Stop The World And Let Me Off :: By Grant Phillips

Depression is an ugly beast that rides on the backs of many people. It plays no favorites. Rich or poor, male or female, child or adult, it doesn’t matter. Everyone, sooner or later, smells its rancid breath. Some folks cope with it and move on, and then there are others who cannot handle the pressure and break under the load.

My wife and I have had the sad experience of attending two funerals of friends who could no longer take the pressure. One of those friends took their life five years ago. The second, who was an even closer friend, took her life last month.

The pain of loss and tragedy was even greater this time since the young lady was like a daughter or younger sister to my wife.

Both of these dear souls professed being a Christian, and they both suffered tremendously from circumstances that had arisen in their lives. I realize that you and I are thinking that nothing is so bad that we should take our life, but you and I are thinking rationally with sound minds. These tortured souls could see no relief.

Maybe this is why the Lord God says to His own children:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34)

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6)

The apostle Peter warned us that Satan traverses the earth seeking someone to devour. He is like a lion hunting its dinner. When he finds the herd, he zeros in on the weakest prey and charges after it.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Life can be very hard and is often most unfair. We can all attest to that, but a Christian has the Lord Jesus Christ on his/her side. Sometimes we forget that. As we look around the world today, any wise Christian can easily see the world is falling apart around our ears, but Jesus said, “… I am with you always, even to the end of the age…” (Matthew 28:20) He also promised three times, in the very last chapter of the very last book of His Word that He will soon return and take us unto Himself.

A person choosing suicide fails to realize the effect on those they leave behind, and they fail to consider the finality of their action. Maybe they think those they leave behind will be better off without them. Maybe they just want out. But we come back to one point; they are not thinking with a sound mind. A sound mind will follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11 emphasis mine)

What is the attitude that Jesus had? Jesus depended totally upon the Father … no matter what.

You and I cannot overcome the problems of this life through our own power. In this passage we have just read, the world threw many severe problems on Jesus’ back also. He could have said, “Forget this, I’m out of here,” but instead He suffered and died for our sake. His victory over the grave assures us that regardless of what we have to endure, we have victory in Him.

As we have already heard from the apostle Peter, Satan wants to destroy anyone who belongs to God. He hates God, and he hates us. He will wreck our lives if he can (Job could tell us a thing or two about that) and play with our minds (Peter could chime in here). This is why it is so very important to stay in daily fellowship with our Father in Heaven. We must feed upon His Word and allow His Spirit to work freely in our lives. The apostle Paul said:

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you…” (Colossians 3:1-5a)

Our problems on earth are only temporary. Eternity never ends.

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Will a Christian lose their salvation if they commit suicide? If the individual ever called upon Jesus to save them, nothing will separate them from the love of God.

Nothing Separates The Christian From God

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Our Salvation Is Guaranteed For Eternity

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

We Cannot Lose Our Salvation

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Jesus Forgave ALL Our Sins

“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from ALL sin.” (1 John 1:7 emphasis mine)

Suicide Is Not The Unpardonable Sin

Some of you may also have a friend or family member that has chosen to take this unnatural leap into eternity, and are wondering if this is the unpardonable (unforgiveable) sin. It is not. This sin is unique and Jesus mentions it in Mark 3:22-30. It was the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit’s work through Jesus Christ while He was upon the earth, claiming that Jesus’ work was via Satan and not the Holy Spirit.

When Satan is beating us over the head with earthly problems that seem more severe than we can bear, we can give up or we can lean on Jesus, who suffered far more than we will ever comprehend. Heaven is watching. Don’t let Satan win.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Out of all the suicides committed in this country, I don’t believe many are from true Christians (my opinion), but nevertheless, true Christians will sometimes “throw in the towel” and give up. Please do not allow Satan an ounce of victory. Lean upon Jesus and ask Him to strengthen you.

Anyone who has stood outside around a campfire on a cold night knows the farther you get away from the fire, the colder you get. It is also true that the further we get from God as a Christian, the more vulnerable we will be to Satan’s cold lies.

Grant Phillips

Email: Phillip5769@twc.com

Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com

Rapture Ready: https://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html

Barnabas The Encourager :: By Grant Phillips

One of the greatest spiritual gifts in my opinion is that of the encourager. Pastors, Bible teachers and evangelists are more in the limelight, and for some reason Christians sometimes feel that if they are not a pastor, Bible teacher or evangelist, the best gifts are taken and there is nothing left for them.

