Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I apologize for the long absence, have been dealing with some tough issues. But God has always been faithful=). Starting a new degree, in a new town, meeting new friends, going to a new church...all major changes.
Now, I want to get back to writing articles again. Will take a bit of time to polish it up, so do give me some time, yea?
Sunday, April 5, 2009
“…having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:5-6
Imagine an abandoned child – broken, despised, rugged, and probably disabled. His parents may not have wanted him anymore and have left him by the roadside to die. Or maybe he is an abused child, one treated with contempt. And then came his savior – a couple who agreed to take him in, flaws and all. They treated him like their own son, showering him with love and attention and the only way that anyone will know that this is an adopted child, is through a DNA test. He did not deserve that love and affection, but it does not matter anyway.
The act of being accepted is defined as ‘affirmed; taken responsible for; believed in; received; signed agreement; to be admitted officially’. Many people who have been through a painful childhood marred by abuse – physical, sexual, verbal and emotional will find it very difficult to understand the meaning of being accepted. To them the only way to be accepted is to subject themselves to abuse, and constantly disregarding their own needs for affection. However, this kind of love is at best – conditional. They find themselves slaves to love and affection, but always never deserving enough.
It is especially hard to believe that God is a Father and accepts us as His children. If our earthly parents who are tangible do not accept us, then how can we imagine being accepted by a ‘Father’ whom we cannot even see or feel? What makes things worse is when an earthly person claims to be a father, but does things that no true fathers will do. Some fathers are dominant and manipulative through physical and sexual violence; others are verbally abusive or emotionally distant. Fathers are supposed to protect, provide, and guide. Many grow up scarred, battered and wounded because not only did their fathers fail to perform what God has designated for all fathers; but they were instead taken advantage of. Fathers are supposed to be one of the closest people to the child, and this kind of betrayal and malice can have a permanent effect on any person.
Every leader that God has put above us, including spiritual leaders have the same impact on our lives as biological fathers do. The only difference is that they provide, protect, love, nurture and guide us emotionally and spiritually. They are the people whom we look up to, and people whose acceptance and favor we yearn for.
It is hard for Joseph to be rejected by his brothers, but it may be even more painful for David to be rejected by someone he calls a father, King Saul 1 Samuel 16-31). Imagine David’s excitement when he saw Saul’s favor upon him, thinking that he will be the next king. David must have been so excited that he is willing to do anything to please Saul, only to find himself being hunted down by Saul – all because of jealousy. For many years, David had to run away from the person whom he had trusted to nurture him. Despite Saul’s fierce advances in wanting to kill David, he had settled in his heart that he will not kill Saul even though he had the opportunity (1 Sam 24:11). David was crying out to be fathered and groomed, not to be hunted by a father.
Many of us cry out for accountability and submission to a spiritual leader. We want someone who can guide and nurture us. We want someone whom we can look up to, someone who is interested in our well-being. We need someone who will not cut us off just to protect themselves; but a leader who is not insecure in their calling. We need leaders who are not too concerned with their own goals that they will compromise their children’s growth, integrity and wholeness for it. We need someone who will recognize our gifts and callings, and help us advance but not for their own benefits alone.
Unfortunately, this is not what we always get. Many leaders nowadays are too busy seeking to use their ministries as a platform to pursue their own desires and satisfy their insecurities. They are always ready to justify their actions at the expense of the wounded. They are willing to help their children advance in their ministries as long as it benefits them. But as soon as they see any of their children as a threat to their positions, they have no qualms in destroying them.
We often wondered where we went wrong. It is one thing one thing to be rejected by a brother; but nothing can be compared to being rejected or disowned by a father. Like anyone suffering from abuse, we take the blame upon ourselves. We think that we must have done something wrong to deserve this treatment, though we can think of none. Often, rejection by a spiritual leader is more painful than that of a biological father because we expect that spiritual fathers should know better. We think that they should have known how to love as God does. The higher the expectations, the deeper the pain.
