The Best Kind of Tranqulizer

man with insomnia

Stress, turmoil, anxiety, worry, tension, uncertainty, pressures, hassles, revenge, lawsuits, bankruptcy, crime, assault, disease, accidents, anger, tragedy, violence, suffering—the list goes on and on. At various times, there will be upsets in our life that will leave us sleepless. It might be a major ordeal or maybe just a minor event. Whether we are young or old, married or single, rich or poor, weak or strong—something will bring us to a point of being disturbed and restless. Even if we are extra cautious, watching our every thought and move, a situation is sure to come our way that will not let us sleep in peace. There will be times when we are totally innocent, minding our own business and doing what is right, and we still end up in the wrong. We might find ourselves in error over something that we had no control over, or we might happen to be in the wrong place at the right time.

It may feel like we are the only ones going though a particular problem. There was a man who lived thousands of years before us who had to struggle like this as well. In the Bible, King David of Israel was a person whom God declared to be a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22b). David was a mighty man who killed a lion and a bear at the same time when he was rescuing a lamb from the mouth of a bear. Later, with only a stone and a slingshot, he slayed a giant that had been threatening his nation for quite some time. And all of this occurred when he was only a young man! He later killed tens of thousands of enemies of his kingdom, yet, in spite of all his strength and his favor with God, he still went though struggles that would keep any of us today agonizingly awake for a multitude of nights.

What did he ultimately do about his troubles that robbed him of sleep? Did he flee, never to be found again? Was he discovered attempting to take his own life? Did he give up and just surrender to the enemy? Did he go insane? Did he personally take vengeance on those who were against him? Did he relegate his problems and torments to someone else in his kingdom and order them to come up with a solution? No, he did none of these. Instead, he turned to God. Look at what he said in verses three through five of the fourth Psalm, “But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.” King David knew by past experience that God would hear him when he called out to Him. But he also knew that he could not continue in the path of sin and still expect God to readily hear him. He had to surrender to God, forsake his sin, and put his trust in the Lord—then wait on Him. He knew that God would provide for His circumstances in a way far greater than those who were against him.

So what happened? Verse eight sums it up nicely: I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” He didn’t lie awake all night agonizing over everything that was coming against him. Instead he declared, “…thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” What better sleep aid could anyone ask for? David turned to the Lord and put his trust in Him. He did not pursue the matter in his own strength any further. David stated this again in the first two verses of Psalm twenty three: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.”Still waters” here literally means ‘waters of rest.’

young girl praying

What a wonderful antidote to the situations that torment us throughout the night! All that we have to do is come before the Lord with all our distress and release it to Him. We need to stop sinning through doubt and unbelief, and trust in Him to resolve the conflict. He continually waits for our most feeble cry. He wants us to lie down in peace and sleep. But without God, we will never “dwell in safety.” He told us to “…commune with your own heart upon your bed…” With our own heart we are to commune with whom—our spouse, our relatives, our neighbor, our closest friends? Of course not! We are to commune with the Lord. Next comes “and be still.” Don’t drop your problems in His lap and go on your way. Spend your time with Him in intimate fellowship, reading His Word, and then—just be still. Don’t fill your mind with all kinds of trivial nonsense and needless thoughts, just “be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10a). God never wants us to lie awake and be restless, our hearts and minds filled with worry or stress. Let’s open our hearts freely to Him like a child does and let Him lead us by the waters of rest. With the Lord in charge of our life, we can truly sleep in peace—for He alone is the best kind of tranquilizer.

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Can God Help with Your Cares, Burdens, and Afflictions?

man carrying burden

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).

To cast your burdens upon God means resting upon what He has promised and on what He provides. Cares can heavily weigh your heart down, but the Lord won’t allow you to come to the point of being totally cast down. He will bear the burden of all your sorrows. Therefore, let Him bear the burden of all your cares too. He knows what is best for you and He will provide according to your need. Sin and corruption are also heavy burdens. But He will bear those heavy burdens too, and will bear you up at the same time. Let Him pick you up and carry you in His powerful arms, like a father carries his little one. Your load can safely be placed upon Him. The Spirit of God will lift your spirits and make them stronger, so that you can stand up under whatever trial you may be enduring.

man in looking with distant thoughts

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34).

