Tag: Trials

Why Does God Seem Distant?

Do you struggle with habitual sin and feel as if God is distant whenever you have sinned?
Do you struggle with the thought that perhaps God doesn’t accept you or approve you – especially after you have backslidden?
Do you struggle with guilt and condemnation and the thought that God doesn’t love you because you sin too often?

If you are struggling with any or all of the above issues it might be due to a very simple reason. The reason can be summed up in one word: FEELINGS.

Psalms 34:18 NKJV
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Psalms 51:17 NKJV
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart — These, O God, You will not despise.

The word “contrite” is defined as feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offences; penitent; repentant.

Both Psalms 34:18 & Psalms 51:17 tell us that God saves and He is near to those who have a contrite heart. Therefore, God DOES NOT distance Himself from people who feel contrite, repentant or sorrowful for their sins. God is close to the broken-hearted and He does not despise broken people because He wants to save and mend them.

 

Should You Trust Your Feelings?
You cannot always trust your feelings. But you can ALWAYS trust God’s word.
The wrong feelings will give us the wrong perceptions of our situation.
If we live according to our feelings and not by faith in God’s word, we will create the wrong perception of God’s character and the mercy and grace that He offers us whenever we have sinned.

 

Why Do We Feel God Is Distant When We Sin or Backslide?
So why does God seem distant? Below is what internally happens to us whenever we feel as if God is distant, especially when we have sinned or backslidden:

  1. We Have Not Confessed Our Sin
    Whenever we sin, it’s very important for us to confess our sins to God. A sign that we are sorrowful or willing to repent of our sins is through the confession of our sins to the Lord.
    1 John 1:9 ESV – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

  1. We Feel Condemned
    Feelings of condemnation can make us feel as if God is distant. However, scripture tells us that those people who are born again Christians are not condemned. Therefore a Christian should never walk in condemnation.
    Romans 8:1 ESV – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
    John 3:18 ESV – Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

 

  1. We Are Listening to the Accuser of the Brethren
    The devil will try to make you believe that your sin is too big for God to forgive you. Sometimes the devil may even make you believe that you have sinned too often that your confessions and your remorse mean nothing to God. First the devil tempts you. When you fall for the temptation, he then accuses you of your sin as if he himself was not involved in your temptation.
    Any thought pattern concerning your sin that does not bring to light God’s saving grace, God’s mercy and God’s willingness to forgive your sins through Christ will actually be the voice of the devil trying to tell you that there is no way out for your sin.
    However, there is a way out. His name is Jesus and He died for our sins on the cross.
    John 3:16-18 ESV – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
    Revelation 12:10-11 ESV – And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

 

  1. We Have Failed to Understand that God is Not a Man
    Unlike man, God promises to forget our sins and to forgive us of our sins when we confess them.
    God chooses not to remember our sins when He forgives us. People may hold grudges and people may choose not to forgive, however God unlike a human is always faithful to forgive and forget when we sincerely confess our sins.
    Isaiah 43:25 ESV – I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

 

  1. We Falsely Believe That We Are Saved by our Works and not by Grace
    When we consciously or sub-consciously believe that we are saved by our personal works or personal effort, we will create the false impression in our minds that God distances Himself from us whenever we miss the mark.
    While God hates sin, it’s important for us to realize that God does not hate the sinner. It’s the very reason why Christ came; because God loves us despite our flaws (John 3:16)
    God does not judge us according to our personal works because our own effort can never give us salvation. It’s work of Christ on the cross that brings salvation.
    Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 

Conclusion

I would like to encourage you by saying that there is hope and we can always rely on the love, grace and mercy of God in our daily walk with the Lord. God is near to those with a contrite heart (Psalms 51:17).

The Bible also clearly says that the “just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). Therefore we cannot live by our feelings, because our feelings can mislead us. Our feelings are dictated by external circumstances, but our faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). Faith is therefore dependent on hearing and believing God’s word and God’s promises irrespective of the external factors.

So where is God when we have sinned? God is very close to you (Psalms 34:18). He will never leave you nor forsake you.

