Smyrna, The suffering Church

 

SMYRNA, THE SUFFERING CHURCH - Karina's Thought

To be followers of Christ then our lives completely secure, free of problems, enjoy life without any obstacles at all. Have a life with abundance blessings, and live in prosperity.  I thought this is a misconception about following Christ and sadly, this concept is currently held by many people and becoming a benchmark when they decided to follow Christ.  Personally, I know a businessman who suddenly decided accept Christ in order to save his business that is threatened with bankruptcy. Today, there are many wrong purposes in following Christ. They only think about blessings, help, and miracles from God. Actually, we all know that being a Christ follower doesn’t mean that we will be hundreds percent have a safe life, trouble-free, and without any obstacles.  In fact, when we become a Christ’s follower, we will face so many trials and our faith will be tested.  It is so easy we says, “God is so good” when our lives is free of problems and there is no obstacles and pressure at all. But the question is, have we remain easily say, “Good is so good” when we have so many life pressure and in a very hard situation? Can we remain being faithful and obedient even though our lives in unpleasant condition? These are questions which the answer will indicate how far we love and believe in Him.

My brother and sister in Christ, this evening I would like to take all of us to learn from one of seven churches that received the message from God in the book of Revelation 2. Let’s take a look to the church in Smyrna. Smyrna was a seaport city about 40 miles north of Ephesus. It has been described as the most beautiful of the seven cities. Today it is called Izmir, Turkey. Scripture does not give us any information concerning the founding of this church, nor is it mentioned in the book of Acts. Presumably, this church was founded during Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. Smyrna is the Greek word for myrrh, a flagrant perfume used in burial. Many believe that this church represents the martyrs of all the ages and the sweet-smelling fragrance of their faithfulness until death. There was no rebuke for this church and because they were faithful until death. Why the church in Smyrna mentioned as the martyrs of all the ages and sweet-smelling fragrance of their Faithfulness? Actually, the life of the church in Smyrna was contrary to the conditions the city of Smyrna itself. The church of Smyrna was the suffering church. How suffered they are? Let’s have a look together.

I know your afflictions and your poverty… (Revelation 2: 9 NIV)

The church of Smyrna suffered because of the pressure of the Roman government, at the time, made it mandatory that all citizens should worship the emperor or they will facing the death. They must burn incense and acknowledges that the emperor is God. Here lies the root of the problem. The church in Smyrna refused to do all that and they considered as unpatriotic traitors. Then the affliction begins. Many of them were boiled alive, many others were roasted alive, some crucified, or the Roman authorities took them to the coliseum and fed to the angry and hungry lions.

The church in Smyrna lived in poverty. Based on some of the commentary on the book of Revelation I have read, they were not only poor but they absolute poor. They were absolutely didn’t have anything.  They cannot live their lives normally. They hated, boycotted, people didn’t want to make a trading with them just because they were Christians. They cannot develop their work; there was no way to make a living, and worse it seems the all city dwellers trying to make them starve.

The affliction does not stop there, there is another one. The church in Smyrna was slandered.

I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2: 9b NIV)

The Jews was making false allegations and reported it to the government. They slandered that the Christians make a practice of cannibalism, immorality, considered atheists, people instigator, and a family crusher.

Another affliction is the church in Smyrna had long suffering.

…I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days… (Revelation 2:10 NIV)

Verse 9 talking about the suffering that has been experienced by the church in Smyrna, but the verse 10 speaks of the suffering that are still will experienced by them. There are many Bible commentators assume that “ten days” refers 10 period of time of suffering for the God’s church that will be experienced during the reign of ten anti-Christ Roman emperors.  And it was true; history noted that there were around five millions Christian dies as a martyr during ten period of Roman emperor.

What lessons that we can take from the church in Smyrna?  After I study deeper this passage, I thought there are two important things we can learn. Being fearless and be faithful. God gives two instructions to handle their suffering.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer… Be faithful, until death(Revelation 2: 10 NASB)

Do not be afraid and be faithful! God said these with His omnipotence and omnipresence (These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. Verse 8) and His omniscience (I know your afflictions and your poverty. Verse 9) and the church in Smyrna chose to be fearless and be faithful. They are not afraid to die to defend their faith in Christ. Polycarp, a pastor in Smyrna offered freedom by governor if he willing to deny The Christ. But He said: “for 86 years I have served Him and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my king and my savior?” Before Polycarp was burned, he prays, “Oh Lord, almighty God, I thank you for counting me worthy of sharing the cup of Christ among the number of your martyrs”. The church at Smyrna knows He is the Word that is the first and the last. What this means is that He is God who fought in the entire history of this world and have full authority over what happens. They also realized and understand in their suffering God always be with them and even will strengthen them. Suffering because of their faithfulness is not due God forgetting to help them but rather God is present in their lives.

My dear friends, what about us today? What season of life are we in today? Maybe we are in a season that everything is going great and we just love life. Things are running smoothly. We are so in love with the Lord. Every day there is just a wonderful surprise and we are just in a great season of life. But I going to tell one thing that God never promises us as a believer that life is going to always be fun. He never promises us that life is just going to be great. As a matter of fact, He promises us that if we are a believer, we will face suffering and you will have some persecution in our life.

