Archive | January 2019

To Be a Real Player

In December ago I watched a Christmas concert video where one of the performer is my little foster sister, Sandra. I  very impressed and proud to see him sitting in  the front of grand piano playing a classical Christmas repertoire accompanied by an orchestra. Elegantly her fingers danced swiftly on the piano keys. While I watched Sandra on the stage, I remembered when she was under 17, I often took her to watch music concerts. She was interested in music especially classical music. I still remember when we were watching a concert, I whispered to her, “Someday you’re not only sit as audience but you must sit on the stage as a player” she replied firmly, “Yes! I must…!”

Now Sandra has proven her words a few years ago, now she has moved from the viewer to be the real player. Sandra is in the right position according to her life passion. She once said, “I’m truly believe that what I chose is a call! God’s call! And I have to fulfilled His call to get into the music world to glorify His name and I wanted God make me a blessing”

My dear readers, through Sandra’s story, I want to ask all of us to reflect something important in Christian life. In our spiritual life, as Christian, Where is our position now? Are we in the position as audience or player? Do we have longing and passion to become a real doer of God’s word bring salt and light through our own call? Do we only accept God’s blessing for ourselves without any longing to share God’s Blessing and be a blessing to others? Sadly, in our daily lives, there’s fact that many Christians are only satisfied to sit as audience rather than active take a role directly doing the God’s word. They have hundreds of reasons to refuse if invited to participate in doing God’s work through Christian ministry. Feel incapable, have no time, busy working, shame, and many other reasons that obstruct them to be real doers of God’s word.

I think of one thing, how we can declare God’s light to the world if many Christians become a passive Christian and just being audience and enjoy God’s blessings? Then what about the great commission that ordered by Jesus? Can we fulfills Jesus’ command that we have to

“go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you… (Matthew 28:18-20) whether only a few people are burdened to accept God’s call to serve Him? No! God doesn’t call only few people but all of us who believe in Him. We all are the chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and we all are God’s special possession… (1 Peter 2:9)  

My beloved friends, allow me to interpret that verse word by word. “Nation” Nation means the whole people who believe in God and called as God’s child. The word of Nation don’t refer to the certain individuals or groups. Next, “the chosen people” it means not only me or you but the entire people who lives in God have a great honor for being chosen by God. Further, “a royal priesthood” Royal priesthood is a title given by God to us. It means in the eye of God we all are priests who serve the King. God gave us that title with one purpose, namely to call us to proclaim God’s great deed actively through testimonies of His work in our lives and eventually the all of nations become His disciples. Imagine how ridiculous if someone who has title as the “Royal Priesthood” or priests who serve the king just sat watching from distance without doing anything. So Let us always remember our Identity. We’re honorable people because God chose us, we are the royal priesthood that called to carry out God’s duties and command.

Now, what if we already have longing to fulfill God’s call and decided not just as an audience but take real actions to do what commanded in Matthew 28:18-20 but we feel don’t have enough ability to take a part in ministry. Well, honestly these things often become a reason and obstacle when we want to start serving God. My beloved readers, actually God has given us different gift and at least there is one gift that we can use to server God and others. It’s written in 1 Peter 4:10,

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

So I think there’s no reason for us not serve God just because we feel have no ability. God has prepared us with certain ability. Therefore, let us use the gift from God to play a role serve Him and others.

 Another obstacle is, many people in their first step already afraid and worry will get many difficulties and problems. Actually, I must admit, based on my own experience, being involved in a ministry isn’t easy. We will find many problems. But…! There’s one thing that we have to know, Please know this, when God ask us to do His Command, in fact, He already preparing us so we’re able to carry out His duties.  God also has provided all things we need.  Let’s take a look to this verses,

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. (Luke 10:19)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

See, God already gives us power to make us able to be Christ’s witnesses wherever we are even to the ends of the earth. Moreover, God not only gives us power but He also promises to always be with us wherever we go. He promises,

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”(Genesis 28:15)

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Besides being with us, when we’re in trouble God also always gives us comfort. He said,

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

My beloved readers, at the end of this post I invite all of us to reflect on one thing. As a chosen people who was given the title of royal Priesthood, where is our position now? Have we done the great message that has been given to us?have we pick up the cross and proclaim the truth of God’s word to people who don’t know God? In this early year, please allow me to challenge all of us to take a real action to fulfill God’s call to serve Him. Fulfilling God’s call and serve Him doesn’t always have to be a pastor, church worker, or other position in the church but can be done in accordance with our own gift and where we are. A simple example, if we are in the office and we have gift to encourage, let’s give encouragement to those in need.

