Archive | January 2013

21 Days to Beat Depression – Day 11


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“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.” – Romans 12:10-12

The story of Esther Ahn Kim continues.  If you missed the first part of her story, please read the blog post for Day 10 in “21 Days to Beat Depression!”

            Esther was imprisoned with 34 other Christians including a pastor whose faith was unshakable.  On the day that Esther was taken to prison, she held her dear mother’s hands and looked into her mother’s calm yet radiant face, “Now I’m going to enter the advanced course in the college of faith.  Christ Himself is the Principal, so I am sure He will teach me about true faith.  Isn’t that wonderful?”

“You must follow Him completely,” Esther’s mother responded while knowing that she would never see her daughter this side of heaven again.  “If you are to learn from Him, you must lose your life so that Jesus may live within you.  That will mean death to yourself every day, every hour, and every minute.”

Esther and her fellow prisoners discovered the joy of the Lord while physically imprisoned in the cesspool of human bitterness and rebellion.  Esther’s journal recounts the great joy and peace that was found among the Christian prisoners:

“We were all filled with the Holy Spirit and were convinced it was more than an honor to die for the Lord.  We constantly lived in fear of our guards but we were happy and satisfied, envying no one.  Having prayed all night, Pastor would often stand up in joy, dancing and singing, while tears ran down his cheeks.”

Let’s read on in Esther Ahn Kim’s prison journal:

“It was a joyous blessing to have been born in such a place and for such a time.  I realized that it was because of this persecution that I was able to truly experience God’s presence where there is fullness of joy!”

Esther shared a prison cell with seven other Christian women and they spent their waking hours praying, singing and quoting the Word of God to one another.  A deranged woman who had lost her mind to mental illness lived in solitary confinement in a cell just down the hallway from the cell shared by the Christian women.  This woman had killed her abusive husband and had chopped his body into little pieces before being found.  She screamed and yelled shrill profanities all day and all night while the Christians prayed and sang.

One day, Esther Ahn Kim, humbly asked the prison guards if they would bring the mad and demented woman to live in her cell with the 7 Christian woman.  The guards were only too happy to do it because they felt that it would be a mocking test for the Christian women.

Esther Ahn held this woman’s excrement-caked legs for 72 hours straight so that she would not kill anyone in the tiny prison cell.  The women gently ministered to her, wiped her face lovingly and spoke words of endearment and comfort over her tortured soul.  At last, when the fog of mental illness lifted, Esther Ahn led this woman to Jesus who then encountered a clarity of mind and will that was nothing short of miraculous.

When this formerly insane woman, who was now a vision of peace and joy, was led to her persecution, she turned to Esther Ahn Kim and said, “I’ll see you at home!”

How are you treating the difficult people in your life?  Do you invite them into your home and minister to them?  Most of us ignore the difficult people in our lives and when faced with a moment in their presence, we choose to belittle them and un-friend them.  The life of Esther Ahn Kim propels me into taking a long, hard look at how I treat the challenging people along life’s way.  If I am to be a radiant example of God’s love for me, I must gently minister to these fractious pieces of humanity and show them unconditional love.  This is why I am still alive: to reach out in genuine kindness to someone made in the image of God.

Esther Ahn Kim lost most of her sight while in prison and was tortured and beaten too many times to count.  Her teeth fell out during her imprisonment and her toes and fingers suffered severe frost-bite, but she walked out of prison in 1945 singing,

“All hail the power of Jesus’ Name, let angels prostrate fall!

Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of All!”

Will you be remembered for the song of your heart or the screech of your life?  We all will leave a legacy that is determined by our daily emotional choices.  The emotional and spiritual legacy with which you choose to endow the following generations, is more important than the finances, houses or lands that you leave.  As you gaze upon the emotional smorgasbord that your culture, your family heritage and your circumstances offer for the substance of your life, always remember that difficult people may be your greatest gift in attaining the character and the heart of Christ.

MAKING IT PRACTICAL –

1 – Who is your difficult person?  Are you allowing this person to rob you of the joy that comes from the presence of the Lord?  Pray for this difficult person today.  And then, ask the Lord to show you how you can be a blessing to this difficult person in a practical way.  Perhaps you could send them an encouraging e-mail or take this person out for coffee.  Do it!  Do it today!

2 – I will give you a break today … you only need to come up with 3 things for which you are deeply grateful … not 5!  Write them in your “Thanksgiving in January and February” journal and share them with others on social media. #beatdepression!

