Consider me and answer, Lord my God. Restore brightness to my eyes; otherwise, I will sleep in death. My enemy will say “I have triumphed over him” and my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. Psalm 13:3-4 CSB
We are a stubborn people—or at the very least, I am a stubborn person. I like to hold on to my problems and anxieties as if someone is trying to take them from me.
Well, there is someone trying to pry the anxieties and burdens out of my hands… He is only waiting for me to surrender them first. But how often have I let the enemy triumph by refusing to seek God’s help? In my earthly habit, I think it better to keep my burdens from God, going around with dull eyes, trying to cope alone. Why? Because it’s “too complicated”, “not important”, or “not the right time”. What I feel is “not strong enough”, “capable”, and “scared” to open our can of worms in front of God. So I just ignore and keep everything bottled.
And merely by my refusal to call onto God for help, the enemy has proclaimed a triumph.
David refused to let the enemy claim victory. He faced enemy after enemy but instead of bottling his problems, David gifted us the Psalms, a series of emotional and vulnerable cries to God. It’s as if David was jumping up and down waving at God over and over again asking for help.
David readily admits that his enemies are “too strong for me” (Psalm 18:17). As a result, he asks for deliverance, strength and salvation from God. It doesn’t matter how many difficulties David is faced against or how complicated the issue is, he pleads for God’s intervention. As many times David cries out for help, there are just as many praises for God’s deliverance and blessings. The Lord is his (and our) fortress, refuge, support, and rescuer time and time again.
Rather than sleep in death, we need to call out to Abba for help. Our Father is waiting for us to call out to Him. He wants to revive us and give us joy and restore brightness to our eyes. He only waits for us to call upon Him. He is a God who delivers, heals, comforts, and loves without borders.
Let us practice O Lord, my God by:
If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
Freedom is something that we cherish. Let me share with you my spiritual journey to emotional and psychological freedom.
I have been a Christian for over 30 years but until six years ago. I never thought that I needed to be freed after I came to know Christ! My struggle with psychological freedom started with a single incident in the early 90s that snowballed as I went through other traumatic experiences over a period of more than 20 years. The first incident happened when my wife and I travelled to the US when we were flying from Florida to New York City. About one hour before landing, our plane experienced severe turbulence. The stewardess and the utensils she was holding hit the ceiling of the plane very abruptly that lasted for just a few seconds but left a scar in my heart for years to come. I did not even realise that it would resurface in a much later time!
The second incident happened in 2002 when my mom passed away in Toronto. This was a huge loss to me emotionally as I had a close relationship with her. After her passing, I always had a sense of guilt that I had not moved with my family to Canada.
The final incident happened in 2003 when my company laid me off – this proved to be the final straw. Anger, frustration and bitterness began to set in. Suddenly, I felt insecure and a sense of powerlessness. All these events led me to a deep sense of fear – the fear of losing control.
In medical terminology, "aerophobia" is the fear of flying. Each time I travelled by plane, I had to take medicine to calm the fear. I became a prisoner of this fear for the next 10 years! I was frustrated and helpless but did not know what to do.
Then in 2013, I learned about my serious illness, but because it was in the early stages, I was completely cured. I was so thankful to the Lord that I finally surrendered to Him on the hospital bed. I felt great joy and His love surrounding me. I then learned that healing begins with forgiveness. I started to make a list of the people that I had grudges with and had asked the Lord to forgive me for not forgiving them! I realised that the Lord had set me free – I am no longer a prisoner of my past circumstances. Truly free! Since then I have travelled many times without needing to take any medicine!
Do you want to be set free of your circumstances by the Lord? Remember, healing starts with forgiveness. Ask God to help you to:
On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about.” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:4, 7–8
We see in these early verses of the Book of Acts that Jesus commanded the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the Holy Spirit would empower them to be Jesus’s witnesses everywhere... even to the ends of the earth.
The Holy Spirit would empower the disciples to speak compellingly about God’s work through Jesus. While their direct experience with Jesus qualified them as very good witnesses; the Holy Spirit would give them the capability to articulate their experience with boldness, determination, resilience, perseverance – and with grace and love.
Yes, the Holy Spirit would give the apostles great power but as we discover in the later chapters of Acts, this would not be the power to change the conditions of the world, to overthrow Rome, or to oppress others. Instead, it would be the power to live joyfully, righteously, and faithfully within the circumstances they encountered. The power to live faithfully under Rome and, especially when the oppression was very heavy, to stand.
Not the power to hurt but to heal, not the power to discriminate but to accept, not power to seek revenge but to forgive, and certainly not power to hate but to love.
Do you find the Holy Spirit’s provision of power to be counter-cultural? Or counterintuitive? That same power – that same Spirit – resides in all followers of Jesus!
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus would give the disciples, and all of us today who have trusted in Him, the ability to do great things: not necessarily to heal the physically blind, but certainly the spiritually blind by bringing them to Jesus; not necessarily to heal the physically lame, but certainly to bolster the spiritually lame; and not necessarily to prolong earthly existence, but certainly to bring people to enter eternal life through Christ.
The power of the Holy Spirit is very real to you and me today as we work, as we follow our leaders, as we lead others, as we engage with peers, as we participate in Christian ministry, as we live with family at home, and as we engage with the broader community including those we disagree with.
Where are you struggling to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you to act in Christlikeness? In such times, we can come to God in prayer:
Ask that He would help us replace any harmful attitudes with empathy, any harshness with patience, and any pride with humility, so that love can prevail.
Jesus said to them, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, render unto God the things that are God's.” And they marveled at him. Mark 12:17
You will recognise Jesus’ response to the question: Tell us then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? It was asked in order to trap Him as an enemy of the Roman occupation of Jerusalem. While the question was asked specifically about taxes, the context was the brutal occupation of the Jewish kingdom. I see a parallel to the current turmoil in Hong Kong. This is the classic two Kingdoms issue: The World and The Eternal.
Today, there are many different opinions, "sides" of the issues, and even conspiracy theories that are floating around. Island ECC's position and actions are well known so I am not focusing on the protests.
Why it is important to emphasise the spiritual is because you like me have been asked or perhaps will be asked why Christians respond in certain ways to temporal events. The classic definitions of temporal from Merriam-Webster is: of or relating to time as opposed to eternity; of or relating to earthly life, or lay or secular rather than clerical or sacred.
Obviously we live in a temporal world so it is important to see and respond to temporal events with a spiritual focus. The classic “what did Jesus do” / “what would Jesus do” evaluation is a great tool as is the so-called “Golden Rule” as written in both Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31: So in everything, do to others what you have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and Prophets.
We should also remember that our temporal life is a testing opportunity for us to treat and love others as we love ourselves. Further, please recognise that there are obligations to the state that do not conflict with our obligations to God.
I pray that each of us thanks the Lord daily for focusing our lives in the eternal.
Let us focus on the spiritual and not on the temporal by:
Natalie grew up in a Christian family and one of the formative experiences in her life was when her father sat her down at aged 4 to explain to her how different her life could have been if she were born into an impoverished family. Though young, she felt powerful emotions and had a vision to reach out to those who have been forgotten. As she grew up, Natalie began to believe that a successful life was defined by her outward achievements and sought to be on top of everything she put herself into; however, as she continued down that path she began feel a distinct lack of God’s presence—one that left her feeling abandoned and eventually made her extremely angry at God. Despite that, she heard the call to go to Tanzania, and while laying on the ground staring at the night sky she heard God speak His love for her. Today, that vision she had when she was 4 is realised and Natalie sees how God’s plan for her life is so much bigger than her own plans.