By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
“And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10: 27)
The little girl was watching the convict intently. She asked, "Who is that strange man with his hair shaved off and his hand chained to the policeman"?
"Don't look at him" said the mother, "He is a bad man whom they are taking to a penitentiary somewhere".
"What will they do with him, Mommy?" asked the little girl. “They will put him in a cell with bars for windows and they will lock him up, so that he will not hurt anyone else."
"Will his Mommy go there with him? Will anyone love him?" asked the concerned little girl.
"He probably doesn't even have a Mommy, and nobody loves a bad man. Don't even look at him. He's awful and bad!"
The little girl could not keep her eyes off the convict. Her eyes followed his every move. Finally she could stand it no longer. She pulled the red rose out of her mother's coat lapel, ran over to the convict, handed it to him and said, "Mr. Bad man, maybe nobody loves you, but God loves you and I love you too".
Shaken, the prisoner took the flower just as her mother caught the little girl and carried her away for a spanking.
The prisoner arrived at Sing Sing Prison - insolent, violent and vengeful. He was placed immediately in solitary confinement on death row. He was a vicious, cruel killer, guilty of murder. When the guards came to his cell he would snarl, growl and curse.
Day after day however, a change was coming over the prisoner - he kept pacing back and forth, he did not snarl, growl or curse the guards and he neither ate nor slept.
After one week, a guard looked in through the bars and noticed the prisoner reading the Bible with tears streaming down his face. The Chaplain was called and he approached the man on Death Row.
He was simply sitting there repeating over and over the words, "Mr. Bad man maybe nobody loves you, but God loves you and I love you too". Pressed between the pages of that old Bible was a faded red rose!
The prisoner experienced the revolutionary dynamics of conversion and was filled with God's love and compassion. The change was so significant that his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
A number of years ago, I read that he had passed away in prison of old age, after having led 365 souls to Christ!
There are a lot of people who feel defeated, overwhelmed by the problems of life and afraid to face the future with any degree of confidence!
And that is a sad state of affairs, because when the ‘giant of despair’ is allowed access to one’s thought process, it will dominate that person’s life and destroy his ability to control his own destiny!
Despair breeds despondency, fear and hopelessness, which in turn creates a quagmire of uncertainty that can open the door to tormenting demons of jealousy, rage and paranoia!
There is nothing as devastating to a person’s morale, than a feeling of total failure, utter hopelessness and deep perplexity, with apparently no way out! As near as I can understand the state of depression, having listened to the words of those who have been there and expressed the inner struggles of that darkness, it must be as I have written earlier in this essay!
1. WHO SHALL ROLL AWAY THE STONE?
Early on that first resurrection morning, as the women made their way to Jesus’s tomb with spices to anoint His body as a final gesture of love and devotion and worship to Him, they had no thought of the guards who were keeping watch or the huge stone that had been rolled into place or the Roman seal that made the tomb secure!
They thought only of their blessed Lord, Who had been violently and brutally beaten and executed as a common criminal between two thieves on the city garbage dump, Golgotha - the ‘place of a skull’.
Their love and devotion for Jesus of Nazareth drove them forward in their desire for doing this service for their Lord, when suddenly they turned to one another saying: “Who will roll away the stone for us?” Read this inspired account from the Holy Bible:
“And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away, for it was very great. And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were afraid.
“And he saith unto them, be not afraid: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him.” (Mark 16: 3-6)
My question is: “What about you? Are there some stones that keep you away from God’s blessing? Do you have a sin you can’t overcome, a memory you can’t erase, a hurt that won’t heal, a marriage that is breaking up, a job you can’t get, happiness that eludes you?
“Is there an impossible situation staring you in the face? Possibly a loved one who is in trouble with the law, children on drugs, a family member hooked on witchcraft or the New Age Movement or some other false cult?”
Jesus said: “With men this impossible, but not with God, for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10: 27).
I believe that Jesus told the truth and if you will put your trust in Him, everything will turn out alright! Speaking to the father of a deaf and dumb and epileptic son, Jesus said: “If thou can’t believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mark 9: 23)
The man cried out: “I believe. Help Thou mine unbelief!” Jesus immediately healed the boy! Trust God Almighty to answer your prayer when you call out to Him in the name of His glorified Son, Jesus Christ!