DECLARATION –

I declare that I will not lose my joy due to difficult people who are in my life.  I will be a demonstration of the love and compassion of the Lord in these relationships!  I can do it because I am fully loved by the Father!

PRAYER FOR TODAY –

“Lord Jesus, I love You so much.  Thank You for the people whom you have strategically placed in my life.  I pray today that these people will not bring out the worst in me but that they will bring out the Jesus in me!  And, as always, Lord, I thank You for the joy that only comes from Your presence!  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.”

To My Oldest Sons…

matt and chrisDear Matt and Chris,

This week you both had birthdays … dates on the calendar that probably mean more to me than they do to you.

calendar page

January 29, 1981.

January 27, 1983.

You were born 2 years and 2 days apart.  And so, every year as I mark the months of January and early February, my heart goes back to those days of being 9 months pregnant and waiting with such anticipation.

I recall counting your tiny fingers and toes and breathing in your new-born breath … so fresh from heaven.  I would delight in the night time feedings and rejoice in the miracle that each of you were to me.

My heart remembers the joy of little boy birthday parties, the neighborhood friends who loved our home and celebrating all of the ways that I loved being your mom.  I remember hearing the constant pounding of the basketball on the cement of the driveway and the World Series grand slam home runs that were hit in our front yard at 803 East Academy Street.

Now you are men … passionate in your callings.  You are husbands and fathers … truly men of excellence who are making profound and lasting marks in your chosen professions.

So is my job done?  Am I finished with each of you?  I think not … I think that there is still some wisdom inside of your mom that each of your lives might just ache for.  You might know that you are aching for what is in me … and that is o.k.

You might believe that you are on your own with no need of maternal care or input but I know better.

I know that there will always be a part of you that grows when it comes in contact with me … the one who nestled your life before you could live without my presence.

I know that although you have wives and children of your own there is a part of you that comes home when you look into my eyes.

And so … on this the celebration of your 30th and 32nd birthdays, let me give you a few gifts.  Let me tell you why I believe you are here.

You are here to add to the grand legacy that is family.  You are here to carry on for your grandfathers.  You are here to live up to the McLeod and Burton names.  They are honorable names. Wear them well.

You are here to work hard and to make a difference with the gifts that are intrinsically “you”.

You are here to fall and get up again.  And again and again and again.  There is no shame in failure as long as you get up.  Again and again and again.

You are here to love unabashedly and passionately the lives whom you have been given.

Emily and Liz.  The wives for whom your Dad and I have prayed since the day you were each born.

Bring your wife flowers for no reason at all.  Do the dishes and let her relax.  Rub her feet when she is tired and tell her she is beautiful every day.  Read the Bible with her and pray for her.  Take her on dates and listen when she talks.

And then there are the little ones.  The next generation which you are producing.

Olivia, Wesley, Boyce and Amelia Grace.

Give to them the gift of your whole heart  …  holding nothing back.  Laugh with them and play endless games together.  Read books to them when they should be in bed.  Hold them when they cry and kiss them when they are lonely.  Give them something to laugh about every day.  Make sure that the highlight of their day is when Daddy comes home.

You are the only husband and daddy that they will ever have.  Don’t settle for good … be great at this!  If you are great at nothing else at all … be a great husband and father.

You are here to be role models and heroes to your J’s … those younger siblings who have always had each of you on a pedestal.  Jordan, Joy and Joni, although now young adults, still crave your attention.  You are here to nurture those relationships with your younger brother and sisters as if they were your best friends.  Because they are.

carol and mattcarol and chris

You are here to serve God at this time in history.  You are here to be a Daniel and a Joseph.  A David and a Moses.  In every generation, God needs men like you.  He needs men who have excellent spirits and men who refuse to cave into the call of their culture.  God needs men who will face giants and still sing in the night.  God needs men who will lead in the wilderness and hear His voice.

I loved being your mom then and I love being your mom now.  You are always in my heart –

All my love …

Mama

21 Days to Beat Depression – Day 10


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“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4

Esther Ahn Kim was born in Korea in the early 20th Century when there was a radical political struggle occurring between Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

The day that Esther was born was a day of great disappointment for her family because she was a girl and not a boy.  As Esther’s bitter and displeased father held her thin and sickly body in the palm of his hand, somehow he found it within himself to declare, “Poor baby, don’t die.  But be a great person.”