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)

Jesus Himself reminded:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24 NIV)

This evening,  allow me to encourage all of us to learn from the church in Smyrna. We may be hated by the world, received unfair treatment, insulted, slandered, and so on, but it should not make us turn away from God. Jesus had reminded this thing. He said:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:18-19 NIV)

Let’s emulate the church in Smyrna to remain faithful, never give up, and keep stand firm in their faith despite the torment and suffering continue come upon them. And eventually, they got great rewards. There are two rewards from God. The first is “The Crown of life”

…and I will give you the crown of life. ( Revelation 2 : 10 NASB)

The second reward is, “The Eternal life”

He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2 : 11 NASB)

As a believer, we do have eternal life and He is saying we may suffer the first death, we may die physically, but spiritually we will never die again.

If today we facing so many severe pressures, problems, treated unfair, and any form of inconveniences, Please remember God said:  

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12 NIV)

Do not grumble when there is a problem, do not despair and give up. There is a crown of life and eternal life that God provides to all of us who remained faithful to God in all circumstances. Just as the church in Smyrna, let us prove the strength of our faith in Christ through fortitude, obedience and faithfulness whatever our situation. Amen

Karina – Living by faith

Supporting material resources:

Clarke, Adam. Commentary on Revelation, studylight.org

Keeth, Janane. Rekindle the Fire (Revelation 2-3), bible.org

The Pulpit commentaries, revelation 2, studylight.org

Image credit:  The Church in Smyrna. padfield.com

“GOD, MAKE ME YOUR INSTRUMENT”

Karina Susanto:

A simple, short yet powerful post. It makes me think who is really handicapped, us or them? A heart so pure and trusting Christopher and other children with special needs should be what we model ourselves after. Another wonderful proof God can use everything, everyone, No matter what and who they are. Good and worth to read and ponder.

Originally posted on BeautifulWords:

"God, make me Your instrument"Hello guys..! Sometime ago my foster sister in Singapore sent me a video link about a 12 years old blind and autistic teen boy named Christopher Duffley. Wow…! You know what, I have to tell you that I was deeply moved and touched watching his video. Not just because the beautiful song he sung but rather to his previous life background. I do believe all of you have been know about Christopher’s story. Duffley was born prematurely at only 26 weeks, weighing only 1 pound 12 ounces with cocaine in his system, by the time he was born, the doctor said that the chance to live is only 50 percent. But God has another will. God allowed him to survive and later allowing him to involve in His great works. When he was 5, He diagnosed had autistic. As we know the autistic had a problem in make a communication…

View original 617 more words

He Will Carry You

HE WILL CARRY YOU-Karina's Thought

 

In the morning, thousand years ago, stood two men who are physically and power was completely not comparable. The one had six cubits and a span height. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore five thousand shekels bonze coat of scale armor. He also wore bronze greaves on his legs, and a bronze javelin with six hundred shekels weight on its iron point was slung on his back. While the other one, a young man without any body armor and just armed with a sling. It seems a pretty unbalanced fight will be happen. Logically, we all certainly know who the winner of the fight is. But we also know very well who finally the winner becomes. Yes! The young man was the winner.  This is a very famous story about young man named David and a giant named Goliath.

Why I begin this post with the story of David and Goliath? In these past weeks I really had a hard time. I had many big problems in the office. One problem hasn’t resolved, the other problem already waiting. Knowing that I have many hard problems, my husband tried to encourage me by read again the Bible passage about David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.  He said, “This story doesn’t resolve our problems, but there’s a relation between this stories with us today and we can learn from it. Let’s change the figure of the giant with the problems that pressing us today and place ourselves as a young David. Why did David successfully defeat a giant simply by using a stone and sling?”

My beloved readers, Yes! Through this story we can through learn through David how to facing “the giant” which mean our big problems.

Not focus on the problems but to God

When the Israelites faced the Philistines, they were dismayed and terrified because they only looked to the problems and it weakens their mental. But wasn’t to David. A young David not focused to the big problems but he rather focused on who should to rely and who will be with him. Let’s see David’s reaction when heard the Philistines’ threats and intimidation:

David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God? (Verse 26)

How David can say like that?  Because he not constantly focusing to the magnitude of the problem but rather focusing to the living God who be with him. Our minds tend to work like a magnifying glass. The more we focus on our problems, it will look bigger and bigger in our minds and it will not change anything and we can even completely immersed in it. How big our problems today? Is it greater than God’s power so that God no longer be able to help us? Of course not! There’s no problem too big God cannot solve it. If we always focus to God we will not intimidated by the problems but we could remain calm facing and overcome our big problems. God said,

“In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength…”

(Isaiah 30:15 NIV)

Do not lose heart

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” (Verse 32)

Let’s examine how David can be so confident against Goliath and compare it with the Israel army that in fact highly trained and experienced. Isn’t it feels very strange a young man who everyday just herding cattle his father but boldly advised the king of Israel and his troops? David emboldened for he knew exactly who was behind him. David knew that if God is with him, he didn’t need to fear and lose heart to anything. Instead, David took an advantage from Goliath who had giant body. Goliath’s body will become an easy target. This is an attitude of an abundant faith that can give superb results. Why we could be losing heart? Just because our point of view merely focuses on the magnitude of the problems so we forget that God always be with us.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

Learn from the experience

I’m wondering why David technically can be so convinced and courageous to face Goliath. By only looking at the completeness of the arms, very obvious that David wasn’t comparable against Goliath and Saul actually doubted his ability. (Verse 33) But let’s look at the following verses:

But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”(Verse 34-37)

Yes, David could be bravely and confident because He learns for his experience as a shepherd. Through his own experience he has been felt how God protect him if there was the beast wanted to attack his sheep. When facing the problems David immediately opened his life journey book, recalling his experiences when felt The God’s power and care. For David, Goliath is nothing more than a lion that has been conquered with the Lord. If God is able to make David be able to beat the beast, why should he afraid to face Goliath?