Affliction refers to a state of distress, pain, or grief. It can also refer to being tried, tormented, or tortured. Afflictions are the cause of continued pain of the mind or body, like sickness, calamity, adversity, losses, or persecution. What a heavy load they can be, especially if they follow the temptations of the devil.

“…He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard” (Psalm 22:24).

No matter what cares, afflictions, or trials oppress you, you can lay them all upon God’s shoulders. What a glorious promise He has given for every tempted and afflicted soul! “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…” (2 Corinthians 4:17). You do not know what God is working out in you as you steadily endure affliction.

depressed woman

God will never allow the righteous (those in right standing with God) to be moved, to fall, or to be lost forever. Nor will He allow troubles to upset you to the point that you slack off in finding your comfort in Him, or in doing your duty to Him. He may allow you be shaken for a while, but it will never be to the point of being utterly overwhelmed. If you are righteous, you can be sure that you can continue to trust and depend on Him. And if you continue to trust God and do what is righteous, you will be as safe as if you were already in heaven.

What is the way of relief from all your cares, all your burdens, and all your afflictions? Look to Christ, who has already borne them all on the Cross for you. Lay them all directly upon His shoulders in faith by prayer, then confidently expect a good outcome. How can you do the work of God in this world if you fold up under the burdens that interfere with your efforts? Therefore, hand them all over. Whatever you want God to give you, let Him give it to you in His own time and in His own way. In the meantime, be satisfied. Commit all your ways and works to the Lord; then let Him do what He knows is right.

“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 (Psalm 37:23-24).

Call upon the Lord in every kind of trial. He will hear you and He will rescue you. He will not be upset with you for coming too often. In fact, the more often you come to Him, the more welcome you will be!

The Breath of God

entrance to old mine

Curiosity and zeal for adventure provoked a small band of teenagers to succumb to the urge to explore an old mine they knew about on the side of a large mountain. The mine had once been the center of much activity, but when the quantities of ore began to dwindle, so did interest in pursuing it any further. Many past reports had told how huge the mine had become over the years, having branched off into many tunnels that sprawled over several miles. This proved to be the lure that these young teenagers could not resist. Their plan was to get into the mine somehow, and then go only a short distance, just to see what it was like. Before they realized it, they ended up traveling further and further away from the main air shaft where they had so carefully come in.

After about three hours of climbing throughout vast stretches of the mine, the group encountered a junction where the tunnel they were hiking in forked into three more tunnels. They were wary of splitting up, unsure about what they might encounter ahead. So they finally decided to remain together and take the tunnel they thought might lead them back toward the entrance. By this time, they were getting hungry and growing tired from all of their exploring in such a huge place.

partially lit cave
unsplash-logoMatt Kochar

Step after step after step, they trudged on. They had started with one flashlight each, but now had only two left between all of them that still worked. One of the units had reached the dimmest point since they began, and they had already used up all their spare batteries. Then the other light was dropped accidentally when they almost fell off of a small cliff. Now the tunnel they were in seemed to wind on endlessly, with no exit in sight. After another hour of wandering, the lone flashlight finally quit shining, leaving them in utter darkness. All hope of escape began to fade away. Weary from all their wandering, one by one they slumped down onto the floor of the mine. One girl began to tremble and sob almost uncontrollably, succumbing to the fear that she would never to be found again and would die there. Two others tried to hold her and console her. The oldest boy began to question himself out loud, wondering why they had ever dared to go this far in the first place. Another boy began angrily throwing various sized stones and rubble at the walls and down the tunnel in frustration.

Then the girl who had been consoling the sobbing girl remembered something she had heard her grandfather once say. He had worked briefly as a coal miner decades before. In one of the many stories of his life, he mentioned that if he ever got lost in the mine, or if his light quit working, he knew that he should stop and remain very still. Then he would try to feel what direction the air was moving, since the air always moved upward toward the air shaft, and ultimately, the way out. Although the others were skeptical when they first heard this, one by one they began to just sit still and wait. They continued to wait and wait for some time in hopeful anticipation, not really knowing what to expect. Then one of them suddenly jumped onto his feet and shouted, “I felt it! I felt it!” Moments later another burst out, “Me, too! I felt it on the side of my face!” Then another and another said the same, until all of the teens had sensed the gentle waft of air.

