Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stressful troubles, how?

Preamble: Recently, my distant friend, Ps Prentis put up 2 articles, back to back, touching on Psalm 91:14-15, and 1 Pet 5:6-7, on his blog, “Created to give Glory”.  As these talked about troubles, stresses, and worrying, and about God’s presence with us, and His protection and deliverance, I want to put up the 2 comments (combined, with some rearrangements) I put up on Ps Prentis’ blog, on the subject. Ps 91 is a very significant psalm, and it has the very beautiful promises commonly on the lips of believers all over. I have previously put up an entry on the entire Ps 91; you can read it here: Ps 91 – Secret to our well-being.

Speak it, preach it
Yes, speak about this one; preach it, Ps 91 verses 14-15.

Ps 91 is a very beautiful psalm, also commonly known as the Protection Psalm. Readers should go read it; you will see the promises frequently on the lips of believers found there.

How do we get there – dwelling in the shelter of the Most High?
The Psalm opens with "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." After that, the beautiful promises of God are given.

But what many of us fail to tell people, or maybe we ourselves, do NOT know, is how one gets to dwell in the shelter of the Most High.

Is that a physical place? Where is the shelter of the Most High? How do we get there?

It doesn’t work?
In fact, many believers are disappointed, for often what they read in Scripture, like the beautiful promises of protection in this Psalm 91, they do NOT seem to come through for them. After a while, they give up, and conclude we cannot take the Word at its face value! Part of the blame lies with us, we don't properly tell people that many of these promises have conditions attached to them.

I am NOT saying if we do NOT fulfill the conditions attached, we will NEVER be able to receive the promises; I am NOT saying that. What I am saying is that if God puts condition(s) to His promise, it is NOT unreasonable of Him to expect you and I, to fulfill it/them.

Verses 14-15 – the key
The key to Ps 91's promises is in verses 14-15. Where is the shelter of the Most High? How do you get there? Is it a physical place? No, it is NOT a physical place. You and I get there by loving God.

When we get into trouble, it is NOT that God does NOT want to come and get us out of our trouble; He can easily do that. It is He can always do that, but the question is, do we know what is the point/lesson that can be learned from our scenario.

Getting into troubles
How do we commonly get into trouble? We disobey God or some commands of God. For example, God's Word said NOT to steal, but you did it. Or God's Word said that we are to seek first His Kingdom and righteousness, and then what we need, they would be added to us, but you don't want to follow that, instead you decided to put all your time and attention to your career, even if it would take a toll on your health or family. God can come and help you out, but will you learn the lesson therein?

Some people when they are in trouble, all they want and care about, is how are you, God, going to get me out of this? God can get them out, but they would get into trouble again and again. "But God is patient-what!" Hello, it is you have to grow; it is NOT God has to grow in patience! God's desire is for all of us to grow.

Back to square one if you don’t know how to love God
So, I have said, you got to love God; that is the key to availing yourselves to the protection promises of God, there, in Ps 91. But if you don't know how to love God, you are back to square one - where you don't know how to dwell in the shelter of the Most High?

Is it that obvious, how we are to love God? No, I don't think so. Make a guess, now. No, don't say, we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength! That still does NOT say how?

What Jesus said
Jesus did say how - Obey His commands. Short and sharp, but pastors are NOT preaching it, no wonder people are NOT knowing it. It is repeated many times in the writings of the Apostle John. Two verses that I like, on this, are John 14:15 and John 14:21a.

How can you get to dwell in the shelter of the Most High? Love Him. How to love Him? Obey His commands. How do we say, people commonly get into trouble? They did NOT obey God's commands. See, God can get you out of your trouble, but if you continue NOT to obey His commands, you are just NOT loving Him, and you continue to get into trouble.

Hello, NOT God does, and then you give Him some love!
Then, there are those who would like to have God's protection all the time. Anything wrong with that? No, I like that too. But then, how do we love God? Some people do this, "This Sunday, I will go to church, and sing a few thanksgiving songs to God, since I have had relief from my trouble. God has indeed helped me," But then, the week following that, they don't go anymore. You know, how bad this attitude is. I tell you what you are in effect, doing: You are holding out that God is the one needing teaching or growing; in fact, you are saying in His face, "God, if and when you help me, I will give you praise! God, you do first, then I give you love!” What audacity is that!

We need to love God for who He is and we are to worship Him in the like of the 3 friends of Daniel who were thrown in the furnace by the King Nebu. You can read the full story in Daniel 3. This is what the threesome said:

17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ” (Daniel 3:17-18)

That is loving God; NOT you (God) do, and then I reciprocate.

Two other ingredients
Ps Prentis mentioned 2 other ingredients for getting help from God in your time of trouble. They are that you are to identify with God, and you are to call out to God. They are mentioned in verses 14 & 15 of Ps 91. They can be regarded as being part and parcel of loving God, but we can take it out and explicitly point it out to people; and I will elaborate on them a little bit more.

NOT one-time, but continual acknowledgment
Actually, when you gave your life over to Jesus, when you entered into salvation, you are identified with Jesus, or to use the words in verse 14, you have acknowledged Jesus. But the problem with many of us, is that we soon “go on to do our own things”, and so, in the process we have failed to follow through with our commitment to be in continual acknowledgment of Him. Now, if you think you only need to do that, once, at the point of your entry into salvation, and can then just do what you like, without change in your life or lifestyle, you have been taught under erroneous core theology of the Christian faith (to me, that is being legalistic/legalism). Don’t let false teachers fool you, how you live shows if you are acknowledging Him; you go legalism or legalistic with God, you cannot win your case.

The correct way ….vs the wrong way
When you are already a believer, acknowledgment of Him means you live according to His prescription (how you live), and when you are off, you have to acknowledge that, you are off, and you need to turn back, and resume the way of life prescribed by God (no lie, no steal, and so on…). Yes, that means you confess you have strayed; you repent, and you turn to God for forgiveness. Yes, acknowledge Him again, with a humble and contrite heart. Don’t listen to teaching that tells you the only thing you need to do, is to tell the Devil off, by telling the Devil that you are still righteous. Who do you need to acknowledge, the Devil or God? Look, who is going to see you to Heaven, the Devil or God? What we need to address foremost, is our issue with God, NOT you don’t have to come before God, just tell the Devil off. I am NOT saying there is anything wrong with telling the Devil off, per se, but it is that we have to foremost, address our issue with God.

Taking God for granted
The common sense that we have to call out to God, to some people, it turns out to be NOT that common! Please, you cannot insist this, “He is God-what, He knows everything-what, He knows even before I ask, then I don’t need to tell Him-what!” You will be surprised that many believers do this to God. Yes, God, as well as the angels He assigned, watch over you, and without you knowing, help you a lot; but you cannot take Him for granted. Yah, you are taking Him for granted; you don’t even be bothered to talk to Him about your problem. You don’t want to dialogue with your loved ones, like your spouse, and then you expect him/her to anticipate, and act just in the nick of time to take care of things. Oh! You don’t do that to your loved ones, your spouse, but you will do that to God! Isn’t He your most loved one, ahead of your spouse!

“He doesn’t hear me!”
If you have been loving your God, and say, you strayed or did a wrong or sin, and then you acknowledged Him again, and you called out to Him, would He NOT answer you? Verse 15 said He would. Some people have this attitude: “I don’t think He hears me, please pray for me to God.” I will pray for people who need prayer. I don’t credit myself as a righteous man, that my prayer avails much, but if you trust that my prayer can help, I will help. But people do need to examine themselves. Do I ask others to pray for me? Sure I do. But I also pray myself. If I ask people to pray for me for a matter, I must have or be prepared to pray to God myself concerning the matter. You have to ask yourself, why you won’t call out to God on the matter.