In the book of Psalm 46:1 (AMP) says that: God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble. The word of well-proved was stating something that has happened. The Psalmist knows that his life filled with so many proofs how the God’s power can help us in distress, how God is able to be a refuge and strength as a solution or an answer of every of our problems. If thousand years ago God can help David against Goliath, as well as today, God also still can help us to defeat our big problems.  God is never changes.

“For I am the Lord, I do not change…” (Malachi 3:6 NKJV)

As well as with Jesus, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 NIV) Each of us certainly been faced a very severe problem, and we also must have experienced how marvelous God help us solve our problems. If today we again confronted by so many severe problems, don’t be afraid and discouraged because God will remain help us again. Please remember He will never change.

Nothing shall be impossible with God

In the previous post I had discussed and learned that nothing shall be impossible with God through the story of the Israelites against the Moab. Here, through the story of David and Goliath, once again we can see another proof that there’s nothing impossible with God. Because David wasn’t used wearing and using the arms, he said to Saul: “I cannot go in these, because I am not used to them. “ Then he chose a sling and stones. (Verse 38-40) David realized that he wasn’t familiar and untrained using the arms. He will go against Goliath who wore the complete war equipment only with a sling and a stone. Something extremely impossible, isn’t it? But David realized that it wasn’t about the arms but it was about the God hand will work through the simple arms that he uses. He truly believes that as long as God be with, there’s nothing impossible with God. David also believes that a sling and stones in God’s hand can be a potent weapon to defeat Goliath. And it was proved. This was another example attitude of an abundant faith from David.

As I said in my previous post, when we facing very big problems we tend to think that our problems are impossible to be resolved. We tend to only focus on our problems with our limited logic and mind. We forget that there is God who in control all of our lives. Today, once again we can learn through this story that there’s nothing impossible with God. David triumphed over Goliath with a sling and a stone. Without a sword in his hand he struck down Goliath and killed him. This was a proof that nothing shall be impossible with God.

My beloved readers, is there any among us today are being confronted with a “Giant” problems and our shoulder burdened by very hard problems? We become afraid and lose heart, think that we couldn’t handle it, and it seems impossible to be resolved? This evening, allow me to encourage all of us to learn from David to face our problems. David said:

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. (Verse 45)

Let us learn to bravely say the same thing to the problems that intimidate us. Problem may come attack us with the complete arms but we are ready to face it in the name of the Lord. We may not have a complete arms but we have God’s power that more powerful than any kind of arms.  The “giant” problems may come to us, the storm of problems probably trying to hit us, but we have to know that there’s no one problem bigger than God. He will carry the weight of our problems upon His shoulders. And if because of the problems we become weary and burdened, God said:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

I will end this post with a song that I always hear when I face so many big problems. This song truly could strengthen, bring me comfort, rest, and remind me that there’s no problem too big God cannot solve it. “He Will Carry You” Amen.

I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4 NIV)

Karina – Living by faith

Photo credit: vinnie1982.deviantart.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ditches in The Desert

DITCHES IN THE DESERT -Karina's Thought

 

Today, my morning activity in the office begins with an interesting conversation with my secretary. I didn’t know why she suddenly asked about this thing, “Ma’am, do you really believe in what is written in Luke 1:37?” My mind directly drifted to that verse. “For with God nothing shall be impossible” A bit difficult to answer this question. I could answer, Yes! Of course I strongly believe that nothing is impossible for God” but it only will be a stumbling block if my attitude and deeds at a later time not in accordance with my word. Then I try to answer its question carefully. I said, “I always pray ask for strength and wisdom to keep learning to believe everything that God says. I always open my ears wide to listening every of His word then I put it in the deepest of my heart as something absolute should to believe.”

My secretary question made me ponder deeply. As Christians we all surely know that there is nothing impossible to God. But the problem is how far we truly believe it? Have we applied it in our daily lives? How far our obedience to obey doing what God commanded, even when we have to do something that seems doesn’t make sense? In our daily lives, we found a lot of people that easily discouraged when confronted by adversity, moreover if our logic says that it is impossible to be overcome. Even worse, if we don’t believe in what we do, although we know that it is in accordance with God’s guidance. In that circumstance, we often forget one of God’s characteristic that He has unlimited power. We become doubt because we feel it is impossible to find the way out of our difficulties. Actually, if we want to spend some time to learn and contemplate what God says in the Bible, we will find a lot of events and the real examples of how God did many miracles which by human logic is very impossible.