Esther’s mother had been introduced to the Jesus of the Bible by American missionaries when she was a young girl; Esther’s father worshipped the Shinto idols.  As Esther grew into a young woman, she observed in her mother great joy and peace.  However, in her father’s side of the family there was a legacy of anger, bitterness and hatred.  The dichotomy in which Esther was raised had the power to wound her for life but Esther chose to nestle into the faith of her mother and so found protection from the rejection and hatred expressed by her father.

Esther Ahn Kim’s mother had no Bible but remembered 4 principles taught to her by the American missionaries:

1 – Jesus is the only Son of God and is the only Savior.

2 – Jesus will never forsake His believers.

3 – Jesus is able to take all of our misfortunes and turn them into good.

4 – Jesus hears the prayers of His children.

In 1939, when Esther was a young music teacher, although she taught in a Christian school, shrine worship was forced upon her.  The authorities forced everyone in Korea, and especially the Christians, to worship at the feet of their gods.  As Esther made her way up the mountain with her class of girls, Esther purposed in her heart that she would never bow before the idols but only at the feet of Jesus, her Savior.

When Esther made that decision, peace filled her heart and she could barely keep from singing!  She was thrilled not to live her youthful life for herself but as a fragrant offering to the Lord.  Esther was even joyful that she had been born in such an age of bitterness and conflict.

Esther had to go to the mountain or her principal and perhaps her students would be tortured.  She marched toward her fiery furnace while a civil war raged in her young soul.

“Attention!”  The shrill voice on the public address system drilled into Esther’s heart.  Hundreds of thousands of people straightened line by line, accustomed to enforced subservience.  “Our profoundest bow to the sun-goddess!”

As if one uninterrupted person, the massive crowd of humanity obeyed the shouted order and bowed solemnly and deeply to the caricature of the divine.  Only one remained erect with her face looking toward heaven and her hands reaching toward the sky in worship.  Esther Ahn Kim refused to cave into a diabolical and angry culture.  She worshipped the God of all creation while others bowed in fear to fiction.

Because Esther was a teacher, she was considered a leader in her community and was constantly watched by the officials.  The military was waiting for her when she returned to her classroom and four burley men led this tiny young lady toward prison.  By a miracle of God, she was able to escape from jail and returned to her mother’s home.

Esther Ahn Kim

“The Japanese were crushing untold numbers of believers under their cruel, iron heel in Korea, but actually they had to stand powerless before the Lord.  Just as the stars in the sky would not change, God’s laws would not change.  I wished to shine in the black night sky of my beloved country like a changeless star.”

Her mother prepared her for the torturous rigors of prison and during these days of preparation, Esther memorized hundreds of chapters in the well-worn family Bible.  She slept without a quilt to prepare herself for the cold and discomfort of prison and ate rotten fruit in order to adjust her digestive system for the substandard food that would be fed to her while in confinement.  Esther fasted for days at a time to strengthen her resolve that she would live through her time in prison.

Esther was not afraid of dying but was afraid of being tortured and not dying.  When Esther Ahn talked with her mother about her fears of prison and the weakness of her soul, her mother responded with this wisdom that is still applicable today, “It might even be a truer picture of the believer to agonize, to suffer, to be hated and tortured, and even to be killed in obeying God’s words rather than to live an ordinary, uneventful life.”

As Esther and her mother hid in the cold, Korean mountains while preparing Esther for what was ahead of her, Esther would often roam the uninhabited rugged wilderness around their borrowed cabin.  It was during this time of preparation that Esther Ahn found the strength and joy of singing to the Lord.  She sang the great hymns of the faith that thousands had sung before her:

“Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;

Were not the right man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing.

Dost ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus it is He, Lord Sabaoth His Name,

from age to age the same, and He must win the battle.”

I have discovered as did Esther Ahn Kim, that the ability to worship during the worst days of my life is an unconquerable strategy for both spiritual and emotional victory.  My friend, when you can’t do anything else … you can sing!  When you are weakened by the onslaught of people and events … you can sing!  When the bills are not paid and the doctor only has bad news … you can still sing!  When you are deep in the throes of grief and the mental anxious is toxic … you can still sing!

Esther Ahn’s story will be continued tomorrow in Day 11 of “21 Days to Beat Depression!”

