To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘stress’ Category

Satanic Attack

Yesterday was a strange day, It had many joys including a beautiful meal out for May Lin and myself with a friend. And yet it was a day when I sensed attack and oppression. I felt deep in my being the onslaught of the evil. one. Is this all in my mind or is it real? The happenings focussed on some relationship difficulty, physical discomfort, being hammered in my soul about an action I had taken and great perplexity over certain matters. All seemed to suddenly arise.

The Sons of Korah in Psalm 42 and 43 are working through the issues of the voyage of faith amidst difficulty and oppression of soul. So we read:

I say to God my Rock,
    ‘Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?’     (Ps. 42:9)

and

You are God my stronghold.
    Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?       (Ps. 43:2)

In working things through he makes the three-fold affirmation (see Ps. 42:5 and 11 and Ps. 43:5)

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Saviour and my God.

And so must we. In the voyage of faith many struggles come. Sometimes they are very much outside of ourselves. At other times they are deep in our souls. Whatever and wherever they are we must look to the Lord and trust in Him.

Finally one scripture that greatly encourages me in these times is:

The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all      (Ps. 34:19)

Praise God for the “all” there.

Finally and most pertinently, if you feel constrained in these matters please pray for me. Please pray for deliverance, protection and strengthening of soul in faith as I put my hope in God. Praise be to the Lord taht thsi is not in vain because Christ Jesus our hope (1 Tim. 1:3c) has come

Busyness.

Here are some thoughts about busyness:

  • You can only do what you can do. And if you do more than you can do, then you will probably end up NOT doing what you can do.
  • Know the size of your plate and fill it. Your plate will not be the same size as someone else’s. Some will have larger plates and some will have smaller plates. They have these because some can cope with more than you and some with less than you. So:
    • Know the size of your plate and don’t be boastful towards those with a smaller plate, and don’t be intimidated by those who have a larger plate. You are you.
    • Don’t over-fill your plate; that will kill you.
    • Don’t under-fill your plate; that is laziness.
  • Your Maker has said six days you shall labour and one day you shall rest. He made the week like that. If you persist in ignoring the Maker’s instructions you will breakdown and stop functioning properly.

Where do our problems come from?

It is surely true that as believers in the LORD Jesus we are not exempt from the general problems of life. Difficult relationships, health problems, financial problems, unemployment, wayward children are all experienced by God’s people. When we have problems we often comment that Satan is tempting us or that this is a real test from the LORD. This leads us to ponder upon the origin of our problems. How can we know if something is resulting from the tempting of the evil one or the testing of the LORD? Where do our problems come from?

Biblical illustrations

The incident which above all others displays the workings of Satan to tempt a man to sin and disobey God is the temptation of our LORD Jesus. Clearly the temptings experienced by our LORD in that wilderness scene were from Satan. Mark says and he was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan (Mark 1:13a). However, it is interesting to see that Matthew says then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matt.4:1). Notice then that God had a purpose. Jesus did not just happen to end up in the wilderness and coincidentally Satan was there to tempt Him. Rather, the Holy Spirit of God sent Him there so that He could be tempted. We can say carefully that in the wilderness, by using the agency of Satan, the Father tested the Son to prove to all in heaven and on earth that this Jesus is conqueror of all; even Satan. Jesus resisted the devil and God was glorified thereby.

We learn then from the wilderness temptations of our LORD that in the problems of life God and Satan are both active. Satan is working to make us sin by turning us against God and His standards, whilst God is working to increase our faith by leading us to trust Him in the hard issues of life. This is the heart of the teaching we can glean from the experiences of Job. Satan was set on making Job curse God (see Job 2:5). Yet at the same time the LORD was specifically allowing Satan to “hit” Job so that the blamelessness of Job would be proven to all by Job’s continual trust in God. We might say that, God “won out” through Job retaining his trust in God. In the end this man of faith was richly blessed (see Job 42).

A further very interesting example of how we see God and Satan at work in the circumstances of life is found when David decides to number the nation of Israel. 2 Sam. 24:1 indicates that the LORD moved David to number the nation so as to judge His people. Whilst the parallel account in 1 Chron. states that Satan rose up against Israel, and incited David to take a census of Israel (1 Chron. 21:1). And so we ask the question: who was responsible for moving David to call the census? To which we answer both God and Satan were.

But who is in charge?

We conclude then that in the difficulties / problems of life, God and Satan are both at work, but with diametrically opposed agendas. Satan wants us to curse God, God wants us to trust Himself. The danger though, at this point is that we conclude that life operates amidst uncertainty about whether God or Satan will triumph. Such “dualist” teaching is wrong and completely mis-represents the Bible’s teaching. What we can say is that the circumstances of life always have two levels to them. There is the immediate and the ultimate. God is always ultimate. Our folly, Satan’s schemings, the decisions of others may all contribute to the immediate cause of our circumstances. However, behind the immediate there is always the ultimate and God is always working for the good of His people (see Rom. 8:28).

This leads us to assure our faith with the assertion that GOD IS IN CONTROL. He is not in a battle with the devil to work out who will triumph. He is the victor. The resurrection of our LORD Jesus is the most glorious example of this. Wicked men, inspired of Satan, drove Him to His death, but this was all according to God’s plan (see Acts 2:23). God raised Him up and in so doing rendered the evil one powerless in the matter of death (see Acts 2:24 and Heb. 2:14-15). God is both triumphant and in control.