Right now I will take all of us to look at one of the bible passage to convince us that there is nothing impossible for God. Let’s have a look to the book of 2 Kings 3. When the Israelites joined together with the nation of Judah and Edom for war against The Moab, they went through the desert of Edom and they were facing a very difficult problem namely couldn’t get the water after walking for seven days. (2 Kings 3:9) Let’s imagine, for a week without water in the middle of very hot and barren desert. They will be thirsty, dehydration, and very weak. How could they fight? Slowly but sure their body’s condition will getting weak. Fortunately, King Jehoshaphat realizes that they need guidance from God.” But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?” (2 Kings 3:11 NIV) It turns out, there is Elisha the son of Shaphat there. Then Elisha asked one harpist to play.  “But now bring me the harpist” While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came on Elisha (2 Kings 3:15 NIV) Elisha was filled with God’s Spirit through the praise and worship of the harpist. Then Elisha Said: “Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches.” (2 Kings 3:16 NKJV)

Once again, I ask all of us to imagine one thing. Supposing at that time we were there with them, what is our reaction when we hear what Elisha said? We have been thirsty and weak because already a week without water and now God commanded to make ditches in the barren and waterless desert. For what we make ditches if no water at all? Do we will obediently to do what God commands? Maybe we will laugh and said, “God, Are you joking?” Yet, actually God was not joking and He never makes a joke. He said:

“You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; he will also deliver Moab into your hands.” (2 Kings 3: 17-18 NIV)

That was so true that there is no wind, rain, and maybe even not cloudy. Although it sounds very strange and illogical, if God had promised, God definitely will keep His promises. If we read this passage till the end we know that finally what God commanded to them was not in vain. God proves His words. Not only an abundant water but God even gave them a victory against the Moab.

Through this story we see that God proves that nothing is impossible for Him. God can do anything beyond our limited logic and thinking ability. Something unreasonable for us is reasonable for God. Made ditches in the desert is something difficult to accept by the common sense, but God in real made impossibility became something very possible, because:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” (Isaiah 55:8 NIV)

If this story were not powerful enough to convince us that indeed nothing impossible for God, let’s look to another story. Let’s briefly have a look to the story of Gideon in Judge 6. When the Israelites were oppressed by the Amalekites and the Midianites, God sent His angel to meet Gideon and said that God chose Gideon to defeat the Amalekites and the Midianites. (Verse 11-12) What is the impossible thing that happened in this story? Let’s see a map of the power of the both parties. The Midianites and Amalekites have so many people. Was mentioned in the Judges 7:12: The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore. While in the Gideon’s side, God said to Gideon: “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” (Judges 7:7 NIV) logically, it was a highly impossible thing. How it is possible with only three hundred people could defeat the Midianites that have uncountable number. Through this story once again we see that something is impossible for us, it is not impossible for God. With God’s inclusion and guidance Gideon and his people finally can defeats the Midianites.

When we face so many hard problems, we often try to find the way out by using logic and the ability of our own mind. And by the time we were deadlocked then our logic will say that this in an impossible thing to be resolved.  We forget that there is God who is in control of all our lives. Through the Bible we can see more proofs that God overturns human logic. We can see the power of God is far above of our logic. A young David against Goliath, Shamgar, or if we could ask to Noah, I do believe that Noah will tell us a lot of how the Lord overcoming what is regarded impossible by human logic.  Jesus Himself reminds us:

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NIV)

My beloved readers, whether right now we are in facing tribulations and we feel that all of it is impossible to be resolved?  Or we’re in doubt doing something that God commanded?  This evening, please allow me to encourage all of us to bring every of our severe problems and difficulties through prayer to God. Let Him help us to solve our problems by His own way. Please always remember and bear in our heart and mind that for with God nothing shall be impossible. Perhaps our logic and mind says impossible but neither to God. All that happened thousands of years ago will still be going on in our lives today. In my personal life, many times I had many hard problems and seem it is impossible to be resolved. But many times too God shows His marvelous way, far away beyond my logic and thought to solve my problems.  Everything that is not easy for us is an easy thing in the God’s eyes. If God commanded us to dig “ditches in the desert” we just need to obey to do what He commanded though it sounds impossible.

But I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. (Jeremiah 7:23 NIV)

The Israelites chose to obey to what God said and finally they got double blessings. God gave the water that they need and a victory against the Moab. Gideon also always obedient to did what God commanded and he can defeats the Midianites with only three hundred people.

We need make a step of faith to get God’s promises. God’s promises and blessings will not come instantly. We have to do our part first, and God will do His part.  The step of faith that has made by the Israelites is build ditches. Gideon had step of faith by decreasing the number of his people from thirty-thousands to only three hundred people. We should not just remain silent waiting God’s blessings. We have to act to do something with firm faith, walk deeper into the closer relationship with God, and always involve Him in all things in our lives.

…”Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

(Matthew 17:20 NIV)

 We also have to believe. Distrust and doubt is often become a stumbling block and an obstacle for us to receive God’s Miracles. Please remember that our God is more than capable to doing unpredictable miraculous things. God be able to doing unthinkable and unreachable thing. Although it sound so odd, The Israelites completely believe that through the ditches that they make, God’s power will work. Gideon was truly believed that God will always be with him. We have to believe God will be able to help us through His amazing way. Everything is impossible will be possible if we believe.

“…Everything is possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9:23 NIV)

My dear friends, if today we got the same question as my secretary question, what is our answer? Let’s confidently answer that question: “Yes! For with God nothing shall be impossible as long as want to completely obey, always walk in firm faith, and believe.” Amen.

Karina – Living by faith

Image source: chrislukic.com

Let’s Praise THE LORD!

 

LET'S PRAISE THE LORD -Karina's Thought

 

Yesterday my husband’s friend gave us a couple of “Straw-headed bulbul bird” These birds are species of the songbird. This morning, their beautiful chirp awakened me and made my morning more wonderful than before. The birds chirp merrily like a singer who joyfully welcomed a brightly new day. Through their melodious chirping I really felt God smile and greet His children who just wake up. I and my husband then took time for a moment to enjoy it and before take a morning prayer my husband asked me to sing a praise song “In Moment like This”.  Talk a bit about birds, how do the birds can sing? Scientifically can be explained as follows, Birds have an organ called “Syrinx”, a bony structure at the bottom of the trachea. Syrinx is made up of membrane that can vibrate when air passes over the syrinx. Because of this birds can chirp, singing, whistling, and even talking. What is the function of the birds chirping? Naturally, the birds sing to attract their mate and also to defend their territory. I was thinking, what kind of song they sung? Whether about love? Joy, or about thanksgiving and glory to God who already take care and provide protection as written in Matthew 10:29? However, no matter how, whatever the functions and the songs, for me it is remind me how magnificent God created this universe. God made this universe full of lovely songs. Moreover, it is one of the wonderful graces from God. God put the songs in the bird’s heart, make them chirping beautifully. A bird is God’s fingerprint creation. God made the birds become a greatest singer.

My dear friends, if God put the songs in the bird’s heart. God did the same thing to us as a human. Let’s take a look at the book of Psalm.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. (Psalm 40:3 NIV)

This verse is very clear said that God alone gives us inspiration; put the new song in our mouth to use for praise Him. As we love music/song, God also loves music. Music is one of the most beautiful God’s grace because I can’t even imagine how dreary and droughty this life without music. Furthermore, besides music can make our life more lives, we also can see that music has great power to bring people to know God, repented, and believe in Him. Until now I still could see that God touch someone amazingly through praise and worship songs.

There is so many God’s creation that we can enjoy; also there are so many His beautiful works that we can feel. So we ought to lift up our praise to God as our gratitude. The book of Psalm talk so much about the beauty of God’s creation and all His blessings, protection, and His love to us. And many times we are asked to sing to lift up our gratitude to God.

I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. (Psalm 104:33 NIV)

We are also invited to praise all of the God’s miraculous works,

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. (Psalm 98:1 NIV)

Praise and worship to the Lord is the indispensable part of the Christians lives. Briefly, let’s look at the reasons why we should always praise and worship God.

  • We praise to God because we are created to praise Him. The people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. (Isaiah 43:21 NIV)
  • Commanded to always lift up praise. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 150:6 NIV)
  • We praise to God because the salvation that has given to us. That I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation. (Psalm 9:14 NIV).
  • We have to praise him for His eternal love. Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 106:1 NIV)
  • We praise to God because God enthroned on our praise. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. (Psalm 22:3 NIV)
  • We praise for He worthy. “You are worthy, our Lord and God,to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:11 NIV)
  • We need to always praise the Lord for there is power in praise. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters,their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them this is the glory of all his faithful people. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 149:6-9 NIV)

Whether we should have beautiful voice so our praise worth, accepted, and please God? I remembered when I was held a Christmas celebration with the orphans last year. There was a teen girl singing a Christmas song titled “Because of Bethlehem”. She didn’t have a beautiful voice like a professional singer but she was able touching my heart and many others so deep.  Through her voice I can felt how wonderful and magnificent God’s love to us. My dear friends, if we refer to verse of Psalm 150:6, this verse didn’t say, “Let those who have beautiful and melodious voice praise the Lord” But the Psalmist said, Let everything that has breath!”  This means that God doesn’t look and assess how beautiful our voice. God is more seeing our sincerity in praising God. The Psalm 9:1a said: I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart” also our praise not only came out from our mouth but rather from our heart. Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19 NIV) When Paul and silas was in prison, they lifted up praise to the Lord. At the time, their condition was not ideal for singing and praising, even Paul might not an expert singer but He and Silas sang with all his heart, and surprisingly, the Lord came down on top of praises, and God pleased with their praise and He did great things. (Acts 16:25-27 NIV)

Moreover, beside we have to praise to God with all our heart, we have to praise God with all humility. Let God be exalted through our praise. God will not pleased if we praise God with pride because we feel has a beautiful voice. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”(Psalm 46:10 NIV)  Also, God will be pleased with our praise if we have very close relationship with God. We have to always realize that near to God alone we always find rest. Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2 NIV)

My beloved readers, have we praise to God this morning? Have we when wake up in the morning we spend our time for a moment to lift up praise to God as our gratitude for His wonderful blessings and grace that always new every morning? Or even otherwise, our mouths just filled with complaints and grumbles about the problems we have to face? Today, allow me to encourage all of us before we start our daily activities let’s take a moment to harmonize our hearts and minds for a moment with a beautiful melody that God has placed in His creation. Feel it, enjoy it and ponder the God’s greatness and blessing that has been poured to us. If the birds can sing in the morning, why we don’t do the same thing? Please remember, God not concerned about how well or bad our voice but God will look at our sincerity in praising Him. Our voice quality should not to be a hindrance to keep praise the Lord. We are not in the front of audience who want hear our beautiful voice but we are coming to The Lord, bow down praise and worship Him as an expression of our gratitude for His wonderful blessings, love, comfort, rest, strength, peace and joy that has given to us. Tomorrow the birds will sing again, do we want participate to glorify God through praise that we raise with sincerity, humility, with a very close relationship, and let God be exalted through our praise? Let’s start make our morning become a beautiful moment to lift up our hand to the Lord and praise:

In moments like these I sing out a song
I sing out a love song to Jesus
in moments like these I lift up my hands
I lift up my hands to the lord

singing I love you, lord
singing I love you, lord
singing I love you, lord
I love you

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

(Psalm 98:4 NIV)

Karina – Living by faith

Related post Psalm 98:1 by atimetoshare

Image source: Habitatnews.nus.edu.sg

“In Moment like this” composed by David Graham

 

 

 

 

What a Friend We Have In Jesus

WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS -Karina's Thought

 

My post this time was inspired by a hymn song that I heard when I on my way from the church to my home this morning.  “What a friend we have in Jesus” A beautiful well-known hymn song composed by Joseph M. Scriven. Do you have many friends? I am very sure yes you have so many friends. So do I. I have so many friends, even friends from different country. I love make a friendship with everyone.  Friends could make my life more colorful, cheerful, and excited. But the question is how many true friend we have? I am pretty sure we don’t have much.  When I was teen my mother once said that, “It is so easy to find friends, but isn’t easy to find and have a true friends.  There is a difference between ordinary friends with true friends. An ordinary friend could easily come and go but the true friend is someone who always is there in any of our condition. The true friend is someone who could give us encouragement and motivation when we are weak. Could make us feel safe because we know that we are not alone, could be a good listener, strengthen, help, and comfort us when we are in grief. With a best friend we can laugh together, cry, arguing, even quarrelling, but will not leaving each other.”

“What a friend we have in Jesus” remind us that even though we have very best friend, there is a friend above of all. Jesus is an extraordinary true friend that we can find. We may have a very best friend but they are still human being who has weakness. There is a time they could disappoint us but not with The Lord Jesus. He will never disappoint us.  Jesus longs to be our true friend and He himself reached out His hand offers a true friendship with us. If to build a true friendship with humans already provide a lot of advantages and benefits, much less if the friendship that intertwined between us and Jesus. He said:

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.

(John 15:15a NIV)

When I ponder this verse, I felt that I have a very big privilege. “I no longer call you servant” This is the first big privilege. Jesus not places us under Him. Jesus didn’t make a boundary between servant and master. He places us align with Him and made us a His friend. What are other privileges that we can get through making a friendship with Jesus? Let’s have a look together.

Love

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (Proverb 17:17 NIV)

The Jesus’ love is always shed for us, whatever our condition, because He remains faithful. Jesus understands what became our struggle because He had suffered on this earth and bear all the sins of mankind sins. Jesus is always there for us, although as though He feels away, He is always there in our hearts. And He always listen our complaint and prayers. Anytime we want to confide, He always await us.

Sacrifice

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13 NIV)

Jesus’ sacrifice cannot be doubted. His greatest love has been proven by His death on the cross. He willingly laid down His life to redeem all of our sins. Jesus is a true friend who really loves. We may have best friends but we may not have best friends who willing to sacrifice their lives for our sins. His redemptive work is cleans every sins that we confess before Him. His blood cleanses us and brings up to standard to be able to come into His presence with courage (Hebrews 10:19 NIV)

Closeness

… But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24b NIV)

When Job experience of suffering, all the family and friends left him, and even forget him. But there is one person who never left and forgotten Job, He is the Father in heaven. In our daily lives maybe we once experienced that our brethren left us in misery and at the time a companion even accompany us faithfully. So it is with Jesus. He will never leave and forget us. He always closes to us.

Receptiveness

 I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15b NIV)

 Friendships very close with receptiveness. There is no secret story to a true friend. Likewise, Jesus will reveal all the secrets of heaven to us His people. We shall know God’s heart, His messages, advises, and His reprimand because Jesus himself who will tell us. His extraordinary grace will be poured out for us, when we build a friendship with Jesus. He will guide us and show His bright ways to our lives. He will provide the way out for every of our problems.

Trust

And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. (James 2:23 NIV)

Friendship contains a bond of trust. When we believe in Jesus, we become His friend and we become people who can be trusted by Him. Trust will lead to the provision of greater responsibility. We see that the Lord gives a remarkable promise to Abraham, and the promise was fulfilled.

Is it difficult to be Jesus’ friend?  Let’s see what the Bible say to answer this question. First, have a look to this verse:

The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant. (Psalm 25:14 NLT)

Fear Him. This first condition that He wants from us to become His friend. What is next?

You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:14 NIV)

What kind of God’s command that we should to do? Let’s have a look at verse 12:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

We will get privilege as Jesus’ friend we love each other as He loves us. Then, what other thing we have to do?

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

(James 4:4 NIV)

This verse clearly says that if we are friends with the world, we will become the enemy of God. This means that we should not be double-minded. We must choose to love God and to be His friend or loved the world and death as the consequences. (Romans 8:6-7 NIV)

I strongly believe that we all want and longing to make Jesus as a true friend and actually it is not difficult to be that way. It all is only depends on us. Whether we want to do all what is commanded by Him? Whether in our daily lives we have already fear Him? Have we loved each other as He loves us? Whether we are still friends of the world and love the worldliness things?