MAKING IT PRACTICAL –

1 – As you have read the first part of the story of Esther Ahn Kim, did you realize that you have brought the pain of yesterday into your present life?  It is time to leave the pain and dysfunction of your past behind and enjoy the gift of today.  Write down 3 happy childhood memories that you have.  Think about those things today.

2 – “Thanksgiving in January and February!” is calling your name!  You thought it was difficult coming up with 3 things to be thankful for daily?!  Today … just for one day … let’s come up with 5 new things for which we are grateful!  And, as always, share some of them with your friends and family on Facebook or on Twitter.  #beatdepression!

DECLARATION –

I declare today that I will not be in bondage to the pain of my past!  I declare that today is a new day that the Lord has made and I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!

PRAYER FOR TODAY –

“Lord Jesus, I love You so much and I want to tell You today that You are the reason that I live.  You are the reason that I sing!  Thank You for the song and for the life that You have so graciously given to me.  I purpose to serve You, and only You, all of the days of my life!  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.”

21 Days to Beat Depression – Day 9

Free Scripture booklet cover web“You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the Word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” – I Thessalonians 1:6

You know … there is just something about the Bible that is able to deliver joy in the very worst of times.  There is something miraculously indescribable about the work that the Word of God can do in the most wounded of hearts.

Do you want to know what I believe?  I believe that when the Holy Spirit wrote I Thessalonians through Paul … He didn’t just have the church in Thessalonica in mind … but the Holy Spirit had YOU in mind!!

While you are going through a time of tribulation and thus discouragement and perhaps depression … you need the joy that only the Word of God and the Holy Spirit can deliver!

May I share some of my favorite Scriptures with you today?  I pray that these verses taken from the greatest Book of all time will do more to heal your soul than the most powerful anti-depressant, the best earthly psychologist or even an IV of chocolate!!

“Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart.” – Jeremiah 15:16

“My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Your Word.” – Psalm 119:28

“I shall delight in Your commandments, which I love.  And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, which I love; and I will meditate on Your statutes.” – Psalm 119:47 & 48

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The Word of God will strengthen you in ways that nothing else has the power to  because the Bible is a rich power source like no other!  It is better than an excellent counselor, a best friend, a good book or even a loving husband.  Never underestimate the healthy emotional life that can be attained simply by reading the Bible!  When you are weeping or when you are grieving … the very first place that you should turn is to the Word!

And then … hunker down and stay in that place until you are filled with the supernatural, incomparable, miraculous power of heaven!  And then … stay there longer!

So many Christians, when they are going through a challenging time emotionally, lay their Bibles aside with these sorry excuses:

“I am too weary too read … I am too shell-shocked to read … I am too depressed to read the Bible.”

The very time that you need what only the Word can offer is precisely when you are weary … shell-shocked … and depressed!

The Word of God is your comfort when you are going through a fire so please don’t set it aside but wring the truth and joy out of it every single day of your life.

And now … if you will excuse me … I need to go and read my Bible!

MAKING IT PRACTICAL –

1 – What is your favorite Bible verse?  Take the time today to share it with someone in your life.  You might want to share it on Facebook or through Twitter with #beatdepression.  Or, simply share it with a family member or a friend.  Their life will be enriched and encouraged by your gift of hope!

2 – Three more things!  You can do it!  List three more things for which you are thankful today!  Don’t forget: #beatdepression!

DECLARATION –

I declare today that the Word of God is doing a miracle inside of me!  I declare that as I read God’s Word that it is healing me and setting me free from depression!  I declare that the Bible is bringing me the gift of joy!

PRAYER FOR TODAY –

Jesus, I love You so much and today, I thank You for the Bible.  Thank You when the Holy Spirit was writing the Bible through the men whom you chose, that You were thinking about me.  Thank You that the Bible has the power to heal me and to enable me to walk in Your joy!  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.”

21 Days to Beat Depression – Day 8

Free Scripture booklet cover web

“But the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22 & 23

Joy is not a natural response to life but it is a supernatural, Christ-like response to life.  That is why the Bible calls “joy” a “fruit of the Spirit” and not of your personality.  Joy is not a knee-jerk reaction to your circumstances but it is a miraculous moment in a dark and dying world when His presence is revealed through your life.  The joy that you experience and demonstrate is birthed from a relationship with Him.

You were not made for depression or to demonstrate a critical spirit; you were not made for gossip or for bitterness.  You were not made to give your husband the silent treatment, to create friction in the church or to yell in anger at your children.  You were made for joy!