They determined that the air was actually coming from the direction that they had thought would bring them to the way out. So they turned around and began to walk in the opposite direction, heading back where they had come from. Even though they had lost the main source of light, they were still able to slowly find their way, guided by the gentle glow of their cellphones and other assorted small electronic devices they had in their pockets. Whenever they became unsure of their way, they would stop and wait again until they felt the ever-so-gentle movement of air, and then continue in its direction. Finally, they arrived back at the air shaft and scrambled up out of the mine, back to the remaining light of day.

people leaving mine

In life, there will be many points where you will also find yourself in the darkness and lost at times, with no apparent way out. It might be that your source of light has gone out, and you are not able to find the rest of the way to go. You may have been wandering and your light has not yet gone out, but you don’t know what direction to take next. Your life may have been progressing just fine, and then suddenly, everything goes into confusion and you do not have a clue as to what to do. Does any of this apply to you? Don’t fall apart in despair. Don’t succumb to a fit of needless anger, or collapse into a pool of tears.

It is in times like these that a gentle and sweet breath from God will come to you. Sometimes it is so subtle and discreet that you hardly notice it is there. Most often, there will be a time of sitting still and waiting before you sense its presence. When you do, make sure you don’t ignore it and turn to follow your own way. Don’t feel that it is too insignificant to be of any value. Instead, yield yourself to God and be led by it. He wants to bring you out of the darkness and confusion that you are in, but it takes desire and effort on your part for the breakthrough to happen. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). The Lord wants you to stop trusting in what you think is the best way out, and to learn to lean on Him for guidance. While it may seem contrary to you, by doing so you will find yourself being led out of your hopeless dilemma into “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). Even though you don’t see Him, God is always there with you. “Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name” (Psalm 33:20,21).

The Ultimate Power Adapter

group of AC adapters

What a horror it must be for a teenager to vacation in a distant location with all kinds of technological gadgetry and a household power supply, but with no AC adapters to power or recharge any of these gadgets! Why are AC power adapters needed anyway? Why can’t we just plug cell phones, music players, etc., right into the wall socket and use or recharge them?

The answer lies in the fact that we are dealing with a power source that is much, much greater than our portable device is capable of handling. It is like trying to fill a cup of water at the bottom of a giant waterfall, or asking some firefighters trying to put out a fire to aim their hose running full blast at us, so we can have a drink of water. We must have something that is a ‘middleman’ between the high power source coming into our home and the relatively fragile electronic gadgets that we use almost every day, in order to make them work without destroying them in the process. The solution is to use an AC adapter (or a converter) that converts the powerful kind of electricity traveling through the wires in our homes into the weaker kind of power that our portable device needs.

If we plugged our cell phone, computer, or music player directly into one of the outlets at home, without using an AC adapter or power converter, devices of this type would be permanently damaged. (Some devices have a converter located inside the unit, so they appear to be getting power directly from the wall outlet when plugged in.) They could even catch on fire or explode. It is possible for the power company to provide the weaker kind of electricity to the wall outlets that is more compatible with our various portable technological devices. But this would then create a problem for other kinds of items, such as refrigerators, electric stoves, toaster ovens, and electric saws. Devices like these need much more power for a longer period of time than our portable electronics would ever require. This is why we need converters or adapters.

black cord and white ac adapter in non-U.S. outlet

This kind of solution also applies to making a way for us to approach the most powerful being in the universe, and have close fellowship with Him. Approaching God simply in our finite, fragile, physical bodies is not possible. That would be something like trying to climb one of the very tall towers to reach the wires coming from a power generating station in order to plug in our cell phone. The electricity those wires are transmitting is so strong (several converters are needed before it can even come into our homes) that just coming near them will kill us. Yet God is more powerful than all power stations combined, for all eternity! He is so powerful that He can simply speak something into existence, or eliminate something, in less than a fraction of a second. How can we possibly come close to Someone so powerful and live? We need Someone to be a mediator, a representative, a liaison, or go-between who is capable of standing before God for us, yet also able to fully represent the frail, mortal human beings that we are. This middleman would have to be without any sin or anything else that God would reject, or God would not let Him into His presence.

