Archive | April 2018

May I Pray for You?

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

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

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

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

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

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karina – Living by Faith

Image source:thoughtco.com

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

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

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

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

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

Here are four of Job’s statements:

GOD IS POWERFUL AND SOVEREIGN

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

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

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

GOD’ PLAN CAN NOT BE THWARTED

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

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

GOD’S PLANS ARE TOO MIRACULOUS TO BE UNDERSTAND

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOD SHALL BE KNOWN PERSONALLY

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

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

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

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

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

REFLECTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images