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Im4God Newsletter 03.23.06@

Welcome to the Im4God.org / Songbook.ManuelAdam.com March 23rd, 2006 Newsletter!
You can email Webservant Peter J. Louie by replying to this message.

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Jeremiah 2:13

For my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
   the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
   broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Isaiah 55:1-5

"Come, everyone who thirsts,
   come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
   come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
   without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
   and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
   and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
   hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
   my steadfast, sure love for David.
Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
   a leader and commander for the peoples.
Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
   and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
   for he has glorified you.

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Undoing the Destruction of Pleasure... by Dr. John Piper

Is Christianity opposed to pleasure?  In this lecture, Piper explains the difference between deceitful pleasures and pleasures forevermore.

http://boss.streamos.com/real/swn/oneplace/rm/dg/static/dg20030004.ram
First time? You may need to download software to play .ram files.
Audio from Desiring God Radio.

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To Know Joy:
Excerpts from Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure

By D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Perhaps there is nothing so frequently encountered as a cause of spiritual depression and unhappiness in the Christian life as this very problem of feelings. Where do they come in, and what should they be? People are constantly troubled about the matter, and I am sure that all who have ever been engaged in pastoral work will agree that there is no particular subject that brings people so often to the pastor as this very problem of feelings.

I regard it as a great part of my calling in the ministry to emphasize the priority of the mind and the intellect in connection with the faith; but though I maintain that, I am equally ready to assert that the feelings, the emotions, the sensibilities obviously are of very vital importance. We have been made in such a way that they play a dominant part in our make-up. Indeed, I suppose that one of the greatest problems in our life in this world, not only for Christians, but for all people, is the right handling of our feelings and emotions. Oh, the havoc that is wrought and the tragedy, the misery and the wretchedness that are to be found in the world simply because people do not know how to handle their own feelings! Man is so constituted that the feelings are in this very prominent position, and indeed, there is a very good case for saying that perhaps the final thing which regeneration and the new birth do for us is just to put the mind and the emotions and the will in their right positions.

Where do feelings come in, what is their place, what should be their position in the Christian experience? I would put to you a number of general statements in this connection. First and foremost, obviously, in a truly Christian experience, the feelings must be engaged. They are meant to be involved. We saw that when we considered that great statement ["that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed." (Ro 6:17)] The whole emphasis there is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is so great and glorious that it takes up the whole man and not merely a part of man.

You cannot read through your New Testament without seeing at a glance that joy is meant to be an essential part of the Christian experience. One of the most striking things that conversion does is to take us out of some horrible pit, some miry clay and establish our feet upon a rock, and establish our goings and to put a new song in our mouth. Feelings are meant to be engaged, and when the gospel comes to us it does involve the whole man. It moves his mind and he sees its glorious truths, it moves his heart in the same way, and it moves his will.

There is nothing that is quite so variable about us as our feelings. We are very variable creatures, and our feelings are, of everything that belongs to us, the most variable of all.... We must have been amazed at ourselves many times that, on waking up in the morning, we find ourselves in a mood or condition quite different from the day before. Nothing you know of accounts for it. Yesterday you may have been perfectly happy and you went to sleep anticipating another great and glorious day, but you find yourself in the morning waking up depressed and in a wrong mood. Suddenly, without any explanation, you just find yourself like that. Now that is the essence of the problem. In other words, our feelings are variable, and I would emphasize the danger of being controlled by them.

Our feelings are always seeking to control us, and unless we realize this, they will undoubtedly do so. That is what we mean when we talk about moods and moodiness. The mood seems to descend upon us. We do not want it, but there it is. Now the danger is to allow it to control and grip us. We wake up in a bad mood in the morning, and the tendency is to go on like this throughout the day and to remain like that until something happens to put us right. There is a great instance of that in the Old Testament in the case of Saul, king of Israel. Our danger is to submit ourselves to our feelings and to allow them to dictate to us, to govern and to master us and to control the whole of our lives.

If you are at all depressed at this moment you should make certain that there is no obvious cause for the absence of joyous feelings. For instance, if you are guilty of sin, you are going to be miserable. "The way of the transgressor is hard." If you break God's laws and violate his rules you will not be happy. If you think that you can be a Christian and exert your own will and follow your own likes and dislikes, your Christian life is going to be a miserable one. There is no need to argue about it, it follows as the night the day, that if you are harbouring some favourite sin, if you are holding on to something that the Holy Spirit is condemning through your conscience, you will not be happy. And there is only one thing to do, confess it, acknowledge it, repent, go to God at once and confess your sin, open your heart, bare your soul, tell him all about it, hold nothing back and then believe that because you have done so, he forgives you. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." If unconfessed sin is the cause of your unhappiness I should be wasting my time and yours by going on with my list of other causes.

