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Friday, March 2, 2012

Bad Time to Make a Terrible Decision

Sometimes things that were of supreme value go wrong. Your girlfriend gives you the speech, "I will always love you but just not in that way. . .," your boss says, "Our company is downsizing and we had to start somewhere. . .," you discover that your husband is having an affair or that someone you love is dying or has died and you believe that your world is over. I can assure you that it is not. I can also assure you that this is not the best time to make a decision that will have long term results. Your emotions will take over and you will almost assuredly do something that can't be cleared for years or even a lifetime.

Unfortunately, this advise makes sense when times are calm but can't be heard when things go crazy. Many people make terrible decisions when they are under extreme stress. The best thing we can do it remember some things as we go through our terrible time and make our decisions based on what we knew when times were calm.

I hope this is a calm time for you but if not these are the things you should still remember.

God did not withdraw His love for you during your bad time.

 Romans 8:37-39 (ESV)
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God has a plan for your life that is good for you.

 Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

God knew that this thing was going to happen to you and took it into His plans for you.

1 John 3:20 (ESV)
20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

God will take the elements of this bad thing and cause good to happen to you.

 Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Please remember what happened to Joseph in the Old Testament.

God's plan was that his whole family would be saved by the hardship that he would have to go through.

 Genesis 50:20 (ESV)
20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

I feel certain that Joseph didn't see things this way when his brothers threw him into a pit. He must have thought his dreams were ridiculous when he was sold into slavery. He must have thought that God had forgotten him when he was thrown in prison. He must have thought that his life was over when those he helped in prison forgot about him for such a long time. Joseph was seventeen when his brothers threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery. He was thirty when he bowed before Pharoah and interpreted his dreams. Joseph would be thirty-nine to forty-one years of age when his brothers would make the trip to seek his help and eventually bow down before him. Twenty-two to twenty-four years transpired from the revealing of God's plan to that plan's completion.

Joseph could have decided to take his life. He could have decided to get revenge on his brothers when they came to him in despair. He could have severed his relationship with his family rather than reuniting with them.
But Joseph looked at the big picture and saw how God's hand was guiding the blessing as it played out. I am sure that Joseph called it a tragedy rather than a blessing while he was in the middle of his suffering.

So, I say to all those who are going through a bad time that they should not make a decision without godly counsel when going through a bad time. They should not make permanent decisions for a temporary problem.

Revenge is not the answer. Suicide is not the answer. Going to God is the only answer. He is the only One with whom you can know that you are always loved. He weeps when you weep and carries you through your bad time.

The bad things that have happened to you are still bad but God is also still good. He will guide you if you will let Him.

 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV)
7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.


high-expressions said...

It is very true that when under extreme stress, we should try NOT to make important decisions that have long term implications. But at times, certain decisions still appeared to be urgent that needed to be made; and if you have to make them, you need to bring them before the Lord, and also to discuss the matter with godly counselors.

But the problem is that often, when one is under extreme stress, he is NOT "thinking straight", and the result is that he omits to consider the 2 points, of bringing the matter before the Lord and godly people. So, it is as the case of most matters, we need to grow in this, learning hopefully through others' mistakes more than our own.

At times, really, certain things, you should NOT want to learn it first hand, i.e. experience it yourself. For example, you really do NOT need to get yourself burnt badly before you learn playing with fire is NOT good. So, here is an example, that Ps Prentis is advising us NOT to make long term decisions in extreme distress; he is advising, most likely, from his personal experiences, and from his exposure to many cases of this sort, from his ministry as a pastor. Take heed to such advice.

My mother used to ditch out a saying like this: "Don't look for toilet paper only when you are done, doing your business!" It is crude, yet it has wisdom in it, applicable even to this matter. We will be caught in situations of stress (no one is exempted), so why don't we prepare beforehand. In other words, we should practise the "good practices", until it becomes a good habit. Is it NOT a good habit to always check to see if there is toilet paper before you do your business? Yes, it is. Similarly, acquire the habit of bringing matters before the Lord, and seek godly counsels, before you are hit with the "big ones". To acquire a good habit, you need to break the cycle of an old one.

If you do NOT regularly check to see if the stock of toilet paper you bought has run out; when you need it, you will find that there is none. If you do NOT regularly come into the presence of the Lord, and get to know Him and His ways, then when there is an urgent need, no wonder, you wonder where God is, and what can possibly be His will in the matter you are facing. If you rapport NOT, with any godly people, when there is a need, would you turn to one for counsel; even if you were to, who would you turn to?

