Archive | July 2017

Rejoice Within Suffering

 

Few days ago I met one of my best friends, Audrey, who just lost her beloved father. She said that now she felt lonely because before her father passing away, every morning before she go to the office, at the dining table she always talks about many things with him.  Now there’s one empty seat at her dining room and it makes her realized that she couldn’t longer share many things to her father. But there is something made me amazed from her. She said, “Yes I am very sad because I had to lose my beloved father, I am so sad because had to lose a great role model in my life. But in the other side, I am grateful because I don’t lose my joy. In the midst of grief I still have joy. Because why? I am grateful my father passed away in the state of keeping his faith faithfully, I am grateful there’s no unresolved sin before God, I am grateful that God gave him long lasting life with good health, though I feel too fast to go, I really know and understand God’s time is not our time. And the most important thing is, I rejoice because I really know where is my father go. He now will become a member of Kingdom of Heaven with God.” 

My beloved friends, this post inspired by Audrey’s story. This’s about rejoicing. Do we’ve rejoiced today? Maybe we’ll easily answer “Yes we are!” if our living conditions are safe; running well and there’s no problem at all. But do we still easily say we’re rejoicing when we’re in difficult situation Like Audrey for example. Do we still have joy though we’re under the pressure of hard problems? Generally, people associate joy/ rejoice with a feeling in a condition where there’s no suffering and problem. It means the joy for the majority of people comes and depends on their conditions that are being experienced. Many people also think that it’s impossible keep rejoicing in the midst of suffering. After I heard Audrey’s story my mind drifted away to one of the great figure in the Bible, Paul. For me, Paul is always can be a good example of rejoicing within suffering.

After repented through encountering with Christ, Paul then devoted himself fully to serving God. After having a new life, Paul’s life doesn’t automatically become easier. In his ministry, he met with the severe situations, suffered many tortures, had physical injuries, had mental pressure, and prisoned waiting for the capital punishment. But the amazing thing was all of his suffering didn’t stop him to serve God. Was Paul angry and disappointed to God? Did he grumbling and complain to God why after repenting and serving God he instead had a lot of suffering? No! Not at all! Paul didn’t do it all. What he did while in jail?  He praising God, he even wrote many letters to his congregation and his ministry friends and the messages that wrote become an essential foundation for every believer’s life today. The other amazing thing from Paul was that none of his letters contained grunts, disappointment, and sadness. Faithfully he greatly encourages people to remain steadfast and not stop rejoicing. For example, to the Philippians he had many messages to keep rejoicing and he repeatedly said that his miserable condition will not made him stop to rejoicing.

Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.  For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me. Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you (Philippians.2:17-18, 3:1)

And in his final exhortation to the Philippians,

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

My dear friend, when I wrote this post, I stopped for a moment to ponder and imagine Paul’s figure and had questions. How Paul can be like that? How can a man who has served God for a long time still be able to encourage others to remain rejoicing while he had hard suffering in the prison and awaits the coming of capital punishment? Then I read again the series of Paul’s letters and finally I could make a conclusion that Paul directed his heart and mind wasn’t like the worldly people. He didn’t focus to get wealth, fluency, preferential treatment, prestige, or popularity that he might get it all easily before repented. I noted some of Paul’s letters content.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

(Philippians 3:10-11)

 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3: 13-14)

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3: 20-21)

From the verses above, we can know and learn what was become Paul’s focus in his life.  He focused to be like Christ, he always looked forward continuing to run for the purpose of obtaining a heavenly call from God in Christ Jesus. Though his worldly life was full of suffering and had capital punishment, he didn’t focus on his suffering. He more focus on the salvation that has been obtained through Jesus Christ and he had great opportunity to serve the Lord. I strongly believe this is reasons why he always rejoices within his suffering. Paul put his focus on the right position.

My beloved readers, I really don’t know how’s your condition right now. I’m so glad and be grateful if your life safe and everything is running very well. But maybe there’s among us who in the difficult time in life or currently facing very hard problems and it becomes a reason couldn’t be rejoicing. Right now, please allow me to telling this:  Actually joy isn’t come from what our condition is. Joy isn’t depends on how good or bad our life and also not depends on others. It’s really possible rejoicing within suffering. How come?  how can we keep rejoice in the hard time like Paul did? Let’s take a look to the following verses:

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:10-11

From two verses above we can conclude that there’s always joy and we will always be able to rejoice as long we live in His love and keep His command. This is the way that we can still rejoice even though our lives are full of suffering. Let’s take a look another verse,

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy (Psalms 5:11)