There was an inspiring story about friendship. There were two boys named Zac and Vincent. They were friends. When Zac was 6, he had the acute lymphoblastic leukemia and should take chemotherapy. Vincent as Zac’s best friend realized that the medical treatment for Zac was costly. Then he took the initiative to raise funds to help Zac’s medical treatment. He sold 20 scarves and was able to donate $200 to Zac’s family.  Vincent did not stop there, his sense of friendship also shown by coming to school with a shaved head. He said he did not want Zac feel weird having to bald alone, so he too shave his head.

If we make comparison between Vincent in that story with Jesus, Both of them did something for their friend. But Jesus not shaves His hair for us. Jesus did something greater and important than shaving hair. He willing to suffer endured terrible pain because tortured for many hours. He let His body covered in blood beaten and caned, and in His powerlessness He still had bear the cross. His Head wounded punctured with crown of the thorn. And finally He nailed and dead on the cross. For whom Jesus did all of that? For all of us! For what Jesus did it all? For redeem all of our sins! He paid it all of our sins that hinder our way to salvation by sacrificing Himself. Is there a friend like Jesus? If we have friends who are willing to suffer and sacrificing his own life for the sake of our salvation like Jesus did for us? I am afraid in this today world we cannot find a friend like Jesus.

My beloved readers, in His resurrection day, I ask all of us to ponder again where we place Jesus in our life? Whether we have been placed Jesus as our true friend? Or whether our heart are still ambiguous, even choose make a friend with the world? With all that Jesus has done for us, whether we are still hesitating to make Jesus as our true friend? In this Easter day, allow me to encourage all of us to always remember that God always longing and always reached out His hand to be our true friend. Human being still has weakness and limitations but neither to Jesus the Lord. There is a time human could let us down but neither to Jesus. Jesus has proven His perfect love to us through the great redemption work on the Cross. Jesus fulfilled all that was prophesied. In this Easter day let’s again examine ourselves. Have we become a true friend to Jesus? And if we have made Jesus as a true friend, whether we have done all His command? Let’s make this Passover to be a momentum to rebuild and renew our relationship with the Lord Jesus and truly make the Lord Jesus as a true friend. What a friend we have in Jesus. Amen

My dear friends, I, my husband Kevin, and our little precious Andrew says, wishing your Easter is decorated with love, peace, and joy of spring and the season’s blessings! HAPPY EASTER.

For more detailed story about Zac and Vincent please click here:

http://www.today.com/health/little-boy-shaves-head-comfort-best-friend-fighting-cancer-2D11975522

Karina – Living by faith

This post also can read in my other blog at http://karinalam.godinterest.org

Image source: http://www.theendlesslife.org

 

 

God’s Power Behind The Weakness

 

GOD'S POWER BEHIND THE WEAKNESS -Karina's Thought-Sue Nash

 

I begin my post this time with a short testimony about myself. Everyone who didn’t know me very well always said that I am a perfect woman. They said that I have inner and outer beauty, have an established life, have great charisma, and many more. Right now, unashamedly I am going to tell all of you that in fact, everything that they said about me was not entirely true. As a human being, I also have a weakness. I have congenital defect. Since age of 3 months, I have impaired hearing function. As a result, to remain be able to hear I have to use a hearing aid until now. This is what I mean as my weakness. No matter how sophisticated the hearing aid that I use, it still has limitations. I am still not being able to hear sound very well like others who have normal ears. There are specific sound frequencies that I couldn’t hear very well. A high tech hearing aid still cannot replace the perfect natural hearing instrument that created by God. When I have to accept the fact should use a hearing aid, another serious problem comes. I had low self-esteem problem. I am embarrassed because I felt different with other children. I felt different because to hear well I have to use hearing aid. Then I was isolating myself from my neighborhood. At that time, I felt my body is incomplete. Though I have ears but I felt didn’t have it because not functioned properly. This problem was continued until few years.

Fortunately, I am grateful to God to have parents who always incredibly encouraged me. Patiently they gradually can evoke my self confidence and took me out from my of inferiority problem. Until now I still remember very clear what my father said to me: “You may have a disability, you may not be able to hear normally like everyone else. But I have to tell you that you don’t need to be ashamed. Because why? Remember and always bear in your heart and mind that you are still God’s perfect creation. You were created by the creator of the whole world. One day you will see many people who have worse disability than you but God gives them another great ability and they still have a spirit to run their lives. You will see that they still can do great things. You aren’t totally deaf, you just cannot hear very well but it also has been overcome by using a hearing aid. You still can walk normally, speak normally, your brain and mind still functioned properly. You still can clearly see how wonderful God’s creation. And one more important thing is, there is God’s power and blessings behind the weakness. God is righteous. Behind your weaknesses there is a wonderful plan that He has provided for you. Just believe it and you will feel it”

My dear friends, here we talk about human weakness. I do believe that many people in this world have a weakness, whatever it is. Maybe we have physical weakness such as has a disability like me. We may have mental weaknesses like trauma, emotional instability, paranoid, or maybe we have intellectual and intelligence weakness and that weaknesses raises serious problems. We could be of inferiority, introvert, touchy, and difficult to develop self-esteem. We also tend to always focus on our weakness and doubt the abilities that actually we have. If we look at the Bible, there are several events that illustrate the lack of confidence to do things in accordance with the God-given task. The reasons such as physical weaknesses and limitations, too young, and other reasons that made them doubted their own ability.