To successfully maneuver through our Christian life, we cannot adopt the attitude of "Once I am in, I am ok. I have given my life to Jesus, that would be enough!” or "It is all God's work to see me through, since I have admitted that He is Father". Many believers do NOT like to hear this, but it is true: "There is a lot of work that a believer has to do, to live the life God has intended for him."

In the first place, we must want the life God intends for each of us. If you do NOT want that, then there is nothing to talk about; and there is NOT, any reason for God to guide you along, except it is grace on top of grace, that He still does so. It is true that God does that, granting grace upon grace, yet we should NOT forget that grace means God can decide NOT to do something for you, and He is perfectly entitled to.

There are two important matters here; one is that we should NOT profane the grace of God, and two, the only thing we can do, is to align ourselves to His will and desires, if we want to see more of His grace for us.

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high-expressions said...

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We cannot arm-twist God, NEVER! But when we want what He wants and do what He wants, and at the time He desires; in other words, when we subscribe to His ways, why would He NOT be readily extending His grace and therefore, assistance, to us. And the only way we can be doing that, is that we spend time studying His Word and applying them, and drawing near to Him; it is NOT something one can achieve overnight. We got to work at it, bit by bit, day by day. Generally, there is no short-cut, and if there is any, for anyone, it is again purely to be by the grace of God; meaning it happened to him, it may NOT happen to you!

Yes, we all stand by and depend on the grace of God, but I believe God wants us to mature to “stand by and depend on His Word” more. When we do this more, His grace comes; in other words, we should look commonly, more to His grace coming from the infallibility of His Word. If there is anything and anything at all, that can motivate God’s grace for us, it is our obedience to His Word, out of our love for our God.

We ought to get ourselves into this position: We love God back, and in our love, we obey Him, and so, we attract His grace; and then when we do fail, we ask for forgiveness from God, and additionally look to His grace coming from His love and faithfulness.

In other words, the grace of God flows from 2 streams, one coming from the foundation of righteousness and justice, the revealed portion being His Word, and another, from His love and faithfulness towards us. Why do I say so? It is because the throne of God is founded on righteousness and justice (both, His), and love and faithfulness always go before Him, as is said in Ps 89:14.

Our God is NOT just a God of second chance (like what some people like to say it), but a God of multiple chances. So you have failed, including making a big blunder in your decision or judgment; what can and should you do? We go back to the Lord, humble ourselves, admit we are wrong, and ask for forgiveness, and then ask God to help.

It is likely that, God will forgive and extend His grace, but the key is whether or NOT, we are humble, and the key is whether or NOT, we are going to go on the route of maturing; for it is the Father’s desire for us all to mature. God can give us chance after chance, but if we stubbornly NOT wanting to mature, then, again and again we will hit the brick wall, or we will make blunder after blunder or get ourselves into trouble after trouble, unnecessarily.

Situations of distress or “bad time” can both be brought on by our own folly or through the wickedness of others (including the Devil and his minions), or a combination of both. Additionally, it can also be due to natural disasters or calamities, things that the fallen world has present us with. The point is that, one or the other stream of grace, or both, can be available to you, as a child of God.

These verses in Scripture, for examples, stressed the grace coming from the 1st head, from God’s righteousness and justice; the revealed portion being His Word:

1. Rom 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (NIV84).

“For the account of our love”, the grace is flowing from this 1st head. In our love, we obey and work in the calling according to His purpose. People who love God are found obeying (John 14:15 & John 14:21a) and applying the Word, the revealed portion of His righteousness and justice. The promise in this Rom 8:28 is for those who love God, NOT applicable for those who do NOT love God. It is true that at times, things just do NOT seemed to be for any good, but after a long time, at hindsight, we come to realize that God worked them for good, for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose; but there is indeed a condition, and that condition is that you have to love God to qualify. When there is condition, we cannot just ignore the condition.

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high-expressions said...

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2. Ps 91 – God’s promises of protection – fantastic promises of protection (go, read it).

Again, it is promised to those who love God; the key is in verse 14; and NOT in verse 1, unless you read it with verse 14, for verse 1 by itself, is “incomprehensible” or it poses “What does it mean, in reality; how do you get to dwell in the shelter of the Almighty?

