A Christmas Letter from Jesus

Hello my dear readers! How’s your doing? I hope and pray everything is going well! In this Christmas season, I will end of my blog post this year with something important to ponder together. I’ve posted this post 3 years ago but I thought it’s still worth as a reflection in Christmas season. I titled this post “A Christmas Letter from Jesus” Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from me, my husband, and our son Andrew. May the blessings and happiness Of Christmas season be yours May the next year be better and happier Happy Holidays!

Dear, my Childs

As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday. Every year there is a celebration in my honor and I think that this year the celebration will be repeated. During this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are many radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every part of the world everyone is talking that my birthday is getting closer and closer. It is really very nice to know, that at least once a year, some people think of me. As you know, the celebration of my birthday began many years ago. At first people seemed to understand and be thankful of all that I did for them, but in these times, no one seems to know the reason for the celebration. Family and friends get together and have lots of fun, but they don’t know the meaning of the celebration. I remember that last year there was a great feast in my honor. The dinner table was full of delicious foods, pastries, fruits, assorted nuts and chocolates. The decorations were exquisite and there were many, beautifully wrapped gifts. It was so touching they put a manger in the corner as a part of decoration, yet it was just a manger, they didn’t know the true meaning why I was there more two thousand years ago. Even worse, do you want to know something? I wasn’t invited to the party. I was the guest of honor and they didn’t remember to send me an invitation. The party was for me, but when that great day came, I was left outside they closed the door in my face and I wanted to be with them and share their table.

In truth, that didn’t surprise me because in the last few years all close their doors to me. The same as it was two thousand years ago the innkeepers close their door for me.  Since I wasn’t invited, I decided to enter the party without making any noise. I went in and stood in a corner. They were all drinking; there were some who were drunk and telling jokes and laughing at everything. They were having a grand time. To top it all, this big fat man all dressed in red wearing a long white beard entered the room yelling Ho-Ho-Ho! He seemed drunk. He sat on the sofa and all the children ran to him, yelling: “Santa…! Santa…!” as if the party were in his honor! At midnight all the people began to hug each other; I extended my arms waiting for someone to hug me and do you know no-one hugged me. Suddenly they all began to share gifts. They opened them one by one with great expectation. When all had been opened, I looked to see if, maybe, there was one for me. What would you feel if on your birthday everybody shared gifts and you did not get one? I then understood that I was unwanted at that party and finally I just had to leave. I walked out the door. It was no surprise that no one even noticed that I had gone. Every year it gets worse. People only remember the gifts, the parties, to eat and drink, and nobody remembers me.

Someone once told me, “Well, it’s because you are not around like most people are, so how can we give you a present?” You know my answer to that one? “Then give gifts of food and clothing to the poor, give help to those who need it. Go visit the lonely! Any gift you give a needy fellow man, I’ll count it as if you gave it to me personally.” (Matthew 25:34-40)

I would like this Christmas that you allow me to enter into your life. I would like that you recognize the fact that more than two thousand years ago I came to this world to give my life for you, on the cross, to save you. Today, I only want that you believe this with all your heart. I want to share something with you. As many didn’t invite me to their party, I will have my own celebration, a grandiose party that no one has ever imagined, and a spectacular party. It might not happen this year, but I’m sending out the invitations now. I hope you’ll want to come. There is going to be room for billions, for everyone who wants to come! Some really famous old timers and celebrities are going to be there and I’ll reserve you a seat of honor right with them. And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 8:11). I’m still making the final arrangements.

So hold on to your hat because when everything is ready, I’m going to spring it as a big surprise! Many people are going to be left out in the cold because they didn’t answer my invitation. Let me know right away if you’d like to come. I’ll reserve a place for you and write your name in large golden letters in my great big Guest Book!

See you soon. I Love you!

 Your beloved friend forever and ever, Jesus.

 

Question to ponder: have we personally opened the door of our heart and invited Jesus to come? On the day of His birth where we put Jesus in our lives? Whether as an honored guest, or even we totally forget about him and we just busy with our gifts and party? Will we come and join to His gracious party as His great guest? Are we ready for His invitation?

Karina – Living by faith

Image source: dreamstime.com

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A SPECIAL GIFT (guest post)

 

Two months ago my husband had a birthday. From some of the gifts he received, there was one gift that didn’t look as beautiful as it usually packs a gift. There were several lines of creases on the wrapping paper. It seems that the person who gave the gift had to uncover the crease of paper several times before finally succeeding in wrapping the gift. But all our impressions about the gift changed after we opened it. Not because the gift contained expensive item that was deliberately camouflaged with makeshift packaging as some people do to make a surprise. Not also because the gift contained the items we needed. The gift is “only” five small sachets of chocolate powder commonly used for instant drinks. On the sachet there was a pink paper that is usually used by children to make crafts, with congratulatory sentences and simple prayers in the typical handwriting of children. It was a gift from our niece, Joceline, who was only five years old. Instantly our hearts became warm.

