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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Missing Out on Life and Peace

I often read other's blogs. I recently read one of teenager who had decided to commit suicide but relented because a friend called her at just the right moment. It is hard to tell if she would have gone through with it because the moment of real decision is always seen in action, not words. However, the thought of suicide truly disturbs me by itself.

The fact that someone would consider it as an alternative to life means that they are failing to experience real life. That cannot be the attitude of someone who knows Christ. Jesus came into the world to give us abundant life. Abundant life is more than life eternal. It is giving fulfillment to the life we have here on earth.

Only believers can know that the life that evaluates and considers the world in which we now live as the only life that has meaning is a dead end street. This life is full of disappointments, hardships, tragedies and death. Yes, it has some good times along the way too but they cannot be everlasting. Our own bodies get older, wrinkle up and fall apart eventually. Even those who have kept themselves in the best shape while taking in the most nutritious food will eventually die. Those who thought Jack Lalane would live forever were surprised by his death. He had kept himself in shape and healthy into his nineties but even he had a shelf life.

The flesh invests in this world as if it is permanent. Life's meaning is found in how much the flesh can be stimulated. It must be sexed more, pampered more, thrilled more and praised more with each passing day. The flesh is insatiable in its wants. The flesh continues to promise the salvation of fulfillment around the next sexual, financial, stimulating or fame creating corner. Unfortunately, there is always another corner around that corner. Eventually, the pointlessness of these pursuits takes hold and nothing makes any difference anymore. One might as well take drugs or alcohol to pass the time. Nothing holds any meaning anymore.

Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 2:11 " Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. " There is a need for each of us to find meaning in our lives. that meaning brings us life and peace. The problem is that the flesh promises that meaning but never ultimately delivers.

Paul wrote in Romans 8:5-8, " For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Life and peace can only come through setting our minds on the Spirit. The Spirit speaks to our spirits. Our spirits interpret the things of the Spirit so that our minds can understand. The mind affects our emotions and will. Our will causes our bodies to act. This action is one of the completion of the fulfillment of our lives for we walk in harmony with God. It fully gives our lives meaning so that the flesh no longer controls us. It is made a subject rather than the ruler. It obeys the Spirit because our minds have been set on the Spirit.

The flesh cannot understand how denying itself pleasure can bring fulfillment. The flesh demands satisfaction. The mind set on the Spirit obeys what brings true life. It rejects selfishness, envy, sensuality, sexual immorality, jealousy, drunkenness, orgies, dissentions, rivalries and things that tear individuals and people apart.

The Spirit, on the other hand, give us joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. It brings our life to full meaning so that we sleep well at the end of the day. We do so because we are full of life and peace. Life requires peace to be satisfied.

I am very nostalgic about some movies and am sometimes affected by these movies in positive ways. Groundhog Day was one of those movies. The main character in the movie had to relive Groundhog Day every day until he got it right. He eventually learned that the flesh simply could not fulfill his life. He learned that his life must be more important than that. He eventually had to make the right decisions for each day before he could really have life and peace.

Each day we decide whether or not we will have life and peace. We either pursue the desires of the flesh or we set our minds on the Spirit.  I have never seen the flesh really give life and peace. It only presents an illusion of these things which, when stopping to think, each person realizes is false.

So, today I set my mind on the Spirit. It will bring life and peace to me just as it will for you.

But you have to set your mind or you will go the way of the flesh. The flesh is natural. The Spirit is supernatural.

What will it be?

4 comments:

high-expressions said...

Recently, in one Christian meeting, the discussion went on, to “why the ‘Imperatives’ of God, not many Christians are doing them”. There are of course, several reasons or angles to the issue, but one such angle is that “somehow many of us do NOT really factor into life, that, there is still a portion, a much, much greater portion, to life, after this earthly life”; we still think in terms of our earthly life-span. This is despite our head-knowledge of what Scripture tells us that, for Christians, there is life after life, and that, the after-life is either a very good life (in Heaven) lasting into eternity or a very terrible existence in Hell-fire.

