— Brother Phil Enlow: There are so many facets to this. I mean, you could go on and on and on, and I don’t want to go on and on and on. But I want the Lord to make this real to us, so that we can see…some of the characteristics of this. The self-centeredness is the first thing. But notice when he comes to this place where, all of a sudden, it seems like everything is crashing down. All he can see is the negative and he begins to focus on that.
Of course, fear is right there at the top of the list, isn’t it? I’ll tell you, fear is a real thing. It’s a real tool of the enemy. Paul talks about the spirit of fear. He was warning his young protégé, Timothy, about this problem, knowing, from his own experience, that he was going to be experiencing things that would make him afraid.
And he says, God has, “…not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and…” self-control. (KJV). I love that song they used in VBS last year. “Fear Is a Liar.” You know, most of the time, the things we’re afraid of never happen, anyway. But even if there’s something that’s real, that would cause us to fear…you know, we’re right back to what we talked about a few weeks ago when it’s facts versus faith, or faith versus facts.
I’ll tell you, there’s one thing that triumphs over all of the world’s facts, and that’s God’s purpose, God’s faith, trust in Him and all of that. God is greater than anything that could happen to you and me, because what happens is, the Devil will cause us to be focused on us and our needs…and our interests and all of that, and then cause us to feel like, I’m afraid, something bad is gonna happen, this and that is going to be happening. It could be whatever it is.
And that becomes the controlling, dictating influence in our lives. And all of a sudden, God and His purposes and God and His power have no bearing on the situation. And we are just controlled by that, and we react and we act.
That’s what he did—that’s what he did. God deliver us from allowing ourselves to be controlled by fear. It doesn’t mean you’ll never feel fear. If you’re telling me you never feel fear, you’re a liar. You’re the liar! But I’ll tell you, fear and the things that happen in this world do not dictate our well-being. They do not dictate who we are. They do not dictate what God has purposed.
If someone marches in here and machine-guns every one of us down, I’ll tell you, if you know the Lord, man, that is a one-way trip out of here! Now, that doesn’t mean we say, well, bring it on! You know, we want God’s purpose in God’s time. But I’ll tell you, we cannot lose.
“For to me…” Paul said, “…to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (NIV). How can you lose in that equation?
But oh, I’ll tell you, life has a way of suddenly descending on us and we get down into this self-absorbed mode, and suddenly we’re paralyzed.
Well, you know, when you feel that way and you’re wallowing in self-pity and fear and all of that, don’t you just love to run to parties and have a…no, what we want to do, by nature, is to go hide, to be alone. We don’t want to be with people.
Do you see a design in that, an evil design? Here God has designed us, by nature, for relationship, first of all, with Him, but with one another. And there are times in every one of our lives when we are in a weak, vulnerable place. God allows us to go, “…through the valley of the shadow of death…” sometimes. (KJV). We go through a river, though we are not drowned, we go through a fire, though we are not burned, but still, it has an emotional, it can have an emotional impact upon us.
I’ll tell you, if the Devil has brought you into a place where you are just consumed with negative thoughts, you need fellowship. You don’t need to walk around and pretend everything’s okay and then go hide in your closet again. You need to reach out.
We need to have a compassion one for another and not a critical spirit. We need to have a heart that says I’ve been there! I know what you’re feeling. Let’s stand together in this. God is on His throne. Nothing is out of His control. You need help.
But what did Elijah do? Servant, you stay here. I’m gonna go have a pity party in the desert, tell God how bad it is and just take my life. He went off by himself. God, do we need…we need to wake up and realize the Devil’s design in this. Love one another, reach out to one another. Be honest. If you’ve got a need, tell us. There’s no shame in honesty. We need to be able to stand one for another in this kind of a world. We need one another. We need the Lord!
God has designed us that way. That’s why the scriptures say, they tell us, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together...and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” What’s the purpose of that? So we can go through a form? No, it’s so that we can encourage one another, so that we can draw strength from one another and from Him.
So, there he goes. He’s out there, but he’s just sort of wallowing in his own self-pity. Do you see just a bit of pride in some of this, though? I’ve done all this. I don’t get this. I didn’t do anything to deserve what’s happened. I’ve been zealous. I’ve done…oh, God! If we have done anything, He’s the Doer. If you did it, it’s probably worthless, if that’s all it is. But Jesus, if He comes and He uses us, praise God, it’s Him, and His purposes do not fail.
Here he is looking at the circumstances and looking at the results. My God! If Jesus had looked at the results of His ministry, in terms of how many good, dedicated, true followers He had, man, He’d have given up and said, I’m going back to heaven. This ain’t working. But He had a revelation to know that, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never…” cast out. (NIV).
What a difference the perspective of truth makes! I’ll tell you, we need to lay down our pride and anything that we have that gets in the way. There are so many aspects…praise God! I’m gonna jump ahead. I don’t have this lined out, which is probably a good thing, in this case. But I’ll tell you, we just need the Lord, don’t we?