Her mother told me how Joceline really loved all forms of chocolate. Usually she often whines with a sad and miserable face if her chocolate has to be given to someone else. But at the time she was very excited about wrapping her chocolate and writing a card to give to my husband. We still remember how Joceline gave her gift with a smile on her lips and sparkling eyes. Although the nominal value of chocolate powder is much lower than other gifts, but now we have more than enough reason to place the gift in a special position in our hearts.

What about us and the Father in Heaven? Have we offered the best of ourselves to the Father and pleased Him? Have we offered this whole life as a special gift to Him?

LOVE AND FAITH

In Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4 it is written the story of a poor widow who put two copper mites into the temple treasury. This passage literally tells about giving offerings in the temple, but I believe that we must have the quality of giving as the poor widow did, in every aspect of our lives. For truly everything we do in this life must be our offering and worship to God.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44 NIV)

Jesus didn’t just sit and see, but He view attentively how people put money into the temple treasury. The Lord Jesus observed and perceived each of them. His eyes penetrates to the bottom of the heart. More than just knowing the nominal value of the money, He knows every way of their lives and motivation. Among the many people who made offerings, He praised a poor widow who gave her two copper mites, the smallest and least valuable coin among the coins circulating in Judea at that time.

What was the distinguishes the poor widow’s offering from others? Were the coincidences that made offerings at that time were all rich people and this woman was the only poor person? Were there no other poor widows who also made offerings at that time? We don’t know for sure because the Bible doesn’t tell details about it. But surely this is NOT ABOUT THE AMOUNT OF MONEY and also NOT ABOUT RICH OR POOR. This is about HEART ATTITUDE AND LIFE BEHIND AN OFFERING.

Jesus’ words in verse 44 are the key: “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” ” At that time two copper mites was equal to the cost of food for one person per day. Not fancy food, of course. We must remember that she was a poor widow. The two copper mites certainly means a lot to her. It money was all she had to live on, but she gave all to God. That’s what makes her offering worth much higher than the others. In this poor widow’s offering there was a SACRIFICE based on FAITH. He will not give all her living if she didn’t has faith that God must preserve and will never leave her. In other words, letting go of all her living is the same as entrusting her life into God’s hands. That is the BEST part she can give to God.

Now let’s look at this in a broader context. Indeed, we will never be able to “give” to God because everything comes from Him:

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; (Psalm 24:1 NIV)

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:7-8 NIV)

If the whole universe including ourselves belongs to God, then what can we give to Him? Nothing at all! So, when we “give” offerings to God we are actually “offering back” what is truly His mine. This is not just money, but our entire life! Whatever we do in this life must be an offering that pleases God, but everything must be done in faith in Christ.

Faith is the assurance of our hope for God’s promise. Faith makes us willing to sacrifice because we believe that what we do in God will not be in vain. We sacrifice our pleasure in sin and fleshly desires in order to obey God’s word. Faith affirms us to be faithful until the end because we believe that there is a reward that awaits us in Heaven. And only faith makes us fully able to entrust our whole lives in His hands as long as we walk in the world. Faith must be the basis of all our actions, because without faith everything we offer is like ordinary activity without eternal value. And above all, LOVE must be our driving force and main motivation because without love all our sacrifices are nothing and useless.

…and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2b-3 NIV)

SINCERE

In previous events, Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23:1-36; Mr 12: 38-40; Luke 11:37-54; Luke 20:45-47). These Pharisees and Scribes were people who were very respected and influential at that time. Their words were like the law that the Jews must obey. Jesus called them hypocrites, who knew and taught the truth but they didn’t do it. They look godly and holy on the outside, but they full of trash and decay inside. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28 NIV).  Everything they do is done for people to see…” (Matthew 23:5a NIV). It seems that at that time there was a special pride if it was seen as a pious and devout person, so there was a tendency to do everything in order to be seen by others. In the midst of such a spiritual atmosphere, sincerity is something rare.

Return to the poor widow with her two copper mites. What can be proud of with two copper mites compared to the offerings of rich people who must be jingling loudly when put in the offering treasury. The jingling might invite admiration and respect from the people who saw it. This was in contrast to the poor widow’s offering. There was no pride gained by this widow in the human eye even though she gave all her income. I believe that she only gave sincerely to her Lord without seeking human praise, because it was impossible for Jesus to appreciate this woman’s offering if she did it with the wrong heart.

God sees the heart more than performance. Incorrect motivation makes everything we do become wrong. Doing good but not sincere is the same as deceiving ourselves, others, and God. Sincerity means what we do and say are the same as what is in the heart. More than that, we are like the Pharisees and hypocritical scribes. If we long for our lives to be offerings that are pleasing to the Father, then all our deeds must be truly sincere and not just look beautiful on the packaging.

Everything we do in sincerity and sacrifice to give the best that is moved only by love and based on faith in Christ will be an offering that pleases God.

A HEART THAT IS BANDED TO GOD

In fact, none of our offerings can amaze and fascinate God because wealth, talents, and creativity that we offer are come from Him. No matter how good we sing, it will not be as beautiful as the singing of angels in Heaven. As great as our ministry or work that we do, there will always be weaknesses. What distinguishes one person’s offering from others is that HEART is involved because there are no things we do without involving the heart, whether our hearts are right or wrong! In the heart there is a motivation for each of our actions, which in turn will DETERMINE THE QUALITY of our offerings.

The gift from Joceline is worthless compared to other gifts we received. But because of the attitude of her heart – love, sincerity, sacrifice and willingness to provide what she herself likes, also joyful when she was giving up her gift – making her simple gift becomes a special gift. How about our hearts??

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21 NIV)

HOW FAR or TO WHOM we believe, love, sacrifice and give, it’s all DEPEND ON WHAT OR WHO IS the treasure to us. If God becomes our most valuable treasure, our hearts will be banded to Him. If our heart truly banded to God, we will definitely make Him the center and our main reason for living this life. The poor widow has offered her two copper mites to God. Now, let us rededicate our “two copper mites” – that is our whole lives – as a special gift for Father with love, faith and sincerity. I believe the Holy Spirit is with us. His strength and power will help us not only to choose what is right, but also to do it with the right heart and in a way that pleases God. Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo by: Sella Irene

Keep Positive Thinking

Hello, dear readers! How’s you going? I hope and pray everything going okay with all of you. I grateful to God today I have a bit time to post a new post. This time I just want to share wise words that I got from (once again) from my mom. Coincides with my parents’ new restaurant that will officially opened in December, my mom gave me a photo containing wise words about positive thinking. Here it is…

Karina – Living by faith

Rebecca Fong

Background Image : googleimages

NO DECEIT (guest post)

Since ancient times “what appears before the eyes of men” has become a measure. Look at how a great prophet like Samuel mistakenly recognized Eliab as the anointed of God only because of his appearance or his height (1 Sam 16: 6-7). We also use this perspective often when interacting with other people, right ?! For example, sometimes we quickly conclude someone is mature and wise just because he doesn’t talk much. Even though the reality is not necessarily so. In Proverbs 17: 27-28 it is written: “He who has knowledge spares his words, [And] a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; [When] he shuts his lips, [he is considered] perceptive.” (Proverbs 17:27-28 NKJV) This shows us how easy it is to judge someone’s personality only from the outside.

Conscious or not, often our judgments and attitudes toward others are influenced by what we see and what we hear. Indirectly this makes ourselves to be a person who is more concerned with “what appears outside” like our appearance and the way we speak in order to get the “image” that we want in the eyes of others. We become a person who cares deeply about what other people say. We feel “okay” when people say we are great, cool, kind, humble, and various other compliments. On the contrary, we feel bad or even feel rejected when people say our performance isn’t as good as usual, considered boring, not smart, our opinions are not accepted, and so on. The judgment of others becomes very important to us as if it contributes to our self-worth.

Without realizing it, we carry such a mindset when worshiping and while serving God, whether to get a positive assessment from others or even to obtain God’s “favor”! We diligently come to church and serve so that others see us as godly people. We sing, close our eyes, and raise our hands in worship, but actually our minds are wandering everywhere. The prayers we offer are just strands of beautiful sentences that we speak eloquently but without faith. Our services to God is only the talent that is presented well without any life offered on the altar. Even worse, we wrap our speech with “spiritual languages” while in church, even though we often emit our emotions with inappropriate words in the work environment. We are kind and friendly to all economic strata while in church, but we often discriminate people in our daily activities. Not the kind of worship that is desired by God. What God longs for is we come to Him with sincerity, without falsity!

We will learn about this from Jesus’ conversation with Nathanael. According to tradition, Nathanael and Bartholomew were considered to be the same person, namely one of the 12 disciples of Jesus. The opinion developed since the ninth century may be based on writing a list of the names of 12 disciples in the three Synoptic Gospels (Mt 10: 1–4; Mk 3: 13-19; Lk 6: 12–16) who always juxtaposed Bartholomew’s name with Philip, while Nathanael was a friend of Philip. The story of Nathanael began when Jesus went to Galileam, where He met Philip, whom He called to follow him. Philip rejoiced that he had found Jesus and immediately invited his friend, Nathanael, to meet Jesus. Then there was a very interesting conversation between Jesus and Nathanael in John 1: 45–51.

GOD LOOKS AT THE HEART

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.

(John 1:45-48 NIV)

Regardless of the estimate of who Nathanael really is, what is interesting is Jesus’ statement when he saw him: “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” (John 1:47 NIV)

There was a quality within Nathanael that Jesus likes: there is no deceit. No deceit means no guile nor duplicity. This means that everything in Nathanael’s self – his actions, his heart and mind – all are sincere, not acting, and without falsity. What appears on the surface is a reflection of what is in him, without pretense. As what appears in people’s eyes, that’s how he is. Not made up, not hypocritical. Nathanael’s sincerity was the opposite of the condition of the Israelites of that day, especially the scribes and Pharisees, who were only concerned with outward things. On different occasions Jesus criticized them: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28 NIV)  In the midst of such Israeli conditions, it is not surprising that Jesus called Nathanael as truly Israelite.

No matter how good one’s performance in the human eye, one’s value is not determined by what appears outside because God’s eyes penetrate far to the bottom of the heart: “…..The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7 NIV)  God knows every thought and motivation that we don’t even realize. God wants whatever we do, more than just because we care what people say. God wants us to do our best not because we just carry out our obligations, even more than just professionalism. Let us not do something just because of politeness, especially if there is a hidden purpose.

Proverbs 23: 7 is a real example of insincerity: For as he thinks in his heart, so is he [in behavior—one who manipulates]. He says to you, “Eat and drink,” Yet his heart is not with you [but it is begrudging the cost]. (AMP version) This verse also serves as a reminder for us to be careful of kindness and hospitality accompanied by hidden intentions, as well as a warning to ourselves so that we do everything with a pure heart. God wants us to live without falsehood and not hypocrisy. A life that is in harmony between heart, mind, words, deeds. A piety without pretense. Life isn’t just good on “packaging”, but really beautiful and fragrant. This quality isn’t produced overnight, but is the result of spiritual discipline and consistency to continually decide life with a sincere and pure heart before God.

EASY TO BELIEVE IN GOD

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

(John 1:48-49 NIV)

Nathanael was surprised how Jesus could know him even though they had never met before. Shortly after hearing Jesus’ answer “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you”, Nathanael gave a spontaneous statement that showing his belief in who Jesus is: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” (John 1:49).  Look, how easy for Nathanael to trust Jesus, even though Nathanael had made a skeptical statement when Philip told him about Jesus of Nazareth. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46 NIV).

Nathanael is an example of how people who are with no deceit will easily to believe in God because his heart is sincere and pure before God. Why is it sometimes difficult for us to believe in God? One of the causes is because we are not truly sincere and pure towards God. Unconsciously we still have a hidden agenda and veiled motivation for God. We don’t come to God with ” as we really are “. Often it is hidden deep in the heart, but God who sees the heart knows everything. Therefore, allow God to investigate and justify our hearts, straighten out and show our mistakes, so that there is no obstacle between us and God. Let the psalmist’s prayer before this omniscient Lord also be our prayer: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23-24 NIV)

SEE GREATER THINGS THAN BEFORE

Jesus said, “You believe[h] because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.”

He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

(John 1:50-51 NIV)

Living with no deceit will make us uncomplicated in trusting God and easier to follow God’s guidance because we believe in Him. Walking in God’s guidance will lead us to greater things, as Jesus promised to Nathanael: “You will see greater things than that”. Larger things aren’t just about miracles, God’s help, blessings, promotions, and things like that. Much bigger than all of that is the knowledge of God. Jesus said to Nathanael: “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” This is similar to Jacob’s dream at Bethel in Gen. 28:12, but this time with a special revelation regarding the Son of Man. Previously Nathanael acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God but Jesus stated that He is the Son of Man, as prophesied in Daniel 7:1-14. This equipped Nathanael’s understanding of Jesus. When we read the rest of the story, Nathanael was one of those who saw Jesus when He appeared on the shore of the lake of Tiberias after His resurrection in John 21:2.

It is a gift to be allowed to know God personally, because in fact we will not be able to know God if He doesn’t reveal Himself to us. If at this time we can trust and know God, it is because the Holy Spirit has placed the seeds of faith in our hearts. This is Paul’s statement that understands how valuable the knowledge of God is:

But whatever former things were gains to me [as I thought then], these things [once regarded as advancements in merit] I have come to consider as loss [absolutely worthless] for the sake of Christ [and the purpose which He has given my life]. But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ (Phillipians 3:7-8 AMP)

Believing and knowing Christ is the most valuable thing in life. Without Christ we will be lost, aimless, and unsaved. Therefore let us faithfully follow Christ. Let’s keep living in sincerity and true piety with no deceit, so that we become people who are easily formed by God and obey Him. By continuing to believe and live in His guidance we will increasingly know Him and experience greater things with Him in all areas of our lives. Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (Edit with: pixlr app)

Always Pray, and Never Give Up

Hello my dear readers! It’s been a while I do not write my own post. My last post (except guest post) was in July, it was due to my office work and some other activities. It has been difficult to have a quiet time to write a post. Praise God, finally I got a quiet (although short enough) time to write. My post this time will talk about prayer. This is related to exactly what I am doing. Actually, it has been last year my husband and I continuing to pray earnestly to be able to have a second child. We have gone through some medical tests and everything is well. I don’t know why having a second child isn’t as easy as when God blessed me first child. My parents just gave me a short advice, “Keep praying, and never give up”

Talking about prayer, people have several and different ways of addressing prayer. There’re people who use prayer as an alternative to get what they want. They will be glad and give thank if God has answered his prayer, if God doesn’t answer or grant his prayer, it doesn’t matter and they will simply look for other alternatives. The others think that praying earnestly and continuously just a waste of time. They think that God already knows what we want and need so we don’t have the urge to ask God again. Some are just praying perfunctory, but once their prayer isn’t granted they’re immediately disappointed, blame God, turn their back on God and think God doesn’t care, even worse, they begin to doubt the God’s Word, even His Existence.

So how do we pray? To answer the question, I took the parable of persistent widow that written in Luke 18:1-8. There was a weak widow, she portrayed as an oppressed figure, living in poverty and often being treated unfairly in society. Also there was a despotic judge. Be told that this widow continues plead the despotic judge to defend her rights. The widow said, “Grant me justice against my adversary.”(Luke 18:3) What the judge did? For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”(Luke 18:4-5) My dear friends, I’m focused to the word, “Keep bothering me…” this means that the widow, without giving up, tireless, and persistently went to the judge and continued to asking that her request be granted. So the key of the answer above implied in Jesus’ word to the disciples. We should always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1) in other word, like the widow, we have to pray persistently! I strongly believe at the time the judge made decision not based on compassion but solely because the persistence of the widow made him uncomfortable so eventually the widow’s wishes being granted.

After we know how we should pray, now let’s see why we need to keep praying persistently and do not give up. My beloved friends, based on my personal experience in praying, I found that there are four reason why we have to pray persistently and tireless. Let’s look together.

Showing sooth of our faith to God

Prayer is our medium to build relationship with God. Prayer is also a form of expression or declaration of our faith before God that conveyed through the word. When we pray, it shows how our faith and to whom we put faith. The quality of our faith showed by our constant and continuous prayer. Faith must be accompanied with trust, and only those who believe will praying continuously no matter what is the result. Whether it is delighting to them or not.

Showing our faithfulness and patience

Earnest and persistent prayer also shows how deep our faithfulness and patience. When we’re facing hard problems we pray for God’s help. The question is how big our patience waiting for the answer of our prayer also how big we put our hope to God. Impatience often becomes the biggest obstacle for us to get God’s promise and answer. Initially we pray persistently but when the answer doesn’t come as fast as we want, the intensity of our prayer decreases drastically until finally completely stops and we will begin disappointed to God and immediately look for other alternatives that probably against to God. That’s why the fervent prayer become a benchmark of how big our patience and faithfulness to God.

Train us to live by faith.

As we know that faith come by hearing, hearing by God’s word. (Romans 10:17) but we will be difficult to experience faith growth if we don’t do the God’s word in our daily lives. By praying earnestly and continuously, we are already applying what God’s Word want us to do: pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) … continuing steadfastly in prayer (Romans 12:12), And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:18), Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation (Matthew 26:41)

Showing sincerity in prayer

Our sincerity in prayer will be reflected by how big the intensity of our prayer. People who aren’t earnestly in prayer will stop quickly, easily give up and despair but those who earnest in prayer will make their life of prayer as a means to build very strong relationship and communication with God. They will not treat prayer as a “tool” like vending machine that easily can provide what they need but they use prayer to tighten their intimacy with God.

Dear friends, what about us now? I really don’t know what you are praying for this time. Maybe you’re struggling in prayer for a baby like me, or maybe you’re praying for your new job or business. Well, it doesn’t matter what are you praying for, this time please allow me to encourage all of us to pray fervently, persistently, and never give up. Please believe that God will hear and answer our prayer. It’s written in the Bible,

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. (1 John 5:14)

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)

There’s no prayer that is not heard and answered by God as long as we do the right prayer, with humility, not based on personal desire, fully surrender to God, and with a clean heart. However, even though we know and believe that God hears and will answer our prayers, we must be prepared to accept God’s answer of our prayers because sometime God’s answer not in accordance with things that we expect. If God doesn’t gives the answer as we wish, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care and loves us. Let’s take a look to 1 John 5:14, there’s a word “according His will…” this means that God’s answer isn’t necessarily in harmony with our will and we cannot force God to always give what we want. When God gives a different answer with our expectation, we have to know that it means God has another better and wonderful plan for us. Maybe it’s hard for us to accept but please remember God’s plan is always the best.

I don’t know when God will answer my prayer for the second child, I also don’t even know if God will grant my prayer or not. This time, what I have to do is only pray, pray, and continue to pray tireless. I strongly believe God will give an answer of my prayer in time and also do believe whatever God’s answer is, that is the best because He knows what the best is for me and my family. I will not be disappointed and angry to God and will not think that earnestly and tireless pray that I did just a waste of time and in vain. Let’s always pray, and never give up. Just waiting for the best answer from God according His will and His time! Amen.

Related reading

Keep Asking by Queen Karen

Karina – Living by Faith

Image source: google images

THE NEW SEASON 3 “THE DANGEROUS SAFE ZONE” (guest post)

Life is a journey through season after season. Every season is the unpredictable season (click here) because we don’t know what will happen, whether it is happiness or the hard season (click here). All must be addressed wisely because what we do in this season will affect our situation the following season. That’s what experienced by Asa. Asa was the third king of Judah after Israel was divided into two regions, namely Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (Southern Kingdom). This great-grandson of King Solomon was listed as one of the godly kings in the history of Judah: “…Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life.” (2 Chronicles 15:17 NIV),  and “Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done.” (1 Kings 15:11 NIV). The story of Asa is written in 1 Kings 15:9-24 dan 2 Chronicles 14:1 – 16:14. There are many lessons that we can learn from Asa’s attitude through the seasons of his life.

 

ASA’S LIFE SEASONS

First Season: The New True Dawn

Asa began 41 years of his reign by conducting spiritual renewal in Judah which at that time had fallen into idolatry. He removed the foreign altars and smashed the idols, and ordered his people to return to worship the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey His laws and commands. This first step was seen as good and right by God: “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.” (2 Chronicles 14:2 NIV) For his sincerity, God bless Judah with security. In that peace time Asa built fortified cities in Judah: “He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest.” (2 Chronicles 14:6 NIV)

A position – at any level – is the responsibility entrusted by God to His children to achieve His goal which is to bring people to Christ. The right first step is one of the determinants to achieve it. But that right first step must be followed up consistently in all situations.

Second Season: War and Victory

After a safe period of several years, Judah was attacked by Zerah with an army of a million men and 300 chariots. It was a force that was almost impossible to conquer because at that time Asa had only an army of 300 thousand Judeans with shields and spears and 280 thousand Benjaminites who were shield bearers and archers. In that critical state Asa called on the Lord: “….Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army….” (2 Chronicles 14:11 NIV) God answered his prayer by giving glorious victories and abundant spoils of war.

The victory of God’s children in the face of the darkness of life isn’t determined by what and how much they have, but depends on how far they want to rely on God, because only God is able to paint a rainbow behind a dark cloud. As long as we rely on God, we will not only win over problems but also get the opportunity to level up more than we are able to reach with our own strength.

Third Season: Strengthening Commitment to God

God saw Asa’s heart and sent a prophet, Azariah the son of Oded, with the message that Asa must be remain firm to cleanse Judah from idolatry and bring Judah back to God, because there was a reward God would give for his effort: “But as for you, be strong and don’t give up, for your work will be rewarded.” (2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV)  Asa responded by carrying out a total spiritual reformation as a continuation of what he had done at the beginning of his reign. He removed the repulsive idols and restored the altar which was in front of the temple of the Lord. Then he assembled all Judah and Benjamin and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them to strengthen their commitment to God by entering into a covenant to seek the Lord with all their heart and soul.

We must respond to each of God’s blessings and help with a commitment to life increasingly pleasing to God. Get rid of all forms of idolatry in our lives. Maybe we don’t worship idols literally, but there could be other things that we love and pursue more than God. For that we must learn to say “no” to ourselves when our hearts want things that deviate from God’s will.

Fourth Season: War, again!

One time Baesa, king of Israel, fought Asa by blocking Rama, which was near the border of Israel and Judah. This action might have been triggered by the many people of Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who crossed to side with Asa (see 2 Chr. 15: 9). But Asa didn’t rely on God like when he faced Zerah but he asked for help from Benhadad, king of Aram. Aram, also called Syria, was the enemy that David had conquered (see 2 Sam 8: 5). Asa sent tribute in the form of gold and silver from his palace and from the treasury of the house of God, so that Benhadad was willing to cancel his peace agreement with Baesa. Benhadad agreed to Asa’s request and ordered his troops to attack Israeli cities. This tactic succeeded in making Baesa stop blocking Rama (see 1 King 15: 20-21) but there are consequences that Asa must bear because of his attitude that doesn’t rely on God. Through Hanani, a seer, God rebuked Asa: “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and haven’t relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand…… In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.” (2 Chronicles 16:7-9 NKJV) Asa became angry when heard the word and then he imprisoned Hanani!

A few years before his death, Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. but in his illness he didn’t seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians. Asa didn’t apostasy and didn’t leave God. In 2 Chr 15:17 it is written that Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life, but the Bible also tells us that Asa’s spirituality in the last years of his life wasn’t as good as when he began his position as king.

This season teaches us the importance of always relying on God in every situation, no matter whether the problem is heavy or light. Indeed, human tendency is difficult to fully rely on God if they can still do something with their own strength. Humans tend to seek human help whose response can be immediately known and heard, rather than waiting for God’s help that doesn’t know when it comes and often the way isn’t as expected. Then, can God’s child succeed in his own way? Yes, but there are consequences that must be borne. Not because God is evil, but because of our own mistakes. Like Asa, he succeeded in defeating Baesa through the hands of the king of Syria but he had to “pay” it by losing the opportunity to conquer Syria and since then he had to experience war.

Every problem is a test and our response will determine the end result. The wrong response and action to a problem not only makes us lose the blessings we should receive, but also opens up opportunities for new problems that are often bigger than the previous problems. Following God cannot be half-hearted. The choices are only “yes” or “no” because we cannot serve two masters. When we aren’t wholeheartedly dependent on God, in fact at the same time we are dependent on others, whether it’s property, other people, or ourselves.

 

Message from The Seasons of Asa’s Life: DON’T BE LULLED IN A SAFE ZONE

“Sometimes the most dangerous place isn’t on the battlefield but in a safe zone.

Being lulled into a safe zone makes us no longer vigilant and forgets to guard the heart.

Gradually and without realizing it, we will feel that we no longer need God, no longer seek God, and no longer rely on Him.

Until at some point we will find that our hearts have changed and moved away from God. “

In this modern era, Asa can be described as a person who is diligent in worshiping, active in service and active in various church activities, and enthusiasm in preaching the gospel. A person who has a desire to bring others to Christ, and a leader who is in a strategic position to make changes. Imagine a person who is fiery for God like this and then turns into a person who is hesitate, even having the heart to imprison a servant of God because of heartache hearing the word said by the servant of God (2Ch 16:10). What made Asa change? Since when did the spirit begin to degenerate? If we read the whole story, it seems the answer is in 2 Chr. 15:19 “There was NO MORE WAR until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.” Indeed, that safe time is God’s blessing because Asa has been faithful and relied on God, but it seems that the safe period slowly makes Asa’s “fire” fade.

In everyday life, “no war” means no struggle, no challenges, everything goes smoothly without significant obstacles. If we aren’t aware of guarding the heart, this safe and calm situation can make us complacent and lulled. The sign that we are lulled into a safe zone is no more vision, dreams, and higher goals to be achieved. This is a situation that is actually dangerous because it can make us fall asleep spiritually. We are still in the church and still serving God, but slowly we lose fire and our love for God has ever been in our hearts. We aren’t firm anymore in holding the truth, no longer thirsty with God, not close to God as before, no longer leaning on and relying on God completely.

The safe zone isn’t wrong but it is dangerous if we are carried away in it. Therefore, when God takes us in a safe zone, that’s the TIME that God gives us so we can focus on BUILDING OUR SELF. As Asa strengthens Judah by building fortresses so that enemies cannot be easily penetrated (see 2 Chr. 14: 6-7), we must also build what is inside us to become a stronger person and ready to face what will happen to future. There are two possibilities that will occur before us: Problems or Blessings. Problems and blessings both need capacity to overcome. People who are unable to deal with problems can be desperate, angry with the situation, and disappointed with God. But people who aren’t ready to receive blessings can also be arrogant, too confident, not leaning wholeheartedly on God. Not a few Christians who diligently pray when there are problems and then move away from God when their prayers are answered and they are blessed abundantly. Therefore we must prepare ourselves to face problems and to receive blessings.

At least. there are three things that must be built and strengthened so that we don’t collapse when hit by problems and aren’t complacent when receiving blessings: SPIRITUAL, MENTAL, and SKILLS. Spirituality and mentality are built by fellowship with God, doing God’s words and through a willingness to change, so that we are rooted, grow, and bear fruit in Him (Luke 6: 46-49). Skill is built by training to sharpen existing potential and also learn new things to increase knowledge and enrich skills. If we consistently build ourselves in Christ, we will be better prepared at any time when problems come or at any time receive greater trust and responsibility from God.

In this life season after season will come in turn and there are times when we take the wrong step. At present some of us may be in a complicated situation caused by past sins. Actions that are already wrong are irrevocable, but there is always hope if we repent and are willing to change. Crucial issues are often not on the fault but on the attitude of the heart to God’s reproof. The response to God’s rebuke will certainly affect our future, namely whether we will be restored or even more trapped in new mistakes that increasingly drag us into spiritual degenerate. It is a pity if something that we have started properly finally doesn’t produce as much fruit as it should just because we hardened our hearts and didn’t want to repent. The past cannot be changed, but our conversion today can change the future. At present, whether we first started the first step correctly or not, the most important thing is to let the remaining time wisely and immediately turn away from mistakes. Don’t fall asleep with a safe zone that can endanger us and don’t give up on fulfilling the task that God has entrusted us to the end with excellence.

Stay vigilant even though in a safe zone, because a little disturbance in a calm atmosphere will be very shocking if we fall asleep in it.

Amen.

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images

 

 

Behind the Sadness

 

Hello dear readers!! It’s me again. How’s you going? I hope and pray everything is going well with all of you. My post this time isn’t a new post. I wrote it a year ago but has never been posted before. I hope and pray this post could be a blessing to all of us.

