Surviving the valley

Whenever we experience a spiritual high, we can expect a low. It’s the way of nature. Things go up, and they go down. God is always constant, and He remains faithful, but our motivation or excitement for serving Him will wax and wane. Let’s say this a different way. We should always have the joy of the Lord, but that joy will not keep us from experiencing sorrow.

The Christian life is like surfing. You ride a wave, and you wait for another wave. Sometimes you have to swim back out to the high seas. You won’t always be riding a wave, so you need to learn how to survive when you’re not.

Proverbs 24:10 says, "If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small." Notice this verse didn’t say "if the day of adversity comes." It said, "If thou faint." You see, we don’t have a choice when it comes to the valleys we will encounter. We have a choice as to whether we will be strong in the Lord or not.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah had just came off a spiritual high. He had stood in faith before the entire congregation of Israel and called down fire from heaven. He then killed all the prophets of Baal. Later that day, he prayed that God would send rain in the current drought. God did. Then, Elijah raced the king’s chariot and won. Yeah, he was on foot.

You want to talk about a spiritual high, that was a spiritual high. A short time later, Elijah had a pity party and asked God to kill him. God talked to Him more than once and even sent an angel with special food to sustain Him. Elijah refused to repent. God eventually gave Elijah orders to appoint his successor. God was through working with Him. God chose another servant to accomplish His will.

Elijah failed to survive the valley. The consequence was an end to service.

We will experience times of hardship. Times of sorrow. Times of depression. But we can choose whether to succumb to our emotions and circumstances, or ask and receive God’s power to rise above them. We have the choice. If you’re going through a tough time right now, I challenge you, ask God to sustain you. He loves you. He wants to help you. Tell Him all your trials and cast your cares upon Him. He alone can lift you up and keep you through all the times of discouragement.

Further reading: Psalm 22 (Watch David’s thought patterns as he goes from depression to praise)

Rejoice in the Lord: It’s a command!

Have you ever realized that one of the commands in the Bible is to rejoice? We seem to skip over passages like that and think, "Well ya know, it says rejoice." But do we truly rejoice on a regular basis?

Phillipians 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." It says to rejoice always. But it does not simply say that. It says to rejoice in the Lord. I would submit to you that many Christians have trouble finding joy in their everyday lives, because they do not have God in their everyday lives. How can we "rejoice in the Lord," when we do not keep the Lord in our lives?

God wants us to rejoice, but in order to do that, we need to remember our reason for rejoicing. We need to be thankful for what God has done for us. Have you remembered what God has done for you? Do you remember how great God is, and how much He loves you. I would challenge you to put these things in your remembrance. Ask God to help you rejoice in Him. I know He will!

"Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright." – Psalm 33:1

Are you better than a conqueror?

What is your reaction to hard times? Do you allow your situations to determine your demeanor? It is natural to have emotions and react to the situations around us. When Jesus was on earth, he was angry, he wept, he was weary, and he rejoiced. Through all this, Jesus kept himself under subjection.

Proverbs 25:28 says, "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." If we understand the cities of the past, we know that their main defense was their walls. A city with well built walls could repel a great army with a much smaller amount of defenders. Our self-control is truly a defense against Satan’s attacks.

In John 2:15, Jesus is in the middle of overturning the money changers tables. He made a whip and began to drive the merchants out of the temple. He declared His Father’s house to be one of prayer, and not a den of thieves. In 2:16 though, we find something interesting. It says, "And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence;" Did you see that? Jesus drove out the animals, overturned the tables, but he told the merchants to TAKE the doves. Despite our Savior’s righteous indignation, He had self control.

You can stand up a table, and herd oxen again, but it would be really hard to catch a dove. Jesus knew this and acted in self control. Jesus was angry, but He was not in sin. He is the perfect example of Ephesians 4:26, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:"

How about you? When you get frustrated, do you allow your anger to get the better of you? When you are in a tough situation, do you allow your circumstances to drag you into depression. I would like to challenge you, encourage yourself in the Lord. Our circumstances will influence us, but we should never allow them to control us. If you are in a tough situation, take your eyes off the world around you and look to Christ. He will give you to inner strength to walk in righteousness despite how your emotions entice you to act or think. If we control ourselves despite our emotions, God says that we are better than one who conquers a city.

"He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." – Proverbs 16:32