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

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

Don’t Fear to Fail

 

Hello dear readers, how’s you going? I hope and pray everything is okay with all you. My post this time is a re-post from my old post in July 2013. I deliberately re-post because a few days ago a friend of mine shared his problem because in pioneering his own business, he experienced fails many times and it made him get frustrated. I am trying to encourage him to not being frustrated and give him some suggestion to avoid failures in the future. I hope and pray this re-post could strengthen all of us especially when we have to face failure.

 

This morning I was startled by a letter from our marketing director. Through my secretary, she was handed a resignation letter. I was surprised because I did not hear rumor about this resignation. I immediately asked him to come to meet me.

“What is this?”  I began the conversation seriously. “Yes. I am sorry ma’am. That is my resignation letter. I intend to resign from this company” He replied with a bit hesitant. “Ok. Give me a good a reasonable reason.  So far I have not seen obvious reason to this resignation. Please explain to me” Then he gave me an explanations.

The point is, He felt he had failed to lead his division in order to increase the level of sales of the company. This case relates with our last meeting whereby company profit does not achieve the target. According to him the profit target is not reached due to insufficient sales. He said: “Ma’am, because I’ve failed and I have a moral responsibility to the company, I think it would be better to resign.

Then I said firmly: “Ok! I’ll give you an answer about your resignation right now! My answer is No! As a top leader in this company, I reject this resignation letter.”

He surprised. I said to him: “with all due respect, please show me who the people in this world who have never experienced failure in their life. Could you show it? You might see I and my family have never experienced failure. No! You are wrong. We have experienced the failures. We had ever collapsed, even living in the failure. Every people in this world must have experienced a failure no matter big or small failures. You may see the others boards never failed in this company. But remember, they might experience on the other side of their life.”

My dear friends, the story above represent that many people often see a failure is the end of everything. They saw the failure as the scariest things in their lives. I have a simple opinion about a failure. In our lives sometimes we need failure. A failure is not represent our ignorance or inability. In fact, failure is a best way to know our weaknesses and lack. Failure is a best teacher that we can learn more from it.

Proverb 24:16 said:

“For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”

This verse shows us that we have to learn from failure. We can never shy away from failure. But the most important is that we have to always be willing to learn from failure and continue to persevere in prayer. God will give us the strength to rise from weaknesses because of failure as written in Isaiah 40:29:

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak”.

Failure is a step to success. It makes us wiser and mature. Do not ever be afraid with a failure and never give up but we do not do something that has a big chance to fail. Like my father always said: “failure is only a small part of our lives. Among the ocean failure is just a small ripple.

Finally, after quite long conversation, I said to the director: “Please do not ever run away from failure. Face and accept it! If the company assess you has been fail, then the company itself will ask you to resign. If you say you have a moral responsibility to this company, do not leave it. Do the best for all of us with your moral responsibility. Our company still running well, until this time the board of commissioner still satisfied with our performance. It means, I do not see any a failure in every part of this company. Including you! This company still needs you.”

As believers, we have to look at failure with positive lens. So, we become optimistic and bold make changes for the betterment of us. Try and fail much better than as though has never failed because it does not dare to take a risk to try. Don’t fear to fail! Amen

“It is fine to celebrate success but it is important to heed the lessons of failure” Bill Gates

“I never failed once. It just happened to be a 2000-step process” Thomas Alfa Edison

“Failure is only a small part on our lives. Among the ocean, failure is just a small ripple. Don’t fear to fail” Chandra Susanto

 

Karina – living by faith

Image sources: Google Images

YOU ARE PRECIOUS MORE THAN YOU HAVE KNOWN (Guest Post)

The most beautiful pearl of life are often hidden deep in the heart

Imprisoned by the hardness and the fragility of the soul

Covered by sorrow and a fleeting pleasure

Distracted by ambitions that sometimes makes man be delirious

 

There is no way to get there, except to surrender to the will of the Father

Allowing His hand to disclose all that is hidden

To let go off everything that you think of as a treasure but actually rubbish

 

Only by following His call and living in His ways

You will find the most beautiful pearl

At that moment, you will understand who you really are

That you are more precious than you have ever known!

