Dr. James Montgomery Boice on Laying Your Burdens Before The Throne

“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” – Psalm 40:2

“If You’re Defeated, Bring Your Defeats to God”

What is your slimy pit? Some people are caught in the mud and mire of sin. David himself was an example of this at one point in his life. He began his descent into this pit by staying home from battle in the season when kings were supposed to be at war. While enjoying himself in Jerusalem, he saw a woman named Bathsheba bathing herself on the roof of a home close to the palace. David brought her to the palace, slept with her, and then, when he learned she was pregnant, arranged to have her husband Uriah abandoned in battle so that he was killed by enemy soldiers. David continued nearly a year in this condition. The story is in 2 Samuel 11.

Maybe you are caught in just such a sin. Perhaps one sin has led to another. You know what is happening but you can’t get out of it. That is no surprise. Sin is like that. Romans Chapter One describes the downward pull of sin on all people. When you are caught in this way, there is no point beyond which you may not go. You need help. Where is your help to come from if not from God?

Some people have a very different kind of pit from which they need to be lifted. It is the pit of personal defeat, whether at work or school or in the home or in some other setting or relationship. Some people would say that their entire lives have been one long and unending defeat. They have never succeeded at anything.

I do not want to trivialize your discouragement. But I can tell you this. God does have things he wants you to succeed at, and he will enable you to succeed at those, even though they may be different from what you are doing now. The place to begin is where David began. He began by laying his problem before the Lord. There was a time early in his life when he could have spoken very graphically of his defeats. No matter what he did, he was unable to please King Saul, and Saul in his hatred and jealousy of David ruthlessly hounded the young man from place to place. It was many years before the Lord intervened to remove Saul and eventually bring David to the throne. If you are defeated, bring your defeats to God. Wait on God. David “waited patiently for the Lord.” That is how Psalm 40:1 begins: “I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry.”

If you wait patiently, you too will learn that God has important things for you to do, and he will give you significant victories in his own perfect time.

 About James Montgomery Boice:

Dr. James Montgomery Boice, just 8 weeks after being diagnosed with a fatal liver cancer, died in his sleep on June 15, 2000. The senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, he was a world-famous Bible teacher, author, and statesman for Reformed theology. He informed his congregation of 32 years of his condition on May 7, proclaiming his complete confidence in God’s sovereignty and goodness.

In the past 72 years, historic Tenth Presbyterian Church had two senior pastors, Donald Grey Barnhouse and James Montgomery Boice – previous to Dr. Philip Graham Ryken (Currently the President at Wheaton College). Founded in 1828, the church itself predates their tenure by another hundred years. Tenth Presbyterian Church lies in the very heart of the city and today has about 1,200 members.

James Montgomery Boice accepted the position as senior pastor in 1968, and was the teacher of the Bible Study Hour since 1969 and the more recent God’s Word Today broadcast as well. Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the University of Basel, Switzerland. He had written or contributed to nearly 50 books, including Foundations of the Christian FaithLiving by the Book, and exegetical commentaries on Genesis, Psalms, Acts, and Romans.

He was no less involved in the preserving of the fundamentals of the faith than his predecessor, Dr. Barnhouse. In 1985, Boice assumed the presidency of Evangelical Ministries, Inc., the parent organization of the Bible Study Hour, Bible Study Seminars, Bible Studies magazine, and other teaching ministries. In 1997, Evangelical Ministries merged with Christians United for Reformation and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, taking the latter as the new organization’s name, and Dr. Boice assumed the presidency. In 1997, he was a founding member of, and chaired, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy.

Of particular concern to Boice was the matter of the church and her relationship to and engagement of society. His recent book, Two Cities, Two Loves, maintains that Christians are citizens of the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of heaven and that they have responsibilities in each. He urged Christians to “participate in secular life rather than merely shoot from the sidelines at secular people.”

His wife, Linda, and three daughters survive Dr. Boice. Characteristic of his ministry was his pushing Christians to commit themselves to staying in one place. He lived what he preached, committing to the church and his downtown neighborhood for 30 years. A gifted pastor and leader, he turned down many attractive opportunities in order to build a sense of permanence and belonging. And he urged his parishioners to do the same.

The article above is adapted from a Book of Sermons by Dr. Boice entitled: Psalm 1-41: An Exposition of the Psalms, Volume 1. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994/2004, pages 348-349.

God’s Answer for Discouragement by Warren W. Wiersbe

Adapted from Chapter 26: From The Book Turning Mountains into Molehills by Warren W. Wiersbe, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.

 This poem was written by a man planning to commit suicide.