But what are some of the reasons for the "somehow" of the “somehow many of us do NOT really factor into life that there is still an after-life portion”.

I consider these as important ones:

1. Pastors and preachers are NOT doing a good job. I am NOT swinging the responsibility for one's own destiny, over to the spiritual leaders, but I just want to underscore that, spiritual leaders such as church pastors have responsibility as under-shepherds of the Great Shepherd, the Lord, to instruct or teach the flock concerning how Christians are to look at their lives. It is a responsibility NOT between the under-shepherds and the flock as such, it is a responsibility the under-sherpherds have to account to the Great Shepherd. When we shepherd a flock, we have to account to the Lord. We do what we have to do, so that, at the end of the day, the flock's blood is NOT on our hands. It is like that; even when it is merely a case of us functioning as a brother's keeper. What more, when it is that we are a shepherd of a flock.

2. The Christians or the individual sheep themselves, are at fault; many are moving towards the scenario described by Scripture as "with itchy ears" - going after heretic and apostate teachings. Of course, more need to be said about how one can avoid developing "itchy ears". Flock should be warned and taught the “how”, by their shepherds (Church pastors or shepherds, are we doing this?)

3. False teachers are at work. In the last days, and we are in the last days, many false teachers are hard at work, the Bible said so. If they can ensnare the elects, they would do so, said Scripture. But Scripture does NOT reveal this "fact" to us, for the sake of mere knowledge for us, a kind of nice to know! God's revelations are for a purpose. What is the purpose? It is so that (i) we... (ii) we .... etc. etc. We cannot simply, all the times, adopt the lazy or "couldn't be bothered" attitude of "It is like that-lah, the Bible already said so!" Matt 11:12 is still relevant, and it correctly points to the Kingdom of God as still being forcefully advancing, and forceful men are laying hold of it. We got to be forceful men. I liken the false teachings to drugs; if you could NOT be bothered with the rampant drug abuse around you, don't blame anyone, including God, when one day, your loved ones get implicated into it. In Singapore, one could easily be headed to the gallows! Well, false teachings on core tenets of the faith can get one to Hell! Hello, it is NOT, as simple as God can defend and look after His own Word.

4. And of course, Satan is still hard at work, despite legally he was already defeated; well, at the Cross, or some even said, before the Cross, at the Great Temptation (of Jesus). Satan and his minions are still hard at work, this, we must always remember. John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came to save, and give us abundant life, whilst Satan, to steal, kill and destroy us. But it is NOT, after Jesus' first coming, there is no more Satan at work, stealing, killing, and destroying.

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high-expressions said...

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5. Christians are just NOT studying the Word. In this time and season, Christians must study the Word (NOT that they do NOT need to, in the past, it is that, much time has passed, and Satan's time left, is getting shorter, and he is getting more desperate and aggressive). The studying here, include the meditation of the Word (day and night?!); and the want of understanding from the Lord concerning the Word. If you lack these, your pastor can do his part; you will still not be subscribing to what he is teaching. If your heart is NOT set apart for the Lord (or His Spirit, the Holy Spirit), i.e. you are NOT set to want to harken to the voice of the Spirit of God, concerning truths and ways of the Kingdom, you are NOT going to be able to be discerning concerning the teachings dished out by others. You will fall prey to false teachings, and the snares of the devil; especially if you also do NOT subscribe to the need to submit to godly counsel.

When we do NOT factor in life after-life into our earthly life, the outcome is that we just care about our well-being in a short time-frame of tens of years. “Live and let live” is NOT for us, Christians. We cannot subscribe to “we are to live our lives in the manner we want to, regardless of what others, including God, think of it”. What is so transforming about the correct core theology of the Christian faith or what is so transforming about embracing the Gospel? It is precisely this: We no longer can subscribe to “Live and let live”. In fact, our lives are NOT us, anymore! Can we take our own lives? No, because it no longer belongs to us; our Lord, Jesus, bought us with His own blood and life. If you are a Christian, that is a fact, that is what our faith is all about.

