This is the final Lesson in out study Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry. If you have studied along with us and haven't already I urge you to get the book "Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry" by Perry Noble. You can get it from Amazon by clicking the title of the book or clicking on the image of the book at the end of the post.
A couple or three weeks or so ago we talked about how we often misinterpret God’s promises and even sometimes make our preferences God’s promises. We do that by taking His promises totally out of context so that they fit our situation or desires. This week I read a quote by D. L. Moody and then a commentaryon the quote. First a little about D. L. Moody. D.L. Moody died in 1899 and he was a famous American evangelist and publisher. He founded the Moody Church, Northfield School and Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts (now Northfield Mount Hermon School), the Moody Bible Institute, and Moody Publishers.
The quote is “God never made a promise that was too good to be true” We often say that “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is”. Meaning that it is probably not really true. Here's the commentary on the quote:
D. L. Moody’s quote that God never made a promise that was too good to be true is easy to misunderstand. It is easy to get and believe that God can make mountains fall in the sea at a mere word. After all, this is the same God that called the universe into existence. No problem there. The big issue is whether, as Christians, we are going to assume the right position when it comes to God’s promises. This is the big challenge because it is too easy to turn God, in our minds, into our own personal ‘genie’-existing solely to solve our problems. It is too easy to pray to God for a football, soccer, or basketball victory or to claim ‘God is on our side.’ How can he not be? After all, there are more than enough promises in the Bible that can be read to favor whatever outcome we want, right? Sadly, this is the wrong way to claim God’s promises. Even if we have faith, it is too easy to use faith the wrong way.
It is not about us
God’s promises in the bible have always been about one thing and one thing alone: God’s glory. You see, the Devil has done a spectacular job of distorting God. From a bully to a genie to a butler, the Devil spews out lie after lie about the character of God. A sincere and honest reading of the Bible and Jesus’ words regarding the power of faith leads to one conclusion: God’s promises are all about His glory and our salvation. This means, the promises must lead to God’s agenda not ours. This means that instead of praying that our problems disappear because it would be more convenient, we should pray that the outcome be in accordance with God’s will. In short, put his agenda front and center, not ours. This is hard to do because we are all self-absorbed and self-centered. We measure the world based on our needs and concerns. The truth is that God is above and beyond us. He has his own center of gravity. Indeed, he is the center of gravity for everything that was, is, and ever will be. Our needs, our concerns, our prayers, and our lives should be centered on His will.
Pray for His Will
By refocusing our prayers on helping us achieve God’s will, we unlock the power of God’s promises. His words aren't void. His promises aren't dead. They have life. We have just been trying to unlock them using self-centered ‘faith.’ Instead, when praying, we should ask to do His will and stand back. Prepare to be amazed.
Last Week Review
Last week in chapters 30-33 we talked about the fact that no matter what we are going through, no matter how much stress and anxiety, or how overwhelming the situation or circumstance, God loves us. He loves us even when we can’t accept that fact. We can’t accept it because of past sins, poor performance in our estimation, or the current overwhelming situation. All those things cause us the think surely God can’t still love me. We talked about the fact that Jesus called John the one Jesus loved, according to John, and the other disciples His friends. He called them his friends before he was crucified, and He still called them His friends after they abandoned him when He was arrested. Peter denied Him and John didn't speak up for Him although he was there at the trial. Even after they knew that he had risen and he sent them out to win souls, they went fishing. After all this He still called them His friends. So it didn't depend on anything they did or didn't do and it doesn't matter what you or I do or don't do, it won't change His opinion about us or cause Him to no longer consider us His friends.
God loves us, and He calls us His friends so we shouldn't give up when we are overwhelmed. The great example that we have from the bible, other than Jesus, who went through overwhelming circumstances, is Job. He lost all of his children and all of his wealth in one day and later losing his health; his wife gave up on him, and his friends told him that he was going through all this stuff because he deserved it. Although he questioned God, and even wished he had never been born; He didn't give up or give in. What Job went through God allowed and when he passed the test and admitted that God’s ways were much higher than his the end of his life was even better than the beginning and the beginning was very good. He was the richest man in the east according to Job 1:1-3. God doesn't give up on us so we for sure shouldn't give up on Him.
So let’s get into today’s study.
God is Still God and God is Still Good
1. What have we said throughout this study that we must try to do when we are overwhelmed, stressed and anxious?
That we should not focus on the situation but focus on God who is bigger than any circumstance or situation. He already knew that you would be there and He will be with you through it right?
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2. There are two foundational beliefs that we must have in order to go through overwhelming situations. Do you remember what they are?
One is God is holy and God is good, and the other one is to believe in His promises. We've talked about the promises of God the last few weeks and why it's so important is that we really know what they are. We should never make our preferences God promises but believe in the ones He really made. He has told us what they are and they are in the Bible.
This morning we want to remind ourselves that God is still God and that He is still good.
Here is some scriptures about God’s goodness
- Psalm 136:1 (HCSB) Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love is eternal.
- Psalm 31:19 (HCSB)How great is Your goodness that You have stored up for those who fear You and accomplished in the sight of everyone for those who take refuge in You.
