Tag Archive | depression

Roadblock #1 – Doubt – The Enemy of Belief

DoubtInexperience and ignorance kept me in a bubble for the first two decades of my Christian walk. After I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and invited Him into my heart at the age of eighteen, I lived a good Christian life, doing all the right things. I began a Bible study in the book of John. I continued to attend my childhood church, where I was involved in a young adult group. I prayed and read my Bible regularly. I listened to Christian music and read inspirational books. I tried not to sin too often, but when I did, I asked God’s forgiveness as soon as I felt convicted.

Over the years, I heard other believers, like pastors, talk about hearing God’s voice, but I never considered that God would speak to me. Often, I heard Christ followers say that their faith was more of a relationship than a religion. I thought that praying to God and reading His Word meant I had a relationship with Him. However, I never left room in my prayers—conversations with God—for Him to speak His mind. I never even attempted to listen to His voice, because I didn’t believe He would speak to me. I occasionally sensed God speaking to me through Scripture but never even dreamed He would speak to me in my thoughts. Sound familiar? Can you relate to any part of this story?

Looking back, I see that I fit the description of the lukewarm Christian. I wasn’t cold toward God, but I wasn’t on fire for Him either. I enjoyed a “normal” life, which resembled the lives of many other Christians I knew. And after twenty years of this blissful monotony, I wondered if this was all there was to life. If so, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on living.

While I was in counseling for clinical depression, my psychologist shared his recent boost in his walk with the Lord. He had learned how to listen to God’s voice. I could see the new passion and excitement he had for Jesus. It sparked my interest in knowing Jesus more intimately. My counselor encouraged me to spend time alone with God: to talk to God and then listen to Him, writing down what I heard Him say. Unfamiliar with this practice, I made many attempts over many weeks before I realized success. 7 Simple Steps to Hearing God’s Voice. The first book in the Hearing God’s Voice Series, walks you through my process of learning how to hear and recognize when God speaks.

I soon realized that the obstacle of doubt had prevented me from hearing God’s voice for all those years. My skepticism profoundly contributed to my deafness toward God’s voice. Actually, it kept me from attempting to listen to God at all. I lacked faith that God would speak to me; therefore, I heard nothing.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We might add to that: It’s being certain of what we do not hear. To hear God’s voice, we must be certain we will hear it! Do a faith check. Examine your own heart and mind. Do you believe that God will speak to you? Do you understand that God speaks to you through His Holy Spirit, Who lives in you? You can believe it, because Jesus said it in John 16:13-15:

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is Mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is Mine and make it known to you.” (Emphasis mine)

Not understanding the role of the Holy Spirit kept me from leaving room in my prayer time for God to speak. I prayed, but I didn’t stop talking long enough to listen. I didn’t believe I would hear God speak to me because I didn’t understand that He spoke through the Holy Spirit. But when I started delving into Scripture and reading inspirational books about the Holy Spirit, my appreciation grew for all that He does for me. A more thorough knowledge of the third person in the Holy Trinity afforded me a better understanding, which led to an increased trust that enabled me to hear His verbal communications in my thoughts.

I could relate to Peter with my doubt. Remember the story of Jesus walking on the water from Matthew 14:22-33? Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side of the lake. Then He went into the hills alone to pray. When evening came and He returned from the hills, the boat was already in the middle of the lake. So He walked on the lake’s surface toward the boat. The disciples were terrified, thinking Jesus was a ghost. But Jesus said to them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” He said.

Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he began to sink in fear, crying out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus reached out His hand and caught Peter. He asked Peter, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Notice that Peter did walk on the water. He trusted Jesus enough to get out of the boat, but when the wind came up, his faith took a downward turn. He lost his confidence in Christ and doubted His power to keep him on top of the water. Peter’s doubt put constraints on what Jesus would do for him. This lesson teaches us to be certain that God gives us the power to do what He calls us to do. Jesus would not have called Peter out of the boat to let him drown in the lake. Rather, He invited Peter to believe in His ability to empower him to do the impossible.

Similarly, when I doubted that God would speak to me, I put constraints on what God would do for me. My doubt put up a roadblock between God and me. Uncertainty erected an obstruction in my two-way communication with the Lord. Notice I didn’t say that my doubt limited what God could do. More precisely, my hesitation hindered my own ability to hear my heavenly Father. It wasn’t until I entertained the possibility that God would speak to me that the ears of my heart were opened to hear His voice.