3. Gen 50:20 - As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today (ESV).

The above was Joseph’s words to his brothers, years from the time his brothers sold him off, to be a slave. If you study Scripture concerning the life of Joseph before he was sold off, and the intervening years, we will realize that Joseph was loving God and practising God’s righteousness and justice. He was a son to Israel (Jacob), was reliable and dependable, and could be trusted to report on what was going on (Gen 37:2 & 13). Subsequent to being sold off, in Gen 39:6-10, Joseph was NOT willing to give in to Potiphar’s wife’s seduction, stating that he would NOT do such a wicked thing and sin against God. Joseph was a man who loved God, and had the fear of the LORD, which meant he hated the things that God hated (Prov 8:13). In other words, he was subscribing to ways consistent to the foundation of the throne of God, righteousness and justice.

4. 1 John 3:20-22 - 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him (ESV).

This text I would place it under this head of grace. It is still grace (“whatever we ask we receive”) coming from loving Him by obeying His commandments, and doing what pleases Him.

Examples of verses supporting grace flowing from the 2nd head, God’s love and faithfulness are:

1. Jer 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (ESV).

While truly the preceding verses to this text, depicted more of a corporate dimension of God’s dealing, it is nevertheless pointing to a picture of God’s love and faithfulness, for NOT all of those children of God, Israelites, would be subscribing to the ways of God (in fact, there were people, including prophets, suggesting or prescribing ways of life NOT according to the will of God), but God’s promise was that He had plans for them, the children of God, a plan for their welfare, and NOT for evil, to give them a future and a hope, despite the picture was that of the children of God would be facing a “bad time”; exile to Babylon, from Jerusalem. Such grace is an example of grace flowing from the love of God and His faithfulness, NOT flowing from our (or the Israelites’) love for God.

2. John 3:16 – the Gospel/Salvation Grace. This clearly flows from the love of God and His faithfulness – “God so loved the world …”

3. Rom 8:32 - He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (ESV).

This ties to the Salvation Grace. Yes, it is my belief that Salvation Grace is continuing grace (and so, accordingly, I believe too, that we have entered into salvation, and are “being saved”).

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high-expressions said...

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As far as “legal discharge” we have had, the moment we entered into salvation; but in order that we continue on a journey of NOT running-foul of the legality, salvation grace continues to be available, even for a believer. Because a believer CAN (capable of) sin, he needs on-going salvation grace. In other words, when he falls short, through sinning, he can stay “being saved”, through confession and repentance. 1 John 1:9 is possible and applicable for believers, because salvation grace is continuing. But salvation grace is NOT to be taken for granted; in other words, we cannot just assume we can just continue to sin, and ignore God’s holiness. To me, 1 John 1:9 is the minimum a believer must do, confess our sin and ask forgiveness.

As far as Rom 8:37-39, although one can say, as what Ps Prentis has said, and that is that, “God did not withdraw His love for you during your bad time.”, those 3 verses were, I believe, meant by the author, the Apostle Paul, to mean that realizing the way Salvation Grace was, that it was and is, a continuing grace, with Jesus interceding for us, and NOT a just one-off grace at entry into salvation, nothing should be allowed to derail us from staying in “being saved”; and WE, NOT God, should NOT shrink back from our commitment to stay the course; in fact, it was even prophesied, said Paul, that believers, like sheep, were slaughtered all day long for God’s sake.

Paul was saying WE ought NOT shrink back in all of those circumstances listed by verses 37-39. Many people fail to see the focus of the text is on US, and NOT God; although the flip-side of the coin is of course, God is still loving and faithful through all of circumstances of life.

Do you know why it is NOT quite appropriate to say that the text is focused on God (instead of US)? It is because it was said that, NOT even death can separate us from the love of God. WE cannot allow death (even) to separate us from staying committed to “being saved” (or from the love of God).

Yes, Christians cannot shrink back from their commitment to Christ Jesus even to the point of death. But it is NOT God would NOT permit death (even) to separate His love from us.

Unless you believe “once saved is always saved”, it is possible some believers can, at death, be separated from the love of God. Death is the cut-off point for salvation. If one dies without receiving Jesus into his life, death separates him from the love of God.

If a believer commits suicide, he may be separated from the love of God (To me, clearly, a person who dies committing suicide, dies in sin). If a believer sins without regard, and dies unrepentant, perhaps death separates him from the love of God. As long as we believe we have to work out our salvation (Phil 2:12), there is a possibility that death can be a separator of us from the love of God.

Actually, the people who argued for the “once saved, always saved theology” or “we are forgiven of all our sins, including all our future sins, AT our born-again” used this text to support their argument, for they read the focus of the text was on “God”, NOT “us”; in other words, focusing on nothing can separate God from loving us, and therefore we are always saved (already saved), instead of on us, NOT allowing anything, to cause us to shrink back from our commitment.