- Psalm 109:21 (HCSB) But You, Yahweh my Lord, deal ⌊kindly⌋ with me because of Your name; deliver me because of the goodness of Your faithful love.
- Psalm 145:7 (HCSB)They will give a testimony of Your great goodness and will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
When Our Circumstances Change God is Still Good
3. Do we always think that God is good? Be honest. What about when you lose a loved one? What about when you lose a great job? What about when you become seriously ill? What about when you or a loved one has a terrible accident leaving you or them permanently disabled? What about those times?
We can’t let our circumstances dictate and shape what we believe about God. If we do then we will always walk in fear. Remember we have no control over the circumstances. But if we can remember that God is good and we can remember what it says in Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. God is in control and when we realize that we can walk in freedom from fear.
We all have doubts from time to time. Let’s go back to our friend Job who as we said last week went through a very overwhelming time. He had doubts at times about God’s goodness. In fact he thought that God was doing all this stuff to him for no real reason. That’s why he kept asking God for an audience.
Here are some examples from a website that I found that show Job's doubts.
- Job 7:20 (HCSB) ⌊If⌋ I have sinned, what have I done to You, Watcher of mankind? Why have You made me Your target, so that I have become a burden to You?
- Job 9:21-23 (HCSB)21 Though I am blameless, I no longer care about myself; I renounce my life.22 It is all the same. Therefore I say, “He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.”23 When disaster brings sudden death, He mocks the despair of the innocent.
- Job 19:5-6 (HCSB)5 If you really want to appear superior to me and would use my disgrace as evidence against me,6 then understand that it is God who has wronged me and caught me in His net.
- All of chapter 13
God finally did answer Job starting in Chapter 38 but it wasn't what he wanted to hear and he never got the answers to the questions that he had but by the time that conversation was over Job no longer doubted that God loved him and the proof is in what happened later.
Pastor Noble talks about another guy that we think of as a spiritual giant, John the Baptist. A change in John's circumstances caused him to have doubts just like Job had when his circumstances changed. Go to Matthew 11:11 to see what Jesus said about John the Baptist Matthew 11:11 (HCSB)11 “I assure you: Among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared, but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
John was the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Go to John 1:29-30 (HCSB)29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!30 This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’
Well John’s circumstances changed and he was thrown into prison he started to doubt who Jesus was. Go to Matthew 11:2-3 (HCSB)2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent ⌊a message⌋ by his disciples and asked Him, “Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
The point is that we all doubt God sometimes especially when our circumstances change from good to bad or from bad to worse.
4. How do we know that while going through all his pain and doubt that Job didn't give up or not believe that God was good?
Read what he said in Job 19:25-27 (HCSB)25 But I know my living Redeemer, and He will stand on the dust at last.26 Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh.27 I will see Him myself; my eyes will look at ⌊Him⌋, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me.
Job based his hope on the truth that God is God and that He is good.
All Things for Good
5. What is our foundational verse for this study?
Romans 8:28 (HCSB) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
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When we are being overwhelmed by life that sounds like a great bible verse but not reality when we consider the stuff we are going through.
6. What would you think that verse means?
It means it’s not over until God says it’s over. I've said during this study that God knows the end from the beginning. We have to wait on God’s timing. I wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago, "Having Faith in God is Trusting in God’s Timing" when you get some time you should read it. Let’s go to Isaiah 46:10 (HCSB)10 I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will.
Here’s the point. We only see the past and we see today. God sees to the end. Let’s look at Job again. His end was twice as blessed as his beginning but he couldn't see it while he was in the middle of his circumstances. I like what Pastor Noble says about the way to think when you are in a situation where you say “I just don’t see how “God can turn my overwhelming circumstances into something good.” A lot of us can agree with this, I know that I can. Here is what Perry says in the Chapter “God is still God and God is Still Good”.
“I understand the feeling, and I've been there myself. But this is the same God who turned a crucifixion into a resurrection, a bloodstained cross into an empty tomb. And if He did it then, He can do it again. He’s the same God".
Here’s another way to look at it. I like the way Pastor Noble the Star Wars series of movies. It’s like seeing the first scene in on of the Star Wars movies or, as Perry says like looking at 15 seconds of one of the movies in the Star Wars series and then telling George Lucas that you already knew the entire plot and you have some suggestions on how the make the entire series better. Just as George Lucas knew how he wanted the story to go God knows how He wants your story to go. He’s not limited by our thoughts which are limited. He's not worried about time because He is outside of time. He is working things to make the end of our story or the resolution of the problem better than we can imagine. Pain may be part of it but we aren’t unique in that. Many of our biblical heroes went through pain. Some of the was self inflicted and others not.
7. Who are some of those heros?
We have talked about some of them during our study. They are Job, Daniel and his three friends, and Joseph. Then there's Moses, David, Paul, Jesus, and many more. Sometimes the potential to be blessed is in direct proportion to the pain we are willing to endure, and we can endure it because God will be with us when it is the toughest. Remember that nobody showed up for for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, until they were in the furnace.