Pastors, Bible teachers and evangelists do a great work if they are truly obedient to God’s will, following the Holy Spirit’s direction and giving the Lord Jesus the glory. There is no denying that, and I applaud those I have just described. However, I believe most of them would also agree that the encourager could very well be the greatest gift of all.

The gift of encourager receives little to no limelight, and is rarely made visible to the general public. They work in the background and are rarely known by name except for those they encourage.

There is one person however that is well known to us today as being an encourager. His name actually means, “Son of Encouragement.” (Acts 4:36) His name was Joseph, but he was known as Barnabas. He quickly became an early traveling companion of the apostle Paul.

Paul had a reputation of being a cold-blooded killer of Christians, so obviously it can be understood why so many of the early Christians did not initially believe that he had actually become one of them. However, Barnabas believed Paul, and wanted him at Antioch to be a witness for Jesus.

Barnabas was a good man, totally unselfish. He didn’t care about receiving any credit. He just wanted Christ to be preached and he knew Paul was the man to do it. So he went to Tarsus and brought Paul back to Antioch.

“Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.

The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.

When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.

He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Acts 11:20-26)

It would have been easy for Barnabas to have forgotten all about Paul and just stayed in Antioch, but he wanted the people to hear about Jesus and how Paul came to be saved. The people needed to hear what Jesus instructed Paul to tell others. So Barnabas, instead of standing in the spotlight, steps back, and brings Paul back to Antioch, all the while, encouraging these new Christians.

If you read about these two in the book of Acts, you may notice that the Holy Spirit listed Barnabas first and Saul second up until Acts 13:42. Beginning with Acts 13:42 and thereafter, Saul is changed to Paul and listed first and Barnabas is listed second instead of first. Saul was Hebrew and meant ‘desired.’ Paul was Latin and meant ‘little or small.’ I don’t want to read something into this that isn’t there, but I personally believe that God is telling us something here.

Saul was brilliant and well on his way to the top as a Jewish leader, but God doesn’t need human greatness. It is useless and means nothing to Him. He wants someone who is willing to submit to Him. Saul the ‘desired’ became Paul the ‘undesired.’ I think Paul explains it best in the following verse.

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Okay, so Paul stopped using the name Saul, but what about Barnabas? Why were their roles suddenly reversed at this time? Following is my opinion.

It was time for Barnabas to take the back seat and for God to show His mighty power through the greatest missionary who has ever lived. God used a willing Barnabas to bring Paul to the people so His message would be heard, and He used a now humble Paul to take His Gospel to the world, in particular the Gentiles.

Have you wondered if Barnabas ever got jealous of Paul? A lot of men (and women) would do just that. I’ve lived long enough to have seen it myself in the churches over the years. I don’t think there was ever the first hint of jealousy with Barnabas. When I read about these two, I see a man who is totally supportive of Paul and is more than willing to accept ‘second chair.’ That, my friends, is an encourager.

What about the incident with Mark, Barnabas’ cousin? You can read about it in Acts 15:36-41. When Barnabas left Paul and took Mark on a missionary journey, I believe he did so as an encourager to Mark. That was the nature God had given him. Mark was willing to change and Barnabas, being the encourager he was, took him under his wings and guided him along in his spiritual walk. Paul went one way with Silas and Barnabas went the other with Mark.

I have had encouragers in my life, and I honestly hope you have too. If you have, you probably remember who they are. I remember clearly those people in my life and they meant a lot to me at the time, and still hold a special place in my heart to this day.

Barnabas encouraged the people of Antioch. He was an encourager to the apostle Paul and also Mark, who wrote the second of what is called the Gospels. Actually, there is no doubt in my mind, that throughout his life he encouraged many along the way.

All of us can be an encourager, but granted, there are some with that special gift God has provided them. They are special people, I guess because they treat everyone else as ‘special.’ The encourager has a lot of patience and they have a lot of love to share. I think those two attributes strengthen their gift of being an encourager. What is the greatest gift? I think it is to be an encourager, because it is saturated in love, and what does our Lord (through the apostle Paul) say about love?

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1, 13 emphasis mine)

Grant Phillips

Email: Phillip5769@twc.com

Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com

Rapture Ready: https://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html