 

How To Move Forward In Life

Isaiah 43:18 ESV
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old

God does not want us to be stuck in the past. The problem with always focusing on the past is that it hinders us from looking forward. When we focus only on the issues in the past, we fail to concentrate on the objectives we need to accomplish in the present and on the goals we need to complete in the future. When the past is crippling us, we must learn how to move forward in life.
Sometimes we can be stuck in the hurts of the past; sometimes we don’t want to forget the bad experiences we had with others; sometimes we are afraid of our past failures and therefore we fear the future and we fear the unknown.
However the problem with allowing the past to control you is that remembering the past can sometimes paralyze you and hinder you from moving forward in your life.

Forget The Former Things, Consider The New
In Isaiah 43:18, God instructs us to FORGET the former things. Perhaps in your own life there are things that are holding you back which you need to forget if you are to move forward in your life.
Perhaps you need to stop holding onto your past failures. Failures are a part of life and as long as we are imperfect people, we will at times fail or make mistakes. What is important after we have failed, is that we should LEARN from our specific failures and mistakes so that we do not repeat the same mistakes. It is said that Thomas Edison the inventor of the light bulb failed over 1000 times before he successfully invented the light bulb. Clearly this man did not give up because of his failures nor did he allow his past failings to stop him from moving forward towards his goal. In relation to his many prior failures, Edison was quoted as saying that he found over 1000 ways of how NOT to make a light bulb.

In Isaiah 43:18, God also instructs us not to consider the “things of old”. Perhaps you need to find a new way of achieving your objectives. Perhaps you need to start seeing your challenges in a different way. Perhaps you need to be more innovative. It is said that CHANGE is the only constant.
Albert Einstein said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

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Isaiah 43:19 ESV
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Focus On What God Is Doing
God our Creator knows that remembering the former things or considering the things of old will only serve to paralyse us from moving forward, therefore He instructs us to forget the former things. We must not let the past experiences in our lives hinder us.
Rather our eyes and perception must be focused on God. Our objectives must be focused on God’s plans. Our plans and God’s plans must be aligned if we are to succeed.
If you are to succeed, you must not rely on your own strength, but you must rely on God’s strength. In Isaiah 43:19, God says that it is HE who will make a way in the wilderness. God also says that it is HE who will make rivers in the desert.
Perhaps you feel like you are in the wilderness. Perhaps you feel lost, alone and afraid in your wilderness. From today, rely on God to make a way in your wilderness.
Perhaps you feel like you are in the desert. You feel thirst, dry and have nothing to sustain you. From today allow God to make rivers in your desert by trusting, obeying and having faith in Him. Don’t let the failures of your past prevent you from trusting in God and moving forward in your life.

Philippians 3:12-14 ESV
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Why Is There So Much Evil in the World?

Do you ever wonder why life continues to become difficult? Why is there so much evil in the world? Do you constantly become surprised, dismayed and shocked at how wicked society and people can be to one another?
It is said that there are ONLY TWO kind of problems in the world:
(1) Our problem with our relationship with God and
(2) Our problem with our relationship with each other.
You only need to read the newspaper or the news on the Internet and you will discover that we live in a wicked generation and there appears to be no limits to the wicked actions that people will do. The majority of people do not have a fear of God nor a love for their fellow neighbour. You hardly hear any good news whenever you read or watch the news.

 

2 Timothy 3:1-5
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Could it be that we are in the last days? Are we beginning to experience the birth pangs of the end of times that Jesus spoke about?

When we read 2 Timothy 3:1-5, God gives us in His word an idea of what the last days will be like.
(a) There will come times of difficulty in families, in society, in nations and in the whole world.
(b) The condition of man itself will be that of wickedness and godlessness.