Here’s the example that Pastor Noble has at the end of chapter 34. Your doctor has just told you that you have cancer and then tells you that it needs to be cut out of you. You would be insane to then say that your doctor was not acting in your best interest because he wanted to wound, or cut you. Your doctor's perfect response would be “Actually, it’s because I care about you that I’m willing to wound you to remove what will kill you if it remains inside you.
God loves you enough to allow you to be wounded if necessary to remove what will destroy you if it isn't removed. It could be pride, greed, sexual sin, unforgiveness, or something else. As Perry says God's goodness is defined by who He is, not by our own limited understanding of Him.
God is not Silent
Sometimes when we are going through overwhelming circumstances and we pray and pray for the answer and it doesn't come right away we may think that God is silent and that He doesn't care, or that He can’t help.
8. What did we say last week and again today?
Don’t give up. God knows what we’re going through, He knows that we’re frustrated, tired, and struggling, and want to quit. But just hang on. Remember Job. He went a long time not hearing from God but he didn't give up and He was blessed double. When waiting on God’s timing, which is perfect, like Paul we need to keep things in perspective, an eternal perspective, not a current circumstance perspective.
We've studied some of Paul’s letters to the churches and his ministry in the book of Acts. Talk about overwhelming circumstances. He was beaten, stoned, and shipwrecked. Go to 2 Corinthians 11:25 (HCSB) Three times I was beaten with rods ⌊by the Romans⌋. Once I was stoned ⌊by my enemies⌋. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea.
9. What was Paul’s perspective on all this?
Go to 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (HCSB)16 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
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I keep going back to Job because he is a great example of why we shouldn't give up. Go again to Job 42:12-17 (HCSB)12 So the LORD blessed the last part of Job’s life more than the first. He owned 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.13 He also had seven sons and three daughters.14 He named his first ⌊daughter⌋ Jemimah, his second Keziah, and his third Keren-happuch.15 No women as beautiful as Job’s daughters could be found in all the land, and their father granted them an inheritance with their brothers.16 Job lived 140 years after this and saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.17 Then Job died, old and full of days.
Job was twice as wealthy as before. He had the same number of children as before, his marriage came back together otherwise he wouldn't have had the children, and after Job prayed for them his friends blessed him with stuff.
The One Who Never Quit
Job’s story is wonderful but there’s another one about somebody not giving up.
10. Who was that person?
When you want to quit think about this person. Think about Jesus. He was betrayed, attacked, beaten, and killed. We can’t even imagine how much He suffered. Jesus is our example. He’s the one that we should pattern ourselves after. He didn’t quit under severely overwhelming circumstances. Yes we can say but He’s Jesus. Yes He is but remember when He walked the earth He was a man just like us. He didn't quit and neither should we. We've said it many times before, God is greater than any and everything that you’re going through or will go through so don’t give up on the God who has never given up on you.
The Weight of the World
Sometimes when we are going through an overwhelming time we feel like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders and that we are alone, that nobody wants to hear about what we’re going through. You are just going to have to deal with this one on your own. I know that I have told people that before. After reading this book and going through this study I hope that I never say that to anybody ever again. I wrote a post for my website after the Robin Williams suicide called “Christians and Depression” Here’s what I wrote:
“ We were not made to be alone remember in Genesis what God said about Adam?
Genesis 2:18 (HCSB) Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”
When Jesus was facing his crucifixion that night in the garden of Gethsemane he took Peter, James and John with Him so that he was not alone.
Matthew 26:36-37 (HCSB) 36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”37 Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.
You aren't the only one going through tough times. You are not a bad person because you are struggling even though others seem to be able to conquer the same thing you are dealing with. Remember that you, as a believer, are a son or daughter of God, and a brother or sister of Christ, no matter what the situation. And your Father and Brother are greater than the situation.
Here’s the proof and is the way that Pastor Perry Noble ends his book:
“Jesus walked out of a grave as proof to us that we can walk out of what is holding us down.
The weight that is pressing down on you doesn't have to define you, because no matter what you're facing right now...Jesus is greater than your biggest doubt. Jesus is greater than your deepest regret. Jesus is greater than your impossible situation. Jesus is greater than your most overwhelming circumstances. The empty tomb is proof that nothing can hold Jesus back. And if He lives in you, nothing can hold you back either."
Keep this in mind and you will truly win the war against worry.
God bless you.
In light of all the things that are going on in the Middle East today many Christians and others are wondering if these things are fulfillment of prophecy and a sign that the end is near. I thought that we would take a look at a book of the Bible that a lot of people use to say that these events are fulfillment of prophecy. No it’s not Revelations. It’s the book that you have to understand if you want to understand Revelations. It’s a book we used during this study, Daniel. We are going to start in Chapter 7.
It is not my intent to prove or disprove what people are saying about whether these things are the fulfillment of prophecy or not. My goal is to equip you through study so you can make your own determinations.
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED RESOURCES
Stress Less and Enjoy Each Day by Thomas Nelson
The Worry Workbook by Les Carter, Ph.D and Frank Minirth, M.D.
Out of Control by Ben Young, Dr.Samuel Adams
God Will Carry You Through by Max Lucado