“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
There is a Love called Rest. This love and rest can only be found in Jesus. When the Lord created the world and rested on the seventh day, He set us upon the path to our destiny of His eternal Rest in His everlasting Love. Jesus has taken over all our burdens so that we can walk in Him towards that eternal Rest, which one day we will reach when He comes back again to take us to that place where He has prepared for us in His greatest Love (John 14:3).
Remember, you are not walking alone, our Lord Jesus walks with you and He calls you his friend; God’s many many children walk with you, and God has called you all his precious family. When you feel burdened with the many worries of this world, do not suffer alone my dear friend, cry out to God who is faithful to answer and hold you, and reach out to your brothers and sisters in Christ, through whom God is faithful to show you love, comfort and encouragement. He will show you and lead you to taste how sweet His rest is, to remind you your holy destiny – the eternal Rest beyond your imagination, and set your eyes upon Him and rekindle a fire in your heart for Him alone.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Someone asked me, “What does it mean to face your fear head on and not run away? What does it look like?”
I said, “That’s a very good question. Each situation is different, but in many ways, facing fear head on means knowing that the fear is there, like a fierce-looking lion threatening to tear you into pieces, but you don’t move back even one step or run away like you used to, you face it even with trembling, and you look at it in the eye and say, ‘Yes, I know you are here, I know you are scary, and I feel it very strongly, but I will be standing right here, I am not going anywhere. You do not control my life. God does, and He wants me to face you, so I will.’ It means accepting how you are feeling, and accepting how the other person(s) are feeling (if other people are involved), and not trying to deny any of those by trying to find reasons to convince yourself that it is not true, or that something bad would happen if you trust that or if you stay or if you move forward.
Now there are situations where we could take the next step forward and not just stand still, or even ‘tip toe’ like they say, but there are also situations that do not allow you to take the next step, so you stay where you are. The point is not to move forward at the moment, the point is to look at the scary lion in the eye and not shrink back.
It might sound a little bit like OCD treatment, and it does have some aspect of that, but most importantly, it is knowing your heart, knowing that you ran away before because you wanted security, and running away is not going to give you real security, it just pushes you further into a trap that Satan has set up for you. The only place where you will find security is in Jesus Christ. He has made you one with the Lord, so you are now God’s child. Nothing in this world can separate you from his love (Romans 8:37-39), and He is true to his promise, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ (Deuteronomy 31:6) Remember what pain and suffering that Jesus went through on the cross to redeem you, to make you a beloved of the Father, to make you the apple of his eye (Psalm 17:8), to give you his peace and security (John 16:33), then you know what you fear is a lie and it does not come from the Father, but the devil.
And this time you know you are not alone when you feel afraid, because the Lord is with you, Jesus is with you, the Holy Spirit is with you, in One – that, my friend, is the Power that created the whole world, the Power that raised our Savior Jesus from death so that we may have a new heart and a new life! And this time, you can move forward, you can run, and run into HIS arms.”
“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.”
In the Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21: 28-32), when the father asked the first son to do something, he first said that he would not, but later “he changed his mind and went”.
As Christians, we are familiar with the struggle between the Spirit and the flesh. And many feel defeated and even despair after struggling and failing many many times over in the battle with some stubborn or “deep” sin, such as an addiction. It is understandable why they might feel this way. The snare is very real, the convicting of sin is very real, the remorse, the guilt, the shame, the pain, the deep cry, the anguish…they all seem too real for our souls to bear. But this passage brings us great hope because unlike how we might be feeling, in Christ, we are Capable of changing our mind and doing what pleases our Father in heaven.
The Lord knows the consequence of sin, as he terms it himself, “when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:17) – the penalty of sin is death, but he also knows it’s impossible for us humans to be freed from sin’s bondage by ourselves. That’s why He has promised from the very beginning of human history to bring us a Savior, who will “crush the serpent’s head” and free us from sin. (Genesis 3:15) This Savior sent by God in his mercy and grace for his people is Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life (what we can never do) on earth on our behalf, and he died on the cross to wash away our sins, so that we will become as white as snow, blameless before the Holy King when we put our faith in Christ. Not only that, after he ascended to heaven, he sent His Holy Spirit to live in us, so that He will empower us to do what pleases the Lord – he is the One who changes our mind to do the right thing.