He always hears, but may NOT listen to you!
God hears it when a believer prays, like He hears it, when a doorbell rings! That is the minimum; in other words, God always hears. The Hebrew word is “Shama”, which can mean “hear”, like hear a doorbell ringing, on the one end, or “listen” or listen to give efficacy, tending on the other end. Does God hear you? God hears you, alright; but He may NOT listen to you.

Stubbornly wicked believers, sorry, you cannot expect God to listen to you, as in, do as you want! Of course, NOT; in fact, in the extreme scenario, He may NOT hear you, but that, I believe, is NOT before He already warned you (exception to God always hearing you).

How you look at it, and how God looks at it
What some people want to do, is that they don’t want to re-acknowledge God, but they want God to listen. If you don’t want to re-acknowledge (from the heart, like what has been explained above), God hears, but He may NOT listen, meaning He may NOT give efficacy to your request. For God, what is more important is you get back right with Him. To us, God looks always tarrying, but to God, He is eager to pounce on the moment of change He wants to see.

Sometimes, He does NOT give you what you want, but answers you differently, for He knows best how to mould you or direct you, for our own good (old fashion, but true!).

No, it is NOT you won’t have any trouble
When you love Him, including obeying His commands, when you acknowledge Him (NOT just at the time of your salvation, but continually acknowledging Him, and if you stumble, you re-acknowledge Him), and you call on Him, in humility and with a contrite heart, He will answer you. In verse 15, it clearly said there, that IN YOUR TROUBLE, He will be with you (See, God never say, you will have NO trouble in your Christian life or when you are dwelling in the shelter of the Most High or when you are loving your God). In other words, in your journey on earth, God journeys with you. And He will rescue/deliver you, protect you and even honor you. Herein, are the keys to a good Christian life. What more do you ask – God walks with you (think Enoch), rescues/delivers you, protects you and even honors you. Yes, some trouble; what to do, you and I, are still in the world; but they ought NOT be stressFULL, when you are dwelling in the shelter of the Most High.

The 2nd text – it ought NOT be stressful
1 Pet 5:6-7 – 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Although different texts (Ps 91:14-15 and 1 Pet 5:6-7) were being referred to, all the same, the theme was that, our obedience from our love is absolutely essential.

Ok, some of us can be in trouble, but NOT stressed (or NOT much). This is because you trust that God is with you in your trouble - yes, as said in Psalm 91:14-15. For all others, trouble means stress; because you worry, and you worry because you have no confidence that God is going to help you through.

And yes, one can be stressed even before he gets into trouble. This is because he already started to worry even before trouble hits.

Either you have NOT obeyed or you lack godly wisdom
In either case, it (trouble/stress/worry) is usually, as correctly pointed out, because you have NOT obeyed God or His Word. Or at times, you just do NOT know what to do, or you lack godly wisdom to handle the situation.

Why do you NOT want to obey?
Why do you NOT want to obey God or His word, which would account for the much worrying, stresses or troubles? To me, no matter how you look at it, it always come back to, either you refuse to be holy as God is holy, or you refuse to love God (Of course, I will NOT argue with you, if you only state it as solely because you refuse to be holy as God is holy, because the two are related, too).

These links you must know and understand
The laws or commands of God, His righteousness and justice are the demands of His holiness. They are the outworking from the holiness and wisdom of God. When we refuse to obey, we are refusing to acknowledge the demands of holiness, or we can say, we are refusing to be holy as God is holy.

When we refuse to obey, we can also be said as NOT loving God, for Jesus said those who love Him, obey His commands (John 14:15) and those who obey His commands are those who love Him (John 14:21a).

What about lack of godly wisdom?
If we say, "But we do NOT know what to do, we lack wisdom-what; that is why we did this or did NOT do that", Scripture indicated to us, that is also NOT excusable! Scripture said, "He who lacks wisdom, let him ask, and God will give to all without undeserved reproach, generously." (James 1:5).

