Friday, August 17, 2018

When Your World Has Been Turned Upside Down

These are the notes to the CDG Tuesday Night Bible Study on 8-14-18.  This is the second Bible Study, with a sermon sandwiched between them, that the Holy Spirit has given me for the church.  We are to face the fact that Christians can and do worry, become anxious, stressed, and depressed.  It is something that can be used by the enemy to create guilt and doubt to disrupt the relationship between God and the believer.  We should talk about it, see what the scriptures say about it and how with the help of the Holy Spirit to deal with it.  

When your world has been turned upside down by the news of a serious, maybe terminal illness for you or a loved one; the death of a parent, child or spouse, loss of employment, a serious financial crises, a divorce, the collapse of a close friendship.  When any of those things happen, and sometimes more than one of them happens at once,  it feels as if everything is closing in our you and there's no way out.

We know that because of the sin of Adam and  Eve, we live in a fallen world where bad things happen.  Jesus Himself told us that trouble would come, but He also told us that He has overcome them.

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.”

The scriptures also tell us that if we are in Christ we are more than conquerors.

Romans 8:37-39 NIV 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.

They also tell us that no matter the situation we are never alone.

Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
We also know

Psalm 34:19 NIV The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;

We know all these things and when things are going well we quote them with great enthusiasm.  We still quote them, although not as enthusiastically when trouble starts.  When the trouble lingers and even more trouble comes  we may still quote them but, we may start to wonder it anybody other than us hears or really cares.  When it get to that point we need to be reminded that God who made those promises loves us.

1 John 4:7-11 NIV Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

He’s left us reminders of that love,

 4 Reminders from God that He loves us

Reminder #1 Creation

The creation itself should remind us of how all powerful God is.  It is also evidence that He does, in fact, exist. The very fact that he created the universe and then allowed us to be masters over the earth should remind us that there is somebody out there who is bigger than we are.

Genesis 1:27-31 (NLT) So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened. Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

 When my wife and I visited Hawaii a few years ago the folk’s house where we were staying had a view out of their kitchen window from which you could see the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.  It was awe inspiring.   On another occasion I had an opportunity to drive to Las Vegas, from Payson, AZ, a little town mountains. We drove through some canyons the view of which would cause my jaw to drop.  Looking up at some cloud formations will give you that same feeling.

Psalm 19:1-6 (NLT)1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.2  Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.3  They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.4  Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.5  It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.6  The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.

God has made Himself obvious through His creation.

Romans 1:20 (NLT)20  For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

These things about God’s creation remind us of how big God is, His faithfulness, and proof that He loves you.
          The next time you see a sunrise, remind yourself, God is faithful.
          The next time you see snow-covered mountains with their peaks pointing toward the sky, remind yourself, God is faithful.
          The next time you see flowers that have burst into bloom because winter couldn’t stop them from developing in the hidden places, remind yourself, God is faithful.
          The next time you hold a soft-skinned baby in your arms, remind yourself, God is faithful.
And the biggest thing of all is that we are made in God’s image.
Genesis 1:26 (NLT)26  Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like ourselves. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

Reminder #2:  The People We Meet

God uses what we may consider chance meetings or encounters to benefit us later.  God had plans for you before you were born.  Like the prophet Jeremiah
Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT) “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
You’ve never met anybody by accident.
Psalms 37:23 NLT The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
Think about some relationships that you had when you were in school.  Not those where you stayed in close contact but people that you haven’t seen for years or have never seen ever again, maybe a teacher, a coach, or just another classmate.  Think about the impact on you and your life of something they said, an introduction to someone else, or an example you follow today.
The way I plan my workday and workweek is the result of something that a man taught me over 40 years ago when I worked for Bank of America.  My love for studying the scripture is because I met a group of guys in San Jose over 40 years ago.  I don’t even remember their names but the result of meeting and studying with them is why I am doing what I do today and using the spiritual gift of teaching that the Holy Spirit gave me.
When you doubt whether God cares about you and loves you think about the people that he has placed in your life over the years.  If I just sit and think back about some of the difficult and stressful times I’ll remember somebody doing something, or saying something or giving me something, seemingly out of the blue that helped get me through.  That wasn't just a coincidence that was a reminder that God loves me.
Reminder #3:  The Circumstances We Go Through

Our circumstances change and they change us.  For example moving from one city to another is a change in location or circumstance.  There are two possibilities.  We can be put in a situation where it is more expensive to live than where we were before and that creates stress.  That’s a change for the worse, at least for a while.  On the other hand we move from one city to another and we get a huge increase in income, that’s a change of circumstance that is for the good.  But in either case it the change in circumstance changes us.
Reminder #4:  Jesus - The Greatest Reminder
Jesus is the greatest reminder of all of God’s love.  When things seem so overwhelming we need to change our focus. When we realize that God gave His Son Jesus so that He could pay the ransom for mankind and take the punishment of sin we know that God loves us.  Jesus came and willingly laid down His life as our sacrifice He then sent the Holy Spirit by and through whom we are able to live a life that is pleasing to God.
Romans 8:31-39 NLT  What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” ) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When you wrestle with anxiety and stress especially in situations where you have no control remember all that He went through for you.  Remember the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, the humiliation at His trial, the paid of the beatings and finally His crucifixion.   It looked as if He had no control over any of this but on the third day He rose from the dead to show that God never lost control.  Jesus is the Great Reminder that God loves you.

excerpted from God’s Wisdom and Promises by Jack Countryman

Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” — John 16:31-33

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. — James 1:2-5

Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. — Romans 5:1-5

We do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer. — Romans 12:9-12

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. — 1 Thessalonians 5:18-22

In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:37-39

How do you react when life crashes in on you? What are your default responses, the things you run to for comfort, relief, or escape?

Trying to avoid a situation only makes matters worse. We end up even more frustrated, because nothing changes. We may even feel guilty for not being strong enough to deal with whatever thorn has gotten under our skin. Ultimately, we run even farther away from the only one who can truly help us.

Until we’re willing to have that honest conversation with God, we will never know peace. But how?

Habakkuk helps guide us through the valley with three specific actions. First, Habakkuk questioned the apparent injustice of God.

Habakkuk 1:2-4 NIV How long, Lord , must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?  Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.  Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.

Habakkuk 1:12-17 NIV Lord , are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, you will never die. You, Lord , have appointed them to execute judgment; you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.  Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?  You have made people like the fish in the sea, like the sea creatures that have no ruler.  The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet; and so he rejoices and is glad.  Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet, for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food.  Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy?
I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts;

Habakkuk 2:1 NIV  I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

Then he decided to stop and listen to God.

Habakkuk 1:5-11 NIV “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.  I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own.  They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor.  Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;  they all come intent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand.  They mock kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; by building earthen ramps they capture them.  Then they sweep past like the wind and go on— guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”

Then God said take notes.

Habakkuk 2:2-4 NIV Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.  For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.  “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness —

“Write it down so that when I prove myself just and true, everyone can remember that I am a God of my word.”. This will be your testimony.

Isaiah 40:8 NIV  The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

Proverbs 3:1-3 NIV  My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,  for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.  Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

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