This verse above is another proof that when we take refuge in God we will be rejoice and everyone who love God will filled with joy.  The key point is “In the Lord” That’s all! So my dear friends, actually as true believers there’s no reason at all we couldn’t rejoice every day because we live and must be always live in God. Rejoice isn’t in and depending on our life condition or circumstances. True joy is always come from God and He’s the source of joy. Then what should we do in order to rejoice within suffering?  All we need to do is like Paul did. Put our focus on the right place. Not focus on the problems and suffering but focus on God who has given us salvation.  Like a rose and thorns. Don’t focus on the thorns but let’s focus on the rose. It would be better we think and be grateful God put rose on the thorns than we think and grumble God put thorns on the rose*). What does it mean? It’s all about our focus. If we always put our focus on the “thorn” we will grumble and will be difficult to have joy and rejoicing. But if we always put our focus on the “rose “then we will have joy and will always be able to rejoice. Don’t focus one the problems and difficulties because it will hinder us to have joy. Let’s focus on God because there is always joy in the Lord.  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.

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

My dear friends, I really now it’s no easy to keep rejoice within suffering. But please remember, we have God who is so good. Let’s stop focusing on the problems and suffering, change it with focus on God. Remember, ponder, be thankful, and rejoice for His existence, His loving kindness, assurance of His eternal salvation, His words, and for what He has done for us. If until now we can still live this life, it’s not because of our strength and ability but God give us strength and enable us to face and overcome all problems and suffering.  Keep maintain our relationship and fellowship with God. Let the Holy Spirit always dwell in our heart and let the true joy always shine on from our lives because joy is the part of fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) Amen.

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart! (Psalms 32:11)

Karina – Living by faith

*) Quote from Dwight L Moody

Image source: Renfrew Christian Fellowship

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HOLDING THE ANGER (guest post)

Anger is one form of expression of human emotions. Everyone can feel angry, including a child who has not been able to express the feelings through words. Many things can trigger our anger, from big things to trivial issues. Angry with the particular situation, people around us, ourselves, even against God. People can also feel angry though not know angry to no one or anything. Even some people can hide anger in their hearts although from the outside they look fine. And in the some situations, one can get angry for no reason then vent their anger on others just because of a bad mood. As a Christian, is it wrong to have anger in our hearts? The answer depends on what causes the anger and how we handle it.

 

ANGER KILLS

Anger has dangerous potential if not resolved soon. People who are ruled by anger will tend to vent their emotions in the wrong way and excessive. The Bible had written many stories about the adverse effects of anger, such as Cain and Haman.

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering….. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So CAIN WAS VERY ANGRY, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, SIN IS CROUCHING AT YOUR DOOR…..; it desires to have you, but YOU MUST RULE OVER IT.” (Genesis 4:3-7)

At the time Cain became angry, God didn’t say that Cain had sinned at that moment, but God warned that “SIN IS CROUCHING AT THE DOOR” and Cain MUST RULE OVER IT. Unfortunately Cain didn’t obey God. He allowed the anger to manipulate and control himself. Then the first murder occurred in the history of mankind: Brother killed his brother! All started with an anger!

IN YOUR ANGER DO NOT SIN: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL A FOOTHOLD. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

Do not let the sun goes down while we are still angry. The anger that “momentarily arises in the heart” if not immediately resolved is the same with open up the opportunity for the devil to bring us into the sin: vilification, slander, hatred, resentment, bitterness, murder, and other evil acts. In his anger Cain killed one man, but Haman designed the massacre of one nation simply because he was angry with one man!

And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and did reverence to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or do him reverence……. And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or do him reverence, HE WAS VERY ANGRY. But he scorned laying hands only on Mordecai.……Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus. (Esther 3:2-6 AMP)

Furthermore, we knew that God thwart the evil design of Haman, even it turned destroy himself!!

Unresolved anger can be a snare to ourselves. Maybe we don’t physically kill others, but anger kills our own soul and spirituality, also destroys our relationship with God and our neighbor. Venting anger blindly will not solve the problem, it just makes the situation and communication worse.

There are many other examples in the Bible about the ravages and deaths caused by anger. Therefore the Lord said that we should stop anger immediately before the anger drags us into evil.

CEASE FROM ANGER, AND FORSAKE WRATH; Do not fret–it only causes harm. (Psalms 37:8 NKJV)

Then to what extent we are allowed to get angry? The answer is back to what is the motivation of our anger, and whether our anger leads to destruction or generates goodness and restoration.

 

THE RIGHT ANGER

The right anger is to be angry for the right reasons with the right sayings and actions, just as Jesus did: Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (John 2:13-16 NKJV)

Jesus was angry for the right reason: NOT COMPROMISING WITH SIN. Jesus immediately acted decisively by removing what was wrong. But notice that Jesus didn’t burst His anger blindly or cursed them. Instead, He told them what their fault is, and taught them what is the right so that they don’t continue to live in their sins.