I am NOT saying that God is NOT loving or NOT faithful or God is NOT greater than death, that death shall prevent, or anything at all, shall prevent God from loving or exercising His faithfulness, or for that matter, stops God in anyway. No, I am NOT saying any of those, but one has to understand the kind of love, God is loving with; and one has to understand that faithfulness of God, even to His children, does NOT mean He MUST.

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high-expressions said...

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Yes, God is sovereign, and therefore, He is NOT subject by another. But He is self-governed, and self-governed by His very nature, His holiness. His love is subject to His holiness, and His faithfulness is subject to His holiness.

In other words, He cannot love you and I, unrighteously; He cannot be faithful to us, unrighteously. A metaphor of loving unrighteously would be like, “A father, wanting to love his daughter, by his action, and agrees with his daughter that it is alright for his daughter to live in adultery. The father may call it love, but at best it is an unrighteous love - love, NOT unto righteousness.” God’s love for men, is `ahab love – love unto righteousness. A metaphor of an unrighteous faithfulness would be like, “A judge, wanting to be faithful in protecting his son, agrees to temper the evidence in his hands, to avoid sentencing his son to death, for murder, even though his son committed the murder.” God’s faithfulness is ultimately still subject to His holiness, or demand of holiness, we say.

Even as we can view the grace of God as coming from 2 streams (or heads), they are ultimately constrained by the holiness of God.

I am NOT trying to say that believers cannot rely on the grace coming from God’s love and faithfulness for us. In fact, we all are (relying on it). In fact, most Christians, until their consciences are seared, they do know this grace stream to some extent. Why? Because the Holy Spirit indwells us, and pricks at our conscience, but a seared conscience is a callous conscience, and it is sensitive, NOT. When the conscience is numbed, it is no longer susceptible to the Holy Spirit’s prompting or pricking, the result, we lose an inner “compass” of right and wrong, God specifically created in us, upon salvation.

What can sear the conscience? 2 things at least; one, sins, repeated over and over again; two, wrong teachings, received in, over and over again.

My stance against overly grace or cheap grace teachings is that they emphasized only the grace coming from the stream from God’s love and faithfulness, and principally tying it to the Salvation Grace. If it is a matter of emphasis, but NOT exclusion of another (grace stream), we can accept, but that is NOT how they put it.

It may be true, some churches have over-emphasized grace coming from the stream connected to righteousness and justice, when we manifest our love and obedience, including application of His Word, yet I believe churches of old, even of those who emphasized grace coming from the stream of righteousness and justice, do NOT exclude the other stream of grace, coming from God’s love and faithfulness. The overly grace or cheap grace teachings on the other hand, NOT only exclude completely, one stream, it denies it.

In good time or bad time, in fact, at all times, we need and rely on the grace of God, both streams. The grace stream from God’s love and faithfulness undergirds us as we attempt to grow in the faith, to be more loving towards God. For me, at best, teaching on grace from God’s love and faithfulness is baby food, for spiritual babes. Babies are to grow, if we keep feeding on baby food, we won’t grow well. You know who does NOT want us to grow! What is more worse, is that the theology spun out is that, we are just to bask in grace, saying that grace is the means and the end!

Why is it so important to have this understanding about grace? It is because we need to grow. You make say, “I am in a bad time. Why you talk to me about growth?” The point is that if we do NOT understand what the desire of God is for us, and we are to respond accordingly, we are going to end up, unnecessarily, time and time again, in bad times (I am NOT saying we are NOT going to have bad times, if we understood well, the teaching here, but I am saying we can avoid the unnecessary ones).

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high-expressions said...

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If we do NOT have the correct understanding, time and time again, we will be ensnared, and we need God to “bail” us out. If you are just focused on “God will bail me out because He loves me, and therefore, He MUST be faithful to bail me out”, you are just going to stay that way, “get into trouble” time and time again, unnecessarily. We need to advance, and God wants us to advance, and when we advance to focusing on His grace coming from righteousness and justice, which means we got to learn to love Him more, and therefore, obeying Him more, and therefore, putting more of His ways into practise, thereby serving His purposes, we grow in spiritual prowess, and make less mistakes or fumble less. Isn’t that what we would like to be, instead of getting ourselves into bad times, unnecessarily.

Today, if you are in a bad time, go to God for grace coming from His love and faithfulness (the undergirding grace); and when you receive divine help, commit to grow, and you will see, on top of the undergirding grace, God extending additional grace in your situations of subscribing to His righteousness and justice, by your actions of loving Him through obedience to His revealed righteousness and justice, as in His Word, complete with your applications thereof.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions