• Tony Birkhead

UNBOXED Week - 1



Our current situation does not determine our future destination!



INTRODUCTION

When has silence been golden to you?


We have all had those days when we relished peace and quiet. Separated from the noise and busyness of life, we can just enjoy the peace of a quiet, relaxing day. But we’ve had those others days when the silence caused us stress. We don’t like the silence of a friend, the phone that doesn’t ring with the doctor’s report, or the absent child who hasn’t called to say he has safely reached his destination.

Perhaps the worst form of silence is when God is or seems silent. We may need His comfort—or desire His direction—but we hear no answer. That feeling has been experienced by people even in the Bible, and we can learn from them how to respond. Sometimes God seems silent, but He is always present. We are called to faithfulness even in these moments.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Psalm 42-43

Psalm 42

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. 5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. 6 My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. 8 By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” 10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 43

Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation. Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. 2 You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? 3 Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. 5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

To feel overwhelmed by one’s circumstances is a feeling common to all. Thankfully, the Lord has provided many examples for us in Scripture, but also wise words and prayers that give us guidance for walking throug these difficult times when God seems silent. Let’s look at Psalm 42 and 43.


Read Psalm 42:1-5.

How would you describe in your own words what the psalmist experienced?


What do you long for when you feel overwhelmed?


Read Psalm 42:6-11.

God is with us even when He seems silent. The psalmist reminded himself that God had been with him in the past, so he should remember that God was with him now.


When it seems God is silent, what truths about God help you put one foot in front of the other?


The psalmist said, “His song will be with me in the night” (v. 8). What songs of worship have been particularly encouraging to you?


What resources has God given you to remember His work and presence in your life—both past and present?


Read Psalm 43:1-5.

The psalmist expressed confidence that he would again joyfully praise God one day, but he was also honest that he didn’t feel that way at the moment. Notice how the psalm moved from a reference to “the living God” (42:2) to “the God of my life” (42:8) to finally “God, my greatest joy” (43:4). As the psalmist’s view of God (and his relationship with Him) changed, his outlook on life and his circumstances also changed. Likewise, we must choose to follow God, even when we don’t feel His presence.


What are some ways to trust God when you don’t know what to do?


How has God encouraged you through worship?


Worships includes (1) a confession of sin; and (2) a surrender to His lordship. Ask God to reveal any sin, for sin may be the reason you feel like God is absent.

Jesus experience the abandonment of God at the cross (Matt. 27:46), but He was forsaken for our sake. Through His death, He removed the sin that keeps us from God’s presence. When Elijah felt overwhelmed, God responded with His care and direction (1 Kings 19:5-18). God may not respond as immediately to your situation, but He is no less present. Jesus said, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20).


MOVING FORWARD

  • How can you encourage someone who is struggling at this moment?

  • How can we support each other when God seems silent?

  • Tony mentioned at the close of the message 3 things to help us Unbox Hope when we’re struggling with depression; Prayer, Share and Care. How can these 3 be put into practice in your life this week?

PRAY TOGETHER

Lord, regardless of how we feel, You are there. Lead us to always say as the psalmist did, “Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my savior and my God.”

COMMENTARY

Psalm 42-43

Psalms 42 and 43 may have originally been a single psalm. The thought and language of the two are very similar (compare 43:5 to 42:5, 11), and the Hebrew meter is the same. Also Psalm 43 has no superscript. The exact nature of the psalmist’s distress is not given, but it brought him to a state of deep depression. Yet he focused not on his trouble but on God and thirsted for God as for water (Matt. 5:6).


DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE


HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


DAY 1

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; o comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:2-3

The Lord is the greatest exchange artist. I know people that will trade you something good in exchange for something good. I even know people that will give you something for nothing in return. But I have never met anyone on this Earth that will give you all their beauty in exchange for your filthy ashes. Nope, not one. They might give you something beautiful but say, “Just keep your ashes please, I don’t want those. Those things are nasty.”

However, I know Someone not of this earth who says – give it to Me. Give Me all your filth, all your nastiness, all your heaviness and mourning, give me all that weighs you down! I will take it. Jesus exchanges your mourning and gives you dancing. He removes your sackcloth and gives you a garment of gladness.

Does this appeal to you? What are you waiting for? The Great Exchanger is waiting for you to bring your ashes to Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). Exchange your sickness. Exchange your depression and sorrow. Drop them at His feet and receive beauty and joy and praise!

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 2

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Matthew 6:34

When I was younger I suffered from bouts of depression and anxiety. In this season of anxiety, what I faced most was worry. I had a hard time keeping my mind focused on the “now” and taking care of what was in front of me. One of the only things that provided me with clarity and calm was repeating to myself, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt 6:34). As I would repeat this verse, my thoughts would slow and my worries lessen.

