Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Consequences of an Online World

TITLE: Consequences of an Online World
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 23 Feb 2011
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

MAIN POINT: In a 24x7, always on technological environment, there is a temptation of making technology the new god of the modern age. Slow down. Stop. Look up. Do not turn technology into the modern ‘golden calf.’

Power outages can cause major disruptions in any city. Network outages hamper work and affect both internal and external communications. Several years ago, when I was a software engineer with a large American firm, there occurred a systems outage. Computers cannot connect to the network. The clocks failed to synchronize. People stopped working. Emptying office cubicles, office staff packed the cafeteria and surrounding coffee shops. The day continued on. None of my colleagues were complaining. That was 20 years ago.

On April 19th, 2007, the major Canadian telecommunications provider, Blackberry suffered a major systems outage. Eight million Blackberry clients were forced offline. As the systems came down, tempers flared up. The scene was ugly. In October 2010, the popular social networking Facebook website also experienced an outage, forcing millions of users to stop updating their own lives online. Unlike 20 years ago, any kind of technology outage now is increasingly unbearable. Even unthinkable. In an ‘always-on’ culture, online companies’ future and reputation are at the mercy of the reliability of the systems network.

In an Always-On culture, people get jitters just to know that their iPhones or Blackberries are not working. Frantic looks appears when Facebook or Twitter sites disappear. I know some who can only pace back and forth aimlessly when their electronic gadgets fail to work. Tools used to be a supplement, an option for man to work with. With technology, tools are no longer just an option. The roles have been reversed. The one who created the machine, can no longer live without it. Technology has reversed the paradigm. It is no longer machines that need man to make it function, but man that needs machines in order to function. The maker cannot live without his toys.

In an insightful look at online environments and mobile lifestyles, and how they influence people, Naomi Baron lists three consequences of ‘being always on.’ They are personal; ethical; cognitive; and social consequences.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Calm My Anxieties

TITLE: CALM MY ANXIETIES
Date: 16 Feb 2011
Written by: Conrade Yap
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” (Ps 94:19)
MAIN POINT: We know that we should not worry. What happens if we simply cannot stop worrying? We are easily distracted and anxious, the moment our focus turns away from God.

Just the other day, someone I know was panicking to the point of shedding tears. She said that her Facebook account had been hacked. Her imaginations grew wild with all kinds of possible intrusions from others. What would happen to her profile pictures? What about the sensitive information? What if some sinister person used it to hold her at ransom? At that frantic moment, one anxiety easily led to another.

Image Credit: aperfectworld.org
A recent study reveals that people with many Facebook friends are the ones who are most stressed (report). The report calls it “Facebook related anxieties.” For instance, when their ‘friends’ turn down their requests, they feel stressed. When people post nasty comments, they get worked up. When others refuse to ‘friend’ them on Facebook, they sense rejection. The researchers find that those who have invested a lot of time, and keep many friends on the social network are most likely to get anxieties. Dr Kathy Charles comments:
‘Many also told us they were anxious about withdrawing from the site for fear of missing important social information or offending contacts.’

A) A Social Phenomena
Anxiety is no longer becoming just a ‘disorder.’ Its frequency suggests that it is becoming more like an ‘ordered’ life. Peace and serenity seems to be the exception rather than the norm. People worry incessantly. For some people, it is not a matter of whether they get anxiety attacks or not. It is a question of WHEN?

Interestingly, the more connected we are, the more invested we become. The more invested we are, the more stressed up we can be. One of the troubling social problems in society is the problem of worry. People worry about many things. A young child worries when the parents come home late. Teenagers worry if their social network is disrupted. Adults worry about work pressures, family concerns, and the education of their children. While some worry less than others, all persons worry albeit at different levels.

I remember 4 years ago, the local authorities in Vancouver declare that all tap water needs to be filtered and boiled due to high turbidity levels and water contamination. In a country that boasts the largest and cleanest freshwater supply in the world, it comes as a surprise. Later that evening, I read news about long lines of people waiting at supermarkets to buy bottled water. In one popular hypermarket,people fight to grab the limited supplies. Anxiety leads to panic. Panic leads to non-rational behaviour. Non-rational behaviour begets violence. Anxiety is a self-inflicted sense of violence. When the self is hurt inside, one can dangerously hurt others outside. 