So when you feel so burdened in your struggle, in your fight, on your own strength, pause and pray, and ask the Holy Spirit who literally lives within you to help you “change your mind and do what pleases God” (that is part of his “job description”), and surrender…Surrender your sin, surrender your fight, surrender your guilt, your shame, your fear, your anger, your unspeakable pain and despair – remember, Jesus’ precious blood has washed away all your sins, when you ask for his forgiveness each time you are convicted of your sin, he is faithful to forgive you. And just let God do what He has promised to do: to renew your mind, to transform you, but you have to allow Him to do just that (Romans 12:2). Then when He moves you, which he certainly and definitely will, just follow him, follow Christ, as he has lived and modeled a holy life for you. When God moves you in your wilderness, it won’t be easy, but it will be much easier than moving yourself without God, as you have tried for so long.
Trust and know that the Lord is good. And because of His mercy and preseverance, you can and will persevere to the end.
[Feel free to send me a prayer request through the ‘contact’ page if you would like me to pray for you on any particular struggle(s). I might be able to reply to all messages, but know that I will stand with you and be praying for you.]
Deut. 4:29, 31
“But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul….For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.”
Before Moses died, he prophesized that the people of Israel would enter and possess the Promised Land, but that they would also soon turn away from God to worship idols (Deut. 4:26-28). Now we know the Bible is God’s own Word, so Moses spoke these words from God. God knew these people’s hearts and that they would turn away from him.
The Lord knows our fallenness and our tendency to ignore, forget and disobey him. It’s all so easy and natural for us to sin, to forget who God is and who we are. It’s so easy and natural for us to turn from our Creator and worship created things as our gods (Deut. 4:23-24).
But the Lord doesn’t leave us in despair. He gives us hope through this passage (Deut. 29, 31), promising us that he will pursue us, and we will seek him and find him when we search after him with all our heart and soul (with true repentance). He will be found by us because he is a merciful God, and he is faithful to the Covenant of Grace that he has made with our forefather Abraham to save us. He so gently and firmly warns us through Deut. 4:9a, “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.”
This hope is made possible for us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He has died for our sins on the cross so that we can stand before God again. When we believe in him, his perfect righteousness is counted to be our own, so the Lord pursues and keeps us because of Christ. He has sent the Holy Spirit to live within us, to remind us of his words and ways, so that we can rely on Him to “take care and keep our soul diligently” before God.
How great God’s mercy and grace is! How deep a love he has shown us in Jesus Christ our Savior! And how great a help and hope that we have in Him as we struggle in this life to love and worship him alone!
Matthew 25: 2, 12-13
“Five of them were foolish, and five were wise….But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
As those called by God, we are set apart to live in this world, but not of the world (1 John 2:15-17). Being set apart means that we are called to holiness, to be sanctified in our mind and acts, and all that we are to be more and more like Jesus, to live our lives on the basis of the Gospel, on the basis of what Jesus Christ has come and done for us on the Cross. He rose from the dead to sit at the right hand of our Heavenly Father so that we have the Holy Spirit living in us to guide us to live for Him.
What is foolishness in this world? Proverbs 26:11 tells us, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” It paints a vivid picture, doesn’t it? We have been saved by Jesus’ precious blood, been purchased by a price, if we keep our sinful ways, we are like dogs returning to its vomit. Remember, when we come to Christ, we are changed by God from dogs to sheep, and we listen to our Sheperd’s voice and follow Him, not the world (John 10:3).