2. HOW CAN I LIVE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE?
The Bible says: “He came unto His own and His received Him not, but to as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the sons of God.” (John 1: 11-12)
You don’t have the power, but He gives you the power to become His child! Jesus Christ said: “Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into or even see the kingdom of God.” (John 3: 3, 7). St. Paul wrote about the “Mystery of the Ages – Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:13)
There is a story of Satan making a house call at Martin Luther’s abode. When Luther answered a knock on the door, he was confronted by the devil.
With a stern voice, he inquired: “What do you want?” Old ‘Slewfoot’ answered: “I’m looking for Martin Luther.” The man of God countered: “He doesn’t live here anymore”: The devil asked: “Are you not Martin Luther?”
The great Reformer quoted St. Paul: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Gal.2: 20)
Immediately, Satan was gone! Martin Luther knew the power of God’s Word to defeat the enemy of his soul. We must also recognize the power that God has invested in us, through His Word and the shed blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His amazing resurrection from the dead!
In His book, 'Power Through the Holy Spirit', Dr. Hyman Appelman writes: “The Holy Spirit will not only give us a realization of the abiding presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. The question is not only, 'Is Jesus Jesus real to you?' but 'Does Jesus live in you?'
“You will recall this story regarding Martin Luther. As he walked down the street one day, someone stopped him, tapping him on the breast, and said, “How is Martin Luther?” Luther replied quickly, 'Martin Luther doesn't live there anymore. Jesus Christ does.' Christ lived in Martin Luther.”
St. Peter stated: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish or without spot.
“Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” (1 Peter 1:18-20)
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.”
YOUNG CONVERT & COMMUNIST!
A young convert to Christ was ridiculed by a fellow worker - who was a communist - after being told of his new found faith! As the conversation unfolded, the older man said:
“You will never be able to live the Christian life. It is too difficult. I’ve seen others try but they have failed. It’s too tough, you’ll never make it!”
The young man asked: “Do you believe I could hold out for one minute?” The answer of course was, “Yes, of course.” Again he asked, “How about an hour?” And again, there was an affirmative reply. Then, the young man said: I’m going ask one more question.
“Could I live the Christian life for twenty-four hours, if I really put my heart to it?” The older man thought for a while and replied: “Yes, I believe you could live it for an entire day.”
The young convert then made this confession: “That is exactly what I will do. I will live the Christian life minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day and I will be victorious in Christ. He will give me the power by His Holy Spirit and I will not turn back!”
NEW CONVERT & FOOTBALL COACH!
A university student who was a member of the football team had just made his stand for Christ. He was motivated and began witnessing for Jesus on the Campus, by carrying his Bible with him to class!
One day he was met by the team’s coach and a number of teammates. His coach began harassing him for packing a Bible and intimated that he was a sissy!
The Christian replied that it took a real a man to carry the Bible and a coward would be afraid to do so. Then, handing it to the coach he said: “Here, if I’m such a sissy, you carry it for a while!”
Make no mistake about it, it does take courage to stand straight and tall for Jesus Christ, in this wicked, sensual and perverted world!
I have been there and done that! And, it feels great to know that you belong to the King of kings and Lord of lords! It is an honour to be linked with Jesus, the Champion for the weak, poor, sick and sinful of this world! To be a child of God and a representative of the Lord of Glory’! Hallelujah!
When I was 24 years of age, I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour and worked in the business world as a born-again, Spirit-filled Christian! For six years after my conversion, I worked as a commercial traveller, for two different Food Companies.
It was wonderful to have God operating through me, as ‘gave it all I had’! He blessed me with an abundance of business, a great salary, good friends among the other salesmen, as well as respect and loyalty from my customers and employers! Praise God!
3. HOW CAN I OVERCOME MY WEAKNESS, SINFULNESS?
Are you labouring with weaknesses of the flesh or spirit, sins that you cannot overcome, temptations that you cannot withstand or fears that torment you? Do you suffer from anxiety, stress or a guilty conscience?
Are you bitter, envious, jealous, filled with hate and resentment? Are you struggling with lust, perversion or paranoia?