Of course, like earthy fathers, not all spiritual fathers are bad. There are leaders who love the people and work hard to accept and nurture them. But unfortunately in the world that we live in today, such leaders are hard to come by. And once you have been betrayed, you will find it hard to trust authority figures again.
God as a Father
We have a Father who loves us unconditionally and with a love that is so wide that it cannot be measured. Unfortunately, we cannot understand the depth of God’s love because of what we go through with our earthly and spiritual fathers. But whatever your experiences with the fathers around you may be, one thing remains the truth – God is the only perfect Father.
Romans 8: 17 has this to say: 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Two verses before that in v15, Paul says that ‘For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."’ Sons are not slaves – if you are a son, you cannot be a slave. Slaves are driven to work for their masters. They have no inheritance, they have to work hard to gain their masters’ approval. But a son is accepted by the father for who he is, unconditionally. He does not have to strive hard to earn that love, but does his duties simply as a son. A son inherits whatever the father has, and he is the heir to the Father’s throne.
We do not deserve to be God’s children, to receive His unconditional love and forgiveness. And yet in Ephesians 1:5 Paul says that we have been predestined (To fix upon, decide, or decree in advance; foreordain) to be adopted by Jesus. God has chosen us in advance even when we were formed in our mother’s womb, and He knows that we will be His. His acceptance of us has nothing to do with our achievements or anything that we have done. He accepts you just as you are.
Conditional love carries with it a lot of fear – the fear of abuse, the fear of being rejected, and the fear of not being good enough. But because God’s love is unconditional and perfect, it casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). We can now come before our Father and experience the depth of a Father’s love and the warmth of His embrace. We can now be like little children, and simply enjoy His presence.
Often, we even refuse to believe that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us because we do not want to be disappointed anymore. We would rather be satisfied with the thought that a father’s love do not exist, at least not for some of us. Sometimes hoping for something that we have never have, but need, is scary.
As difficult as it is to imagine, God’s love can never be compared to a human love. He is the best substitute for your father – biological and spiritual. Though we still need earthly and spiritual fathers, they will still fail us and cause us to think that God will treat us the same way.
The Father heart of God remains the same – steadfast, passionate, loving and enduring. Allow your hearts to be healed and filled with the Father’s love again, that you may be set free to love and to be loved. Remember, that perfect love casts out ALL fear, even the fear of coming near to God. And remember this: absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:29 – 35).
Sunday, March 29, 2009
7Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. (Psalms 139 : 7-8)
Imagine this little child who is just learning to walk. He takes a few steps, and then fall. He gets up again and continued walking. After a few times trying and falling, the baby starts to cry. Unbeknownst to the child, his father was beside him, watching him all the time. And whenever his child starts to cry, the father will always come to the child’s aid. The child’s tears and assumed ‘failures’ will never prevent the father from persevering in seeing his little boy walk without aid one day. The child can continue to walk and fall, but the father makes sure that his boy does not give up in the process.
We often think that our Father is not watching us. When the going gets tough, those were the times when we feel all alone. When we go through trials and pain, when we struggle to find answers to life’s questions, or when we find ourselves battling with temptations – those were the times when we feel most alone. Often times when our friends reject us, we feel as if God has rejected us as well. Downcast and dejected, we feel as if there is no meaning left to life. Has God forgotten us when we go through the most difficult times of our lives? Have we done anything to deserve this? How can this ugly piece of a puzzle be part of God’s special plan?
Where is God, really, when it hurts?
Remember Joseph – he seemed to have everything that he needs as his father’s favourite son. He has God-given dreams which gave him too much enthusiasm. There is no hint that he lacks anything at all. Now imagine having everything robbed away from him – his identity, dignity, and possessions. He was sold off by his brothers, falsely accused, wrongly imprisoned, and then forgotten by someone whom he has helped. Joseph had given his best in everything that he does, but it does not seem to help at all. I am sure that while in the dark dungeon of Pharaoh’s palace, he must have wondered if God has forgotten him. Has God taken back the promises given to Joseph through the dreams? Of course we know the end of the story, but it was not something that Joseph could see when he was in prison.
