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Lesson 12: Nature as a Source of Health *

Introduction: If I asked you, "What is the greatest challenge to your peace of mind," what would you say? Would it be a relationship problem? Someone is not following the "rules" of kind and loving behavior? Would it be a lack of money? How about a concern about health? A concern over your job? Have you considered what nature has to teach us about those things that disturb our peace and cause us worry? Let's jump into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about this!

  1. Nature and Order

    1. Read Psalms 19:1-2. Is this true? If so, how is it true? (It is true. When we look at the vast heavens around us, and learn that the heavens operate in a reliable and perfect order, the only reasonable conclusion is that some amazing Intellect is responsible.)

    2. Read Psalms 19:3-4. What human can claim ignorance of the heavens above us? (The basic message of the heavens can be understood by everyone - although the full message of the heavens is not fully understood by anyone. If you doubt this, do a little research on "dark matter.")

    3. Read Psalms 19:5-6. What is one of the most basic, easily understood messages in the heavens about God's personality? (He is orderly. Our times are reliable. The movement of the earth in relation to the sun sets the most basic order of our lives.)

    4. Our lesson is supposed to be about health, and especially emotional health. What does the message of the heavens have to do with your emotional health?

      1. What causes you the most fear? (Facing the unknown? Uncertainty? Imagine what your life would be like if there was no order or certainty to the length of the day, night or the regulation of time.)

    5. Read Psalms 19:7. The Psalmist goes directly from a discussion of the movement of the heavens to a discussion of God's law. What logic is there in connecting the two? (If God has laws which govern the heavens and provide basic order to our universe and our environment, it is logical that God would have laws regarding how we should live.)

      1. Notice the Bible says that this order "revives" our soul. What application does this have to our mental health, if any? (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary says "The law of God is a reviving cordial [something that invigorates the heart] to believers." The Commentary bolsters this reading by citing Psalms 23:2-3.)

      2. Let's read Psalms 23:2-3. Do you see a connection between Psalms 19:7 and Psalms 23:2-3? (Yes! Just as God's law brings order to the universe at large, so His law brings order to my life.)

      3. When you have operated outside God's law, what happened to the order in your life?

        1. What happened to your level of stress?

      4. Look again at Psalms 23:2-3. Is God giving direction in these verses? (Yes. "He makes me lie down .... He guides me.")

        1. When you think of green pastures and quiet waters, does that give you feelings of peace and tranquility? (The lesson from nature is that following in the path of God's law restores our mental health.)

    6. Let's go back to Psalms 19: 7. This verse also says that God's law makes even simple people wise. Would you rather be smart or dumb?

      1. Why? (We generally think that life is easier for smart people.)

      2. What mental health advantage is suggested by this? (If you obey God's law, you don't have to be born smart to enjoy the advantages of being smart.)

  2. Read Psalms 19:8. Have you ever experienced joy by following God's law? Have you ever experienced sadness and gloom by not following God's law?

    1. This morning I took my customary walk on the beach. What caught my attention was the brightness of the sun. Think about standing in a bright sun on the beach. How do you feel? (Light lifts my spirits. When I travel to America's largest cities, I never like New York or Chicago. I always like Los Angeles. Why? One big factor is that I associate Los Angeles with bright light. (Yes, I know about the smog!))

      1. Is the level of the light what the second half of verse 8 is about? (The major point is that God's law helps us to better see the right path to take in life. The light metaphor presents a combination of righteousness and joy.)

  3. What is the overarching lesson from what we have studied of Psalms 19? (Our God believes in order. If we seek to follow His rules we help protect ourselves from worry and open the door to joy.)

  • Nature and Trust

    1. Read Matthew 6:25-27 and Luke 12:18-20. Is there a lesson here about barns (and banks)?

      1. Did this farmer have a future "bird's life" in mind - where he did not have to work?

        1. Have you ever watched birds? Are they always (or often) working for food? (The sea birds I see are always looking for food.)

      2. How should we understand Jesus' words with regard to nature (birds) and our mental health? (The lesson is not about how we prepare for the future (by savings (barns) or continued work) the lesson is that whatever we do, we need to trust God and look to advance His kingdom.)

    2. Read Matthew 6:28-30 and 2 Thessalonians 3:10. Jesus says the lilies "do not labor" as a positive point. Paul teaches that those who do not work should not eat. Assuming that the Bible does not contradict itself, what is Jesus saying? (The splendor of the lily is not due to its labor.)

      1. What is the practical lesson from nature for our mental health? (We need to work. We need to have a productive life. But, God's care for us is not dependent upon the nature of our work.)

    3. In the first section we decided that following God's laws tended to protect us from those things that would cause us to worry. In this section we find that our work does not have a direct relationship to our well-being. Are these two conclusions in conflict? (No. Life is better if we obey God. We know, however, from experience (and reading the book of Job) that obedience (work) does not always keep us safe from terrible things. Thus the reasonable conclusion from nature is that we must trust God. We must trust Him that His law is the best way to live. We must trust Him that He will ultimately save us from trouble.)

  • Nature and Praise

    1. Read Psalms 104:1-5. Did you notice the references to nature in this reading? Is the Psalmist talking about order here, or is he discussing another topic? (He is discussing the Creation. This involves order, but more importantly it shows the glory of God.)

    2. Scan Psalms 104:6-32 and Read Psalms 104:33-34. What is the result of meditating on God's creation? (We sing praises to God.)

    3. Read Revelation 4:6-8. When you get to heaven, would you like this job? (I used to think "I hope I don't get that job!" But now I've changed my mind. Have you ever really praised God? Have you sung praises to God and found that your spirit was lifted? Heartfelt praise to God creates the most enjoyable time.)

      1. How will praising God impact your mental health? (It is an antidote to depression, fear and worry. The Bible teaches us that nature is a trigger for praising God.)

    4. Last week I noticed a statement in Christianity Today which said that when we praise God, we join in the activity of the universe!

    5. Friend, nature declares our God, His power and His order. This gives us confidence to trust in His care and power, and a reason to follow His laws. No longer do we have to rely on our weak and fumbling efforts. Seeing all this, our natural emotion is to praise Him. Will you decide today to trust God? Will you turn from worry and turn to praise?

  • Next week: Partnership With Jesus.
  • * Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

    © 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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