Let us look at each individual wicked condition of man mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and understand God’s perspective

 

WHY WE ARE EXPERIENCING DIFFICULT TIMES

  1. People will be LOVERS OF SELF. This means that they will be conceited; they will be filled with vanity; they will think mostly of themselves and their actions will have no consideration for other people.
  2. People will be LOVERS OF MONEY. This means that people will value money more than anything or anybody else. To these people, money will be more important than God. Even religious people or false prophets will deceive and exploit people for money.
  3. People will be PROUD. This means that they will be boasters. These people will boast in their achievements and in their effort; they will not acknowledge God for their success; they will see themselves as “little gods”.
  4. People will be ARROGANT. This means that people will feel self-important; they will believe that they are better than other people; they will have no desire to learn from other people
  5. People will be ABUSIVE. This means that people will mistreat, exploit, pervert, assault, insult and commit all sort of physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological damage on each other – especially on the weak.
  6. People will be DISOBEDIENT TO PARENTS. People will not honour or respect their parents.
  7. People will be UNGRATEFUL. People will be unthankful. They will have no appreciation to their fellowman nor to God. They will not acknowledge the help of God nor of others to guide or improve their life.
  8. People will be UNHOLY. This means that the motives and hearts of people will not be pure. Their hearts and minds will be corrupted and defiled before God.
  9. People will be HEARTLESS. This means that people will be unloving and hateful. They will have no remorse for any bad things that they do. They will not repent and they will not care about doing the right thing. Their conscience will be seared.
  10. People will be UNAPPEASABLE. People will be unforgiving. They will keeps grudges.
  11. People will be SLANDEROUS. People will falsely speak words that damage the reputation of other people. They will defame or falsely testify about other people in order to damage their character.
  12. People will be WITHOUT SELF-CONTROL. People will be addicted to all sorts of things, eg drugs, sinful pleasures and perform various taboo acts. Some will yield to the control of evil or demonic spirits.
  13. People will be BRUTAL. People will be extreme, vicious, cruel, lacking human sensibility
  14. People will NOT LOVE GOOD. People will be lovers of evil. They will take pleasure in sinful behaviours. They will see the good things as being bad but however embrace bad values and bad cultures as their way of life.
  15. People will be TREACHEROUS. People will be disloyal, faithless and unfaithful. They will be dangerously unstable and unpredictable.
  16. People will be RECKLESS. People will be marked by defiant disregard for danger or consequences. They will act without thinking of the harmful effects of their negative actions.
  17. People will be SWOLLEN WITH CONCEIT. People will have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. They will be extremely arrogant and vain. They will have a false sense of pride.
  18. People will be LOVERS OF PLEASURE RATHER THAN LOVERS OF GOD. People will find more time for pleasures of all sorts rather than to make time to spend with God. In other words, God will not be first in their lives. People will seek to satisfy their fleshly desires and needs and not seek God who is able to satisfy one’s needs.
  19. People will have THE APPEARANCE OF GODLINESS, BUT DENYING ITS POWER. People will be religious; they will look godly, act godly but what they will not have godliness because what they claim to believe will not correspond with their actions.

My understanding of 2 Timothy 3:5 is that there will be absolutely no boundaries to the kind of sin that people will do. People will be lawless and without self control.  I am reminded of the days of Noah, before the great flood, where it says in Genesis 6:5 that “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. We therefore see a detailed description of the wicked condition of man in the last days in 2 Timothy 3:5 from Paul. Basically the conscience of people will be seared and these type of people will be unteachable and they will not repent at all from wrong doing nor will they recognise or accept the God’s word and values.

 

AVOID SUCH PEOPLE

In 2 Timothy 3:5, Paul ends part of his description of why the last days will be difficult times by saying “Avoid such people”.
Paul is not saying that we should hate such people. We of course must love them and also we must preach and teach the gospel of Christ Jesus to anybody who is lost. The reason why he says we should avoid such people as the 19 types of people mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 is because some of these habits, behaviours and characteristics are contagious and can spread very easily from person to person or from one society to the next. These 19 characteristics become a lifestyle.
For example, it was not so long ago when the idea of homosexuality and gay marriage was accepted. It only took a situation where one nation radically accepted gay marriage in particular and made it law, that the idea that homosexuals can marry one another is now becoming a growing culture and spreading among various nations. Instead of homosexuality and gay marriage being seen as taboo, the idea has been embraced and accepted under the umbrella of human rights or equality. Therefore this ungodly culture of the acceptance of homosexuality is growing fast but yet this lifestyle does not please God. In certain nations, if you publically oppose the sin of homosexuality or gay marriage, you are seen as promoting hatred.
Therefore sinful habits and sinful people must be avoided, especially in situations where the people who are promoting sin are deliberately rebellious and not willing to repent or accept God’s values and Christ Jesus. The Bible discourages us from being unequally yoked with an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14) and that bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33)

 

 

 

3 Things To Do When You Are Desperate

Have you ever been desperate for help in your life? What do you do when you have a problem, and every possible solution you try fails you? You have tried all you can do with your own strength but nothing works; You even try to get friends and family to help you with your problem, but nobody can help you through your trials and affliction. When in such a situation, it can be very easy to give up hoping that things will get better. It can also be very easy for one to give up on life.

However, the Bible talks of a woman who had a disease and who was desperate for help after having tried all that she could on her own and still failed.

Mark 5:25-26 NKJV
Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse.

The Condition of The Woman with the Issue of Blood

  • It is believed that the type of illness that this woman had for twelve years was perhaps a type of chronic cancer or tumor of the uterus.
  • Her illness had caused her to continuously lose blood and therefore she would constantly be in a weak, frail and overwhelmed state.
  • She was socially alienated because of the custom / tradition at that time. Her issue of blood was perceived as being “unclean” and therefore most likely caused her to be constantly isolated from society and from family. (Leviticus 15:19-30 NKJV). Everything and everyone she touched became ceremonially unclean, so she would have been shunned by everyone, including her family and friends.
  • Her illness had caused her much affliction. Therefore she was frequently in physical pain. Therefore whenever you are in a state of unending physical pain, this will begin to have some negative effect on your mental and emotional state.
  • Her finances had suffered because of her illness. She had spent all the money she had on getting treatment from doctors but no physician could successfully help her with her affliction.
  • Her problem grew from bad to worse. Clearly her illness was going to kill her.

In summary: Her health was failing; the experts had failed her; her finances had failed her; her friends & family had failed her; and society had failed her.

Mark 5:27-29 NKJV
When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.

Despite the physical pain; despite the failures; despite the isolation from society; despite the financial meltdown; despite the mental and emotional anguish, during her 12 years of affliction, this woman did not lose at least 3 important key principles & characteristics that were pertinent to her receiving her breakthrough from her afflictions.
Even in her desperation she still showed the following 3 positive attributes from which we can learn:

  1. Don’t Give Up – This woman did not want to give up looking for a solution to her problem. She never resigned to the notion that her illness was not curable. All her doctors had failed to cure her for 12 years, and the doctors had probably given up trying to help her. This woman “heard about Jesus” and so therefore she was not going to waste an opportunity for Jesus to help her. There are some people in life who have “heard about Jesus”, but whenever they have problems, they do not come to Jesus. They would rather focus on resolving issues with their own strength and influence; There are some people who have “heard about Jesus” but they do not believe that Jesus can help them in their time of need. Even under desperate circumstances they don’t believe that Jesus has the power to help them and so they seek help elsewhere or they give up hoping. When this woman “heard about Jesus”, she wanted to go to Jesus; she believed that Jesus would fulfill her exact needs. (Read also Luke 18:1-8 NKJV)
  2. Be Bold & Courageous – Remember that because of her issue of blood, this woman was considered to be “unclean” by society & by law and therefore she was not supposed to have any physical contact with anyone. She was supposed to be isolated from the public, because if anybody touched this woman, that person who touched her would also become ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 15:19-24 NKJV). This woman however showed boldness and courage by ignoring the potential backlash from the multitude of people that followed Jesus. When she saw Jesus, this woman did not feel embarrassed about her uncleanness but rather went through the multitude to approach Jesus so that she can receive her healing. As she went through the crowd to approach Jesus, she told herself “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” Sometimes in our own lives, do we fear achieving our goals and doing the right thing because we fear what other people will say? Are we afraid of standing up for the right thing even if it is not the popular thing? Do you fear being ridiculed and embarrassed or are you bold like this woman who had the issue of blood? (Read also Joshua 1:9 NKJV)
  3. Have Faith in God – This woman had faith that Jesus would heal her simply by touching His garment. Therefore despite being failed by money; despite being failed by doctors; despite being failed by society; this woman did not lose her faith in God. She believed that Jesus would heal her. She believed that Jesus would not fail her. This woman was going to die from her illness and she had lost many things in her life, but this woman was not going to give up her hope and her faith that God would heal her. (Read also Mark 11:22-24 NKJV)

Sometimes when we are in a desperate situation – we may not have the money; our friends & family may have failed us; the experts who could help us may have given up on us – however even under such desperate circumstances – the only thing that you can hang onto is your FAITH in God. Your only choice is to have faith and let God do the rest.