B) It Begins with One Innocent Concern
Anxieties often begin with an innocent show of concern. Sometimes, the most well-intended gesture turns into a long stressful journey of anxiety and worry. I remember a time when I was starting a holiday trip with my family. After loading our stuff in the car, and committing the whole trip to the Lord, my wife asks: “Did you lock the main door?

At that moment, one innocent question escalates to a mountain of anxious scenarios.

  • What will happen if someone breaks into the house?
  • What if all our stuff are stolen?
  • What if my precious vase is taken?
  • What if my children’s favourite toys are gone?
  • What if.....

One innocent question can ignite a multitude of anxiety within. Are we walking around like bottles with pent-up anxieties inside us?  It is quite likely. Dr Archibald Hart of Fuller Seminary writes:
Anxiety is now the number one emotional problem of our day. Panic anxiety is the number one mental-health problem for women in the United States, and it is second in men only to substance abuse. Many anxious people also suffer from other emotional problems, notably depression. Anxiety and depression go together like Jack and Jill. Clinically, the two are sometimes very difficult to separate.” (Archibald Hart, The Anxiety Cure, Nashville: W Publishing Group, 1999, v)
Anxieties can often get out of hand due to an insecure heart inside. Instead of clinging to God, we cling to our own sense of control. We seek to control rather than to be controlled.

C) It Grows with a Desire to Control
One reason for anxiety is because of the desire to control. If things do not turn out according to our ways, we get frustrated. We become worried. Feeling out of control is a common cause of anxiety. Author Linda Dillow thought that by ‘pumping’ all the ‘right’ things into her children, her kids will turn out all right. So she ‘pumps’ in (God, Bible) into her kids, expecting them in turn to love God automatically. When it did not work, she became anxious. Soon depression stepped in. 15 years later, she learned that the key to contentment is to let go, and let God. One of her friends said to her:

Linda, you like control, and there are too many ‘uncontrollables’ in your life.” (Linda Dillow, Calm my anxious heart, NavPress, 1998, 16)

That is so true. If there are so many things beyond our control, why try to CONTROL them?

Limda related that her path to contentment begins when she journeyed from control to contentment.

Contentment is a yielding to our Great Almighty, Holy King.... He is the Blessed Controller of our circumstances, gifts, abilities, roles, and relationships.” (Linda Dillow, 191)  

KEY POINT: The journey to contentment is a 3-step process. 1) Stop trying to control everything; 2) In praying we let God guide; 3) Trust and obey the clear instructions in Scripture.

D) Anxiety Manifests Through Frequent Complaining and Comparing
If we do not address the growing ‘control-freak’ in us, we feed it with more complaining and comparing. When things are not up to our standard, we criticize, even complain. I have heard of many people who finally get what they want by complaining. At the back of my mind, I wonder how much grace and mercy are manifested in a complaining attitude. Some say it is a matter of principle. Others say that they want justice done. Yet, I wonder if in the process of discharging that 'principle' or 'justice,' how much of Christ are we witnessing?

When we complain, there is a greater likelihood of exposing the uglier side of ourselves. When we complain, we forget that we have already been forgiven ourselves. The Israelites’ complaints in the wilderness anger not only Moses, but God.

Another anxiety growth stimulant is comparison. I remember hearing a parent who never seems to be satisfied with his son’s school report.
“Daddy! I got 95% for my Science test!” shouted the boy, happily.
“What! Why isn’t it 100%? I hear our neighbour’s kid gets all distinctions in all subjects!” retorted the father.
When we compare ourselves with others, there is always a tendency to envy others better than us, or to look down on those poorer than us. I do not dispute the need to improve ourselves in the name of excellence. What I caution is that in the midst of comparing with others, are we forgetting God is our Creator in the first place? Surely, we can ask Him to guide us what is best for us. I regularly remind my kids.
“If you are an A student, get the best A that you can get. If you are a B student, get the best B. If C, get the best possible C...... Pray to God. Press on for God. Praise God for whatever you have achieved. Do your best. Let God do the rest”

E) Final Thoughts
In Psalm 94, David conquers his anxieties and fears, by submitting them to God. He manages to pin down the ‘anxious thoughts.’ An anxious mind is like trying to open a cola can that had been vigorously shaken. Inside the can contains our agitated bubbles of anxiety ready to burst out. An anxious man will rush to pry open the tab, only to spill all the contents out everywhere. On the other hand, a calm person will wait. He will let the cola can stand for a while. When the time is right. He pops open the can and gets to enjoy the entire drink, spilling none of the tasty beverage.