I take an example, Moses. When Moses was sent by God to go to Pharaoh, he was no longer young and felt that he had a weakness. Let’s see the dialogs of Moses and God in Exodus 3: 11 -14 (NIV).  These dialogues were clearly reflected that Moses doubted his own ability. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Verse 11) Then God said: “I will be with you…” (Verse 12) Still not quite sure, Moses asked again and then with a very firm God said: I am who I am,{b} and I will be what I will be.” (Verse 14)

Though God has been said so firmly, the mist of doubt still covered his eyes and heart so he could not clearly catch the point of God’s answer. Then he said: Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Exodus 4:10 NIV) Here, Moses spoke about his physical weakness and limitations. But let’s see what the God’s answer: “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”(Exodus 4:11-12 NIV) Perhaps it was true that Moses had a weakness in speaking. Moses was not an orator or a politician who is fluent in speaking. He is also not a good poet. But Moses forgot one thing which becomes important thing: Not due of his capability, but only by the God’s power that makes him capable.

Now back to myself for a moment. The encouragement word that had ever given by my father long time ago was so true. There is God’s power and love behind my weakness. Honestly, I really feel it until now. I feel how great God’s love and power within my disability. Though I have a hearing disability, actually God gave me another great ability. Doesn’t mean I am bragging, God gave me acuity of intuition, instinct, and very high sensibility in analyzing and solving a problem. I felt this way when I was 14. I am very sensitive to anything that might be causing the problem and if the problem really happened, I already know and prepared to solve it. God also gave me ability in read people’s mind only by looking the ways they talk. I am not saying that I have sixth sense or supernatural ability, but this is what I feel and I strongly believe all of that are only gifts from God. And later, these gifts are very useful to support my work. I am very grateful to God for such the great gifts and blessings and I felt these gifts could cover up my weakness that already becomes a burden for many years. That is why in my “About me” page, I mentioned that I am just an ordinary woman but with an extraordinary blessings from God. I realized that behind my physical weakness and limitations God’s power really works to enable me to run my big responsibility. This means that in doing something, actually not because of my capability but God’s power can make me capable to doing great work.

I more realized that I didn’t need to be ashamed, of inferiority, and trying to hide my weakness. Through my weakness and limitations, I can even feel how great God’s power and love. God’s power made perfect within my weakness. I remembered one great figure in the Bible, Paul. We all already know Paul’s background but we also know very well who he is after God incredibly changed him. He remarkably used by God to did evangelism to everywhere. And the interesting thing is, behind his great ministry, Paul realized that there were times where he felt weak, fear, trembling, and he wasn’t ashamed to confess his weakness. He said to the Corinthians:I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.” (1 Corinthians 2:3 NIV) Furthermore, in his ministry journey, Paul once felt bothered with his weaknesses but God said: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV) Paul finally realized that it wasn’t his ability that becomes important thing, but because God alone that make him able and then he came to the conclusion that: “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV)

My beloved readers, I exactly don’t know what kind of weaknesses you have. But today, as a person who have a weakness, allow me to encourage all of us, if we have weaknesses and limitations, either physically or psychological, please don’t be ashamed, discouraged, feel inferior, or trying to hide it. Always remember that God can use our weaknesses, inability, and incompleteness. God will fulfill us with His power to being able doing many great things behind our weaknesses. Perhaps, from our point of view we aren’t quite able to do something great but please remember if God wills, everything will be happens. There is nothing impossible before God. In the bible there are many stories that prove God did not use those who had an extraordinary capability. But God can use shepherds, Christian’ slayer, from children to the elderly, sinners, tax collector, fisherman, prostitutes, and  extraordinarily God changed them  and  wonderfully use them as a channel of His blessings. Let’s always remember that: God is righteous! Behind our weaknesses God bless us with other abilities that can cover up our weaknesses. We just need to be more observant and sensitive to explore other abilities that have given by God. Don’t let weaknesses steal our attention to other abilities that actually we have. Otherwise, if we feel that we completely don’t have any weaknesses, be grateful and don’t boast before God. (1 Corinthians 1:29 NIV)

Within our weaknesses, let’s come to God and hear his heart wishes. We will continue grow in strength, zest, and joy if we keep build close relationship with our Father in Heaven. Let the God’s power works within our weakness and limitation. Our weakness isn’t the end of everything. Bear in our heart that God ready to show His perfect power upon our weaknesses.  Always remember that God did not create us in vain, or deliberately make us suffer. God has a wonderful plan for all of us. Remain be grateful and let’s prove that God’s power is able to change everything, even within our weaknesses and limitations. Let’s stop to only focus on our weaknesses and don’t let us drown in it, admit it, and feel how God’s power will be able to shine upon our weaknesses. God amazingly blessed us with another great ability. He is able to use us to declare His glory and God’s power will perfect in our weakness. Amen.

Karina – Living by Faith

Photo by: Sue Nash. https://heavenlyraindrops.wordpress.com/

{B} Bible gateway footnote