but he talks to himself as though he were surprised to find depression. He asks himself, "What's going on here? Why are you down in the dumps, 'O my soul'?" This question jolts his soul out of the self-focused stupor he is in. The Psalmist then commands himself, and you, to "hope in God." Does the Psalmist have the answer to his problem? No. But that is what hope is, it is not having what you long for, it is the feeling that comes from trusting and being confident that what you long for will certainly come.

Like hope, depression is also a feeling. It is a feeling that often come from a lack of something. If you are down, or struggling in a place of hopelessness, then the message for you today is to take your eyes off yourself and your situation. There is no hope to be found in yourself, in circumstances or in people. Only God saves. And if you are trying to find self-worth in some situation or relationship other than or in addition to God, you won't find it. God wants you to be at rest in a relationship of trust. Trust God.

It may be a slow process. The walk of faith is not called "the run of faith" for a reason. The Psalmist obeys his own command to "hope in God" by changing the focus from self to God. He does this by telling God that he feels like garbage (verse 6). He remembers God and that God is powerful and lovingly-kind (verses 6-8). He has read about God in the Bible. In fact, he says that he will use God's own words in his prayer to God (verse 8). Finally, the Psalmist is bold and direct. After telling God how he feels, he asks God, "Why am I going through this? Have you forgotten me? Where are you, God?!!" It is perfectly okay to get blunt with God.

After asking God if he has been forgotten, the Psalmist cries out to God to set things right-for rescue (43:1-2). He wants out of the dark confusion and aloneness that he has been in. But his goal, his hope, is to feel the joy that comes from being in the presence of God (43:2-4).

The Psalmist does not have the solution to his problem by the time Psalm 42-43 ends. We leave him there as he continues to talk to himself. But his last words are that same command to hope in God because that is where his help comes from.

Conclusion: We often despair because we long for the wrong thing, whether it be people, self-worth, things or situations. We are left feeling dry and abandoned. God wants you to change your focus from yourself to Him.

1.) Look to God and remember what he has done. We fail to remember because we fail to read the Bible. God chose long ago to reveal himself through the written words of the Bible. These words have power, and they always lead to the Word-made-flesh, Jesus. Jesus always satisfies.

2.) Talk to God! Tell God how you feel, and don't be afraid to offend God. Honestly, we have already taken care of that. Now is time to come back. Be bold, blunt and bare it all to him. He can take it. Ask him where he is! He is the God who reveals himself to those who seek him. Demand rescue! He is in the business of saving.

3.) Keep on hoping in God. Don't give up. In the culture of fast food, fast cars and fast internet, we tend to walk away from waiting. Don't be deceived by circumstances or by people (or yourself) who say God is not there. Your relationship with God is ALL by faith. You must trust, and keep on trusting. God will give you strength for the next step. He might not light the whole path, but he will give you enough light for the next step.

Posted by Joshua Holland with