 

(Sella Irene – Beautiful Words)

 

Have you ever felt that there is “something” that is lacking even though you have got everything you want? Have you ever felt you should be on a particular path or have to do something that you may not know exactly what it is, but you know that you are prepared for it? Does your heart flush with desire to be an extension of God’s hand more than you have been doing? I call it all “the spiritual hunger and thirst” that coming out of our souls and spirits that wants God. This hunger and thirst for God will push us to seek God, draw nearer to God, and find His calling.

We are designed to live in God’s call, and for that God has equipped us. If we think we have developed all of our potential, we are wrong! For surely God has invested in us a much greater potential than what we already know today. But we will not find it until we give our whole lives to enter into the plan that He has set apart for us from the beginning. The psalmist paints beautifully how God knew us long before we could know Him.

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And [that] my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, [And] skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When [as yet there were] none of them. (Psalms 139:13-16 NKJV)

There are at least two things we can get from this Psalm: WE ARE VERY PRECIOUS FOR GOD and WE ARE IN THE PLAN OF GOD.

First : WE ARE VERY PRECIOUS FOR GOD

Man is the culmination of God’s creation. Every human being is created personally, not mass production, not copy and paste. Behold, no human being is physically identical to any other human being. Timbre sounds, face details, pupil color, hair, fingerprints, and so on. Even twin brothers still have differences. It shows how creative our Creator is, and how special every one of us is!

If we are so special to God, then there is no reason for us to disrespect ourselves. Therefore one of the fundamental things we must do is to fully accept our existence. This isn’t “accepting” in the sense of tolerating and compromising our weaknesses and sins by reason of “this is what I am”. No, this isn’t like that. To fully accept our existence is: on the one hand to realize our weaknesses, but on the other hand we also appreciate our existence as God’s grace, whatever and however our condition. God knows our weaknesses and ugliness, God knows all our sins, but God still loves us.

The Lord Jesus describes His love for us as the Father’s love for Him: I have loved you just as the Father has loved Me; remain in My love [and do not doubt My love for you]…… No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends. (John 15:9,13 AMP) The Father is willing to give His beloved Jesus to save mankind and Jesus willingly laid down His life to do the Father’s will, so that the man who has been separated from God by sin can again have fellowship with Him and enjoy His love. Therefore the most important thing we have to make is whether we have accepted Jesus as the only Savior and the only God in our lives. Only by accepting Jesus into our hearts will we discover the true meaning of ourselves. But the story doesn’t stop at the moment we receive salvation. Furthermore, we must live according to His way so that we may find His calling for us, that is a special work that God has prepared beforehand.

Second : WE ARE IN THE PLAN OF GOD

In His omniscience, God has known our way of life from beginning to end. He works in everything with perfect calculation and planning. He assigns everyone to be born in a particular era and year, in a particular family, to a particular nation, and gives us the uniqueness that characterizes us. All there is purpose and reason, not random and not coincidental. You and I … are in a part of God’s whole plan for the world. The people of God are called to be specifically involved in His plan according to His timing and in harmony with the uniqueness that He bestowed upon each one of us.

In this regard, Luke wrote in Acts about King David: “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; … (Acts 13:36 NIV)

In the beginning, David was no different from most of the Israelites of the time. He wasn’t a famous person. He was just one of thousands of people. The youngest child who wasn’t too calculated, even by his own parents. David had reason to feel rejected, inferior, or became a rebellious person. But David chose to build a relationship with his Creator. This continued until he became king. He chose to be close to God in his success and in his failure. The result is as written by Luke: David had served God’s purpose in HIS OWN GENERATION. Even David’s life became the standard for kings after him. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.” (2 Chronicles 29:2 NIV)  We can find some similar verses in the Bible.

Not only King David, our Bible is full of God’s work through ordinary people God used: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, Elijah, Elisha, Gideon, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Peter, Paul, and many more. They’re members of the community with various professions and backgrounds. They weren’t perfect people. They had flaws and weaknesses just like us, but they’re willing to be processed by God. They associated with God, found and received God’s call. They wanted to dedicate themselves and committed themselves to living in the call even though they had to let go of their own dreams. The Bible records their lives weren’t in vain, useful to their own generation, and God used them to do great things beyond their existence. I am sure that they are the people who arrive at the end of their lives with satisfaction. Not because they become rich, famous, or powerful, but because their conscience bears witness that they had lived according to the God’s plan. They’re the ones who did the God’s will in their era.