Of all the biblical writers it is Isaiah who brings out the glory of our “ultimate” God who is triumphant and in control. To read Isaiah 45 and 46 is to get a flavour of the supreme authority of our God. Is. 45:7, for example, says: I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.’

What can we learn?

How do we work these things out in the day to day reality of life? Some theological understanding is found in James 1:12-14.v12 indicates that trusting God through the testings of life will lead to blessing in the form of the crown of life. This blessing probably cross references back to 1:2-3: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. On the other hand defying God and following temptation leads to sin which, in turn, leads to catastrophe; death. The critical issue then is not to sit around wondering where did this or that come from, but rather we should actively respond to the issues presented to us in life with faith in God.

Let us look at a practical example. A difficulty arises between yourself and another Christian in the church. How are you going to respond. The way of Satan through temptation is to say “I’ll never speak to that person again; I hate them!” This is to fall into Satan’s trap; he has led you away, there is division in the church and he gloats. Rather we should come before God in prayer, seek to implement God’s standards in His Word (Matt. 18:16-20 for example) and then through appropriate talking through the issue with the other person seek to restore the relationship. This is the way of faith. It is the way to get the blessing, the crown of life, from the testing.

It has been said that the tough matters of life either make you to be sweeter or more bitter. If we respond by faith and stick close by our God through the trial then there is greater godliness. Whereas if we turn against God and fall into the temptation that Satan has set then we become hardened against God.

The key issue then when troubles assail us is not deducing where they come from. Rather it is being wise as to how we respond. The spiritual health of our souls is at stake. The same trouble sweetens one, under God, and embitters another, under Satan. Which way will you go?

(Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter of May 2007)

Don’t worry about it!!

Perhaps you’ve said these words to someone. Very likely you have been on the receiving end of these words. But when you stop and think about it they are pretty useless words. They ask you to do something, but they do not give you the means to undertake the activity. In fact there you are worrying and someone says stop worrying about it. And you’re left thinking I don’t want to worry about it. Worry harms me and I know it. I am not worrying for fun.

So what should we say to someone who is worrying.? I suggest we have to reason them out of their worry. So here are some thoughts:

  • Listen to them as to what they are worrying about.
  • Take them to scripture and explain how the Lords can come into the situation that they are worrying about.
  • Remind them of the greatness of the ever caring God who has everlasting arms that cannot fail.
  • Sometimes medical assistance might be sought if someone is suffering a mental malady which is leading to worrying.
  • Sometimes someone has to be rebuked for developing a wrong attitude on something.

So don’t give the trite advice: “do not worry about it?” As price of advice it is generally less than useless.

 

Being transformed in church

How often have I heard it and you too? I have probably said it myself in times past as well. It goes something like this “Come into church and leave all the pressing troubles of this world behind”. Or it comes in prayer: “Lord help us to focus upon you and your ways and forget about all of the issues pressing upon our lives, as we gather in your presence today.”

Now what do you think of those sentiments about our coming together in church. It is my conclusion that they present false notions of what it is to come into church. Fully understandable they are, but in the end not helpful.

The wonderful thing about coming into church is that we can bring all the stuff that has been and is besetting our lives. We bring it with us. We do not lay it aside like some garment to take off and put on again after we have finished “church.” Rather, we bring all aspects of a lives into church as we gather with our fellow believers in the presence of God. And as we are praying praising and hearing His Word we, by faith, experience God’s transforming of those situations and perplexities.

Very likely this will be through us once again getting a proper grasp on life as we see God’s purposes in Christ. It may well be that an insight comes from the Lord to help us progress through our situation.

Whatever it is, let us believe God that through “church” transformation can take place.

Sin is the key issue

Sin is the big issue. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He did not come to saved the uncomfortable or the stressed; he came to save sinners. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3b). This is the key issue for our lives. I so easily think of my needs in terms of emotional or physical comfort. I think of how I am being treated. And so if I am being treated well then life is good. If there are no problems in my life then that is a good life. All this thinking is misdirected. The key issue is sin.

Job was completely mauled in the purposes of God. Satan was allowed of God to test his life. All his comforts were taken away. He was treated very badly. Everything was against him. His physical and emotional welfare was completely messed up. Yet in those opening chapters of Job we read this statement twice. In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong (Job 1:22; see also Job 2:10b)

In every situation I need to ask myself: “Have I sinned here”? If not I can rest assured in the pleasure of the Lord’s favour because righteousness pertains. Even if I am being badly treated, even if I am stressed, I can know that the key issues are good because I am not following sin.

 

Count your blessings

Below are the lyrics to “Count Your Blessings” It is an old hymn by Johnson Oatman Jnr with no doubt, a certain quaintness to it. Yet it has a profound message which I so easily neglect. It is good to stop and name your blessings. In doing so we take a stand against the assails of the devil and honour the Lord for all his goodness to us.

So why not take some time just to ponder upon the lyrics. Even click in the link below and sing it to yourself.

1

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

2

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

3

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your Lord on high.

4

So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Source: http://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/707#ixzz397wQx71Y

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