Suppose you are standing at the market square, like in the olden days, and I came to you, and pay you a $100.00 to engage you to work for me for a day. You take the money and give it to your wife, and we leave to the work site, for you to work. You cannot, say, after an hour, decide to (just) leave. It is NOT that you can NEVER do that, but I must agree to it, specifically; for I have already paid for your time and service which you have NOT finished performing. It is the same, you cannot commit suicide; Jesus already paid for your time on earth. Committing suicide is pre-mature ending of your stay on earth, without the Lord’s consent, and that is an “end-point sin”. I view this very seriously, and I am sure the Lord, too. Sin at any other time, can be confessed to the Lord, after it is done, in time for God’s forgiveness, but sin at death, is a different matter altogether.

From my experience (and I am saying it from my experience, solely), suicidal thought is likely to be from the evil one; and he attacks when he detects vulnerability in us. For a Christian, it is NOT that an evil spirit knows for sure, the Christian will jump off the tall building or into the deep ocean, or swallow the bottle of sleeping pills, but it is when we are vulnerable, he may try. Situations when we are vulnerable, commonly, include: when we are emotionally unstable due relationship-breakup or threat of it, death of loved ones, significant setbacks in life, facing shame, and in depression, generally.

Suicidal thoughts entered me when I was divorced by my ex-wife from a marriage of 18 years. If you are asking how a person can possibly commit suicide when he/she is leaving behind parents, children and even loved ones; from my experience, it is possible that when suicide thoughts hit a person, you are NOT inclined to think about those you are about to leave behind, at least I did NOT.

What saves the day, at least for me, is this: “End-point sin” is a whole separate “kettle of fish” or should I say, “kettle of sin”. “No”, I said, “I am NOT about to risk NOT going to Heaven, after being a Christian for that many years.”

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high-expressions said...

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I believe I was also saved by the dream from the Lord, that I had many years earlier, in the early years of my marriage which was already with “problems” then. Then I had a dream, which I understood the severity of the dream, for immediately, I woke up and got on my knees and prayed. In that dream, I attempted suicide, and the reason got to do with my ex-wife, but it was NOT clear enough to me then, the dream was pointing to a divorce.

In that awful, but yet unforgettable dream, I threw myself into the path of a road roller (the kind of huge roller vehicle used for flattening the tar when a road is being paved). In that most bizarre dream, I saw who I believe, was my guardian angel (even if he was NOT my guardian angel, he was an angel God sent). He had more of a creature’s form than a human form; he had ivory humps on his back; and he came upon me, just as the roller was about to go over me. The roller went over it; I was NOT hurt at all, and the angel flew, holding me; he actually could fly, and we flew to a high ground, perhaps a mount. And there, he told me to worship (praise) God; and there was one last scene, which alas, was the most blur part of the dream, I was handed what looked like a book. I do NOT know even now, if that book was just a Bible handed over to me, or it was some other kind of book or that in my life, I would be writing a significant book for the Lord, or that I will simply be writing for the Lord. I have had other dreams or visions of the Lord coming to save, but this was the only one in which I was attempting to take my own life, from a terrible emotional upset.

From my experience, a good defense against the suicidal trapping of the evil one, are: (1) your correct understanding of the core tenets of the faith, (2) your noting of your “walk” with the Lord; in good and bad times, you have to meditate on His Word, reflect on your encounters with Him, be they, dreams, visions or real physical happenings, and note them.

One may say, “But he is lucky because he had those 2 factors before the devil tried to ensnare him”, but you are “lucky” too, that today, you are “alive and kicking”, and reading this.

Sadly, many believers are doing this: You enter into the “room” where Jesus is, and then you quickly walk out of the room, telling yourself, “I have entered, and that will do the trick”. You will NOT build up a defense against the fiery darts of the devil that way. If you are of no good foundational understanding of the core tenets of the faith, and then you absorb in such teachings as “Once saved, always saved”, or “You are already forgiven of all your sins (including future ones, including the sin of committing suicide) at your born-again, you may NOT see any issue with taking your own life.