Let’s prepare ourselves to get involved in God’s work. Stop doing nothing. Please remember what Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37) There are so many people need to be saved out there but none of that will happen if only a few people are burdened to proclaim the message of salvation from God and the great commission that written in Matthew 28:18-20 will not be fulfilled. Jesus reminds that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14) And because we are the light Jesus also asking us: “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16) But once again, the light will not shine and be seen by others if we just keep silent don’t do something so that the light shines.

If now my little foster sister, Sandra, is able to show how beautiful the music works of Mozart, this is the right moment for all of us to begin take concrete actions to show how great God’s work in this world and how beautiful God’s love for this world.  Let the title of the royal priesthood not just a designation but can be accounted for through our concrete actions as ambassadors the Kingdom of God. It’s time for us to go out of the box, time to play our part on the stage of Christian ministry, time to go and do something real. Are we ready? Amen.

Karina – Living by faith

Thank you very much to Sister Lisa Blair at https://lisasdailyinspirations.com/

Image source: gracecalvarychapel.org

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BECOME A NEW CREATION (guest post)

Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil. (Jeremiah 13:23 NIV)

The physical characteristics of living things in a species are inherited traits inherited from genetic factors. We can’t change it like if we take off our clothes and then replace them with other different clothes. God used this analogy when rebuking the people of Judah. In the eyes of God, like a leopard can’t change its spots, so the people of Judah who are accustomed to doing evil can’t do good. This very strong rebuke was delivered through the prophet Jeremiah in the years before Judah fell to the king of Babylon who later took them into exile for 70 years.

During the time of Jeremiah, sin was rooted in the daily lives of the people of Judah. They lived in sin and carried out various forms of idol worship, even killing their children in sacrificial rituals to the gods. When King Josiah called for national repentance in Judah, they did return sacrifices to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but they didn’t completely abandon their sins. Sin has colored the entire area of life and controlled their hearts, so God said:  “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with a point of diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of their altars…” (Jeremiah 17:1-2 ESV).

Sin has been carved so deeply in the hearts of God’s chosen people. Such a condition of the heart will not be formed only because it is a sinful thing, but it is the result of a process that continues to be repeated. Jeremiah 13:23 clearly says that they are accustomed to doing evil. The word “accustomed to” in Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament, also means “taught, learned, discipled”. The word comes from words that mean “to learn, to teach, exercise in, be trained”. Even in some variants of the Bible, that word is translated as “diligently, expert, skilful, teachers”. Seeing the original meaning, the phrase “accustomed to doing evil” means they are not only occasional or sometimes fall into sin, but there is a continuous repetition that may be intentional, which to a certain extent makes them expert, skilful, and trained in sin or that evil deed.

The same thing can happen to us. When we fall into sin, then “the alarm” of the Holy Spirit will be heard loudly in our conscience, making us aware of mistakes, asking for forgiveness, and arising from our sins. When we repeat the same sin again and again and again, then slowly but surely we will begin to ignore God’s rebuke, then our consciences begin to be torpid and insensitive.

The more we repeat the same sin, we will become more proficient in committing that sin, which will surely lead us to other sins! This is the same as we train and discipline ourselves to sin until it becomes a habit and our whole life is controlled by it. To some extent we may not feel the sinful act as something wrong because we have experienced moral degradation and a very severe spiritual deterioration!