Also observe that Jesus reached out His hand to His friend when Peter’s doubt sprang up. Jesus does not let us perish in our lack of faith and trust. He continues to pursue us and use our trials to 1) make us more dependent on Him, 2) bring us closer to Him, 3) increase our trust in His power, and 4) mature us in our faith. He holds our hand until our trust in His power catches up.

Hebrews 3:7-12 offers a warning against unbelief:

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried Me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known My ways.’ So I declared on oath in My anger, ‘They shall never enter My rest.’”

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

As it did with Peter, doubt causes us to lose our footing as believers and sink in our lack of faith in Jesus. It makes us dependent on ourselves, not trusting in the power of God in us. We must remember that we have the Spirit of the living, Almighty God dwelling in us. He gives us the faith to believe and empowers us to do all that He prepares and plans for us to do. Romans 8:11 says, “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, Who lives in you.” We have the same strength, ability, and authority residing in us that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Pretty amazing, right? All we have to do is recognize that fact, own it, and call on that power of God in us. Praise the Lord that He sent a member of the Holy Trinity to enable us to accomplish all that He has prepared in advance for us to achieve!

We must ask ourselves, what causes the doubt in the first place? One answer to that question is: Satan speaks to our hearts with lies and stirs our spirits to question God’s power and our own abilities.

Doubt is the enemy of belief in the truth, as James 1:5-8 says:

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think He will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

When we doubt God’s promises, power, and abilities, we give a whole lot of undeserved power to the devil, who sows the seed of skepticism in our minds. In each chapter of the 7 Roadblocks book,  I examine three lies that Satan instills in our minds with regard to each encumbrance. Of course, these lies are not the only falsehoods he implants. They represent a sampling to get you thinking about the possible causes of your misgivings. Then, following Jesus’ example of battling Satan with God’s Word when the devil tempted Him in the desert, I dispel each lie with the truth from Scripture.

As long as we accept, believe, and/or invest in Satan’s lies, he is happy because we remain in bondage to him. To break free from the strongholds of the devil, we must recognize the lies and overcome them with the truth of God’s Word. When you find your mind bombarded with the fabricated claims of the father of lies, replace the devil’s deceit with the indisputable truth of Scripture. Wash away the dishonest dirt. Rehearse and repeat the truths of Scripture.

Some falsehoods swirling around in our heads evolve from the idea that God does not still speak to His people today, except to a select few spiritually mature figures, and if we do hear God speak, we can’t be sure it’s actually His voice. Are these lies feeding your doubt? Get your copy of 7 Roadblocks to Hearing God Speak, and start identifying and eliminating any falsehoods you may be unknowingly investing in.

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Book Two in Hearing God's Voice Series

Book Two in Hearing God’s Voice Series

Step 6 – Enjoy the Rewards – Reward #3

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Reward #3 – Enjoy the Encouragement

Who doesn’t want to hear an encouraging word from God? We all desire His unfailing love. There’s a God-shaped hole inside each of us only He can fill. He designed it that way. Sensing unmet needs, we search for things that will satisfy us: love, relationships, food, alcohol, drugs, material possessions, independence, wealth, success, and recognition. When we acquire and achieve those things, however, we remain empty and unsatisfied. We continue to yearn for the one thing that will bring us long-lasting happiness and fulfillment.

God created human beings with a hunger and thirst only He can satisfy. He wants us to be dependent on Him for everything. He wants to be in close relationship with each of us. Only God can love us perfectly and completely. No human being can match the love He has for you and for me. Nothing can satisfy our longings except the One who placed those desires in our hearts. Food, alcohol, and drugs bring temporary satisfaction until the effects have worn off, leaving us craving more. Material possessions and wealth provide the illusion of happiness for a time. However, some of the richest people in the world experience poverty in their spirits. Money and personal belongings do not bring lasting joy. Success and fame are achieved through long hours of hard work and dedication, often leaving little time for relationships and an unbearable loneliness.

As stated earlier, God used my depressive episodes to get my attention. He wanted me to experience more of Him, so He could fill me up with His love, encouragement, and companionship. I exude gratefulness as I remember how God worked through my Christian mentor to fascinate me with a new and exciting relationship with Jesus. I received spiritual guidance on how to get close to God by listening to His voice. It was the best thing He could have done for me. It sparked my interest in pursuing a deeper, more intimate relationship with my Lord.