Or think about the Israelites, suffering in slavery under the brutal hands of the Egyptians. They must have wondered if God has called them His chosen people, then where is He? Or remember David? He was anointed as King as a young man, but what we saw in the most of David’s life was his never ending efforts trying to flee from King Saul. Has God chosen someone else instead? Did God make a mistake?
There are no easy answers to questions like these. We often wonder if God is there when no one else is, or if God knows it when we cry ourselves to sleep. Perhaps you think that you do not matter enough for God to care. But remember the Father heart of God – He always watches from a close distance. God will never prevent us from exploring and learning to walk through life itself, but He is also not absent from our cries. One lecturer/clinical psychologist once said this to me, “God’s hands are always so big that you can never run away from it”. His eyes are always watchful, always attentive. Whenever we feel like giving up, we will always find just enough strength to hold on. But it does not mean that God will take the thorn away from our flesh. The truth is, often God appears in ways that we cannot imagine – like in a still small voice instead of an earthquake.
If you believe that God keeps Hs promises, then one of His most profound promises is that He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6). Rest assured that God is always there with you – be it in your highest peak or lowest valley. He s there when you celebrate; He is also there when you think that you are crying all alone. Nothing happens without the Father’s knowledge. And so whatever happens, know that God’s presence will always go with you and He will give you rest (Exodus 33:14). Just hang in there for a little while more, and you will see help coming your way. Remember, God always has your best interest in His mind, and you will see the formation of a beautiful picture if you do not give up.
“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God has sent me ahead of you.” Genesis 45:5
When Joseph’s brothers sold him to be an Egyptian slave, they did not do it so he may become Egypt’s Prime Minister. It was out of jealousy that they what they did, and they had meant to never see their brother again. And for the next 13 years Joseph was kept in prison for something that he was innocent of. And yet, despite being falsely accused and having to spend 13 years in the prison, God’s favor was upon him. He was put in charge of the other prisoners. God gave Joseph the gift to interpret dreams, and it was because of that did Pharaoh released him and made him Prime Minister overnight. The devil had meant to destroy Joseph and make him the lowest of the lowest, but God has other plans.
The devil has one plan for our lives which will never change, and that is to destroy us. Sin brings destruction. Sin done by ourselves brings guilt and condemnation and that can be very, very destructive. Wounds inflicted on us as a result of others’ sin bring in hurt, bitterness and resentment. And because this world is a sinful world, the devil is out in full force to seek our destruction.
Sometimes we just do not understand why all these has to happen. It seems as if each time after God gives us a promise, an attack will immediately be launched against it. Prior to his handover to the Egyptians, Joseph had two dreams of being someone so much respected that even his parents and his brothers will have to bow down to him. He was so confident that it was from God and it will come to past.
Then, things went absolutely wrong. Joseph’s brothers decided to, out of jealousy and fear that they will one day have to bow down to their brother, sold him off as an Egyptian slave, hoping that they will never see him again. At first, Joseph found favor in the eyes of Potiphar, but it was short lived when Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him for being sexually immoral simply because he chose to do the right thing. For more than a decade, he spent his life in the dungeons. The dreams that God gave him seemed to just vanish in thin air. It seems that God is a liar.
But despite all that has happened, Joseph’s faith in God was never faint. The Bible says that ‘the Lord was with him, and showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden’. All throughout Joseph’s darkest times, God was with him. In fact, God was preparing Joseph for the palace even while he is in the prison.
When things get tough, do not be disheartened. Know that whatever word that proceeds from God’s mouth will never return to Him void. He will bring it to past in due time. Like in Joseph’s life, God prepared Joseph in the prison for the palace. Joseph was promoted from the lowest of all Egyptians (prisoner/slave) to the second man in the land, with a high authority given by Pharaoh.