And as HE TAUGHT THEM, he said, “Is it not written: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because THE WHOLE CROWD WAS AMAZED AT HIS TEACHING. (Mark 11:17-18 NIV)

Right anger must be accompanied by a right guidance and action. The guidance and action must be delivered in love and in harmony with our authority. Wise communication is needed so as not to cause misunderstandings, although the risk is still possible. When Jesus was angry and declared what was their fault, some of them didn’t like it. But on the other hand, many people were amazed at His teaching. They must have experienced a paradigm shift in their lives, as long as they didn’t harden their hearts.

Anger based on true motivation that delivered in the right way with the right guidance and action in love, sooner or later will build people and become a blessing. On the contrary, we will be guilty before God if we don’t angry at the moment we should be angry, like Eli who did nothing and not rebuked his children even though he knew that they have sinned.

I’m bringing judgment on his family for good. He knew what was going on, that his sons were desecrating God’s name and God’s place, and HE DID NOTHING TO STOP THEM. (1 Samuel 3:13 MSG)

I’ve told him that I’m about to judge his family forever because of the iniquity that he knew about. His sons committed blasphemyg and HE DID NOT REBUKE THEM. (1 Samuel 3:13 ISV)

There is a moment we must be angry, that is when we see unrighteousness and various forms of sinful deeds. But again, the anger must be controlled and delivered with love.

 

SLOW TO BECOME ANGRY

Anger is a normal psychological reaction and doesn’t necessarily make us become sinners in the time we feel angry, but it doesn’t mean we free to be angry. Angry isn’t the same as irritability. Everyone has many reasons to get angry if always follow ego and feelings. It will form our personality and characters become irritable person if we don’t handle it.

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and SLOW TO BECOME ANGRY, (James 1:19 NIV)

God not only asks us to slowly become angry, but also teaches us not to associate with one easily angry:

DO NOT MAKE FRIENDS WITH A HOT-TEMPERED MAN, DO NOT ASSOCIATE WITH ONE EASILY ANGERED, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared. (Proverbs 22:24-25 NIV)

This shows how anger is so bad and harmful to our lives. Why? “for MAN’S ANGER does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:20 NIV)

Man’s anger is all anger that comes from human flesh: offended, feeling belittled, hurt, disappointed, dissatisfied, and everything from human ego. Man’s anger is always self-centered: what bothers me, what I don’t like, what I want, what I think is good, and everything that is centered on “me”. The benchmark is always “me”, regardless of the other person. Cain and Haman are examples. Cain was angry because envy of his brother and felt rejected by God. Haman was angry because he felt unappreciated. The Bible tells clearly how the bad consequences of man’s anger.

 

SILENT AND MEDITATE

As human beings who are still living in blood and flesh, we can’t escape completely from egocentricity because we all still proceed to perfection. Then how if our hearts hit by anger??

BE ANGRY, AND DO NOT SIN. MEDITATE WITHIN YOUR HEART on your bed, and be still. Selah (Psalms 4:4 NKJV)

Be angry  and sin not; COMMUNE WITH YOUR OWN HEARTS upon your beds and be silent (SORRY FOR THE THINGS YOU SAY IN YOUR HEARTS). Selah ! (Psalms 4:4 AMP)

If we angry, don’t hurry to vent! Silence for a moment and take time to meditate deeply: why are we angry, should we be angry, what is our motivation, right or wrong, and so on. When our anger subsides and our heart starts to calm down, we will be able to see the situation and problems more clearly so we can express our hearts wisely, take the right steps, and not fall into sin in our anger.

If we angry for the right reason, the Holy Spirit will anoint and guide us to do what we must do in love and according to His will. If we find ourselves angry for the wrong reasons, the best way is to straighten our hearts and learn to put our flesh under God’s will. What if the anger has brought us into sin? The forgiveness is always available to everyone who confesses sin: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NKJV)

 

WALK AND LIVE IN THE SPIRIT

We can’t be a meek, patient, loving, and not grumpy person just by relying on our own strength. All it requires CHANGES FROM WITHIN. There is an ego that must be eroded, the flesh that must be subjugated to Christ’s will, the character to be processed, and the heart formed by God. We can indeed control anger with our own understanding and strength, but only God can do divine things with eternal fruits in our lives. The key is to live in communion with the Holy Spirit.

But I say, walk and live  in the  Spirit ; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the  Spirit, and the  Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other , so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do. (Galatians 5:16-17 AMP)

If we always walk and live in the Holy Spirit then our lives will bear the fruit of the Spirit: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a NKJV)

If we have love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, then we will not be easily angry. Let’s depend on and obey the Holy Spirit so that we mature in spirituality and character and become wise person who can control our emotions, even able to assuage the anger of others.

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. (Proverbs 29:11 NIV)

Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images  (edited with pixlr app)