REPENTANCE

There is no way out of sin other than repentance. That was what Jeremiah called upon many times to the people of Judah. Unfortunately they didn’t respond as they should until finally God’s punishment struck them. If at present some of us are still bound by sin, I pray that the Holy Spirit will realize that we need repentance. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:” (John 16:8 ESV).

Like how sin begins to take root in our hearts that is because we train ourselves to doing evil, then we also have to do the opposite in the same way if we really want to repent. We must train ourselves to do the truth by disciplining ourselves constantly to live in obedience to God. This must continue to be done because as long as we are still breathing, in us there will always be an attraction between the desires of the flesh and the desire of the Spirit.

As believers who are still proceeding to be like Christ, we can still fall into sin if we don’t take care of our hearts. But there is a fundamental difference with our previous condition, that we are no longer a servant of sin but we have the power to win over sin because the Holy Spirit dwells in us.

STAY IN THE TRUE SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY

Training and discipline to live obediently to the word of God requires perseverance and fortitude because we live in a world where some of the values are contrary to the Bible. Every time we are faced with reality, hear various news, and interact with people of different characters. Directly or not, it can influence or even shape us. In our topic this time, the tribe of Judah is a clear example of how environment and association have transformed them into sinners and idolaters. Long before Joshua had warned them about it: “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.” (Joshua 23:12-13 NIV).

We must not isolate ourselves from the world because we are sent to be salt and light in the midst of this world. What we have to do is be wise in choosing relationships and communities, because: Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt {and} deprave good manners {and} morals {and} character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 AMP)  How the influence of an association is very serious for our lives. Therefore we must pray a lot, read and do the word of God, and live in the true spiritual community. Thus we can grow spiritually so that we are not easily swayed by world values, and have brothers and sisters who rebuke if we start to deviate and strengthen if we start to weaken.

KNOW CHRIST PERSONALLY

Repentance is the right first step. A true association will prevent us from bad influences. But, one of the most important things that become our strength is to experience and know Christ personally.

The tribe of Judah in Jeremiah’s day didn’t lack “information” of God. They heard the story of how the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob freed their ancestors from slavery in Egypt, kept them in the wilderness, and led their ancestors into the Land of Canaan. They heard the story of various miraculous deeds done by God. But unfortunately all of that is just “a story about God” that they heard from generation to generation, but they themselves didn’t experience it. They didn’t know God personally because they have never met God personally. As a result they become easily misled and turn away from God.

We can hear many sermons and hear various testimonies from people who experience God’s help. We can read many books about Christianity or even read the Bible. But without experiencing and knowing God personally, all that will only be information for our brain, like we hear stories, read news, or watch movies. Every Christian must meet the Lord Jesus personally and continue to learn to know Him. The more we know Him, the easier it is to trust Him and obey Him without being suspicious. Every step of obedience will take us one step closer to becoming more and more like Him.

CHANGED TO BE A NEW CREATION

Originating from the same seed of life, a caterpillar that for some people looks disgusting can transform into a beautiful butterfly that flies elegantly. The colors of butterflies are not costumes and their graceful wings are not accessories, but a permanent change that can only be realized through a process of change from within.

Now, if the same question is presented to us: “Can we do good if we have previously used to do evil?” YES, WE CAN !!! In what way? By becoming a new creation in Christ: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

No matter how dark our past is, no matter how deep we fall into sin, God must forgive and restore us if we want to come to Him. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV) and Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

The important thing after we are forgiven is not to commit sin again. We must intentionally place ourselves in a spiritual community (church) that can encourage our spiritual growth so that we are stronger in facing challenges and still standing firm even though we have to go against the flow!

Repentance is not just a moment of confession, but requires our commitment to continue to live in that conversion.

Repentance is not a make-up to correct deficiencies or accessories to beautify the appearance, nor is the disguise mask so that we are not recognized.

Repentance is a complete change from within that encourages us to behave contrary to before.

If then our old environment does not recognize us anymore because we are no longer the same person, it is not because we turn into someone else’s person but because we are restored by God to be our supposed selves, that is, humans who are created like and similar to Himself and to do His works.

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

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