But I don’t get!
Some might protest, "But I ask-what; I don't get! James 1:5 cannot be relied upon!" No, there is the "without undeserved reproach" in James 1:5. What is that? Think, how does Scripture say, concerning how wisdom is to come.

The fear of the Lord – the special meaning
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom or godly wisdom. The "fear of the Lord" was given a special meaning in the Word. The fear of the Lord, in the Book of Proverbs, is said to be to hate what God hates, evil. What is the opposite of evil or wickedness? Holy or holiness. So what does it mean? It means if you don't embrace holiness, you don't get wisdom. If you want godly wisdom, embrace holiness wholeheartedly.

The given provisio of James 1:5
Now, we come back to the "without undeserved reproach" in the giving of wisdom by God, as said in James 1:5. The interpretation for James 1:5 becomes, "If you lack wisdom, and you ask, God will give it generously to you (all of you) provided you are embracing holiness wholeheartedly. If you are impure, you are NOT without undeserved reproach. Actually, it is very true that it is NOT that one does NOT know what to do; it is that he is of impure heart or intent, and so, he chooses NOT, according to that, which the godly wisdom of God would prescribe. (Additionally, in vv6-8 of James 1, the one who asks must believe and NOT doubt).

Humility is embracing God is holy and awesome
Concerning the humility in the text, 1 Pet 5:6-7, it is a good word to open up to such subjects as obedience, which Ps Prentis did, and such other subjects as pride of Man, and holiness and awesomeness of God. To humble ourselves before God means we are acknowledging we are low (humilis – Latin word) and God is high, meaning we are NOT better than God. When God is better, we are NOT, what does it mean? It simply calls for us to listen to the better one, God; and when you are listening to God, what are you doing, you are obeying Him. To humble before God necessarily mean you have to obey Him; Ps Prentis said it rightly.

One can look from the angle of goodness. Jesus said, when the young rich man called Him good teacher, “Why you call me good (teacher)! Only God is good. There you have it – we are low in good, God is absolute good, or holy. To be humble before God is to acknowledge that God is good, absolute good or holy, and we are NOT. That which comes from absolute good or holy can only be wisdom; and so, to humble before God necessarily mean you have to obey Him, for He has the all wisdom. When we recognize the holiness and wisdom of God, we realize the awesomeness of God (of course, the might of God comes in, too); and we should have no room for self-pride before God.

When we embrace God is holy and awesome, and thus humbled, we cannot, but love Him, and we obey Him.

Want less stress or stressful troubles?
You want to have less stress or worry NOT, catch it - catch that God is holy, that God is wisdom, that God is awesome, and God is righteous, and God loves you unto righteousness. When you are obeying Him, you are loving Him (John 14:21a), and when you humble yourself before Him, you are acknowledging Him, and when you ask, including wisdom for your scenario, Psalm 91:14-15 tell us that you will NOT be disappointed; for there, God promises rescue, deliverance, protection, presence, and even honor. Yes, honor; 1 Pet 5:6 put it as ‘He may lift you up in due time’.

God loves you
I just said Psalm 91:14-15 tell us that we will NOT be disappointed, but what is the overall picture painted by the 2 verses? God loves and cares for you. That is what 1 Pet 5:7 said, God cares for you, and so, you can cast your anxiety to Him.

You need to remain in His love, but how?
By now, you should have known that the main key to Psalm 91 is loving God. Remember now, all of these, “so good promises of God”, they are requiring you to love God - love Him back, that He has first loved you.

Jesus said, in John 15:9-10, 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.


Please REJECT the teaching that tells you, you have just to bask in grace, chuck the laws (commands), and don’t have to do anything, or can do anything with just the need to tell the devil off!

The secret to our well-being is love God; and one key way to love God is to obey His commands. Do it, and you will have lesser (NOT nil) troubles, and possibly nil stressful trouble.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – Lord, this is a recipe for the well-being of your children. May you bless the above reading, for it is your desire that your children be well. May they receive your prescriptions for their lives. Amen.

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