Matthew 14:30-31 (ESV)
“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”
If we are honest about ourselves, we would recognize and admit that we are often like Peter, being afraid and panic when life seems to be overwhelming, uncertain and when we feel lost. We might begin to doubt: “Is God really with me like He says He is? Is He really watching over me and directing my steps like He says He is? Am I really walking in His blessings in Christ?”
It’s understandable that we think and feel like that sometimes. Life is full of troubles and we are weak in our flesh, but the Lord says to Peter (and to us), “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Certainly the Lord knows our circumstances and our flesh, but His focus is on our hearts: “Why did you doubt?” He wants us to look to Him, remembering what the Lord has promised His chosen people (all Christians who believe in Christ) throughout the Old Testament to the New Testament, which has all been “YES”, all been fulfilled in Jesus Christ on the Cross. He has died for our sins so that God will be with us at all times in all situations. That is our greatest comfort and hope. And He asks us to remember and believe that to give Him glory.
When do our troubles end in the current situation? Recognize that the wind does not cease until Jesus and Peter get into the boat (Matthew 14:32). This is a crucial point because it shows us what truly matters is not when the storm on the sea calms. What truly matters is that the Lord wants us to know our need for Him and cry out like Peter “Lord, save me!” The storm first calms in our heart, and when God’s purpose to grow us in our faith is done, the true peace comes, as we have found our Rock and Shepherd, our Ever-lasting Love in Christ, when we fix our eyes on Him, rather than on the circumstances.
Counseling is a journey that we walk alongside someone – we meet them in the wilderness of their life, we listen to their heart’s cry, we draw them out, and we talk together, pray together…It’s like walking them through a devotional, only that the words are not there right in front of you, but the Holy Spirit is with you, the Lord’s presence and Word with you, walking with you through the valley of life, and leading you to slowly raise your heads, fixing your eyes on Jesus Christ who sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding for you.
Then, together, we sing,
“My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.”
Hebrews 2: 18
“For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
We face many temptations every day, each one screaming out to be our god and rule our heart and life. Many times we give in because we want it so much, because it feels so good, because we imagine how happy and satisfied we would be “if I could just have it.” Christian life is not an easy road; it requires us to say no to our desires many times a day. Some desires are not bad in and of themselves, but they could grow in such a portion that we want it more than God, and would do anything to have it fulfilled; we demand that it be given to us, be it love, money, sex, food, comfort, peace, etc.
These things happen in small things in the little moments, so we often don’t recognize what has hijacked and enslaved our heart. That’s why Jesus calls us to abide in Him, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) “Blessed is…whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and we grow in Godly wisdom by remaining in his Word. Through His Word, we get to know and be reminded again and again how God has sent his only Son to suffer and die for our sins, through many temptations and sorrows, and because He has defeated the devil who has the power of death, and has overcome the world without sinning, we have the greatest hope in Christ. He is the merciful and faithful high priest and Lord to help us when we face various temptations. What temptation are you struggling with now? Give it to Jesus and ask Him to help you. He is faithful to deliver you and set you free. Trust Him.
“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'”
Life could feel strange sometimes with all its ups and downs and the many unexpected turning of events. Maybe that’s why there’s the saying, “C’est la vie” (this is life). It’s easy to sing Hallelujah and praise the Lord when things are going really well, but much harder for many of us when things are tough, when sorrow and pain feel like an overwhelming wave that’s about to swallow you up alive.
The good news is that reality is more than what our eyes can see. When things are hard, the Lord hears our cry and answers from His holy mountain (Psalm 3:4, 18:6). Even when we don’t seem to see any change in our situation, the Lord is at work to deliver us, through which process He makes us more like Christ as He endures the greatest suffering to save us from our sins. The Lord works through the Holy Spirit to renew our mind day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16), leading us to the humble state where we could sing with peace and joy, “Lord, I do not have much strength left, but with the little strength that I have, I will worship you. May Your Name be glorified!”
He changes us from inside out, equipping us to look beyond what meets the eye, and see the invisible reality where Jesus sits on the throne and welcomes us in.