That is what we need. We need to learn to be calm. We need to calm our anxious hearts. Above all, we need to still ourselves before the LORD. Stop anxiety by STOPPING any control-freaks in us.. Stop comparing with others; Start COMPREHENDING God’s vision for you. Stop complaining; Start GIVING THANKS.

May the consolations of God, the comfort and the peace of God grow in us as we banish anxieties from our lives. Indeed. For the girl who lost her Facebook account, she did the simplest thing. She locked her old account, and created a new account. Problem solved. Many cries of anxieties will not help. A simple cool and calm focused decision works wonders. Most importantly, it is a step in faith.

Do your best. Let God do the rest.

Thought: “Contentment is essentially a matter of accepting from God’s hand what He sends because we know that He is good and therefore it is good.” (James I Packer)

sabbathwalk


Copyright by SabbathWalk. This devotional is sent to you free of charge. If you feel blessed or ministered to by SabbathWalk weekly devotionals, feel free to forward to friends, or to invite them to subscribe online at http://blog.sabbathwalk.org . You can also send me an email at cyap@sabbathwalk.org for comments or enquiries.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Biggest Hurdle is Ourselves

Title: The Biggest Hurdle is Ourselves- (Part 3 of Stuck-In-a-Rut series)
Date: 11 Feb 2011
Text: Mark 10:26-27
Written by: Conrade Yap

This is the concluding article on the Stuck-in-the-Rut series of articles on Spiritual Growth. In Part Three, we discuss the main barrier to spiritual growth: Ourselves, and why we need God.

They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:26-27, NAS)

MAIN POINT: We are our own biggest hurdle, our greatest enemy, and our stiffest stumbling block. If we do not let God help us to address this, we will remain stuck in the rut.

Since the beginning of Winter, around October of 2010, I have started a book reading club with the staff at my church. The aim is to read a book together each quarter, as part of our spiritual challenge and nourishment. As a hopeless bookworm, I took the privilege of suggesting what books to read, or re-read. The first book was “Life Together,” a call toward community living. It was enthusiastically embraced. The senior pastor went to the bookshop to buy one. The administrative staff also searched for an online copy. I went ahead to simply pull out my personal copy from my bulging bookshelf. Guess what? Only one person read the whole book. Me! This quarter, we are starting on a second book. Undeterred, I have proposed the reading of “Why Revival Tarries” by Leonard Ravenhill. For me, each reading and re-reading has lighted up the inner flame inside my heart. What will become of the book club? I don’t know. I can only suggest and encourage. Nothing more.

Not many people read books. A lot of people prefer snippets. A one paragraph summary. A one sentence twitter update. A one word answer to some of the most challenging questions of life. A British newspaper tried to pry on the wisdom of GK Chesterton. Known for his wit, literary brilliance and his open faith in Christ, the question was: “What is wrong with the world?

Chesterton replied: “I am.

A) The Problem of the World
In two terse words, Chesterton has effectively summarized the problem of the world. His theology is perfect. His delivery is superb. His words are plain and direct. Indeed, unless we recognize the real problem in the first place, any powerful solutions or well-intentioned plans will miss the target. The Greek word for ‘sin’ is harmatia, which can also be translated as ‘missing the mark.’ It is because of sin, our spiritual positioning has been dislodged (missed the mark). Our moral compass has been turned upside down (missed the mark). Our human affections have become corrupted (missed the mark).

Without a recognition of human sin, we tend to think that we can build our own towers of success by human diligence or technical brilliance. We presume upon our God-given creativity and take ownership rather than stewardship. We say we worship God, but by our actions and behaviour, we spend more time with idols rather than God. Anything other than God can be an idol. The Bible warns us about idolatry. In a no holds barred indictment on sinful men, the apostle Paul writes:

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” (Romans 1:21-23, NAS)
Deeply aware of the nature of man, the 16th Century French Reformer, John Calvin warns us about ourselves.
“Man's mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain.”
In Redeeming Relationships, Trammel and Rollins warns us about the presence of idolatry that damages all kinds of relationships.
Idolatry can be defined as worshiping something other than the true God. Whatever draws our attention away from God can become an idol. Even important issues can become idols if they absorb our attention and consume our energy. In America, our gods are many. We worship money, power, independence, materialism, work, pleasure, and people. Although it may not overtly demand our attention, idolatry’s bony fingers grip our hearts and slowly choke out our affection for the one true God.
(Marty Trammell and Rich Rollins, Redeeming Relationships, GR: Faithwalk Publishing, 2007, p57)

Key Point: Anything can be an idol especially when we fail to take the log out of our own eyes when crafting out our spiritual growth.