Hang in there! There is hope for you! We can help you through Jesus Christ our Lord! He is your friend! He is your hope and your peace! There are answers to your questions and solutions to your dilemmas found in the Bible, God’s Holy Book!
Jesus said: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matt.11: 28). Jesus said: “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” (Heb. 13: 5); \
“All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth...and lo I am with thee, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. 18, 20). Jesus used a double imperative in Heb 13:5 - “I will never, no never leave thee. I will never, no never forsake thee…”
“But ye shall receive power (authority) after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” (Acts 1: 8)
St. John stated: “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the BLOOD of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7, 9)
“Casting all your cares upon Him (Jesus) for He careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil goeth about, seeking whom he may devour...” (1 Peter 5:7,8)
St. Paul stated: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1: 7)
4. HOW CAN I OVERCOME DEPRESSION, ANXIETY?
You may feel that you are at the end of your rope and you have no future. The Devil may have convinced you that you are standing alone and no-one really cares about you.
I have good news for you. If you love Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Father loves you and has promised to come and abide with you.
Jesus said: “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him and and will manifest Myself unto him...
“If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We come unto him and abide with him”
Pastor Don Osborne of Quesnel, B.C. had a vision while being wheeled into the operating room for open heart surgery. He saw a large congested highway. All the vehicles had license plates that said, 'Understanding'. Suddenly, a single car on the outer lane passed them all. The licence plate read, 'Peace'. Don relaxed.
The operation was a success! The Holy Bible says: “Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4: 6,7)
Reach out to Jesus, my friend, because He is reaching out to you! A Gospel song says, 'Only trust Him, only trust Him now, He will save you. He will save you. Only trust Him now! And He will heal you and make you well in spirit, soul and body!
5. HOW CAN I OVERCOME MY GRIEF?
“And King Herod sent, and beheaded John in prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.
“And his disciples came and took up the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus.” (Matt 14:10-12). That is all we can do. We bury our dead in the certain hope of the resurrection, knowing that we will see them again. Then, we tell it to Jesus! He knows and understands everything! His great heart reaches out to us all, in our times of sorrow and grief!
The Bible says: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the Throne of Grace that we may obtain MERCY, and find Grace to help in time of need.” (Heb.4:14-16)
Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor: He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” (Luke 4: 18)
6. MY BODY IS FULL OF DISEASE, PAIN & SICKNESS!
You may feel that you are unable to carry on much longer. Our one and only hope is in Jesus Christ, who bore the heavy burden and weight of our sicknesses, diseases and pains for us on the rugged Cross.
I have personally witnessed great numbers of infirm, sick and suffering people receive a miracle from JESUS Himself as I prayed for those afflicted in His Name!
In 1994, I had the privilege of praying for Terry Somers at the Pentecostal Church in Lyttleton, New Brunswick. He had been severely injured in his spine seventeen years earlier in a mine accident and was on total disability. He had prayed for 17 years that he could die, because the nerve pain was so great.
When Terry was with us a few years ago, he testified that he had worked in the woods ever since his miraculous healing and had not had a pain or taken a pill for 19 years, since Jesus healed him.
The leading orthopedic surgeon in New Brunwick examined him and wrote that Terry believed that God had healed him and so did he!
The Bible says: “Surely, He hath borne our sicknesses (heb. makob), and carried our pains (heb. nasa): Yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
"But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed.” (Is. 53:4,5)
Who His own Self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes we were healed.”(1 Peter 2: 24)
“When the even was come, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils: And He cast out the spirits with His Word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses.” (Matt. 8: 16,17)
“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities: Who healeth all thy disease.” (Ps. 103: 1-3)
“Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” (James 5:14,15)
7. HOW CAN I FORGIVE MY BROTHER WHO HAS SINNED AGAINST ME?
The Lord's Prayer states: “Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come in earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matt. 6:9-15)
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive you.” (Verses 14, 15)
“Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matt. 18: 21,22, 23-35)
One servant owed the king 10,000 talents - more than $52 million. He begged for forgiveness and received it. He found a fellow servant who owed him $44, but would not forgive him.
“So likewise shall My Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses.” (Verse 35)
Since God has forgiven us our many sins, should we not forgive the much lesser sins our fellowman has done toward us?