PRIVILEGE OF HEAVEN

How about you and me? Have we lived in His plan? God equips all human beings with various potentials, but what distinguishes us from those outside Christ is that each of those potentials must be used according to God’s will. Not to fulfill our ambition, but to please God. Not for our pride, but for the glory of God. Not in a good way according to our thinking, but must be in accordance with the word of God. The ultimate goal isn’t for ourselves but to bring many people to Christ.

Are the above statements idealistic and theoretical? It could be, but that’s what it should be. I’m sure Christians already know about it, but we have to be honest that it’s not easy to apply it. We must endure the suffering, surrender constantly, humble ourselves, submit ourselves and learn to obey God’s decisions, and abandon the things we love but are disliked by God. For some, it can mean giving up their dreams. The road to go is heavy. Some Christians choose to avoid, some give up and retreat in the middle of the road then turn to follow their own desires. It’s a pity, because they’ve let go of the opportunity to get the priceless pearl of life up ahead.

Nowadays wherever we are on the journey with Christ, don’t get tired to deny ourselves and take up the cross. Let’s be strong to walk to the end while continuing to hold on to God’s promise. God doesn’t leave us alone. He has given the Holy Spirit as a Helper and Comforter. He will guide us to the whole truth (John 16: 13-14) so that every decision we make in this life can be in harmony with God’s decision. The more we obey and diligently walk according to the direction of the Holy Spirit then the potential that has been planted by God from the beginning will emerge and grow. Even God will add new talents along with our increasing responsibilities and in harmony with the extent to which we can be trusted by God.

One day when we look to the years we have passed, we will realize how amazing the God’s works in our lives is. Maybe we aren’t as prosperous as our brothers, don’t have positions as high as our friends, and not as successful as others in the world eyes. But “strangely” our souls and hearts abound with satisfaction and joy. A satisfaction and a joy that can’t be measured by the doses of the world because it doesn’t come from the world. It’s the true satisfaction and joy that comes from the Holy Spirit because we have been living in His calling. How precious … How honorable … In our life that is only a blink of an eye in this perishable world, we – who are actually unworthy – are given the privilege of being fellow workers in the field of God. Ultimately we aren’t “just” being saved Christians, but also bringing others to salvation through every potential of our lives. How special are you and me. That is the true meaning of ourselves and our lives.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV)

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: https://www.wallpapersin4k.org

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A Letter from Mother

Hello, my dear friend! In this mother’s day I wanted to share something that changed my life. Well, when I was a teenager I had a little problem with my mother. We had a less harmonious relationship. After celebrating my 17th birthday, she came to my room brought a small box of gift and a letter. At the time she said, “Here’s a special birthday gift from me and this is a letter that I have written quite long time. I just waiting for the right moment to give this letter to you. My princess, I realize we have a bit problem with our relationship but I as your mother, I deeply understand and always struggling to make our relationship better. I hope and pray, when you read this letter you will understand too and also want to make a better relationship with me.”

At first I wasn’t interested in reading my mother’s letter, but somehow I felt there was a very strong urge to open and read the letter. Then I read it. My dear friends, after I finished read my mom’s letter, I cannot hold my cry. Then I ran to my mom, I hugged her tightly, and along with my crying I said, “Mom, please forgive me…Please forgive me… I love you, mom! I love you…”

My beloved readers, after my mother granted me a permission, I want to share her letter to all of you. I hope and pray this letter could be a reminder to all of us that figure of mother is incredible figure in this world. There’s always unseen tears in the mother’s heart, there’s a pain behind her smile, and there’s fatigue behind her eyes. But she never complained. She chose to hide her sadness behind her sweet smile, she chose hide her tears behind her shining eyes, she chose to hide her pain behind her laugh, she chose bring her hurt into prayer. Here’s my mom letter,

To my little princess,

When I was married, I never thought about what kind of child I want to have, I never thought how to care for and the way I raise my child. I just live my life.

When I gave birth you, I was experiencing a terrible pain that equal with the broken body bones at the same time. I felt a pain beyond the pain that any man in this world can bear. I almost give up! But for the sake of to see you born and live in this world, I struggled against the threat of fear of the death. I risked my own life for you.