Mark 5:30-34 NKJV
And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?'” And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

This woman was made well by her faith in Jesus. She finally believed that only Jesus would help her. Her faith in her finances failed; her faith in the doctors failed – but her faith in Jesus did not fail.

Are Christians Supposed To Have Problems?

Are Christians supposed to have problems? Should Christians suffer or should they be exempt from problems? If you have money and all the wealth in the world would you be able to make all your problems go away?
The truth is, as long as we live in a fallen world, we will always have problems. It is also important to know that problems do not discriminate. The true reality is that everybody faces problems – even the people who seem to appear (externally) happy and even wealthy. At times you will find that if you are not solving your own problems, then you are probably trying to solve somebody else’s problems.
Jesus was perfect and without sin. However, because He lived in a fallen world, Jesus Himself faced a number of challenges which He had to deal with. The great thing about Jesus is that He conquered and overcame EVERY problem that we can imagine.

John 16:33 NKJV
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Even during His ministry, Jesus was not immune to life’s problems and challenges. He was tempted; He was tested; He was accused; at one point, people wanted to throw Him over a cliff; He was betrayed and even in His own hometown people were offended by His message.
While we are in the world, Jesus does not promise that we won’t have problems. However He does promise that IN Him we will have PEACE in the midst of the problems.
There is a false teaching that exists where certain people teach that all Christians should be exempt of problems, hardship and suffering. Certain people teach and insinuate that if you are facing challenges in your life, then you might be cursed or that God is simply punishing you. They also insinuate that gaining riches and wealth is the answer to a problem-free life. Such teaching is false and is far from the truth of God’s word. When you become a Christian, God however, will strengthen you to overcome your problems. Why does God then allow us to have problems? Read this articleWhy God Allows Problems In Your Life.
Jesus though without sin and being the Son of God faced every possible type of temptation and challenge in life and He OVERCAME EVERY challenge with flying colors. He did not fail or allow any situation to overcome Him. He remained perfect, holy, and sinless in the midst of tribulation.
Therefore this means that Jesus is qualified to help us and to teach us to overcome any problem that we may face in life. Jesus tells us to be of “GOOD CHEER” because He has “OVERCOME THE WORLD.”

Romans 5:3-5 NKJV
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

If you are facing any type of problems in your life, there might be a reason why God has allowed it. Perhaps the Lord desires to build your faith in Him and your character through that problem.
Having problems do not always mean that you are cursed; or that your life is cursed; or that God is unhappy with you.
However, in a fallen world, God is able to use our problems in order to accomplish His will and His purpose for our life so that He alone is glorified. (Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. – Genesis 50:19-21NKJV)

Some problems come from people who are hostile to God and the word of God.
Some problems come from the fact that we live in a sinful world and because people are sinful and disobedient to God.
Some problems come from people who dislike anyone associated with God.
Some problems come from demonic forces and demonic practices such as witchcraft etc.

However, we have God who is greater than our problems and we must put our trust in Him and we should never lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5,6)

Hebrews 2:18 NKJV
For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

In the midst of challenges that we may face, God wants us to rely TOTALLY on Him through His Son Jesus. Our peace comes from Jesus and in Him, even though we face the challenges of life, we can STILL have peace.

Whatever problems you are facing today in your life – turn to Jesus; rest in Jesus; cast all your worries and burdens on Jesus; let the peace of Jesus rule your heart; trust in Jesus COMPLETELY; let Jesus teach you to overcome your problems and challenges.

Psalm 55:22 NKJV
Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.