When you have the favor of God, it cannot be taken away. Joseph’s dream was finally fulfilled when his brothers bowed down to him when they came begging for food. They did not realize that he is their brother, but Joseph recognized them. God has used Joseph to bring prosperity to the land of Egypt, making it the richest land at that time. Famine hit the land, but because of the wisdom that God has granted to Joseph, not only the people of Egypt have enough food, but people from neighboring lands come to Egypt looking for food.
In all these, Joseph was never bitter towards his brothers. When he revealed himself to them, he broke down as healing took place. Joseph restored his brothers and forgave them. He saw that God was behind all the ugly things that have happened. Joseph understood that God has sent him to Egypt not only to preserve its land and its people, but also those from neighboring regions who came looking for food. God is always true to His promises, though at times it may seem as if He has forgotten all about them. As in the life of Joseph, despite all the 'effort' his brother put in to stop themselves from bowing down to him, God's promise still prevailed, even after all the years.
The devil never wants the promises of God to be fulfilled in our lives. He will do anything to discourage and cause us to wage war against God. But remember, God is always faithful.
Paul says in Romans 8:28 that ALL things work TOGETHER for good. All means the good and the bad; and they work as ONE, together for a single purpose. You cannot separate the good from the bad, for it will be like looking at a single black piece of a puzzle instead of the whole picture; or eating the eggs and the flour separately instead of eating chocolate chip cookies. You need to put the good, and the bad together and learn to look a bit ahead into the future. Even if you cannot see how something so bitter can be a blessing in disguise, rest assured that God can. Sometimes trials force us out of the comfort zone or even bring us out from danger that we do not see coming. Sometimes, it is an opportunity to move on into something bigger that we have never seen. Remember, that in every crisis there is always an opportunity. There is always a door of escape.
When things get hard, know that you are in the exact position for promotion! Remember that the lower you are, the higher you will go. All you need to do is to surrender everything to God and always believe in His promises.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
JOY OF THE LORD
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)
Joy and Happiness
There is a fine line between joy and happiness. Happiness is an emotion which is subjected to the circumstances around us; whereas joy is a supernatural gift of the Spirit which every Believer can experience regardless of what is going on around them. In other words, if you do not have the Joy that comes from God, you have not experienced true joy at all.
A Merry Heart
A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones. (Proverbs 17:22) (NKJV)
My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body.
My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes. (Psalm 38:7,10) (NIV)
I am dying from grief;
my years are shortened by sadness.
Sin has drained my strength;
I am wasting away from within. (Psalm 31:10) (NLT)
Researchers and medical practitioners agree that the root of many diseases including cardiovascular diseases, migraines, back aches or joint pains, gynaecological disorders, cancer and auto-immune diseases are closely rooted in negative emotions such as fear and anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, self-rejection, anger and unforgiveness, and stress. Often when these negative emotions are not properly dealt with, they can have detrimental effects on out health. And sometimes as long as we do not allow God to take control in those areas, there will be no healing in our bodies.
These negative emotions emit poison into our bodies, disrupt our body functions, fluctuates our hormones, increases blood pressure, and causes our bones to become brittle. And often, the only cure for it is joy.
Connection Between Joy and Strength
One of the main symptoms of depression, fear and anxiety is the rapid loss of strength. When we are overwhelmed with grief, pain and fear it is as if we have laboured for days. To add on to it, many people suffering from depression neglect their meals which are the main source of protein and energy.
Note that there can be no joy in depression, anger or anxiety. When joy fades, so does our strength. You can only regain your strength when you have found your joy. No amount of sleep, rest or food can replenish the loss of strength through depression. Only the joy that comes from the heart of God can.
A Tired Soldier
As Christians, we are constantly in the battlefield. We are always fighting the battlefield of our minds, soul and will. And even though the battle is the Lord’s, we need the strength to sustain and stand strong. We still need to play our part in winning the battle.
A weak and tired Christian cannot fight, and the Devil knows that all too well. His main strategy is to make us weak by eliminating our source of joy. Remember, to be joyful is a choice. It is not dependant on our circumstances or if things are going on well for us; but rather it is a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit. By our own human nature we can never be joyful when things go wrong. But if we want to be an effective soldier in God’s army, we must know when and how to replenish our strength.