God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is that Mediator or ‘Go-between’ that we need. He could be considered our ‘power adapter.’ He was sinless when He walked this Earth as a man, and therefore qualified to fulfill the requirements God laid out for man to be able to come before Him. Through Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself on the cross, He bridged the gap of separation between God and us. Jesus became the way for us to approach and have fellowship with the all-powerful God.

cross and sky

If we seek God for forgiveness of our sins, and accept Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself on the cross as if it was our own (as our ‘Go-between’ or substitute), then forsake our sinful ways and yield our lives to Him, we ‘plug into’ a new life with God Himself through His Son. Jesus saith…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Trying to reach God and have fellowship with Him in any other way is only attempting to meet God in our own weak and finite strength and wisdom. This means we are trying to take a shortcut, and as a result, actually end up rejecting what His Son did on the cross for us instead. Ultimately it leads to our death, because no sinful man can come before a holy, all-powerful God and live.

God knows we are not capable of coming before Him directly, yet He desires and longs for our mutual fellowship. Therefore, in His love for us—a love greater than we could ever comprehend—He made His Son to be the means by which we can have a relationship with Him like a child has with his parents. Just as a power converter makes it possible for a delicate electronic device to connect with the much more powerful household power supply, we need to connect to Jesus—our “spiritual” ‘power adapter,’ and let Him be the way we connect to God—our Supreme Heavenly power source!

For more information on how to connect to God click here.

No Cutting Corners With God

shortcutting prohibited sign

Next time you pass by a site where the ground is being broken and a foundation is about to be laid for a house or other building, try asking the workers to cut some corners and skip the foundation. Can’t find a building in this early stage? Then try to find one lacking a roof, and ask the builders to skip the roof and just lay the roofing material down without it. Better yet, see if some builders will just put the windows up without bothering with the outside walls. Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Will they accept these recommendations? Suppose no plumbing or electric wires were installed, or not even an empty place for them in the future. How about a twenty-story building built with absolutely no windows—just empty holes with plastic stretched across them? None of these means of cutting corners are permitted in an architect’s plan.

Yet there are individuals professing to be true followers of Jesus Christ who do something like this all the time. They feel they can cut some corners in God’s plan for their lives without taking any thought of the consequences. Many think they don’t have to follow every detail or directive of Christ, that only the majority of them really matter. Others find it too painful to obey some of the commands given, so they just skip them for now (or forever). They may also feel that it is just too hard to do everything, but God will accept them regardless. Some have been deceived into believing that not everything Jesus said is to be obeyed, that some areas are just symbolic.

Sadly though, none of this is true. There can be no cutting corners in God’s plan for our lives. Every time we cut a corner in an attempt to get ahead more quickly, or to shorten the trial and tribulation that God is bringing us through, we only push ourselves farther back in our walk with Him instead. If we think we can bypass a portion of our allotted journey, then He will lead us back through it again later, with more difficulty. A structure can’t stand without a solid foundation, and we can’t establish a solid relationship with God unless Jesus Christ and His Word are our foundation.

men climbing over fence
[photo by Government of Moscow shared under a Creative Commons Intl. (CC-BY) license (modified by author)]

Many years ago, an allegorical story was written of a young believer’s journey to Heaven. In one chapter, two men climbed over a wall that went beside the path along the way that the young believer was traveling. When questioned about this, they claimed that they didn’t need to go through all of the troubles and distance that the young believer had to go through. They felt justified in such actions, and merrily hurried on ahead of the young but maturing believer, smug in their accomplishments. No sooner had they gone out of sight when a significant commotion arose from the direction they had just traveled. It wasn’t long before one of them returned in hasty retreat, fleeing home in terror. In passing, he frightfully warned of the horrible danger ahead and that his companion did not make it. But the young believer continued on, wary but not fearful. Why? Because he had not cut corners along the way. He had been continually prepared for such trials to come along the whole pathway that he had been told to take. The others tried to take a shortcut and therefore never received a proper beginning or solid foundation. They were not prepared for the trials ahead and, as a consequence, suffered dreadfully.

When we cut corners or take shortcuts in our walk with Christ, we only set ourselves up for later disappointment or even danger. We make ourselves vulnerable to the enemy by not going through the proper training and instruction first. Imagine the disaster that would unfold if we decided to cut corners and skip the lesson on how to properly use the brakes on our vehicle or bike!

When God gives us instruction, guidance, or correction, it is not optional; He expects our obedience. We can’t pick and choose whatever we feel works best for us and just leave the rest. God has a specific plan for each of us that He knows will work for our good—as long as we follow it. Like a house, God is building us from the ground up. He wants us to yield to His efforts during the time of construction. If He does not cut corners in developing us, why do we think we can cut corners or take shortcuts in our walk with Him? We need to be devoted to His will and obedient to His word, not to what we think is right.