When I saw and hugged you for the first time, I was speechless. There was only a deep sense of emotion, and unstoppable happy tears and proud came out from my eyes. You know, at the time no matter how hard and difficult, I immediately promised to myself and to God I will take care and raise you with both of my hands.

It wasn’t easy to raise you. It wasn’t so easy to made you grows. It wasn’t a simple matter teaches you many important things about life. Not infrequently when you were angry at me, you even yelled at me. But it doesn’t matter at all. For me, it all was a part of process toward a goodness. A process to form you to be good.

When you felt grown up, you felt restricted. You should not do this and that. You think I’m old-fashioned, out of date, and unable to understand what you want. When we were walking together, you choose to keep distance from me. Maybe you as grow up girl, you felt ashamed still walking with her mother, or you just didn’t like my dress that I wore

To be honest, in the deepest of my heart I sometime felt hurt! But when I remember the first time I hugged and carried you, my hurt immediately vanished. You are still my one and only daughter. Whatever happens I love you and will always love you. You’re my reason to keep survive, and beside God you’re the source of my strength. You’re the one who makes me willing to work hard all day long even though I have to feel sorrow, pain, and suffering. Because of your presence I feel so meaningful especially when I hear you call me, mother!

My dear princess, maybe the time of my presence in this world is limited. If you work hard and success, you don’t need to give me a luxurious palace and an abundant wealth. Keep it for yourself. I just hope and pray you’re willing to set aside a bit your time for me. Sitting beside me and talks heart to heat is enough for me.

I’m so proud of you. Please forgive me if I once hurt you, scolded you, forbade you to do what you want to do. Believe me, it’s all just because I want you to be a good girl and fear to God. I always love you, yesterday, now and forever.

My beloved readers, I end this post with a poem for my mother

God has given me a disguise Angel with a strong wings and a gold heart,

She so selfless, so giving as she can be, she shares her mercy without thinking about herself

She risked her own life for the sake of my safety

She is so faithful, wise, and so kind.

She gives a never ending love and unstoppable prayer for a reason I always fine

God has given me a blessing a tremendous hero all the time,

And I am so proud call the angel, Mother!

Happy mother’s day, Mom. Please forgive me. I always love you, yesterday, now, and forever.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Though she may forget, I will not forget you! (Isaiah 49:15)

Karina – Living by faith

Rebecca Fong.

Image source: Google images

May I Pray for You?

Hello my dear Readers! Here I come back with my own post. The idea of this post came out from my foster sister, Sandra who during these few days, with the different colors she wears a shirt that reads “May I pray for you?” When I asked her who you want to pray for, she earnestly said everyone who need to pray for. Beside pray for ourselves we should pray for others too.

Talk about pray for others; I remembered one bible figure that mentioned in the Colossians, named Epaphras. Who is Epaphras? We might not know very well about this man. It’s reasonable because there isn’t much record about Epaphras in the bible. He wasn’t a famous figure like Paul, Peter, John, and other apostles. But still, for me what Epaphras did was very inspiring me. Paul mentioned him in the letter of Colossians and Philemon. Epaphras was a faithful minister and fellow servant who were serving God together with Paul and the other apostles (Colossians 1:7) and he also together with Paul in prison. (Philemon 1:23) Epaphras was coming from Colossians and was helping to build church in the many places such as in his own city, then Laodicea and Hierapolis. What’s the interesting thing from Epaphras? Let’s together look at this verse:

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. (Colossians 4:12-13)

My heart deeply touched with one word of those verses. “He is always wrestling in prayer for you,” Where is Epaphras at the time? Was he in the pleasant place? No! Not at all! Together with Paul and others apostles he was in prison and waiting for death row! Can we imagine?! Someone jailed and headed to the death still be able to pray for others? Oh, what an amazing act! Normally, someone who’s in prison and will soon be put to the death will be in the deep misery, sadness, and fear. Even if he prayed, he will definitely pray for himself so that would be released from prison and free from the death! But it didn’t happen to Epaphras. He didn’t pray for his own sake. He wrestled prays for others! Even said that he always pray of others. Always, not only occasionally! What was prayed by Epaphras? He prayed for the congregation that he founded in Colossian. He wrestled in prayer so that the congregation could still stand firm, no longer as children but as mature and faithful people with all the things God wanted to. Although it had grown, he still wanted his congregation keep growing even without his presence and other apostles. He wanted they still have strong spiritual muscles, have a firm faith that remains rooted in Christ no matter of the situation! He wanted them remains steadfast in doing whatever God wants till the end.

My beloved readers, prayer has tremendous power. Throughout my personal life, I have experienced many times how great the power of every prayer I pray. It’s written in James 5:16,

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Yes that’s true! As long as we live in righteousness, pray earnestly with firm faith, without any hesitation our prayers will so powerful. However, sometimes we’re in a situation where we’re experiencing very hard life struggle and when the problems repeatedly hit us, we become difficult to pray or we even forget to bring every of our struggle and problems into the prayer. Well my dear friends that are the time we need someone other to pray for us. When we’re unable to speak in prayer because of the heavy burden of life, we need others who really care about us and willing to pray for us. The more people pray for us are better. It’s written in Matthew 18:19,

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

Besides pray for ourselves, why we should to pray for others? After I am thinking and pondering, there’re four reasons why we should pray for others. Here it is…

First, praying for other is a form of fulfillment of the command that was written in the New Testament,

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1Timothy 2:1-2)

Moreover, when we help to bear others’ burden through prayer, it means we are fulfilling and obeying the law of Christ.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

The second, praying for others is a form of love. There are two kind of love; first, love to fellow human beings. When we pray for our parents, family, or friends it means we love them. Even Jesus commands us not only to love our loved ones, but to love our enemies.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:43)

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, (Luke 6:27)

The second form of love is love to God. Praying is a form of our intimacy with God and our intimacy with God is a form of our love to Him. Through prayer we communicate intimately with God and not only love but we also believe in His omnipotence in this world and that He will give the best for His people. By praying for others, we believe To the God’s power.

The third reason is when we pray for others there will be a multiplication of thanksgiving to God. For this statement, I make an illustration like this: One day, my foster sister, Sandra has to face a big problem and then I pray for her. When God answers my prayer and by God’s help Sandra’s problem solved, there will be multiplication of thanksgiving to God. First, I thank you to God for He heard and answered my prayer for Sandra, the second, Sandra will also give thanks to God because God has helped to solve her problem.

The last reason is that the prayer is an act that accompanies our faith. It’s written in James 2:17,

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Prayer is a real action of our faith to God. Pray for ourselves or for others shows that we don’t have dead faith but we have a living faith and will always make live because when pray for others or ourselves we put faith as a foundation of our prayer. By faith we believe that God will hear and no matter what of the answer, God will always answers every of our prayers.

My beloved friends, what about us now? Whether in our prayer list beside a series of prayer for ourselves, is there a list of other names we will pray for? Have we prayed every problems and burdens of our family, friends, or anyone who need to pray for? Have we also prayed for our church, its leaders, its ministry, its future and growth, its congregation, and many other important aspects in the church? Have we prayed for our government and its component? This evening please allow me to encourage all of us to learn from Epaphras. If in unfavorable condition Epaphras still able and willing wrestling in prayer for others, why we who have much better condition don’t do the same thing like Epaphras? It’s very important we need to pray each other. James 5:16 also said that we have to pray for each other.

Let’s strengthen each other through prayer. Let’s begin to widen our prayer scope not just pray for our own interest and needs but let’s start to pray for others. We might couldn’t help someone problems in the real way, we might couldn’t be present to accompany and reassurance a burdened person, please don’t be discouraged! We could still be there through our prayer. Epaphras couldn’t longer with his congregation but he keep wrestling through prayer so that the spiritual life of his congregation in the Colossian church could continue to grow and getting mature in the knowledge of Christ. Don’t wait people come to us for prayer but it would be wonderful we first come to them and says, “May I pray for you?”

Allow me to give a short testimony about praying. My husband and I do a habit of praying. We divide the task, every day I make a prayer list for ourselves and family and my husband compiled a list of prayers for others. When we started that habit, I ask why we should pray for others while we don’t even know exactly what their problem is and what they need. Then my husband sweetly replied, “We don’t know or don’t even need to know what their problems and needs are. Every people have its own problem. When we mention their names in our prayer, I believe God hears our prayer and He knows every single of their problem and I do believe with His omniscience He will lend His loving hand to help them. Otherwise, please don’t forget that there are many those who diligently continue pray for us. We might know, maybe we will know, or even we will never know. When you succeed doing something, that’s not just because of your own ability but there are many people loves you pray for your success”

My dear friends, let’s make “pray for others” become our Christianity lifestyle and let’s joyfully start to get used to says “May I pray for you?” There will be no loss at all when we pray for other, even God will bless us like He bless Job after Job was praying for his friends.

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. (Job 42:10)

Maybe we don’t have special and much time to pray for others. It’s okay. Spending five to ten minutes of our time to pray for others is enough, as long we pray in righteousness and with the firm faith, and diligent our prayer will powerful and effective. May I pray for you? Amen

Karina – Living by Faith

Image source:thoughtco.com

THE NEW SEASON 2 : “THE HARD SEASON” (guest post)

In the previous article (The New Season – click here) we understand that life is a journey through season after season. Each season has its own joy and sorrow. We can predict certain seasons so that we can prepare ourselves, such as schooling, working, getting married, having children, and so on. But in the span of the season common to almost everyone, there is a time of unpredictable seasons that suddenly come and force us to make new plans, even urging us to take a new path that we never imagined. It would be nice if the season unpredictable it is a promotion. But often the unpredictable season is precisely a hard season that dims the light of hope and obscures the future. Somehow, suddenly everything moves beyond reason and control, insistently, without any logical reason. That’s what happened to Job. He had to face the hard season in the greatest scale ever experienced by a human being.

Job wasn’t a fictional character. He was a northern Arabian who was estimated to live around the time of Abraham or even before. The story of Job takes place in “the land of Us” (Job 1: 1) which later became Edom’s territory, located in the southeast part of the Dead Sea or north of Arabia. There is no clue to the history of Israel or the Law of Moses so as to suggest that the story of Job happened before the time of Moses (before 1500 BC). The Bible itself confirms Job’s existence, one of them in Ezek 14:13-14 NIV “Son of man,….. even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign LORD.”

How deep God’s wisdom, which gives the story of Job in His Word to us. Specifically, as a book that writes the sufferings of the righteous, the honest, the fear of God, and away from evil, The book of Job does not literally answer man’s greatest question throughout the century about “Why do the righteous suffer?”, but in this book God gives us guidance on “how the righteous respond to suffering”.

The graph of Job’s life was like a man standing on top of a mountain and suddenly swooping down to the lowest bottom of a cliff. From being the richest man in the eastern region of the time, suddenly became the one who almost lost everything in the blink of an eye. From a respected man, suddenly his life was filled with pain and suffering, even blasphemy from his wife. In the midst of the great burden that must be borne, he must face a long debate with his friends, until God revealed himself and revealed his faults. Job 42: 1-6 is Job’s response to God’s rebuke. This passage is a conclusion of the hard season experienced by Job, as well as the opening key to a new phase with a broader horizon of looking at life with a true heart and the personal recognition of God.

Here are four of Job’s statements:

GOD IS POWERFUL AND SOVEREIGN

“I know that you can do all things; …” (Job 42:2a NIV).

Earlier, in chapters 38-39 God told Job that He is the God who created the universe and in His omniscience He sustains and nourishes everything in this universe perfectly. In Job 46:2, Job declares his confession that God is powerful and sovereign to do everything He wills. Everything means all things, without limitation, without exception, including manifesting His will in human life. Man has no right to question and challenge his decisions.

“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’? (Isaiah 45:9 NIV)

GOD’ PLAN CAN NOT BE THWARTED

“I know that…. no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2b NIV)

God always has a plan in doing things. There are special intentions and goals when God allows a hard season to happen. When God allows Satan to tempt Job, God knows the end result. God not only sees the time range when an event is in progress. In His omniscience He has looked to the future and God uses all aspects to realize His plan. Satan, man, natural factor, anyone and anything, can not thwart God’s plan!