God made your human body to be a perfect carrier for the joy of heaven’s reality while living in the soil of humanity.  You are a perfect fit for His joy!  He made you so that He could fill your life with all of the joy that was missing on earth during your tenure here.  Don’t waste one more day filled with discouragement, depression or sadness!  Plant yourself in His presence until you know that you know that you know that you are filled to overflowing with one of the greatest miracles that humankind has ever experienced:  the miracle of joy!

What would happen if rather than putting gas in the tank of my car that I decided to save a little bit of money and fill the gas tank with sand instead?  Not only would I never reach my destination but I would also ruin the car!  This is also a very sad picture of what happens when Christians try to run their lives by filling up on depression, anger or bitterness.  You will never reach your destination in life and you just might ruin your opportunity to live a life of meaning and purpose while on earth.

You were designed to be a fruit-bearing Christian!  You will never bear the fruit that you were designed to bear unless you hang out with Jesus.  Every day … all day long just marinate in Who He is and all that He has for you.  Fertilize your life with the Word of God, with worship and with prayer.  To the extent that Jesus occupies your whole being is the extent to which you will produce joy!

MAKING IT PRACTICAL

1 – Today, go back through the first 7 days of “21 Days to Beat Depression!” and re-read the Scripture verse from each day.  After you have done that, turn on a favorite worship CD and spend some time just thanking God for Who He is and for what He has done for you.

2 – Guess what?!  It’s time to be thankful again!  Get out your “Thanksgiving in January and February” journal and record 3 more things for which you are grateful.  Maybe there were no bills in the mail today … that’s something for which you can thank God!  Maybe you had tomato soup for lunch and it is your very favorite!  Maybe God spoke to you while you were reading this devotional plan.  And … don’t forget … publicize your gratitude with #beatdepression!

DECLARATION

I declare today that I am a carrier of heaven’s joy!  My life, from this day forward, will bring joy to a lost and dying world.  I declare that depression and discouragement will not fill the empty spaces in my life but that joy will be my chief commodity!  When people take a bite of my life … they will taste joy!

PRAYER FOR TODAY –

Father, I love You!  I love everything about You!  I am honored that You would trust me to carry the joy of heaven!  I know that I have made mistakes in the past and allowed the darkness of my pain to fill my heart, but I thank You that today is a new day of joy.  Fill me today with the joy of Your presence.  In the matchless Name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.”

21 Days to Beat Depression – Day 7

Please enjoy this instrumental version of “I Choose Joy!”, by Kerri Guerin as you read today’s blog post.

Free Scripture booklet cover web“For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 14:17

One day, during college, I had a very intimidating appointment with the provost of the Christian university that I attended.  I had requested to change my major rather late in my college career, and this great man wanted to make sure that I knew the impact it might have on my ability to graduate on time.  His secretary called the phone in my dorm room and notified me of the day and time that I was to arrive.

As I walked up to the sixth floor of the academic building, my mouth was dry, I was sick to my stomach and my knees were loudly knocking.  What was I thinking?!  How could I presume to make a decision so foolish that the provost was calling me to his personal office?!

When I reached the sequestered area of the building where this great man worked, his secretary escorted me into his prestigious office.  She informed me that he would be in shortly and I could have a seat.

As I looked around his office that day, I saw certificates and diplomas from some of the most celebrated institutions of higher learning of the day.  He had earned more academic degrees in his singular life time than my entire family, including aunts, uncles and cousins, had ever even thought of earning!

But the framed picture that captivated me was not a diploma nor was it a certificate.  It was not a picture of the provost shaking hands with a statesmen or a scholar.  The
picture that sent a thrill to the deepest part of my heart was a picture of Jesus … with His head thrown back in laughter and a contagious smile spread from ear to ear.  Underneath this picture was the scripture, “Your God rejoices over you!”

Did you realize that joy is one of the grand attributes of God Himself?  Joy is an integral part of the character of God.  There is a deep delight in all that He does and a genuine enthusiasm in everything that He undertakes.

What is it that causes God to be filled with joy?  The answer will humble you … you are what fills the God of the universe with joy!  God rejoices over you just as a young bridegroom rejoices over his precious bride.

God is so glad to have a relationship with you that He is found singing over you!

We serve a God whose very Kingdom is identified with the exclamatory word, “Joy!”  Will you enter into His Kingdom today?  Will you join in the celebration with thousands of saints who have passed before you?  Will you live and dwell in the Kingdom of Joy while you are yet on planet earth?