I’m trying to think what other thoughts that I especially wanted to emphasize. Well, I’ll tell you one of them. It came to me very plainly. It’s simply this. When we are busy wallowing, if you want to put it that way, when we are busy just focusing in such…the kind of thoughts that bring us into a depressed state, are we not simply meditating upon lies?
Think about what we’re doing. Would you be liable to sit there and say, oh no, they really did that to me, or this really happened, or this is the case…I’m sick, I’m dying, I’ve got this problem, I’ve got that problem, my bank account is empty. Those are facts! Don’t tell me they’re lies!
I’ll tell you what the lie is. The lie is not the fact itself. The lie is the Devil’s interpretation of that. That’s where the lie comes in. When we see a circumstance and the Devil tells us, that wouldn’t have happened if God really liked you. Or, if God was on His throne, why did He let this happen? You see the problem?
We sang a song, just a little bit ago, about desiring that the Lord would help us to see everything through His eyes, see our whole lives through His eyes. You see that? Do you think Jesus just went through a little bit? Yeah, but He saw it in terms of the purpose of God that went far beyond this world. He saw everything that happened to Him in those…in that light.
My God, did He have stuff that He could have been depressed about if He’d been of a mind to do it. If He’d listened to the voice of the enemy…You’re wasting Your time Jesus! They’re not listening to You. They have ulterior motives. Listen to these religious people. They’ve studied the Bible all their lives and they don’t get You at all. You’re wasting Your time with these people.
Of course, the Devil’s never told you any negative stuff about you, right? And here’s the problem, sometimes, in dealing with this. It’s far too easy to deal with it on a level that’s kind of superficial, way up here, when many times the need is way down here. If we come in, and we ‘do’ come to the Lord, with a history, we have learned from our experience in this life.
And not all of what we’ve learned is good. Some people have come out of terrible situations in homes. They’ve experienced abuse. They’ve experienced rejection. They’ve experienced a thousand and one things, that have totally colored their lives. They’ve been hurt badly by somebody and that wound is still way down here.
God, we need a Gospel that can get down into the depths of our beings and heal the brokenhearted. Can Jesus do that? Yes! But I’ll tell you, there are people who are carrying those kinds of burdens and you don’t just…you just don’t paint over it with a proof text. What’s the matter with you? Here’s what the Bible says. What’s the matter with you?
It doesn’t happen that easily. We need God to minister that truth in such a way that it gets down to where the need is and displaces the lie so that we can stand in truth, and that becomes the governing influence in our lives. It’s what God said and not what the devil said.
( congregational amens ).
God, help us to have compassion on one another and realize where we’re coming from, and the fact that this is a process. It’s wonderful to uphold truth, but there comes a time we’re gonna have to say, oh God, I need that truth moved from here [head] to here [heart]. You’re the only One who knows how to do that.
A lot of times, God’s gonna have to take us through difficult circumstances, so that we are willing to bring out this. Oh, how do we deal with pain? If there’s pain down in here, how do you deal with it, typically? Cover it up, deny it, pretend it isn’t there, put on a happy face.
Does that solve your problem? No, it doesn’t. It just makes it worse. And you wonder why we struggle. God wants us to come to Him as we are, with all that’s wrong, and say, Lord, You see, You see this wound. Lord, I bring it out into the light. I need You to help me to see it through Your eyes. You can help me to have compassion on the one who caused the wound, to see past what happened and not think of it so much in self-centered terms. You can heal that, Lord.
How much of this thing that we call depression is just beginning to wallow back into pain? And you wonder why you see people try to medicate their pain, with alcohol and with drugs and with something, anything to feel…to not feel that, to escape it, just for a little bit.
And then the Devil’s there pulling the strings and he’s saying, yeah, but your real solution is, you just need to leave this. Your pain is just too great. You’re worthless. You’re this, you’re that. Whatever it is that takes us down into that realm.
But what are we doing if we are just sitting there thinking about all that? Are we not just meditating on lies? What’s the fruit of meditating on lies, if it doesn’t just reinforce all that the devil has planted in there? You’re just like pouring fertilizer and water on the devil’s plantings.
You think maybe we just need to come to the Lord and meditate on His truth, and just seek Him and say, God, You’re the only One that can deal with this? Come in and replace it.
So, here’s this guy, and we talked about his pride, we talked…and I’m sure he felt some of these things. I mean, some of this goes beyond exactly what he expresses here. But you know, one of the things that I’m sure he felt was failure. Lord, I failed here. I did all these things. I did it for You, and I failed.
Anybody here ever have that kind of a feeling? No matter how hard I try, I’m just always coming short. I’m always failing. Oh, God! Oh, poor me! Oh…down into the depths you sink. God wants to bring us up out of that pity party junk.
First place, he didn’t fail. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to. But suppose we do. Did He not provide for all of our needs, at the Cross? Is there any failure for which Christ has not died? If that’s really the case, can we not say, oh, Lord, I come to You?
