Beloved, I write this with the thought of being away from you for the few Sundays. I find myself uncomfortable in these times for I do truly love Missio and the dear people with whom God has blessed me and Kim. It is my sincere prayer that God will be pleased to bring us back to you safely and with great joy soon.
The title of this post is clear and I want to offer some sound counsel to each of you who read this. As a pastor you may think that my heart is constantly close to God; that there is sweet fellowship between myself and my Lord. But this is not true. It is a battle for me as well. I am but a man. But I have learned much over the years and what follows is how I battle a cold heart toward my Lord.
First, consider the object of your faith. What is the basis of your hope of salvation? Is it anything but Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross? Then the trouble is that you have not truly trusted in Christ unto salvation. Perhaps you have trusted in the blessings of God or the goodness of God or the hope that He will fix your problems, but you have never come to God as a sinner and simply received Christ by faith for the forgiveness of sins. Trust Him now and receive that promised forgiveness.
Second, consider the love of the Father. The bible says that God’s love has been shown in various ways. John 3:16 says that it is seen in the sending of His only Son into the world. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Our Lord reached down in love to those who were His enemies and loved them in the fullest sense of the word, placing our sin upon His beloved Son for our salvation. But this is not all. God did not merely forgive us in Christ and then forget us. Rather, He took slaves and rebels and adopted them into His household as His children. Truly we ought to wonder like John did when he wrote, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are” (1 John 3:1).
Third, learn to talk to counsel yourself. All believers understand one common truth: they battle with the presence of sin and at times that battle seems to go poorly. But here is where each of you can rise up and enter the battle with the correct weapons. Dr. Lloyd-Jones writes in his book, Spiritual Depression, “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? . . . The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to talk yourself in hand, you have to . . . preach to yourself. . . . You must turn on yourself . . . exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’—instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way, and then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and . . . . what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.’” (pp 20-21).
A common passage that I take people to in my counseling is 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (emphasis added). Notice that we are to take control of those nasty little thoughts that seem to spring to our mind unbidden. God doesn’t say that you just shrug your shoulders and give in to them. Instead He commands us to FIGHT! We are to grab hold of all our thoughts and consider them against the purity of the bible. Learn to ask yourself, “Does this thought fit the commands of my Lord?” And if the answer is, “No,” then you must reject it. You must say to yourself, “This is not acceptable, I shall not tolerate this thought.” Then you must begin to remind yourself what the bible says regarding the situation. And you must do so until the biblical thought has overwhelmed the unbiblical one.
This may result in you looking silly at times, wandering around the house or hallways of work muttering to yourself. But it is sound advice. Beloved, there are many promises that are given to us by our Lord and we must learn to believe them and preach them, especially to ourselves. May this new year be one of hearts being rekindled toward our glorious heavenly Father who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3).