Romans, chapters 12-14

“I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think, but to think so as to have a sound mind [..].”
~Romans 12:3

The closer we draw to God’s promised kingdom, the harder it is to manage our trials. (1 Pet. 4:7)
How do we protect and improve our mental health?
One proverb advises: “A calm heart gives life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.” (Prov. 14:30)
When we keep emotions in check, such as anger, stress and anxiety, we can train ourselves to remain calm and strong. (Ps. 37:8; Eccl. 7:9)
We can also pray to God for more patience and empathy. (Prov. 14:29)
If we have a tendency to overreact, it will do us good to nurture a forgiving spirit toward minor mistakes, both our own and those of others’. (Ps. 4:4; Col. 3:13)
If we think before we speak, we will end up with fewer regrets and feel better about ourselves. (Prov. 12:18; 15:1)
Sometimes we may need to physically remove ourselves from a situation before we can figure out how to best tackle the problem. (Prov. 17:14)
Wearing a smile on our face and focusing on what we have instead of what we lack can promote cheerfulness. (Prov. 15:15; 17:22; 2 Cor. 8:12)
It is also important to surround ourselves with people who are encouraging. (1 Cor. 15:33)
It helps to remember that God values us and we are not alone. (Is. 41:13)
Personally, I have found that diet and exercise greatly influence my emotional state.
But if we constantly feel our situation in life is hopeless, we could probably benefit from speaking to a psychology professional who understands our personal values. (Luke 5:31)

The following is a good video to share with someone who might show symptoms of depression:

From Sad to Glad

Acts, chapters 12-14

“[…] They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and threw them outside their boundaries. […] And the disciples continued to be filled with joy and holy spirit.”
~Acts 13:50,52

Jesus had foretold the type of joy his disciples would reap on account of persecution:
“Happy are you whenever men hate you, […] and denounce your name as wicked for the sake of the Son of man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for look! your reward is great in heaven […].” (Luke 6:22,23)
Paul and Barnabas were physically thrown out of Antioch of Pisidia by “God-fearing” women and prominent men after only about one week of preaching there.
But the many Greek-speaking new disciples were happy despite the opposition because they knew they had God’s spirit. (1 Pet. 4:14)
While some modern day Christians enjoy more freedom of worship than others, all of us undergo various trials to our faith.
Whatever we are experiencing, if we endure with a positive attitude, we will also be blessed with a feeling of joy. (Jas. 1:2,3)

Luke, chapters 21 & 22

“From now on the Son of man will be seated at the powerful right hand of God.”
~Luke 22:69

Jesus kept a positive outlook throughout his trials, even knowing he was about to be executed.
He could have focused on the immediate pain and humiliation, the recent betrayal of his friends, or the impending agony he was about to endure on account of the sins of others.
Instead of doubting his father’s will, he proudly announced his solid hope of being reunited with his father before the ungodly violent audience of men who held his immediate fate in their hands.
More evidence of Jesus’ optimism comes from the words he told Peter even while knowing Peter would deny knowing him:
“[…] And you, once you have returned, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32)
Jesus never doubted the good in Peter’s heart and openly assured him of it.
This leads me to ask myself if I am as open to seeing the good in others and offering reassurance.
Do I focus on the moment so much that I lose sight of what really matters, like my standing before God?
A hopeful attitude can turn a painful situation into a blessing.

Jeremiah, chapters 35-38

“Perhaps when those of the house of Judah hear of all the calamity that I intend to bring on them, they may turn back from their evil ways, so that I may forgive their error and their sin.”
~Jeremiah 36:3

Jehovah God looks to forgive those who have offended him. (Isa. 55:7)
He sees everyone’s heart and does not give up hope that these people can change. (2 Pet. 3:9)
Likewise, we should not hold on to a grudge or seize the opportunity to get even with someone who has offended us. (Ro. 12:17-19)
Nor should we rejoice when they suffer due to their own imperfections or to unrelated circumstances. (Prov. 24:17,18)
However, God’s pardon is not unconditional.
He forgives those who “turn back from their evil ways.”
Since we cannot see what lies in the heart of our fellow man, it is best to leave the judging to God, remaining hopeful that wrongdoers will become spiritually conscious before it is too late.

Ecclesiastes, chapters 7-12

“There is hope for whoever is among the living […]”
~Ecclesiastes 9:4

We should never give up hope on people, because even the most haughty can change for the better.
People’s circumstances change throughout their lives.
Some become more hard-hearted while others are softened as they recognize a higher power.
No one knows for certain the individual future of any other person, nor do we control our own.
“Time and unexpected events overtake them all” therefore “men cannot be certain of anything that will happen to them in the future.” (Ec. 7:14; 9:11)
Tragic events happen to everyone, whether they do good or bad things.
Blessings also happen to everyone.
In this imperfect world in which we live in, some things are only a matter of chance.
So is there any advantage to doing the right thing, even when it comes at a personal cost?
“It will turn out well for those who fear the true God, because they fear him.” (Ec. 8:12)
Those who have faith can be optimistic about their own long-term future and hopeful about that of others.

Joshua, chapters 1-5

“Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and strong. Do not be struck with terror or fear, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.”
~Joshua 1:9

These words were being repeated to Joshua, Israel’s new leader, since little before Moses died and up until Joshua commanded the men in some of the tribes to be ready for battle (De. 31:7; Jos. 1:6,18).

I have read these words countless times, seeking strength during times of high anxiety.

This time, I cannot help but wonder at how repetitive they are.

Was Joshua visibly reluctant or nervous?

He had already proved himself to be a fearless warrior, zealous guard, and loyal spy (Ex. 17:10; 33:11; Nu. 14:6-10).

Perhaps he had grown accustomed to his role of serving as minister to Moses.

Perhaps invading and conquering a foreign land as well as directing an entire nation suddenly seemed more daunting than it ever had before Moses’ death .

Or perhaps Joshua did have his worries under control and he was simply being reminded to remain calm no matter what.

Whatever the case, Joshua did not step back from the plate.

Chapter Two describes him sweeping into action, ordering spies into a city he is but days away from overtaking (Jos. 2:1).

This passage makes me ask myself: how do I react when I am given a new assignment in the congregation to carry out on my own?

It is normal to feel scared or nervous, but to reject a task simply because it is beyond my comfort zone would reflect a selfish, immature attitude lacking in faith.

Joshua was not born a leader. God trained him and gave him the resources he needed.

All Joshua had to do was stay optimistic, trusting in God, using his common sense.

He made mistakes. We all make mistakes. But his courage kept moving him and his people forward, and so God remained by his side.