Sweetarts in Life (2 Samuel 19:4-6)


Do you remember your childhood favorite candies. One of mine was Sweetarts. I remember when they came out. They were a two inch disk that packed the best of both worlds in candy: sweetness and tartness. This candy reminds me much about life: it is filled with sweet events and also events that are tart. Things have changed since then: both my tastes and also the size of the candy, but life is still the same.

For the believer, blessing and sorrow come in the same package, it is in times of deepest hurt and sorrow when God will be present to strengthen and comfort you. The problem for many is that because their focus is so much on the hurt and sorrow, they fail to recognize God’s presence or working in their lives. David experienced just such an event.

But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou hast shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines; In that thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou hast declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well. 2 Samuel 19:4-6

He sorrowed so greatly over the loss of his son that he failed to see his victory blessing and the goodness of the Lord in the people that supported him.

As you face difficulties in your life such as financial strain, an unwanted diagnosis or any type of loss, remember that the event–as a two sided coin–has more that one aspect to it. Trials and struggles will come, but the Lord has promised always to be present with you even in the midst of the struggle and he promises to see that all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)

What you can do as you face trials is to stop and pray to the Lord. Acknowledge that you know he allowed this event to occur and you believe that he wants to work and manifest his presence in the trial. Pray for him to guide you and to help you recognize his workings. Rest assured: although it may take time, he will answer your prayer.

Forget Karma: God is Watching (1 Samuel 26:23)


If the Lord gave you what you really deserved, would you be ready for it? Would you look forward to it with joy or does the thought frighten you? What we fail to recognize is that it is not just a hypothetical question. 

The Lord render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: (1 Samuel 26:23)

These were words spoken by David when he interacted with King Saul who sought to kill him. He knew that God was sovereign and would return upon men that which they have rendered to others. The same still holds true today. The New Testament describes the principle as sowing and reaping. What you sow, you will also reap. It may take some time before it arrives, but it is coming. Just like it takes all summer for apples to grow and ripen on a tree, it may take most of a person’s life before they reap what they sow, but be sure, they will reap.  

Much of this principle concerning sowing and reaping is in relation to how we treat other people. If we sow righteousness towards others, then we will get righteous treatment back, but if we sow wickedness then wickedness awaits us.

Some may ask, “What guideline could I follow that would aid me in sowing righteousness?” The answer would be to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39). If you allow your actions to be motivated by what is best for another person or make decisions that enable you to meet the needs of someone else instead of focusing on yourself, you will most consistently sow righteousness. This doesn’t require you to give all of your money to the poor or even to live a dejected life. It only requires you to start focusing on others instead of yourself. Give somebody recognition. Show patience and mercy, try looking at situations from the other person’s perspective or even take time to listen to people and their problems are opportunities that each of us have to sow righteousness. It will not cost you one penny, but it will be an investment worth millions of dollars.

For you, the world of people is a field ready for planting. What kind of seeds will you sow?

Is Depression a Sin?

Hurt and sorrow are not emotions that you can control and store away. When they are present, it is for reason. Some may suggest that you must turn yourself around or rise above the circumstances of your hurt and sorrow. This may seem correct and may be in part, but as a whole this thinking is in error.

God has given us a comforter and he is able to lift us out of hurt and sorrow or at the least give us joy intermingled with our hurt and sorrow. Sometimes our ability to rise out of sorrow or to experience his joy is limited by two conditions or circumstances. These conditions or circumstances are time and the ministering of truth by another person.

I have heard some say that we are to have joy in the midst of our circumstances. To this I somewhat agree, but recognize the joy may not be experienced right away, but only until after hurt and pain has followed its course.

To illustrate, imagine that a person is severely punched in the face leaving the victim wincing in extreme pain. Immediately afterwards, he was approached by a believer who points out the beautiful sunset and tries to get the victim to rejoice in the power and wonder of God. As you can guess, that most likely is not going to happen.

However after the initial pain begins to subside, the victim may be confused as to why he was rejected and wounded in such a manner and then as he looks to the sunset, lifts his heart to God and rejoices in the fact that he who created such beauty loves him and will always be with him. He eventually rejoiced in his hurt and sorrow, but only after hurt or sorrow followed its course. It is not that he would not rejoice in God, but that he could not at that time rejoice in God.

Another reason why some cannot rejoice in the midst of their hurt and sorrow is because the burden is greater than they can bear. The Lord has promised that he will not allow us to be tempted above that we are able to bear because at the same time he will provide a way of escape. For these individuals, the way of escape is truth.

However while being crushed under the heavy load of hurt and sorrow, the believer may not know the necessary truth needed to overcome or they may not recognize it. It is in these circumstances that other believers are instructed to bear the burden of others. Just as the Holy Spirit (parakletos) comes along side us for comfort, we are to come alongside other believers and help them bear of their burden. We can do this with empathy, love, patience and the sharing of truth that will encourage their heart and point them to the Lord. It is not a truth of telling them what they need to do, but a truth of God upon which their faith can cling. When this occurs, the Holy Spirit can continue to do his work and lift her heart from hurt and sorrow. Rejoicing will follow, but it will only be able to occur as a result of at least one person ministering to another.