Not many people know that I’m a melancholic woman. I have a very sensitive feeling. I’m easily moved and sad. My tears easily drop when I see something really touched my heart such as sad movie or story. Many people argue that someone who easily touched, sad, and crying is a weak people. Well, I don’t agree with this opinion. People who are sensitive or easily sad aren’t necessarily a weak person. Sadness is a thing that couldn’t be separated from our lives.  No matter how good we organize our lives, still, there’re times we’ve to feel sad and should to cry. A simple example, we could be feeling sad and crying caused losing someone who we really love. My dear readers, through this post allow me to discuss about this topic. Let’s see what God’s word says about sadness.

Indeed, the Lord doesn’t want us to be people who are full of sadness but instead wants His children to be full of joy to completely feel His love and cares. Yet, as I said before at a time unavoidably, like it or not we should get into the sad time and situation and we even cannot avoid it. There’re many verses in the Bible which strengthens us to go back to feel joy when in difficult conditions, under pressure or when oppressed, but God’s word also said that:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance… (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 4)

There’s a bible verse that sounds very controversial and opposed with the strengthen verses. Begin with the passage: “The Value of Practical Wisdom” It’s written:

Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. (Ecclesiastes 7:3)

This verse was written by the most wise man who ever existed in the world, Solomon! But, this verse seemed pretty weird. This verse as though has a meaning suggest us to be sad because will be better than to be happy. Is that true? Does God want us to be people who are often filled with sadness? Does God want us to be person who always have grim face and cheerless? Furthermore, let’s say God allows us to feel sorrow, what’s benefit for us? If any, what are they?

Essentially, God doesn’t want all of us to be in a prolonged sadness. He gives so many tips and promises that can affirm, strengthen and restore us into a sense of happiness, full of peace and joy. But once again, there’re times we’ve to be sad and it isn’t wrong as long as we could handle it very soon and not make our relationship with God frays. Well, it turns out, based on my experience, there’re positive things we can learn and it all will make us become stronger, wiser and better than before. After took quite long time to ponder this verse, I finally conclude that this verse break a paradigm that we absolutely shouldn’t grieve no matter the situation and condition. So that means, although we have to live joyfully and peacefully, if one day we must be sad, just be sad because through our sadness we could learn something positive and it will makes us better in the future and finally will bring happiness to our heart.

My beloved readers, let’s take a look to the next verse of Ecclesiastes 7. This following verse also looks so weird.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. (Verse 4)

Let’s to be honest, where we like to be, at the house of mourn or in a festive party? Of course we would prefer want to be in the party. There’s no sadness there. We just happy and enjoy the delicious foods, drinks, and other. But God’s word says the opposite. The fool is in the house of pleasure and the wise is in the house of mourning.  This verse will be difficult to accept but let’s take a look why being at the house mourning is better than the party house. Let’s think about the true meaning of this verse.

For an example, let say, we are in the festive birthday party. What we think about while we are in that party? I am pretty sure when in a party we don’t think about important and essential things of our lives. Probably we don’t ponder and think hard the way out of problems we face. We will dissolve in the festive spirit and we will busy involved in chat with friends or relatives. Now, in the house of mourn. Being in the house of mourn often brings the moment of reflection for us. Maybe we will think and ponder that life is short, maybe we will think about of our own lives whether we are ready if one day God calls us home to the Father’s home. Or maybe we will think weather in our lives we have pleasing God? The point is being in the house of mourn will usually remind us and bring a reflection for us and make us wiser. This’s the essential significance of the verse.

I reminded of David’s word that was written in Psalm 119:71 and in my opinion still related with the verses in the Ecclesiastes. David said,

” It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.”

David didn’t use his hard time as an excuse to be weak, to be disappointed to God, desperate, hopeless, and so on. He even felt that it was an opportunity to explore deeper about God’s statutes, learn more than before, and made it as moment to feel God’s touching extraordinarily.

Many people around me often said that I’m a woman who has never experienced trouble and sadness. Oh no! That’s totally wrong! Like other women I also often sad and cry, I often experience the pressure of the hard problems, even I’ve experienced being at the lowest and hardest point in my life. But in that very bad condition I was always reminded and strengthened by that verses. There’s a time for everything.  When I have to weep and cry in sorrow, that does not mean God is being cruel and having fun torturing me. Precisely for me, at that moment the Lord is forming me be strong and resilient. The hard situation teach me to be wiser and closer to God.

My dear friends, what about us now? Weather we are in “sad” season? If yes, this time I encourage all of us not to be discouraged and do not despair. Don’t waste our sad time just by moaning and crying but let’s use those time reflect thoroughly. Once again, please trust me, based on my own experience, there’re many valuable lesson we can learn behind our sadness.  Please be grateful because behind our suffering and sorrow, realize that we’re being formed and transformed to be stronger and wiser person. Through the difficult season we will experience spiritual and faith growth, learn more about God statutes, learn to always rely on God’s power more than anything. There’s a time for everything! Let’s put our faith on it and totally trust to God that in God’s time, He will lift all of our sorrow and change it to relief, joy, peace and happiness. Amen

Karina – Living by faith

Image source: thedailyverses.blogspot.com