B) With People It is Impossible
I have served in Churches for many years. One of the most pressing questions I struggle with is why the high level of burn-out? Even more troubling is the change I notice in people. A man enters the ministry with shining zealousness, but leaves with utter bitterness. I know someone who quit his job to serve in the Church. He took a huge pay-cut in the name of the ministry. He served with glee. The church applauded. Members cheered. A few months later, he quit. Expectations were not met from all sides. Before joining the Church staff, he emanates rays of enthusiasm. After leaving the Church employment, he resonates with waves of disappointment. Disappointed with people. Disappointed with self. Disappointed with God.

Yet life goes on. Nothing changes on the outside, but deep fractures are happening on the inside. Personally, I believe there is something more at stake. Nobody is immune to idolatry. In our modern world, idolatry has taken many forms. Technology, technical know-how, worry over family needs, concern about one’s career or future, looking for satisfaction anywhere other than God. All these can become idols.

Idols nibble. They nibble at us consciously and unconsciously. This is why we often do not take idols seriously enough. Anything can be an idol. An idol can be a visible stone on the altar, or an invisible thing in our mental radar. It could be expectations, placed on others as well as our own selves. It could be great and mighty plans we want to do in the name of God, but instead are working them out in the name of SELF.

We are our biggest problem That is why salvation can never come from man. That is why with man’s plans, it is impossible to enter the kingdom of God.

Key Point: Idols constantly nibble. They nibble at us when we are awake or asleep. Their goal is to make us into themselves.

C) All Things are Possible with God

Image Credit: arted.org.au
One of the biggest reminders from God is we cannot reach God on our own strength. I believe this is nothing new to my reader. Yet, I believe man has a tendency to be overly dismissive about this need for God. One of the most tragic words anyone can say about their own spiritual growth is this:

“I’ve been there. I’ve done that. So what’s next?”

Apply these words to any of the traditional understanding of spiritual growth. Apply that to prayer.

“I’ve prayed. I’ve prayed a lot. It does not seem to work, so what’s next?”

Apply that to Bible reading.

“I’ve read the Bible. I’ve done my devotion. Yet, I feel it is not working. So what’s next?”

Apply that to community.

“I’m part of a fellowship. I’ve done my duties. Yet, I do not feel I am growing. So what’s next?”

Apply that to outreach.

“I’ve done my evangelistic training. I’ve participated in outreaches. Nothing seems to work. So what’s next?”

Let me say this. This “Been-there-done-that” mentality smacks of more arrogance rather than humility. True prayer never seeks for results. It seeks God. True outreach never seeks to convert others. It leaves it to God. True community is in giving, and not measured in terms of taking. True Bible reading leads us to desire more of God, not less.

D) A Call to Unction

Let me close with this stirring call on prayer from “Why Revival Tarries.”
“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shop-window to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off. Poverty stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of the prayer. We have many organizers,  but few AGONIZERS; many players and payers, but few PRAY-ERS; many singers, few CLINGERS; lots of pastors, few WRESTLERS; many fears, few TEARS; much fashion, little PASSION; many interferers, few INTECESSORS; many writers, but few FIGHTERS. Failing here, we fail everywhere.” (Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, Kent: STL Books, 1972, p19)

As I read this passage to my Church staff, I can sense the Spirit moving us to pray. In fact, I am convinced that the human race does not need more ‘new’ information. They simply need to be reminded. They need to stay away from the technological deception of the ‘latest is the greatest.’ They need to avoid falling into the nostalgic trap of ‘the good old days are best.’ What the world needs is Christ. If our eyes are fixed on Christ, He will make all things new. Even our old spiritual habits. Let our prayer life be our spiritual thermometer. Let us be aware that our biggest problem is ourselves. Only God can save us from ourselves. Surrender. Let Him take over. Without God, we will remain stuck in the rut. Let us pray.
"Our Father in Heaven. Forgive us. Forgive us for our pride. Forgive us for thinking we are masters of our own spiritual destinies. Grant us humility, courage, and willingness, to acknowledge our stubbornness. Clean our inner house from idols. Make us new. Bring us to You. I surrender to You, in Jesus' Name. Amen."