Fullness of Joy
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever (Psalm 16:9-11)
We find joy when we learn to rest in the arms of God. King David is probably the most depressed man in the Bible, but he has found a very important recipe for joy: the Presence of God. David may not have everything going right for him, but he knows where and how to draw strength from.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Far too often we try to carry our own burdens, or even get others to carry them for us; but seldom do we carry them before God. While other people may complain or judge us for our burdens, God does not. When we come to Him with all that is bothering us, He exchanges them with His joy, peace and strength.
When we come into His Presence, we must carry the key of Praise. The only battle that we need to fight when we are in God’s presence is the battle of Praise. It is easy to praise God when things are going well, but not so when we are going through trials. And yet, joy comes only when we learn to praise God in His sanctuary.
Never ask for a life without trials, but ask for strength to fight the battles. God never promises a life without pain. In fact, pain is the only way we can grow as Christians. But if we do not constantly come before God and receive His joy and strength to fight, we can never win.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The Secret Place discusses about how important God's dwelling is. I do struggle a lot to spend time in the closet, probably more than most of you. And yet I realised how important it is as it was where I found my healing, rest, and shelter.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. Psalm 23:2-3a
What is a secret place?
The word ‘secret’ means secluded, sheltered, or withdrawn. Rest means refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor; relief or freedom, esp. from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs; a period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquility.
A secret place is a place where we take time-off from the hustle and bustle of life, away from the concerns, worries and demands of the world, and even a break from ministry and church work; to spend time simply resting in the presence of God.
This kind of rest is not simply a get-away from activities, nor is it done by ‘emptying’ our minds. Resting in God is simply being still and knowing that He is God (Psalms 46:10). It is allowing ourselves time to commune with God and to hear His voice, to refresh and recharge our spiritual lives, and it is often also a place to safety. Without constantly spending time in the secret place, our lives will be full of chaos, and we will eventually suffer a burn-out.
Importance of being in the secret place
Much as rest is needed for our physical bodies, it is even more important for our soul, mind and spirit. Many people rest after a long day of work, but they fail to rest when their soul is weary. Their minds continue to work and work until it runs down. And then, the next thing they realized is that physical strength seems to be slipping away too, even without much physical work. Often we have time for every other thing, but have no time to spend time in the secret place.
God wants us to rest. In fact, many verses in the Bible, especially Psalms, instructs us to run to the secret place. God knows how much we need to set our minds and souls at rest, and so does the devil. In fact, rest is so important that it is one of the main deceptive tools that Satan uses to keep Christians off-track - to work and serve all the while thinking that they are making God happy. But what God wants is for us to have an alert mind, a sensitive spirit, and a well-replenished soul.
There is also much security in that secret place. Just a sense of knowing that God is there, just to know that His presence is around can bring a lot of peace to our turbulent souls. So often when troubles come we rush to the phone first instead of the throne. We seek help from others first before going to God. When in actual fact, God is the one who is always ready for us, with open arms.
As Christians we need to realize that there is a secret place that we need to constantly go to. It is a place of shelter, a place of strength, a place to be filled again with His spirit, and a place to rejuvenate. The effectiveness of our ministry for God is very much dependant on how much time we spend in the secret place.
A Hiding Place
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.
A relationship breakup. A sudden loss of a loved one. Someone came to threaten or intimidate you. A good friend has turned his back on you without warning.
When things like these happen, what do we do? Often we are caught by surprise. And surprises like these are often not easy to be dealt with. In fact, we often make hasty decisions which we will regret later. Things may seem to be going so well in one minute, and the next minute everything just explodes.
Life is never without chaos or turbulent waves. There are always things that happen that will shake our faith and rob the peace from us. Sometimes we think that the day is going go smoothly only to be caught unaware by the storms. When we face these sudden, abrupt changes in life, what do we do? Where do we go to? Who do we look for?