As a grown man, I have been blessed by God with good health; both mentally and physically. However, that does not stop me from still allowing worry to overtake me on a fairly regular basis. Some mornings I wake up with worry already on my mind, and it is my choice as to whether I let it spiral out of control, or I ask God to help me. I return to Matthew Chapter 6 but go back further starting at verse 25: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” and I continue through verse 34. After reading these verses I am reminded to place my faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and find rest in His words.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 3

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:5-9

Whether you have recently become a believer or have followed Christ for many years, you’ve undoubtedly discovered that the Christian life is a series of highs and lows. The truth is, we are never ultimately defeated because Christ overcame sin and death for us on the cross. Yet Scripture still warns us not to yield to the sinful desires of our flesh, conform to this world’s evil system, or fall for the schemes and lies of the devil.

Since we are not totally free from the corrupt influences in and around us, the Lord has provided a way for us to come back and be restored. It is called confession, and it involves humbling ourselves, telling God what we have done, and agreeing with Him that it is wrong. Then God promises to forgive and cleanse us so that we might be restored to fellowship with Him (1 John 1:9). The good news is that we are not alone in this battle with sin.

• We have God’s Holy Spirit, by whom we put to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:13).

• We have God’s Word, by which we grow in respect to salvation (1 Pet. 2:2).

• We have God’s grace, which instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and live righteously (Titus 2:11-12).

• We have God’s promise that He will complete the good work He has begun in us (Phil. 1:6).

When you sin, think of confession not as a dreaded duty but as a gracious gift of God. Take advantage of this privilege without shame, knowing that restoration is on the other side.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


DAY 4

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:17-21

Prayer is an amazing privilege because it involves conversation with our heavenly Father. Yet, if we are honest, there are times when it seems more like a duty than a joy. This is especially true if we reduce our prayers to a formula or routine, which can deaden our desire to talk to God.

In today’s passage, Paul’s prayer is just the opposite—it is full of life, spiritual truths, and love for his Lord. He asked God to do a great spiritual work in the Ephesians’ lives and, by extension, in ours as well:

To gain a greater comprehension of Christ’s love for us. Although it’s beyond our ability to fully grasp the vastness of our Savior’s love, Paul prays that we will be so firmly rooted and grounded in this truth that we will become controlled by it and “filled up to all the fullness of God” (v. 19). Experiencing Jesus’ love motivates us to obediently live for Christ and enables us to care deeply for others.

To be strengthened with the Lord’s supernatural power. Paul both praises God’s matchless power and invites it into our hearts. The most important battles take place inside us—in our minds, wills, and emotions—and Paul wants to ensure that the power of the Holy Spirit will be at work in our lives. When we welcome His authority, God can use us in meaningful ways, and what’s more, we will exhibit the life of Jesus in fuller measure.

Although physical and material needs are important, the apostle’s prayers more often focused on the spiritual welfare of others. That is a good example for us to follow as well.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


DAY 5

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

When Johnny Cash was young, he had a high tenor voice. Across the street from his hometown high school lived La Vonda Mae Fielder, a music teacher who offered private singing lessons at $3 a pop. Johnny’s mother took in laundry to earn money for her son’s first—and, it turned out, also his last—lesson. His sister accompanied Johnny and his mother to Fielder’s home that day, and vividly remembers what went down in her living room.

“Ms. Fielder said, ‘Well, let me hear what you can do.’ So, he sang a song—I don’t remember what it was—and she said, ‘You can stop now.’ He hung his head and said, ‘You mean I’m no good?’ She said, ‘On the contrary—you have a gift from God that I wouldn’t dare touch! You’re a song stylist. Always do it your way.’ And that encouraged him greatly because he knew he had that calling.”

Those words, in contrast to so many withering ones from his father, impacted Johnny dramatically. By the time Johnny turned sixteen, his voice had become a deep baritone. Johnny’s singing, while cutting firewood one day, brought tears to his mother’s face because it reminded her so much of her daddy’s voice. She looked him square in the eye and added portentously: “God has His hand on you, son. Don’t ever forget the gift.” For the first time since his brother’s death, Johnny Cash felt suffused with God’s grace and imbued with hope that his life had a purpose after all.

Scripture Reading:

1. Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad. (Proverbs 12:25 NKJV)

Can you think of a time someone gave you a good word of encouragement that made your heart feel glad?

2. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. . . And we urge you, brothers and sisters . . . encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. . . always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. (1 Thessalonians 5:11–15 NIV)

When is the last time you were a source of encouragement and help to someone in your life? Can you think of someone you can build up today?

3. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you . . . (Isaiah 66:13 NKJV)

Johnny’s mother, in stark contrast to his father, offered words of encouragement and comfort to Johnny. What impact has your mother had on your life?

Adapted From: http://harvest.org


MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…


Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:5

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