While your feet 

are on earthly soil and you breath the atmosphere of a fallen world, it is time for your heart and your emotions to understand that you are living in the most joyful Kingdom of all … the Kingdom of the One Who rejoices over you!

MAKING IT PRACTICAL –

1 – Every day is Thanksgiving in the Kingdom of joy!  In your “Thanksgiving in January and February” journal, make a daily entry of the three things for which you are thankful.  Don’t forget that part of the joy of being thankful is sharing those things with others so share it on Facebook or on Twitter with the hashtag “beatdepression!”

2 – Pray for a person in your life who has wounded you or hurt you.  Pray that God will bless this person and heal their soul.  Pray that God will put men and women of God in his or her life in order to draw this person nearer to the heart of the Father.

DECLARATION-

I declare today that I live in the Kingdom of joy!  I declare that I will bask in the promise that my Father rejoices over me.  I declare that I will join in the celebratory atmosphere of the Kingdom in which I live!

PRAYER FOR TODAY –

“Jesus, I love You so much today.  I pray that the joy of Your Kingdom will wash over my life in extraordinary ways.  I pray that I will hear the song of the Father as He sings over my life today.  You are a good God and it is my delight and joy to serve You today!  In the Name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.”

21 Days to Beat Depression – Day 6

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Free Scripture booklet cover web“And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 13:52

I’d like to tell you a story today about two men who were in the throes of desperate and tragic circumstances.  They were even in the ministry … telling others about Jesus Christ … and yet they were not immune to trauma and disappointment.  If you would like to, you can read their story in Acts 16:22-30.

Paul and Silas, two of the New Testament disciples, had been beaten by an unruly and angry mob until they were bruised and bleeding.  Their clothes had been violently torn from their bodies and they were sorely in need of medical attention. Paul and Silas, these two great men of God who were traveling the ancient world proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, were thrown into a Roman prison and their feet were locked into stocks.

A Roman prison was a place of nearly instant mental illness; it only took a few nights in this fetid, black place to lose one’s mind.  Set down in the belly of the earth, an ancient prison was a place that reeked of urine and vomit.  Prisoners received only one meal per day that consisted of moldy bread accompanied by tepid, dirty water that had already been used for other, unmentionable things.

Every time that a guard would bring food, he would make sure to kick the prisoner in a place that it would do the most damage and bring the most pain.  Roman prisoners would sit in their own excrement day after endless day.  And then there were the varmints and insects that continually crawled over the body of a prisoner.  Spiders would crawl in and out of the prisoner’s nostrils while rats roamed freely across other private areas of the prisoner’s unprotected body.

“But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God …” – Acts 16:25

At about midnight, in this Roman prison, when most people would choose to give up in despair and sink into depression, Paul and Silas found joy!  They discovered it in the putrid smell of prison and in the dank and damp of hopelessness.  They discovered joy with their feet bound in purposeless and in the sewage of their own existence.

Paul and Silas chose to worship Jesus at the very worst moment of their life.  Paul and Silas found joy!  Now … what’s your excuse?!

As Christians, we have a responsibility … yes … a divine duty even … to meet the very worst that life offers with a joy that is defiant!

When you choose to break out into unrestrained worship at the midnight hour of your life, watch out!  Heaven may begin to rock the foundations of your life in order to set you free from the circumstances that bind you.

MAKING IT PRACTICAL –

1 – Make an entry in your “Thanksgiving in January and February!” list with 3 blessings that you recognize as being from the hand of the Father.  Don’t forget – others want to hear what you are thankful for as well so mention them on Twitter or on Facebook with a #beatdepression!

2 – What is your favorite worship song?  If you don’t have a copy of it, find it on “YouTube”, on “Pandora Radio” or on Spotify and listen to it at least one time.  Let the word of the music roll over your soul and encourage you in the Lord.  Now … listen to it again and sing along and lift your hands in worship.  There … didn’t that feel good?!

DECLARATION –

I declare that today, no matter how black my circumstances seem, that like Paul and Silas I will sing!  I rejoice in You, today, Father and give You my highest praise!

PRAYER FOR TODAY –

Father God, I love You so very much today.  Thank You that I can lift my voice and my hands in worship to You.  I thank You that as I worship, the chains of depression and despondency are being broken in my life.  I thank You that You are ushering me into a new day of joy and gladness and rejoicing!  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.”