God always pictures Himself as our Protector, but do we receive His protection? He provides us with a place where no evil can harm us. It is total security. He gives the assurance that no matter what the enemy tries to do, we shall not be harmed. At the same time, it is in that secret place where He binds up our wounds. It is where all the hurts inflicted during the battles of life are being taken care off. It is a place of absolute trust in God, knowing that He will take care of our needs.
A place to receive Strength
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)
The secret place is a place to rest our weary souls. After fighting a tough battle, we need to find enough rest. We need to replenish the strength by resting. But why is it that there is only rest and strength or our souls in that place? What makes it so special? What has joy got to do with strength?
“Don’t be dejected and sad, for the JOY of the Lord is your STRENGTH!” Nehemiah 8:10c
And so here we see a connection between joy and strength. Nehemiah exhorts the people of God not to be dejected or upset because the walls have been ruined, for sadness and depression only drains our strength. When joy is absent, strength is lost. That is the reason why often when we feel upset, worried or depressed about something, we will actually feel very weary not only mentally and emotionally, but physically as well. The truth is, depression sucks the strength out of us.
Because the joy of the Lord is our strength, and that there is fullness of joy in the presence of God, therefore it is important for us to spend time in that place. A weak Christian is a vulnerable Christian. Satan knows that the moment he gets us over-worked, that is when we gets the hold of us. We must realize that we need the strength that comes from God. We need to learn to rest in His dwelling, and to allow joy to fill our hearts again.
A place to refill our cup
You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
The Shepard Psalm is an amazing psalm of total rest and reliance on God. Here, the Psalmist literally revealed all that one can receive in the secret place where God is in total control.
It is in that place when we receive that anointing to serve God. Often we try to prove our worth to God by serving in one ministry after another, but we have forgotten or are completely ignorant of our most important ministry – our ministry to God. God did not call us simply to serve Him only. God has called us as worshippers. Serving God comes as a result of our love for Him. But that does not exclude us from our main duty.
When we keep giving and giving to the ministry without allowing God to fill our cups from time to time, we will come to a point where we have nothing left to give. In the end, we become so burnout that many Christians have quit ministry because of that. They put the blame on God saying that God is unfaithful when in actual fact, they were the ones who have failed to come to have their cups filled. You cannot give what you do not have.
Many men and women of God in the Bible know the importance of rest. King David, Elijah, Elisha, and the disciples take frequent time-offs to spend time with God in order to be more effective in their ministry. Even Jesus will always retreat to the mountains after a long day of ministry, to spend time with His Father before continuing to minister to the sick. If Jesus had to have His cup refilled, what more to say us, as His followers?
A place to seek directions
There are many times in our lives when we will need to know what God wants us to do in a certain situation. We need the wisdom of God. There are decisions that we need God to help us make.
When we need an answer, that answer is often found in the secret place. We must understand that when we come into His presence, it is no longer our will, our thoughts, or our desires. We need to get our spirit connected with His, so that we can hear clearly from God.
There are many biblical examples whereby kings came before the Lord before a battle, to seek for direction. One of such examples is King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:1). And each time when God’s directions are heeded, the battle is won. But should they fail to seek God’s advice, they are at the losing end.
It is very important to know God’s will for our lives, and what He wants us to do. God’s plans are always bigger than ours. It is only our choice to choose between His will and ours.
We will always have reasons why we do not have the time to go into the secret place. As long as we will continue to give excuses, the world’s voices will always be louder than God’s call into His presence. We all need to make a commitment to get away from the busyness of life and go into His presence.
Whatever that you are going through, no matter how fierce the storms are, there is always a place where you can find security, rest and healing. He is waiting, will you meet Him there?
*All verses are quoted from the New Living Translation unless otherwise stated.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Important note: All 'In moments of pain' articles are partially adapted from sources here.
IN MOMENTS OF PAIN – PART FIVE
Winning the Battle Over Guilt And Condemnation
Don’t keep looking at my sins.Remove the stain of my guilt.Create in me a clean heart, O God.Renew a loyal spirit within me.Do not banish me from your presence,and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
Guilt is a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined. It comes when a person realizes the wrong that he has committed. Guilt is a kind of self-inflicted wound.