Thought: It is not the finding of new ideas or things that matters. It is the recovery of our first love.

sabbathwalk

Copyright by SabbathWalk. This devotional is sent to you free of charge. If you feel blessed or ministered to by SabbathWalk weekly devotionals, feel free to forward to friends, or to invite them to subscribe online at http://blog.sabbathwalk.org . You can also send me an email at cyap@sabbathwalk.org for comments or enquiries.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Gospel According to 'Feel-Good'

Title: The Gospel According to ‘Feel-Good’ Factor - (Part 2 of Stuck-In-a-Rut series)
Date: 3 Feb 2011
Text: Mark 10:21-22
Written by: Conrade Yap

This is Part 2 of a series of 3 articles on Spiritual Growth. It deals with the frustration of being stuck in a rut. In Part One, we deal with frustrations that arise out of a quick-fix paradigm in our spiritual growth. Part Two deals with the fallacy of a feel-good mentality, and Part Three proposes an alternate understanding of spiritual growth.

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
(Mark 10:21-22)

MAIN POINT: In Part Two of the Stuck-in-the-Rut series, I will discuss how Christians often unwittingly let ‘feelings’ become their executive director of how they behave. ‘Faith’ gets dethroned in favour of ‘feelings.’ Feelings can keep us stuck-in-a-rut. Faith frees us to commitment and love.
Executive Director: 'When I Feel Like It'
“I don’t feel like going to Church today.”

Ever experienced such a feeling? I have. In fact, when I start to think about how ‘boring’ some sermons can be, how monotonous the worship team is, and how ‘hypocritical’ some church members can behave, I shudder. I ponder about skipping church. I wonder if I can wiggle myself out of commitments that Sunday. Like counting sheep to battle insomnia, I number the excuses below to justify non-attendance.

  • “When I do not feel like it, why should I ‘waste’ my time doing it?”
  • “I find no more meaning to serve in a ministry that NOBODY wants to do.”
  • “Every year, it is always me. If I don’t quit, people will take me for granted.”
  • “Nobody in church really cares about my service. In fact, nobody seems interested to take up my portfolio.”
  • “I feel like quitting. It’s God’s Church anyway. God can take care of his own church.”
  • “Surely, no one can feel any difference if I don’t come. I am too insignificant anyway.”
  • “The pastor don’t care. The Church admin don’t care. The leaders don’t care. Even the bishop hardly cares. So why should I care?”
A) Feelings Matter
These sentiments can increase bitterness about serving in Church. Under such a mood, serving in Church seems more like a chore. It never ends. If I don’t ‘feel like it,’ why then should I serve? Perhaps, serving in Church with such a negative attitude only makes me a bigger hypocrite!

When I first joined the Sunday School as a teacher many years ago, I was a green-eyed young man, eager to share the Word of God with younger folks. Saturday evenings are sacrificed in order to prepare for Sunday mornings. Date nights are curtailed so that I can be attentive during the Sunday classes. Excitement soon becomes exhaustion. Exhaustion turns into anxious moments. Anxious moments lead to bitterness. As feelings wrap around my neck of faith, my heart lets “What should I be teaching next week?” degenerates into “Why must I be teaching every week?”

The fact is, ‘feelings matter,’ but the question is to what extent should we entertain them? We cannot allow feelings to become the COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF of all our actions. The king of our heart is not ‘feelings’ but Christ.

B) Giving Feelings Too Much Room

Feelings are important. So is emotional honesty. Unfortunately, it is too unstable for any long-term commitment. Feelings must be considered together with an intentional faith in action.

Looking at the parable of the rich young man again, we learned last week that he asks Jesus about a ‘quick-fix’ way to eternal life. Sadly, his response is less than adequate. Not only is he unable to meet Jesus’s standard, he practically gives up altogether. The Amplified Bible translates it even more dramatically.
At that saying the man’s countenance fell and was gloomy, and he went away grieved and sorrowing, for he was holding great possessions. (Mark 10:22, AMP)
The words ‘grieved and sorrowing’ tells us about the great reversal of ownership. Instead of the man possessing his things, the things have possessed him. In that light, what happens if we give feelings too much room? Feelings will have no problem in possessing us.