 To whom can I speak today?

The gentle man has perished,

The violent man has access to everybody.

To whom can I speak today?

The iniquity that smites my land,

It has no end.

To whom can I speak today?

There are no righteous men,

The earth is full of criminals.

The interesting thing is this: the poem was not written by a frustrated twentieth century businessman. It is written by an Egyptian citizen over four thousand years ago. Violence and crime and corruption and thoughts of suicide are not modern problems, are they? They are ancient problems—and they have an ancient solution.

It takes little imagination to understand the mind of our anonymous Egyptian poet. He saw crime and violence all around him. The old values were changing. The good man was hanging on the scaffold and the evil man was sitting on the throne. There seemed to be no justice, no hope, no future. After pondering the situation, he decided that there was only one way out—to commit suicide.

Of course, suicide did not solve any problems. It never does. But here was a man who had absolutely no resources to depend on, no one to turn to in this hour of need. “To whom can I speak today?” he asks, and never does get an answer. It’s the picture of a lonely, helpless man at the crossroads of life, with no one to help him.

I’m sure that this picture can be multiplied many times today. All around us are frustrated people who simply don’t know what to do. Their world is collapsing around them. Everything they used to depend on has been destroyed; their foundations are gone. They don’t know where to turn, and perhaps they may be entertaining thoughts of ending it all.

It might interest you to know that some of the greatest men in the Bible had their hours of disappointment and defeat, and some of them asked God to take their lives. I’m not saying they were right; but I’m saying they went through experiences that were terribly disillusioning, and yet they came out victoriously.

For example, the great Jewish leader Moses became so discouraged one day that he asked the God of the Bible to kill him. Listen to the record from Numbers 11: “Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families…and Moses also was displeased. And Moses said unto the Lord, Why have you afflicted your servant?…Have I conceived all this people?…Have I begotten them?…I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if you deal this way with me, kill me…and let me not see my wretchedness.”

Moses was discouraged because he was carrying a heavy burden and the people did not appreciate his leadership. Where would the nation of Israel have been without the leadership of Moses? How often it is that those who do the most for us, are the least appreciated. When Moses heard the people weeping and complaining, his heart sank within him.

Listen to the great prophet Elijah as he sits under the juniper tree: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.”

Elijah was discouraged because he felt he was a failure. He had met the false prophets face to face and had defeated them; yet the people had not rallied to Elijah’s side in the great revival that he had longed to see. When Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him, Elijah fled for his life. And then he asked God to kill him! If Elijah had really wanted to die, he should have surrendered to Jezebel. How often we say and do foolish things simply because we are discouraged.

Suppose God would have answered the prayers of these men and taken their lives? Think of all they would have missed. Moses would have missed seeing God’s wonders in the wilderness. He would have missed that great farewell at Jordan, recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy. He would have missed commissioning Joshua to take his place. And he would have missed seeing the beautiful land of Promise.

Elijah would have missed his fellowship with young Elisha; he would have missed the joy of training the new prophet to take his place. And he would have missed a glorious chariot ride into heaven! Yes, it’s a good thing God does not answer our prayers when we are discouraged and defeated. If He did, we would miss out on so many blessings.

Our Egyptian poet had no one to speak to. “To whom can I speak today?” was his question. But Moses and Elijah had someone to speak to: they took their disappointments to the Lord. We may not agree with their prayers, but we do agree with their praying.

Have we trials and temptations?

Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged;

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

That’s the first secret of victory over discouragement: take it to the Lord in prayer. Open your heart; tell Him just the way you feel. The psalmist David puts it this way in Psalm 142: “I cried unto the Lord with my voice…I pouted out my complaint before Him; I showed before Him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path…Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name.

When life seems the darkest, then God’s dawn is about to break. He sees the end from the beginning, and He has a perfect plan for your life. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Disappointment is often “His appointment.” And God permits these difficulties to come our way, not to discourage us, but to encourage us to look away from changing circumstances to the unchanging God who is on the throne.

Even the great apostle Paul had his days of discouragement when it seemed he would have to give up. This is what he writes: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, regarding the affliction that happened to us in the province of Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living. Indeed we felt as if the sentence of death had been passed against us,so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. He delivered us from so great a risk of death, and he will deliver us. We have set our hope on him that he will deliver us yet again,” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).

The answer to discouragement is not to run away, but to run to God. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). That word trouble means “tight places” –“a very present help in tight places.” Moses prayed, and God met his need; Elijah prayed, and God met his need. And if you and I pray , God will meet our needs as well.