Also, if I tell you that, there is this place called “Syurga”, that some people said is a good place to go to, for a long holiday stay, will you be seriously wanting to go there? Not likely. Because you do NOT have enough to go by, to push aside all others, to go to this “Syurga” place; whereas most likely you have seen pictures, met some people from some other places, and even read about those places, and all of those, collectively are moving you to want to give “Syurga” amiss. You need to gather “bits and pieces” of this “Syurga” before you would want to try your best to get there. It is the same with Heaven, and the after-life Kingdom of God; by the way, “Syurga” is the Malay word for Heaven, and so, it is NOT really a holiday destination! In other words, addressing point (2) which I have given above, you need to “walk” with Lord in the “room” (the earthly {phase of the} Kingdom of God), before you will be wanting to the go to the “next room” (the heavenly Kingdom of God) where the Lord would be, also. By just going in and quickly coming out to roam the outside, you have NOT gotten to know the “room” or the Lord. One cannot live his earthly Christian life like that.

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high-expressions said...

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One got to stay in the “room” and “walk” with the Lord. You need a foretaste and a shadow of what is waiting for us in the “next room”. When you draw close to the Lord, and He, you (for He promised to draw near to you when you draw near to Him), you will experience the presence (manifest presence) of the Lord. Although in the earthly Kingdom of God (“room”), things are a measure or a shadow of things to come (of the “next room”), the manifest presence of God does bring with it, 2 things, namely, joy and anointing. In the heavenly Kingdom of God, there would be fullness of joy, and fullness of anointing.

Although we do find peace and joy stated separately, to have joy, you would have had also peace; in other words, peace comes first, followed by joy. Both peace and joy that our spirit need, are in the Holy Spirit; and the kind of peace and joy that we are exhorted to be in or have, are the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17-18). When the Lord draws near, by His Holy Spirit, peace and joy can be experienced by us.

Concerning the anointing, the greater the presence of the Lord, by the Holy Spirit, the greater is the anointing available for us to tap into. It is the anointing of Spirit that works the gifts of the Spirit brought into our lives by the same Holy Spirit.

The life of a Christian is NOT meant to be without peace and joy, and without service and fruit. Mighty exploits for the Lord is only achieved, though, when we are in position to tap on the anointing of Spirit to work those spiritual gifts given us. The anointing of the Spirit can be given unto us, but it will wane, we need topping up from the Spirit. So, we need Him to be around us in great measure; when He first came upon Jesus, He came upon Jesus without measure, said the Word.

The Christian’s life is a life tied to the Spirit of God, and is dynamic, because it is affected by our condition and the will of the Spirit. As to condition, our volitional righteousness is key (we already have the imputed righteousness of Christ Jesus), and we need to align our heart-beat to the heart-beat of the Spirit of God.

The life in the “room” is exciting; one does NOT need to exist the room to the outside to look for excitement of temporal value. Every excitement wanes, including that which we experience in the “room”; make no mistake about that. But there is a difference between the excitement in the “room”, and that outside, and that is that the one in the room is of more than temporal value.

In other words, Christians have to decide if they would live their lives, with peace and joy coming from association with the Spirit of God, and with excitements from time to time, walking with the Lord producing fruit of eternal value, or they would live their lives, outside of the “room”, searching for peace and joy of the world, and the excitements it (the world) offers, and which when it is of the world, it would have only temporal value.

Properly aligned Christians are NOT boring people, it is just that we are after a different set of excitements; we are after the peace and joy that the world cannot give; we would rather be engaged in that which produces fruit storable in the heavenly, where moths and rust cannot get to it; we are focused on the things above (or things of the Spirit) rather than earthly things, because earthly things are temporal, even earthly life is temporal, but things above, would continue on into after-life, the portion of life that is never-ending, and is good, for the one qualified. This life, the ups and the downs, the happy times and the sad times, the difficult times and the easy times, the seasons of mourning, and the seasons of laughter, all of it, is but a time of refining and time of preparation for the life ahead. But it is NOT a boring course of life; it is full of challenges, and must be engaged with an aim to pass or to qualify, ultimately.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions