Living in Victory, An Attack on Depression
We’re going to talk about living in victory by having the joy of the Lord in our lives. For those that aren’t sure what this is, it’s the opposite of depression, fear, and hate.
Why am I teaching this rather that one of our Pastors? Great question. I can tell you that I have dealt with depression, I have lived depression, and depression has controlled my life … when I allow it to.
The goal is to live life so that the world doesn’t control you but rather the joy of the Lord flows through you so you experience the joy of the Lord on a daily basis.
I can also tell you that I live more in joy that depression now, that I have peace with where I am in my life. I may not always love myself and may still give in to self-doubt and self-pity at times. But I don’t need to sit and watch the Godfather Trilogy any more – that was one of my depression rituals. Watching everyone kill each other was some how gratifying.
No more! I have more purpose, more compassion, more love, more of Jesus going on in me now. Its not always easy but when I spend the time in the Word daily, it makes everything easier.
Let’s take a look at some of what the Lord has given me about living in victory…
Parable of the Sower – Mark 4:4-20
1. Seed fell by the wayside and birds ate it
a) Satan attacks and steals the seed
2. Seed fell on stony ground without much earth. It sprang up quickly but quickly died
a) Not mature in the Word or the Spirit and didn’t have the nutrients to survive for long
3. Seed fell among thorns and the thorns choked them
a) Cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things
4. Seed fell on good ground and produced fruit; some 30, some 60, and some 100 fold
a) Those that hear the Word and receive it
b) Think of this as daily Bible reading and time with God
Every Christian is meant to be good ground, we are not meant to be any of the other three.
The Armor of God – Eph. 6:10-20
If we don’t arm ourselves with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, we cannot produce fruit. What we produce instead is disease of the mind and Spirit. No one truly sits on the fence – we are all either on one side or the other. Some pretend to be on one side of the fence but make their home on the other side.
If we don’t take the time to feed our Spirit from the Word, it is fed from this world instead. It becomes the seed among thorns being choked by the cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of this world. Little wonder there is so much hate in the world right now.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
So how do we get that joy because it sure doesn’t feel like joy when we are in the middle of a full out attack of depression.
Depression, according to Wikipedia: is a state of low mood and aversion to activity or apathy that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being.
People with a depressed mood can feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless,worthless, guilty, irritable, angry, ashamed or restless. They may lose interest in activities that were once pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details or making decisions, experience relationship difficulties and may contemplate, attempt or commit suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, aches, pains, digestive problems or reduced energy may also be present.
Depressed mood is a feature of some psychiatric syndromes such as major depressive disorder, but it may also be a normal reaction, as long as it does not persist long term, to life events such as bereavement, a symptom of some bodily ailments or a side effect of some drugs and medical treatments.
This all sounds pretty miserable but some of us live that. If you are a person that deals with depression, quit claiming it. It’s not yours, its a disease of this world brought on by Satan. You are not meant to live in depression – you are meant to be filled with the Spirit and living in joy!
We read what happens as the Spirit of God matures in us in Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
But that can seem awfully unattainable when we have to deal with our problems and anxiety and the stress of this world each day.
Proverbs 12:25 mentions depression directly, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (NKJV).
A good word makes my heart glad. But it never seems to work, I’m still depressed, I’m still anxious, I still have all the same problems.
The Lord says…
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
What does that mean? Jesus is giving us the answer, He is giving us a way out, He is opening up the opportunity for joy instead of tears.
That verse can show us some specifics…
1. Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
a) Come physically, emotionally, spiritually into God’s presence.
b) There is rest in His presence and there is rest in the family of God.
c) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27
2. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me
a) In John 15:10 Jesus tells us: If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
* This is like an equation: Keep God’s commands = abide in His love
b) John 15:1-14 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman (gardener). Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
– Jesus is our gardener and prunes us, His vines.
– We are the vines and what is pruned is what is not fruitful.
– He prunes us so that we will bear more fruit.
– We cannot bear fruit if we are not connected to Him.
– A promise comes with the pruning as well: If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
– The result of the pruning is: These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
– An example of love is given as well: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
c) Learn from Me
– Jesus gives us what we need but …
– – if we don’t listen, it doesn’t matter
– – if we don’t internalize it and use it, it’s useless
– We actually have to work at learning from Jesus.
– – That’s how we learn, by action,
– – by working at our relationship with Him,
– – by allowing His pruning to produce fruit in us.
3. because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
a) There is rest in Jesus
b) John 6:35 (NASB95) Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
c) You cannot find rest if you don’t take the time to be with Jesus in Word, Prayer, and Meditation.
4. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.
a) Living for God can seem really hard and difficult … until you take the time with Him every day.
b) Replace the habits that got you where you are with ones that will draw you into His presence. That is where we find our rest and we find that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Strategies for Dealing with Depression
Here are some constructive approaches when facing depression.
1. Listen – If someone is telling you about what’s going on in their life, listen.
2. Shut-up – If you are constantly telling everyone what’s wrong in your life or situation, you need to stop the negative stream that can weigh down your friend or family member … and yourself. Apply the Word of God to your life, spend time in the Word and in Prayer (and don’t forget Worship, but the other two must be included) – you will find answers. Maybe not right away but when you allow your inner voice to shut-up also and find quiet, then you can hear what God has to say to you in that still small voice.
3. Write – If you take the time to write your thoughts down when you read, it can help clarify what you’re reading. Don’t use this as a time to write down all the negative stuff, use it as time to reinforce the positive lessons that you are learning from reading the Word. This can be encouragement later when you need it as well.
4. Observe – Look at what the Word says and how it applies to your life.
a) How did the great people of faith make it?
b) How did Jesus keep loving the Jews who turned from Him at seemingly every opportunity?
c) What did Jesus say about love?
d) What else pops out at you while you’re reading?
5. Act – Begin to enact the changes that you see in the Bible that will make you more like Jesus.
a) Moving from depression to joy is a process – one step at a time.
– Focus on enjoying what the Lord is teaching you
– If you fail, don’t give up.
– – We waste a lot of time feeling guilty and punishing ourselves for our mistakes.
– – Stop wasting your time.
– – Ask for forgiveness if necessary and get back to being in God’s Word and in His presence.
b) Remove the obstacles
– The time wasting things we do like Facebook, watching movies or TV, reading, eating, shopping, tuning out, and etc need to stop.
– – You don’t need to stop them completely, just reduce them enough to spend some time with Jesus.
– Begin to change your bad habits with habits that will reinforce what will bring you closer to Jesus.
c) Remember to not judge others.
– When we make changes in our lives, often we assume everyone should be doing what we’re doing. Let the one and only Judge do His job, and focus on the changes you are making in yourself and not others.
– Stop the negative flow about yourself and others. Replace it with positive reinforcement from the Word.
d) Remember to love
– The two great commandments in Matthew 22:36-40 (KJV)
– Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him,
– – Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
– – And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
– Act on that love by focusing on what you can do for others – even if no thanks are given. It’s about letting God’s love flow through you – there is healing in the love that flows through you to others.
6. Behavior – What behaviors do we currently have that cause us to be depressed or negative?
a) Bad behaviors
– Working too much?
– Eating too much?
– Spending too much?
– Sleep too much or too little?
– Exercise too little?
– Bad memories that affect your life?
– – On Dec 8, 2007, my dad died. I wasn’t there because I drove back to North Carolina the day before. I have reason to allow the holiday season to be sad and depressing, but I refuse to give that ground to the defeated one. This season honors my Lord and to give Him less than my all is no longer good enough for me.
– Lack of Spiritual disciplines?
b) Begin to change those behaviors but in moderation. The Lord will show you what to work on as you read your Bible. God is not going to magically change you in an instant because He wants you to learn from this process. We learn by doing.
7. Resolve conflicts
a) Dealing with difficult relationships is never easy. As the Lord shows you new lessons, He may lead you to work on healing specific relationships.
– Pray about these and allow Him to give you what you need
– Don’t rehash the past
– If necessary, ask for forgiveness
– If necessary, give forgiveness
– Remember to do all in love
b) Not doing anything specific except giving yourself permission to move forward without someone actively in your life is an answer as well.
– Be sure to pray for that person so that you may learn to love them regardless of what else is going on.
– Some people are meant for just a season in your life, so don’t make a career out of what should have been temporary.
Note: This does not deal with medical needs. But realize that seeking medical help sometimes may be the answer. Sometimes, meds are a crutch. The only way to know for certain is to be in prayer and speak with a Christian Doctor.
All of this hinges on what we talked about at the beginning of this.
If we don’t take the time to feed our Spirit from the Word, it will be fed from this world.
- How are you being fed?
- Are the cares of this world overwhelming you?
- Are you too focused on that next raise or on working more overtime and what you want to buy with that extra money?
- Are the lusts of this world controlling what you do and who you want to be?
Immerse yourself in the Word and find …
It’s up to you. It won’t be easy. If you are ready for joy in your life, make up your mind and begin today – begin right now.
Verses of encouragement
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
People in the Bible who dealt with depression Moses (Numbers 11: 10-16), David (Psalm 51; Psalm 32: 1-5), Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-18), Job, Jonah
God encourages us to “call upon [Him] in the day of trouble; I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:15)
God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).
“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
(Taught by Kevin Schwartz at Wednesday evening Bible Study on Nov. 30, 2016.)
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Thanks for the reminder that depression can include both loss of appetite and overeating, and insomnia as well as excessive sleep. I was sleeping only 1-2 hours a night, and my husband told me that I couldn’t possibly be suffering from depression because I wasn’t sleeping and I hadn’t lost my appetite. That bout of depression lasted for 3 years and included obsessive suicidal thoughts and even suicidal hallucinations in which I could feel my hot blood and smell the coppery smell of it.
Things turned around for me when I started going to church again and worshiping with complete abandon–2 things I didn’t feel like doing, but did anyway. Now you’d never now that I had been so deeply depressed.
Excellent teaching, Kevin!
Thanks Al and thank you for sharing some of your story with depression as well. We are meant to live in victory and in peace. Finding that is part of our journey. It sure is easier when you have like-minded people around you too! Love you Al!