Avoid the mistake of concentrating overmuch upon your feelings. Above all, avoid the terrible error of making them central. Now I am never tired of repeating this because I find so frequently that this is a cause of stumbling. Feelings are never meant to take the first place, they are never meant to be central. If you put them there you are of necessity doomed to be unhappy, because you are not following the order that God himself has ordained. Feelings are always the result of something else, and how anyone who has ever read the Bible can fall into that particular error passes my comprehension. The Psalmist has put it in the 34th Psalm. He says: "Taste and see that the Lord is good." You will never see until you have tasted; you will not know it, you will not feel it until you have tasted; you will not know it, you will not feel it until you have tried it. "Taste and see", it follows as the night the day. Seeing before tasting is impossible. That is something that is constantly emphasized everywhere in Scriptures. After all, what we have in the Bible is Truth; it is not an emotional stimulus, it is not something primarily concerned to give us a joyful experience. It is primarily Truth, and Truth is addressed to the mind, God's supreme gift to man; and it is as we apprehend and submit ourselves to the truth that the feelings follow. I must never ask myself in the first instance: What do I feel about this? The first question is, Do I believe it? Do I accept it, has it gripped me? Very well, that is what I regard as perhaps the most important rule of all, that we must not concentrate overmuch upon our feelings. Do not spend too much time feeling your own pulse, taking your own spiritual temperature; do not spend too much time analyzing your feelings. That is the high road to morbidity.

This whole matter is very subtle and the subtlety often comes in this way. You read the lives of the great saints of all the centuries and you will find that every one has emphasized the importance of self-examination. Irrespective of what particular view of theology they may have held, they are all one at this point. They urge that we must examine ourselves, that we must search our own hearts. Now the very fact that they have done so has meant that naturally and inevitably we, too, have to look at our feelings. They want us to make sure that we are not mere intellectualists who are interested in arguing about theology. They want to make sure that we are not moralists who are just interested in a code of morals. But the tendency always is that in following them we make too much of the feelings.

We must recognize that there is all the difference in the world between rejoicing and feeling happy. The Scripture tells us that we should always rejoice. Take the lyrical Epistle of Paul to the Philippians where he says: "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice." He goes on saying it. To rejoice is a command, yes, but here is all the difference in the world between rejoicing and being happy. You cannot make yourself happy, but you can make yourself rejoice, in the sense that you will always rejoice in the Lord. Happiness is something within ourselves, rejoicing is "in the Lord." How important it is then, to draw the distinction between rejoicing in the Lord and feeling happy. Take the fourth chapter of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. There you will find that the great Apostle puts it all very plainly and clearly in that series of extraordinary contrasts which he makes: "We are troubled on every side (I don't think he felt very happy at the moment) yet not distressed," "we are perplexed (he wasn't feeling happy at all at that point) but not in despair," "persecuted but not forsaken," "cast down, but not destroyed" and so on. In other words the Apostle does not suggest a kind of happy person in the carnal sense, but he was still rejoicing. That is the difference between the two conditions.

Your business and mine is not to stir up our feelings, it is to believe. We are never told anywhere in Scripture that we are saved by our feelings; we are told that we are saved by believing. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Never once are feelings put in the primary position. Now this is something we can do. I cannot make myself happy, but I can remind myself of my belief. I can exhort myself to believe, I can address my soul as the Psalmist did in Psalm 42: "Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why are thou disquieted within me? Hope thou"... believe thou, trust thou. That is the way. And then our feelings will look after themselves.

If you want to be truly happy and blessed, if you would like to know true joy as a Christian, here is the prescription "Blessed (truly happy) are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness" not after happiness. Do not go on seeking thrills; seek righteousness. Turn to yourself, turn to your feelings and say: "I have not time to worry about feelings, I am interested in something else. I want to be happy but still more I want to be righteous, I want to be holy. I want to be like my Lord, I want to live in this world as he lived, I want to walk through it the way he walked through it. You are in this world, says John in his first Epistle, even as he was. Set your whole aim upon righteousness and holiness and as certainly as you do so you will be blessed, you will be filled, you will get the happiness you long for. Seek for happiness and you will never find it, seek righteousness and you will discover you are happy it will be there without your knowing it, without your seeking it.

Finally, let me put it in this way: "Do you want to know supreme joy, do you want to experience a happiness that eludes description? There is only one thing to do, really seek him, seek him himself, turn to the Lord Jesus Christ himself. If you find out your feelings are depressed do not sit down and commiserate with yourself, do not try to work something up but this is the simple essence of it go directly to him and seek his face, as the little child who is miserable and unhappy because somebody else has taken or broken his toy, runs to its father or its mother. So if you and I find ourselves afflicted by this condition, there is only one thing to do, it is to go to him. If you seek the Lord Jesus Christ and find him there is not need to worry about your happiness and your joy. He is our joy and our happiness, even as he is our peace. He is life, he is everything. So avoid the incitements and the temptations of Satan to give feelings this great prominence of the centre. Put at the centre the only One who has a right to be there, the Lord of Glory, Who so loved you that he went to the Cross and bore the punishment and the shame of your sins and died for you. Seek him, seek his face, and all other things shall be added unto you.

<< From Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure (click to view) by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones  >>
<< Borrowed from Sovereign Grace Magazine Online >>

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