GOD’S PLANS ARE TOO MIRACULOUS TO BE UNDERSTAND

You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42:3)

When we read the previous chapters of the Book of Job, we find that Job has spoken of God and his bitter suffering. In chapter 42: 3, Job cites the Lord’s question in chapter 38: 2: ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?”. Then honestly Job acknowledged that he has spoken without knowledge (without true understanding) about things too miraculous for him to understand.

Without true knowledge and understanding, a godly and fear to God, we can be misunderstand and even blame God. If our attitudes toward God are not true, then we can’t grasp God’s purpose and plan behind what God is permitting in our lives.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and decisions and how unfathomable and untraceable are His ways! (Romans 11:33 AMP)

God’s plan is very mysterious and too magical for human being. Man with all its limitations, it is impossible to understand the great God. The more we measure God from our own point of view, then we will be further from the true understanding of the miraculous and beautiful of God’s plans.

GOD SHALL BE KNOWN PERSONALLY

You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!  I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said,  and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” (Job 42:4-6 NLT)

Once again Job quotes the question of the Lord ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ From Job 38: 3b. Then Job answered the Lord with a confession that he has not known God personally. He only knew God from what people told him. Then he took away all his words that he had spoken and repented humbly before the Lord. His repentant and confession was the turning point of his life.

A true knowledge of God can’t be obtained simply by hearing about God from people. WE HAVE TO HEAR ABOUT GOD FROM GOD HIMSELF. God is too big, too great, and too powerful, far beyond all human understanding. We will not be able to know God properly, UNLESS GOD TALKS AND REVEALS HIMSELF to us.

Where and how do we hear God speak of Himself to us? From the Bible which is the word of God. Since the Bible is the word of God, the Bible can’t be read only as an information. The Word of God must be accepted, meditated, believed and lived in a personal relationship with God intensely.

Suffering is painful, but it is often the most effective way to change the human heart. Often we feel right and know God, until suffering reveals the hidden side of us. Our moral piety and moral integrity will be meaningless as we begin to realize who we really are before God that He is so great and we are only mortal dust that can’t live without Him.

REFLECTION

What season are you currently experiencing? Joy or a hard season? A friend advises me on what to do first when we have a hard season: self-correction. Have we done things that don’t pleasing to God, whether we unconsciously hurt people around us, whether we have made a mistake in managing our lives? Self-correction isn’t only to the what we have done but also to the inside of our heart and mind. It’s all about faith! If there’s a little piece of doubt to God, it would be a big problem with our relationship with God. Learning from Job, after he realized and confessed his mistake, God restored and blessed his life. Repentance is the door to restoration and humility always precedes honor.

The hard season is never easy to get through. What we must always remember is that God never leaves His children. God who from the beginning didn’t intend to harm Job, is God who also never intended to harm us. Let’s pray not only to ask for His help, but also to give thanks for His decision to allow us through difficult times, because God must have a beautiful plan that He wants to realize in our lives through His way. Keep rejoice within the suffering. Stop focusing on our hard times because it will hinder us to have joy. Let’s focus on God because there is always joy in the Lord. When we see the roses, don’t think and asking why God put the thorns on the rose but be grateful God put the rose on the thorns. Moreover, we’ve to remember that joy/rejoice in the Lord is our strength. With rejoicing in the Lord then there will be strength to overcome our problems and difficulties.

“… Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

 In addition to the blessings we can enjoy in the world, every hard season that we go through with God will also produce divine character and abundant spiritual fruit. And the end is that we know God more personally, which is more valuable than all the pleasures of the world.

My dear reader, the hard season often comes suddenly. But it doesn’t mean we can’t prepare ourselves at all. The wisest way is to build our lives on a solid foundation that is the word of God. Don’t treat God’s word only as a story or an information but treat it as our conversation with God. Understanding, believe with all heart, ponder, and response it with our deeds.

I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When the flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. (Luke 6:47-48 NIV)

If we make the Word of God as the guide of life and do it faithfully, then we not only don’t easily waver during the hard seasons, but also gain the wisdom and guidance to pass through. “Nun Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119: 105 NIV) As long as we go through that hard season in His own way, at the end of the season we will find the beauty of God’s plan fulfilled in our lives.

“Like a rose and thorns. Don’t focus on the thorns but let’s focus on the roses. Be grateful God put the rose on the thorns. Stop thinking and asking why God put thorns on the rose” (Karina Lam – Living by faith)

Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images