Now, when we pray, God does not always change the circumstances around us. But he does put new strength and hope within us so that we can face the circumstances courageously and keep on going. It has often been said that what life does to us depends on what life finds in us. If we are filled with doubt and despair, then life will crush us. If we are filled with faith and with God’s power, then life can never overcome us. Instead of being victims, we will be victors; for, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).

When you are discouraged follow the counsel from God’s Word.

First, don’t do anything drastic. Never, never make an important decision when you are going through a black night of despair.

Second, turn to God and tell Him just the way you feel. Open your heart, as David did, and “pour out your complaint before Him.”

Third, wait on the Lord. He has His purposes and He has His times. To run ahead of Him would mean to miss the wonderful things He has planned for you.

Finally, rest on His promises. Spend much time with your Bible, and claim the promises of the Word. When the night is the darkest we see the stars the clearest; and when life is dark, the promises of God shine like stars.

If you are one of God’s children, and if you are seeking to do His will, you can be sure that, in spite of circumstances, “all things are working together for good” (Romans 8:28). One day soon the lights will dawn, the shadows will flee away, and you will understand why God permitted you to suffer as you did. But until that day, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Ps. 37:5).

*Warren W. Wiersbe is the Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, and is the author of more than 100 books. Billy Graham calls him “one of the greatest Bible expositors of our generation.” Interestingly, Warren’s earliest works had nothing to do with scriptural interpretation. His interest was in magic, and his first published title was Action with Cards (1944).

“It was sort of imbecilic for a fifteen-year-old amateur magician to have the audacity to write a book and send it to one of the nation’s leading magic houses,” Warren says. But having a total of three books published by the L.L. Ireland Magic Company—before the age of 20—gave him a surge of confidence. In later years, he applied his confidence and writing talent to the Youth for Christ (YFC) ministry.

Warren wrote many articles and guidebooks for YFC over a three-year period, but not all his manuscripts were seen by the public eye. One effort in particular, The Life I Now Live, based on Galatians 2:20, was never published. The reason, Warren explains with his characteristic humor, is simple: it was “a terrible book…Whenever I want to aggravate my wife, all I have to say is, ‘I think I’ll get out that Galatians 2:20 manuscript and work on it.’” Fortunately, Warren’s good manuscripts far outnumbered the “terrible” ones, and he was eventually hired by Moody Press to write three books.

The much-sought-after author then moved on to writing books for Calvary Baptist Church. It was during his ten years at Calvary that Expository Outlines on the New Testament and Expository Outlines on the Old Testament took shape. These two works later became the foundation of Warren’s widely popular Bible studies known as the Be series, featuring such titles as Be Loyal (a study on Matthew) and Be Delivered (a study on Exodus). Several of these books have been translated into Spanish.

His next avenue of ministry was Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church, where he served for seven years. He wrote nearly 20 books at Moody before moving to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he and his wife, Betty, now live. Prior to relocating, he had been the senior pastor of Moody Church, a teacher at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a producer of the Back to the Bible radio program.

During all these years of ministry, Warren held many more posts and took part in other projects too numerous to mention. His accomplishments are extensive, and his catalog of biblical works is indeed impressive and far-reaching (many of his books have been translated into other languages). But Warren has no intention of slowing down any time soon, as he readily explains: “I don’t like it when people ask me how I’m enjoying my ‘retirement,’ because I’m still a very busy person who is not yet living on Social Security or a pension. Since my leaving Back to the Bible, at least a dozen books have been published, and the Lord willing, more are on the way.”

Wiersbe’s recent books include Your Next Miracle, The 20 Essential Qualities of a Child of God, The Bumps are What You Climb On, Classic Sermons on the Fruit of the Spirit, Classic Sermons on Jesus the Shepherd, Key Words of the Christian Life, Lonely People, A Gallery of Grace, Real Peace: Freedom and Conscience in the Christian Life, and On Being a Leader for God.

Book Review: Turning Mountains into Molehills By Warren W. Wiersbe

How To Turn Your Mountains Into Molehills

 This concise devotional by the prolific writer Warren W. Wiersbe consists of 30 short devotionals (one for each day of the month) originally aired over “Songs in the Night” – the radio broadcasts of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago.

I have read through this book several times over the years. It is especially good to read when you are battling discouragement, depression, or going through some kind of adversity. Each chapter stands alone and is full of Biblical principles, insights, and applications for helping you turn your own personal mountains into molehills by being reminded of God’s power, sovereignty, and love for you in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

I hope that you will get this book and be encouraged as I have so many times over the years. I highly recommend it as a treasury of reminders of God’s love for you, and how He always works out everything for our good and His glory.