I heard a really great audio message this morning and I want to share it with all of you. I did not write it myself, but it was such a great encouragement to me that I think it will be a great encouragement to you too. (I am going to be writing my notes from this whole series for you to read.). Pastor Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church and author of the best seller, “The Purpose Driven Life” preached this message.
Are you Depressed? Discouraged? Doubtful? In Despair
[If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that I have been battling with deep depression, discouragement, doubts and despair. I heard this message and it really made me look at things differently. I am filled with hope. ]
Pastor Warren said that if you are depressed, discouraged, doubting and in despair you should do two things.
1. Start focusing on all the ways that God has been good to you. Get your eyes off all of the problems and focus on all the things God has done for you. Make a list. Count your blessings. Write them down. [ When you read things in brackets, those are my comments. ] [ Are you alive? Are you able to breathe? Is your heart beating? Do you have food to eat? Clothing? A place to live? Do you have people who love you? Do you know that God loves you? J Jesus loves you so much He died for you. Instead of pouring His wrath out on you and punishing you for your sins, God loves you so much He poured out His wrath on His Son Jesus. All you have to do is repent of your sins, Believe in Jesus ‘s death and resurrection, and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. Once you do that, you become a child of God. You are adopted into the family of God. You are forgiven. You receive eternal life and a home in heaven. That is how good God is.]
2. Don’t miss any of the nine weeks in this series! This will be encouraging and inspirational. It will raise your level of hope. What is hope? Hope is anticipating God’s goodness. If God is not good there is no rational, logical reason for hope. We are all on our own – we are up a creek without a paddle. The foundation of all hope is the goodness of God. [As I said I will be posting this series in my blogs].
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. God’s plans for you are good plans – the more you understand God’s goodness the more hopeful you will be in life.
“I would have despaired unless I believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Instead of despairing wait for the Lord. He has good plans for your life.
[Pastor Warren is doing a study on Psalm 23. There are nine lessons. Each lesson is a study on a benefit of God’s goodness to you. Here are the nine benefit of God’s goodness.]
1. Verse one. God will meet my needs when I am worried – sustenance.
2. Verse two. God will teach me to relax when I’m stressed out – balance.
3. Verse three. God will replenish my strength when I am empty – resilience.
4. Verse three. God will guide me when I am confused – guidance.
5. Verse four. God will walk with me in my dark and fearful days – confidence.
6. Verse four. God will protect me when I feel insecure – assurance.
7. Verse five. God will publicly show His favor on my life – abundance and influence.
8. Verse six. God will be good to me no matter what happens – benevolence.
9. Verse six. God will take me to heaven one day and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever – inheritance. ABC
Everybody needs what God has to offer. We are just looking for it in all the wrong places. We’re expecting those needs to be met by our careers, our bank accounts, our relationships, marriages, boyfriends, girlfriends and other things. God is the source of all goodness in your life. If you are making anybody else the source of goodness in your life that is called idolatry.
Where do you get all those good benefits? From the Lord who is your shepherd. Psalm 23:1 tells us the Lord is our shepherd. Jesus said “I am the good shepherd.” He is either telling you the truth or he is lying. All these benefits come because God is good not because you are good.
Pastor Warren recommends that we pray the following prayer:
God, I’m sorry that I’ve often forgotten your goodness. I don’t think about it. When I don’t think how good you are, I start claiming credit for things you did for me, and in me and to me. I’m sorry. I am nothing without you. God so much of the time I forget your goodness and I just stop asking you for help and so I’m not learning to trust you because I am not asking you to meet my needs. You’ve told me to come boldly in prayer to the good and gracious God and expect you to answer out of your goodness. I want to start asking you for your blessing and answers to my needs every day of my life. And Lord, Because I forget your goodness I often stop trusting you in difficult times. Help me to remember that and everything you are working for good, even in the bad stuff because you have a good plan for my life. I don’t want to be pessimistic about my future. Like David I would despair if I did not know the goodness of God. Help me to be strong, to take courage in my heart and to wait for you to answer the needs in my life. Lord I want this life outlined in Psalm 23 – all life of sustenance and balance, resilience and guidance, confidence and assurance, influence and abundance, benevolence and inheritance and I know you’ve made this available not because of my goodness because I’m not good but because of your goodness and your great grace. Jesus Christ thank you for paying for all of these things with your life. As much as I know how I ask you to be my good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep and you did that for me. I don’t understand it all but I’m asking you to make yourself real to me and I want to learn to love you, to follow you and trust you. You are a good God. And I pray this humbly in your name, Amen