In my depressed and dejected state of mind, I had a very low opinion of myself. I felt unattractive, unappreciated, unwanted, and unloved. Each time I met with God, He rebuilt my soul with kind, encouraging words. In our daily conversations, God told me what I meant to Him. He informed me I’m made in His image and He doesn’t make mistakes. He stated I’m beautiful on the outside and the inside. He reminded me He wanted me and loved me before He created the world. He showed me how precious I am to Him and how much He enjoys spending time with me. He demonstrated my value as His creation, and He revealed my worth as His heir. He delivered me from my enemy, Satan. He liberated me from captivity. He refined me and equipped me to carry out His purpose for creating me. He helped me see myself through His eyes.

Below is one of my Quiet Time journal entries. I hope you find God’s words encouraging for yourself, too. My thoughts are written in regular text and God’s words to me are italicized.

Journal Entry on 10/09/2004

Lord, I read through yesterday’s journal. I see You want to be involved in everything I do, even the small stuff. Lord, would You help me remember to let You in and check with You on everything throughout the day? Please speak to me today. I would love to hear from You.

O My daughter, I love you. I love to listen to you share your heart with Me. I want to hear from you all day long. I want you to share every emotion, every struggle with Me. I want you to breathe a prayer to Me all day long. Pray without ceasing. Let Me in on everything. Nothing is too small for Me. I want to know all the details. When you seek Me and trust in Me this way, you will experience the kind of intimacy your heart desires. I am your Father, your friend, the lover of your soul. I desire to dance every step of your life with you, but I will not force you to spend time with Me. I wait for you to desire it too and find your way to Me. Then I’ll welcome you with open arms, embrace you, and lead you through the dance of your life. I’m always with you—not just in the morning. You can talk to Me all day long. I expectantly wait to hear from you. I love you, and I long to spend time with you. Give Me a chance. You won’t believe what you will feel. It will be better than anything you could imagine. I’ll be right here waiting for you. I love you.

I love You too, Lord. I want what You want. Please help me get there.

 

Before and during my depression, my fire for life had burned down to a mere ember. Meeting with God daily and listening to His voice ignited a new fire of passion in me for knowing the living God who dwells in me. When you recognize and hear God’s voice on a regular basis, it brings new meaning to an otherwise dull, lifeless existence.

Let God be the fuel for your heart’s fire. Listen to what He says to you. As Paul stated in 2 Thessalonians 2:16, let God’s words to you “encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” Make time to meet with God daily. Enjoy the encouragement, and let God love you. Discover the deeper, long-lasting joy that comes from being obedient to the Holy Spirit’s instruction.

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Book One in Hearing God's Voice Series

Book One in Hearing God’s Voice Series

Step 6 – Enjoy the Rewards – Reward #1

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Step 6 – Enjoy the Rewards

Hearing God’s voice for the first time resembles discovering a buried treasure. God’s amazing treasure chest holds at least seven priceless jewels.

7 Rewards of Hearing God’s Voice

Healing

Forgiveness

Encouragement

Instruction

Conviction

Wisdom

Peace

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Reward #1 – Absorb the Healing

My first depression plagued me most severely. The word shattered best describes the way depression feels to me. I felt shattered into a thousand pieces on the inside, held together only by my skin. I appeared completely normal from the outside, but I felt weak, fragile, and broken on the inside. Looking back, I now know God allowed me to hit rock bottom so I had nowhere else to turn but to Him. He permitted me to hit rock bottom, but He didn’t leave me there alone.

Through Christian counseling, God showed me what kept me from the life He intended for me. I had to confront my past. I had to be delivered from the bondage of my belief in Satan’s lies before I could effectively relate to God and worship Him with all my heart. I did the work of digging into my childhood to figure out what caused me to be stuck in this life.

We all have emotional wounds. Some of them are given to us by people we love and people who love us. My most major emotional wound came from believing lies in the words my mom used about me. I’m sure she didn’t intend to wound me, but Satan used the things she said to deceive me into believing his lies. As a young girl, I remember my mom telling other people of me, “She was an accident.” I heard my mom say I was an accident many, many times. Those words stabbed deep into my little girl heart. Those words gave me my identity:

I am an accident. I am not wanted. I am not loved.

Notice how Satan used the words, “You are an accident,” and twisted them to accuse me of his lies: “You are not wanted; you are not loved.” In John 8:44, Jesus exposed the devil’s ways: “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” The enemy wanted me to believe lies that would keep me in bondage so I could not become all God wanted me to be, and I fell for it like a boulder plummeting down a mountainside.