Rev. Dale Lang of Taber, AB, whose son Jason was shot to death by a fellow student in his high school on April 28, 1999 stated: “Forgiveness is a gift from God. Without God’s love, I couldn’t have forgiven the young man who shot our son. This is too painful a thing to do on your own. With God in my heart, He has made it possible. I’ve been set free from bitterness and anger and unforgiveness, and that’s a wonderful gift.”
Love is a True Sign of Christianity! Our Lord Jesus said: “A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 14: 34)
8. HOW CAN I BE SURE TO MAKE HEAVEN?
A beautiful incident in the experience of Queen Victoria is worth sharing. It was published and is unquestionably authentic.
The Queen had attended a service in St. Paul’s Cathedral and had listened to a sermon that interested her greatly; then she asked her Chaplain, “Can one be absolutely sure in this life of eternal safety?” His answer was, “I know of no way that one could be absolutely sure”.
This was published in the Court News and fell under the eye of a humble minister of the Gospel, John Townsend, an intimate friend of George Mueller, whose life of faith led to the founding of his well-known orphanages. This John Townsend was the father of the famous “Sister Abigail”, another Christian of extraordinary faith and service.
After reading of Queen Victoria’s question and the answer she received, John Townsend thought and prayed much about the matter, then sent the following note to the Queen:
“To her gracious Majesty, our beloved Queen Victoria, from one of her most humble subjects;
“With trembling hands, but heartfilled love, and because I know that we can be absolutely sure now of our eternal life in the Home that Jesus went to prepare, may I ask your Most Gracious Majesty to read the following passages of Scripture – John 3:16; John 5:24; Romans 10:9-10.
“These passages prove there is full assurance of salvation by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ for those who believe and accept His finished work.
“I sign myself, your servant for Jesus’ sake,”
John Townsend was not alone in praying about his letter to the Queen. He took others into his confidence, and much prayer from many hearts went up to God. In about a fortnight he received a modest looking envelope containing the following letter:
To John Townsend;
“Your letter of recent date received and in reply would state that I have certainly and prayerfully read the portions of Scripture referred to. I believe in the finished work of Christ for me, and trust by God’s grace to meet you in that Home of which He said, ‘I go to prepare a place for you’.”
(Signed) Victoria Guelph
The BIBLE states: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16);
“Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24);
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom. 10: 9, 10)
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 24)
“For I know in Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2 Tim 1:12)
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10: 4,5).
ARE CANADIANS GUILTY!
“This know also, that in the last days, Perilous Times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, coveteous (lovers of money) boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy;
Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent (out of control), fierce, despisers of those that are good, traiters, heady, high minded (conceited),
“Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. From such turn away.”(2 Tim. 3: 1-5)
1. Lovers of Self : selfish, hard - hearted people!
German poet, Johan Wolfgang von Goethe said: “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”
On June 24, 1904 William Booth visited King Edward V11 at Buckingham Palace. The king begged him to write something in his autograph album:
Here is what he wrote: Your majesty: Some men’s ambition is riches. Some men’s ambition is fame; Some men’s ambition is art; My ambition is the souls of men.
Shortly before he died at age 83, he preached this message to 7,000 S.A. Soldiers in London: “While women weep as they do now, I’ll fight. While little children go hungry as they do now, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, I’ll fight; while there remains one dark soul, without the light of God, I’ll fight. I’ll fight to the very end!”
Jesus said: “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” (Matt. 41, 45, 46).
William Penn stated: “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again!”
2. LOVERS OF MONEY – (coveteous)
“For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Tim. 6:10)
Coveteousness: Bingo, VLTs, casinos, gambling, greed, avarice, lotteries, 'Day Traders' in Stock Market i.e. Enron - Anderson Accounting – cooking the books – Loan Sharks, Drug trade!
3. LOVERS OF PLEASURE more than lovers of God! Huge Stadiums, multimillion dollars contracts for hockey, baseball, soccer, football, basketball, etc.
There is a huge increase in drug addictions leading to death, through drugs like crystal meth, ecstacy, cocaine, heroin, and fentenal. Far too many of our young people are wasting their lives, getting hooked and dying from drug overdoses.