Archive | May 2015

We are The Clay

We are the Clay -Karina's thought

 

Few days ago got surprised! When I entered my work room, there was a flower bouquet on my table. Which made me more surprised was, the flower made by Play-Doh. Then my secretary said, “Ma’am, I made it for you. It might not been perfect. I am still learning” Looking at the “play-doh” flowers, reminds me when I was 10 my parents took me to Madame Tussauds museum and afterward I was very interested to create mini figures or characters like wax sculpture in Madame Tussauds. Strongly remembered I could spend many hours in my play room expressing my imagination and creativity to create figures or characters I liked. At the time, I really love made characters in fairy tale such as sleeping beauty, Cinderella, or other characters. With highly patient and carefulness I mold it carefully, paint it, and gave the details on its character in order looks realistic. If I made a mistake or the character was broken then I will re-mold from the beginning until I got the best and perfect result.

Like I wholeheartedly created a character, it is the same with God. God totally poured out his heart to make the best and perfect for us. We are His masterpiece.  We all are the mankind that created very good, pleasant, and suitable. We were created with special treatment. We were created so special according to His image and likeness.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground (Genesis 1:26 NIV)

And when humans fell into sin, God considers it is important to do a step or mission to save us by sacrificing His only Son so that none of us shall not perish, but have eternal life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

Not only that, God also had already planned the best for our lives.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

It means God wants to give the best for us, guaranteeing the lives of those who live according to His will and plan, both in the life on the world stage towards eternal salvation with Him one day in Heaven. See? How special we are. God doesn’t only give the best for today and tomorrow but God also provide the best for our future.

If I make a figure by play-doh as the base material, Actually God also use a material when create us. What used by God to create us?  Let’s have a look to the verse below,

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8 NIV)

We are created by the clay and God himself as the potter. We are of His Hand’s works. Like I was creating a character, I have full of authority to mold a character as I want. It is also the same with God, as a potter He has full of authority to mold us as He wants. And as a lump of clay we could never set the potter to mold us as we like. God already has a “blueprint” for each of us. As a potter God really know very well our character as clay and He will not mold us into something bad and useless. We will be processed into something beautiful and perfect according His “blueprint” through His own way.  A vessel, before it becomes a beautiful and useful vessel, must undergo a very lengthy process, and if the vessel was broken during the process, then the potter will remold another vessel from beginning and until become the best and beautiful vessel. This is the way how God molds us.

But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. (Jeremiah 18:4 NIV)

My beloved readers, there are two important thing that I want to convey in this post. First, as it is written in Isaiah 64:8, we are as humans have to be aware that our position is only as a lump of clay. As humans we have no right to be bragging with all we have today. Whoever we are, no matter how big our power today in society, we are not more than a figure that bible says is formed only by the clay. In other verse of Isaiah reminds us that human being is nothing more than merely a breath.

Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem? (Isaiah 2:22 NIV)

So we have to realize that as God’s creation we don’t have put expectation too high on our own power or other people’s power but it should be to God the Father who forms us. We must realize that God ruling above of all and we are just creatures molded by clay and were given the life through His own breath.  We also have to remember that we should not steal the glory of God and let God alone as our potter that always glorified.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

(1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV)

For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever!

(Romans 11:36 NIV)

Now let’s see the second thing. God commanded Jeremiah went to the potter with a purpose. God wanted to show that every human should to experience a process like clay and a vessel. A lump of clay will not automatically or instantly turn into a beautiful vessel. The point is, we have to really know and understand that every moment which happens in our life is a part of life process and like the process of molding clay into the vessel, we have to go through very long, hard and even painful process. There might be times when we absolutely cannot comprehend what exactly is going on in our lives. Maybe there is time we are in the lowest point of life. We may experience very deep disappointment, grief, hurt, has many unresolved hard problems, lost of jobs, business not running as expected, broken family, and many other life issues. But my dear friends, right now seriously I’m going to tell you that it all is  part of process and don’t ever thinking that God is sleeping or being looked away from us. Truthfully, God is watching over us, He stands beside us; God is at work and pouring His great and perfect loving kindness to us. We are being molded by the potter become a wonderful, perfect, and useful vessel.

Therefore my dear friends, in order to the process going well and could give the perfect result, There are three things we have to do:

First, we should have willingness to be molded. Don’t harden our heart. God said:

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.

(Hebrews 3:15 NIV)

Before molded, the clay shall be immersed in order to become mushy and malleable. This also applies to our heart.  We have to soften our heart to be easy to molded, flexible, teachable, and willing to be changed. The hardness of our heart is a form of rejection and it will hinder the process of working and God’s plan for our lives. Let’s open our door of heart widely in order God will easily mold us. If God willing to molds us, then we have to willing to be molded.

Then we should not grumble on all unpleasant things that happen in our life. A vessel must undergo combustion process in very high temperature pressure in order become a strong vessel. It is the same with our live. Every unpleasant and painful thing that happens in our life is a process to make us strong and stronger. Be grateful because God always willing to mold us become a wonderful vessel that radiates His glory.

And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

(1 Corinthians 10:10 NIV)

Do everything without grumbling or arguing. (Philippians 2:14 NIV)

The last thing is, be patient. Impatience oftentimes becomes a serious problem and impediment during the molding process underway. Don’t fail in the process just because we are not being patient.

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

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming… (James 5:7 NIV)

Please always remember that during the process, God always stands beside us.  God will never leave the vessel that being molded into half-finished vessel. He will never leave us alone because He said:

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)

My dear brother and sister in Christ, through this post, I ask all of us to re-ponder on our existence before God. Always remember that we are nothing more than a lump of clay that is totally meaningless if no one takes, use and mold us into something beautiful and useful. We are only useless clay if there is no potter who willing to mold us become a useful vessel. Don’t boast ourselves with the power and capabilities that we have. It’s not merely because ourselves but just because God’s perfect love and power working in our lives.  Surrender all of our life. Let God’s hand works on us; let God process us, cleanse us from the pebbles of ego, vanity, let all bad habits totally scrapped off from us and we become a  clean lump of clay that ready to molded. And finally we will become the best, perfect, and beautiful “Vessel” We become His pride masterpiece and can use by Him to His work and for His glory alone. Amen.

Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

(2 Timothy 2:21)

Karina – Living by faith

Related post:

Photo credit: rila-ng.com

 

 

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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

Related post:

https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/daily-devotion-july-21-2015

http://tworiversblog.com/2015/12/10/smyrna-i-know/

 

 

Image credit:  The Church in Smyrna. padfield.com

“GOD, MAKE ME YOUR INSTRUMENT”

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.

Beautiful Words

"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…

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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