Remember how those at Thessalonica were sorrowing over loved ones who have passed away? Did not the apostle Paul come alongside the believers and comfort them with the truth that one day they would be reunited and be together with the Lord? (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18)

Also, did not Paul recognize the man who was being swallowed up with excessive sorrow and experienced this because believers did not exercise the truth of forgiveness when he repented? (2 Corinthians 2:7)

Some may deem the person struggling in hurt and sorrow as being in sin and that their hurt and sorrow, which today we call depression is in fact sin. To say that the person struggling with deep hurt and sorrow is in sin could be a sin in itself. Instead of trying to label and identify people, let us first pray to God and ask him to use us to bring truth to those who for the time being are struggling with hurt and sorrow so that their faith may cling to this truth and bring the comfort in the midst of their hurt and sorrow.

Propped Up (Psalm 37:23-24)



A number of years ago, my son came to me for help. It seemed that through a series of wrong decisions, he had found himself in a very poor state spiritually: sin seems to do that. Although I was greatly disappointed, I willfully stepped in to help. My support was not based on the severity of his situation, but instead on my love for him.   

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. Psalms 37:23-24

From this passage, we can see that good men, walking in the direction of the Lord, will fall and it is not of their own volition that they get back up and continue on for the Lord. They don’t get up: in fact it is the Lord who lifts them up and supports them to stand again.

You have seen card board cut outs of people, which contain a prop in the back to keep it standing. This item illustrates what the Lord does for us. When we can’t get up, he picks us up. When we cannot stand, he props us up. Whatever victory we get, it will not be based on our self will or determination. It will be based on the goodness of God and his support and strength in our lives.

When you fall, instead of trying harder, look to God for the support and strength you need. He will be there for you and do the work that only he can do.

As for my son, he too found strength that only God could bring to him. He stood him up, established his feet and has been guiding him to victory ever since.

Fainted and Scattered (Matthew 9:36)

It is not difficult for anyone to see that the lives of so many people today are just a mess. How did they get this way? Why don’t they just get it together and do whatever needs to be done?

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

From this passage, it appears that people become weak in life’s struggle and instead of continuing to fight on, they relax their resistance and faint. When this occurs, the person’s life then becomes subject to the problems and trials of life. Their lives get tossed about from side to side being cast about and cast down. This does not occur as a result of the weakness of the individual, because none of us have the ability to stand against the enemy. This occurs because of the absence of a shepherd in the person’s life. Sometimes there is not a shepherd because salvation has not yet been experienced, but other times it is because the person becomes estranged from their shepherd savior. Whether it be by confusion of doctrine, ill treatment from those in the body of Christ, person hurts and losses or sin: the separation occurs.

Today there are countless believers tossed about. They are away from their shepherd and the way to bring them back into the fold is to love them back. Bearing their burdens (Galatians 6:2) is the act of you bringing your strength to those who are weak until they can once again gain the strength for living that can only come from their shepherd.

As We Hope in Thee (Psalm 33:22)

My son, Anthony, was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. Needless to say being spoiled was a regular occurrence. As that special one, he learned ways to get people to do for him what he wanted. I remember when he was around 12 years old he asked my sister, Lori, for something. It kind of went like this. In the little boy voice he spoke growing up he said, “Aunt ‘Ore…” Regardless of what followed, he already had her reeled in. He just had a way with my sister that regularly resulted in benefits to him. We too can have a way with God.

Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee. (Psalms 33:22)

Trying to change or become a better Christian isn’t going to be enough to get God to work. Granted, sin can hinder our prayers from being answered, but striving to be a better christian will not be enough because even when you believe you are at your best, you are still a sinner and have sin. But when we hope in the Lord, which occurs when we look to him, it is then that he responds to us in mercy.
When we look to God and rely completely on him, he moves in mercy. Not because we reached a plateau of holiness or because we have risen above the masses of sinners, but because of his mercy he works. When we recognize our condition of falling short and being needy and look to God as our only source of help, God reaches down and works in mercy and love on our behalf.

How Can I Help (Psalm 142:3)



The Psalmist had a distorted view of God.  Even though God was his source of hope and trust, he believed that his way was only revealed to God after he became overwhelmed.  

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. (Psalms 142:3)

What his words failed to reveal is the belief that God knows the end from the beginning.  Before God created the heavens and the earth, he knew each step that the psalmist would take in his life and for every situation.  What can we do to help people like him?

The psalmist was overwhelmed because of the circumstance that surrounded him.  From his word, we can learn what a believer experiences and what we can do to help him.

There are six key words or phrases in this passage which are important for understand what he is experiencing and how to provide help.

Know – to scrutinize

Cared – to seek or ask, make inquest

Refuge – way to flee

Portion – inheritance

Brought very low – bring down, pull down push down

Prison – shutting up, fastener

The psalmist was stating that he was overwhelmed because nobody scrutinized the situations in his life.  They did not ask or seek about his condition nor did they provide a way of escape.  He felt alone, pushed down and shut up in that place.

What can we do?  We can observe people and ask the Lord to reveal to us the trials and difficulties that they are facing.  We can overcome our fears and reach out to them by speaking to them and asking questions directed at their needs.  When we understand what they are facing and how they feel, we can point them to God, who is their refuge and strengthen them in the understanding their right to claim God and his provision of refuge as their own.  Pray together with them and then continue on your own in your private prayers.