But part of the problem here was that he had gotten so zoned in on the current state of things and the condition, running back to Sinai, trying to find an answer. And when the Lord finally spoke to him, I’m not gonna get into all the details of that. You remember the wind and the fire and the earthquake and all of that stuff? I’m sure that’s probably what he was looking for, in one sense. But somehow, he recognized when the Lord spoke in a gentle whisper.
Little lesson in that…don’t go looking for God to do the same thing…to do things the same way every time. I don’t care if you go back and say, this is how He did it so that’s how He’s gonna do it. No, this is a different circumstance, and He just came with a gentle whisper.
I’m so glad the Lord didn’t come and say, what’s the matter with you? He did ask him. He said, what are you doing here? And he goes through his spiel again. All this stuff I’ve done, and it’s worthless and I’m the only one left. Now they’re trying to kill me.
And so, the Lord gives him instructions, doesn’t He? That’s one of the answers, to all of this, is that God, get us out of this self-absorption! In the first place, My plan has not failed. The situation is not hopeless as you are sitting here emotionally thinking it is. I’ve wasted my time. The situation is hopeless. There’s nothing left to live for.
Baloney! God is still on His throne! We know that this world is gonna go down, and most of it is gonna go into the fire when it’s over, but God is gonna save every one of His and He’s gonna bring every one of His back, all the way to glory, at the end! You know, the writer to the Hebrews talks about the hope that He’s planted within us as being, “…an anchor for the soul…” I need an anchor, don’t you?
( congregational response ).
Why would a ship need an anchor if everything is calm and peaceful and wonderful? It wouldn’t, would it? But I’ll tell you, in spite of the winds that blow in your life and in mine, if you’ve got a hope that goes beyond what you can do, and the circumstances in which you find yourself, then you’ve got something that’s gonna hold when those times come.
You know, one of the things that, I’m sure plays into this and I know that it plays into depression, in a general sense, is this: it’s false expectations! This is what I expected to happen. This is what the Christian life is supposed to be like, and it’s not. And I feel bad and I don’t have this joy that we’re supposed to have. I don’t feel the emotions that I’m supposed…oh, this was supposed to be wonderful and I’m going through a dark time.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” Are you gonna argue with Him? Now, thankfully, He said, don’t be afraid, I’ve overcome the world. Don’t be dismayed…I forget the exact words. “I have overcome the world.”
Folks, if you’re looking for a smooth path, you’re looking in the wrong place. It’s not in the world, for sure. But if you’re gonna align yourself…allow yourself to be aligned with Jesus Christ, you’re gonna have some dark times. You’re gonna have some challenging times. You’re gonna have times when the Devil will do everything in his power to plant and water that lie, that’s down in here, that’s causing you to be brought down into that low place.
I’ll tell you, we need the truth of God in that hour. We need to exercise ourselves and lift up our hearts and look to Him.
But you know, here’s the other thing that really has come to me over and over again, in different ways, lately. And I said it last week. You could talk about a subject like this, very easily, and list all the ways that fear, that depression comes, all the things that cause it, all of its symptoms. And then you could say, all right now, here’s how you deal with that, and list off all the things that we’re supposed to do to counter that. And every one of them might be true. But that leaves out one extraordinarily, important, critical ingredient. How do I do that?
You know, a psychiatrist could tell you that. Of course, he’ll give you a drug, too. But, a psychiatrist could say, well, here are some steps you could take. Do this and do that and put on a happy face and act different and it’ll all go away. This isn’t about just coming into an equilibrium of emotions and all of that. There’s something deeper God wants to do.
And what He is seeking to do is not simply to rearrange our lives so that they are happy and profitable and spiritual and all that. It’s to live His life in us. There is a ‘putting to death’ of self that His life might come forth in us.
And what I said last week applies so much. Boy, do I need it. Everything God asks of us, everything He instructs us to do, He provides the resources to do it! So, everything we’re talking about this morning that is a needed antidote to falling into this state called depression is something for which we not only do what we know to do, we give Him thanks, we praise Him…we talk about the Word and we meditate on it, but we’re gonna have to always do that with this sense, God, I can’t do this in myself. You do it in me. But this is a real issue, is it not?
( congregational amens ).
But I’ll tell you, we have a real God, who has real answers to your need, wherever you’re at. There’s no way to cover all the stuff you could cover. But I’ll tell you, your answer is in Jesus. Your answer is in the truth of God’s Word being ministered deep in your heart. Your answer is in the fellowship of God’s people. Your answer is turning your eyes away from yourself and to God and to others.
And I’ll tell you, God can help us to live in victory over these things that will assault us, if we let them. We don’t have to live that way. God has the answer! And I’ll tell you, to Him be glory in the church throughout all ages! To Him be glory!
Oh God, what would it be like if we had to live in this world and we didn’t have a hope? We might as well go out and do this. There’s no hope here. More and more people are realizing that and they’re taking their lives. But I’ll tell you, God has got us here for this time and for a purpose. Let’s fulfill that purpose and glorify Him. Praise God!