Many people handle guilt by punishing themselves. They cannot forgive themselves for what they have done, and so therefore they try to atone their sin through self-punishment. When we do something wrong, we walk ourselves along the path of self-judging, self-criticizing, self-condemning and self-hating. The result of this process leads to hopelessness and despair, helplessness, depression, and possibly suicide.
Condemnation is defined as strong censure; disapprobation; reproof. It is actually a form of rejection and being cast aside for no apparent reasons. Unlike guilt, you do not have to do something to be condemned.
Condemnation is merely an act of disapproval. When we feel that we do not measure up, when we see our shortcomings instead of our abilities, when we fail to understand that Jesus loves us for who we are and not for what we do, condemnation begins to creep in like a thief. If it is left unattended, it can slowly consume our lives.
Guilt always brings condemnation, but condemnation is not always the result of guilt.
Dealing With Guilt
The pain that come as a result of guilt can be very destructive. To add on to the pain, we receive even more condemnation from the people around us, even Christians. They may be well-meaning people trying to point out where we have gone wrong, but they just did it the wrong way.
It is one thing to show a person where he has gone wrong, but it is even more important to help him get out of the mess and restore him to life. When someone knows that he has sinned and has repented, there is no point bringing up the issue again.
I remember an incident when I made a careless mistake, and someone pointed it out. She is (or was) someone who I had looked up to. And while I appreciated her efforts of pointing out to me where I have gone wrong, she really did not help much by constantly telling me what is wrong and not doing anything to help me get back on track. And because she was a person of authority, I felt so guilty and dirty even though it was not a very big mistake. To make things worse, I did not thing that she was doing anything wrong until someone pointed it out to me. Till today, this person still thinks that she was helping me by making me feel guilty. As a result of that, I suffered with immense guilt to the point of giving up.
The bible has actually warned against the reinstatement of guilt over a person’s life, or else he may be so overcome by discouragement (2 Corinthians 2:5-8).
If you are ever overwhelmed with guilt, remember that no matter what you have done, God still forgives you if you repent. All you need to do is to come before God, admit your wrong, ask for His forgiveness, receive it and move on. Many of us stop at asking for God’s forgiveness and we repeat the whole process over and over again. We never get our breakthrough because we have never received His forgiveness.
Let King David be our example. He did an amazing thing after learning that the son Bathsheeba had born to him has died as a result of the sin. When the baby was ill, David was fasting and pleading for the child. But when the baby died, King David got up, washed himself, put on his clothes, worshipped the Lord in the temple and I believed that was when he wrote Psalms 51), and ate.
King David knew how to receive God’s forgiveness and move on with life. God did not disregard him simply because of that sin, because God sees the heart.
It I also important that we apply the principle given in James 5:16.
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Because guilt brings so much damage, confessing them can bring a lot of healing. It’s like taking a huge burden off your shoulders. However, what is very important is who we should confess to. The verse says that the earnest prayer of a righteous person produces wonderful results. In other words, that person must be someone who we can really trust, and is walking closely with the Lord. If he truly walks closely with the Lord, he will be able to accept the sin graciously without any condemnation, and work to pick that person up again. He will not reject the person for their mistakes, neither will he spread the story around and cause further damages.
Our sins cannot be cleansed by feeling guilty. We cannot pay for what we have done by feeling dirty and beating ourselves up all the time. It is only the blood of Jesus that cleanses us.
Dealing With Condemnation
Paul says in Romans 8:1 that there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. It means that the very moment we accept Jesus into our lives, there is no need to feel condemned. There is no need to feel disapproved and lowly. If God has accepted us, why can we not accept ourselves?
Remember that Jesus has bought us with His blood. We, the redeemed, are supposed to lift our heads up high without feeling condemned. If ever you do feel condemned, remember who you are: a child of the Most High, an ambassador of Christ, a part of God’s perfect workmanship!