Some of us may empathize with this man. How many people on earth can surrender everything, and give all away in order to follow Christ fully? We are not very different from this dejected rich young man. Imagine Jesus saying to us personally:
If you want to follow me, go back and sell all you have. From your house and car, to your computer products, your cellphones, and all your favourite possessions; empty your bank accounts and designate all to charity. If you have stocks and shares, sell them immediately, and give the proceeds to the needy.
Perhaps the key problem is not so much the nature of these things. It is a measure of how dangerously connected our feelings are to these things. When our hearts hold on to these things, it is like trying to stay afloat on the raging waters with our hands clinging on to a bag of heavy gold ingots.

C) ‘Feelings’ Idolized

When our feelings toward earthly things are GREATER than our faith to obey God, we have an unbalanced spirituality. We allow ‘good-feeling’ to matter too much. Way too much. An obsession with hoarding our possessions turns us into possessive beings. We become selfish. We become self-focused. We make an idol of these things that prevent us from following Jesus. Worse, we turn into that idol.

Tim Keller in his wonderful book, “Counterfeit Gods” calls the heart an ‘idol factory.’ He writes:
In Ezekiel 14:3, God says about elders of Israel, “these men have set up their idols in their hearts.” Like us, the elders must have responded to this charge, “Idols? What idols? I don’t see any idols.” God was saying that the human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them.
(Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods, NY: Dutton,2009, xiv)

Anything can be an idol. Feelings too. When FEELINGS become commander-in-chief, we obey whatever feelings dictate us. If we feel depressed, feelings tell us to cut off all contact with the outside world, so as to cocoon ourselves in our own room. If we feel happy, feelings direct our hands to give a High-5 to anyone we see on the streets. If we feel unwilling to take risks, feelings comfort us and convince us that there is always next time. If we feel afraid, feelings tell us it is ok to run away. If we feel that there are hypocrites in the church, feelings tell us that we should avoid mixing around with such people.

Unfortunately, fickleness is the major attribute of the god of feelings. When one feels good, how do we keep it up? Some people use drugs and artificial steroids to boost up their energy levels, in order to maintain this feel-good factor. When consequences appear, feelings tempt them to give themselves another booster jab to conquer the consequences. When feelings turn into an ‘ultimate’ thing in our lives, nothing else matters except to preserve our feelings.

D) Faith In God’s Timing

How can we escape this vicious cycle of good and bad feelings? Faith. Faith is the confidence that God knows best. Faith is the assurance that regardless of how we feel, God loves us unconditionally. Faith is the knowledge that God’s love is independent of our circumstances. Faith is knowing that God’s timing is always the best. We are called to be faithful.

Imagine what would happen if all bus drivers feel under the weather on rainy days? There will be no buses on the streets! If preachers do not feel like preaching on any one Sunday, there will be no sermons. If feelings take priority over commitment, it is like a bank manager telling a desperate client.
“I feel good today. So you do not have to pay back your house loan.”
Will the client be satisfied just to hear a good feel statement? Obviously not. He needs a binding contract. He needs a legal representative to ensure that the liabilities are effectively erased. For what if the bank manager feels bad? What’s stopping him to call in the loan during our most vulnerable moments?

A commitment is like a binding contract entered willingly by two parties. Faith in God’s timing is an example of a commitment to God. We obey God, and will exercise our commitment regardless of how we feel. When faith is greater than good-feel, here is how it looks like.


  • Even when I do not feel like it, I will still exercise my responsibilities.
  • Even when I fail to find meaning in my service, I pray my faithfulness will bring meaning in due course.
  • Even when people do not help out or serve, that does not mean I compromise my own gifts.
  • Even when other people do not care about the church, it does not mean I disregard my own covenant with God.
  • Why get distracted by people who are absent, when I can pay attention to those who are present?
  • Even if the world, the church, the pastor, and everyone else do not care about me, one thing is certain: Jesus cares.


I pray that during moments when we feel lousy, or spiritually unworthy, come to God. Let the comfort of the Holy Spirit remind us that Jesus cares. Always.

Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.” (John Wooden)

Feelings point us inside toward ourselves. Faith point us outside. Feelings puff up our self-importance. Faith keeps them in its proper perspective. Whether one feels good or bad, God always feel for us. May our feelings be always be directed to Jesus in faith.

Thought: Beware the heart that manufactures a lack of good-feel that leads to ill-will.



sabbathwalk



Copyright by SabbathWalk. This devotional is sent to you free of charge. If you feel blessed or ministered to by SabbathWalk weekly devotionals, feel free to forward to friends, or to invite them to subscribe online at http://blog.sabbathwalk.org . You can also send me an email at cyap@sabbathwalk.org for comments or enquiries.
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