Knowing I was unwanted caused me to become a people-pleaser. My entire life was driven by my desire to be needed and loved. My constant striving to satisfy and delight everyone required me to give large chunks of myself away. The more I gave, the more empty, unloved, and unappreciated I felt. My zest for life slowly drained out of me, leaving me unfulfilled and unhappy. I had a decent life, but if it equaled the life God had planned for me, I wasn’t sure I wanted to live. I had everything I needed and wanted, yet I lacked something. What I had was not enough to carry me through emotionally.

By believing the father of lies, I had let the deceit of Satan rule in my heart. God allowed me to experience depression so I would seek Him for help, answers, and healing. God wanted me to confront the emotional wounds from my past so He could wrap me in His blanket of light. God used my counseling as the venue where He performed the emotional healing I needed.

My counselor and I would spend time in inner healing prayer, bringing my wounds before Christ and asking Him to replace the lies I believed with the truth. Jesus showed me His presence in my childhood memories. He Himself told me of His great love for me and revealed the truth about me and the circumstances of my birth. He crushed the lies of the enemy. God planned me from the beginning; I was no accident. He wanted me and loved me.

This experience compelled me to trust Jesus even more. He is the way, the truth, and the life. The voice of Jesus in my memories transformed my life. When you are set straight by the God of the universe, it’s a permanent healing. It’s a healing you can’t get from counseling alone or from anything anyone else says to you. When God Himself meets you in your memories, shows you His presence in your life, speaks about how much He loves you, and couples it with strong, truthful feelings in your heart, it changes everything.

My beliefs about my own identity began to change. It no longer mattered that my mom didn’t want me, because the God of the universe planned me before He created the world. He wants me and loves me. I am His child, created in His image. I am a high priority to Him. My existence is important to Him. He wants to spend forever showing me how much He loves me. I know He feels the same about you.

God does speak to you in your thoughts. He can use your memories to bring you emotional healing and to show you His presence throughout your whole life. Come to Him, and quiet yourself enough to listen to what He has to say. He will enlighten you with His truth, replacing the darkness of the lies you believe.

In John 8:36, Jesus says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” I live a new life of freedom—a better life—because Christ set me free from my emotional prison, the bondage of the lies I held onto. That’s what Jesus came here to do—to “set the captives free.” (See Isaiah 61:1-3.) He is the truth.

Jesus Christ already won the battle over Satan, sin, and death with His obedience even unto death on the cross. God raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in heaven to rule over everything here on earth and in all eternity. God saved us by His grace, raised us up with Christ, and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms. Satan has been given his place already. He now resides under the feet of Christ, below His authority and below the authority of Christ’s body, the church, which includes all believers.

I believe in Christ; therefore, I have Jesus’ power and authority over Satan, sin, and death. Through the Holy Spirit living in me, I have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. If you believe in Jesus, so do you. Exercise authority and stand firm in the finished work of Christ, believing the truth. Resist the devil, and don’t be trapped by His snares of falsehood and temptation. Don’t give him more power than God has given Him. You are alive in Christ! Live in the grace and authority of Christ so you may carry out the work God prepared in advance for you to do. (See Ephesians 2:4-10.)

Through inner healing prayer and conversations with God, He spoke sincere, truthful words to me, healing the deepest wounds of my heart. He exposed my childhood belief in the deceit Satan had fabricated in my heart and mind. He gave me a new identity: “I am a child of God; He wants me and loves me.” Not only did my thinking change, but Jesus Christ Himself engraved it on my heart. He showed me the truth, and the truth set me free. God loves me more than I will ever comprehend, and He wanted me, even before He created the world. He feels the same about you.

God wants you and loves you very much. He desires to spend time with you daily in two-way conversation. Make time to listen to His voice and absorb His healing words.

When you have some time to yourself, seek God and ask Him to replace the lies you believe in your heart with His perfect truth. Ask for His protection from your enemy. Listen to His voice of truth in your thoughts. Confirm what you hear by finding God’s truth in His Word, the Bible. Spend time developing a deeper intimacy with Him. Ask Him what He wants to teach you. Absorb the healing He gives! Then find it in your heart to forgive the one(s) who hurt you.

Click here to order this book now.

Book One in Hearing God's Voice Series

Book One in Hearing God’s Voice Series