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Good Start, Bad End

A few days ago I was struck by news about a businessman who was arrested for committing a law offense. He was proven to commit various frauds and he also did tax evasion. I know him very well. He was a good Christian man, actually. He started his business three years ago. He had brilliant business ideas, had a good business strategy, had a good marketing plan, etc. Actually he could be a successful young entrepreneur but unfortunately he had a bad trait. He wants his business grows fast so he did any ways both legally and illegally just for the sake of his business. Too bad!  Just because of his impatience then he became disobeyed to God and finally God punishes him.  Besides arrested, another consequence was all of his personal and company’s assets were confiscated! It was unfortunate. Everything that had started well ended very badly. Good start, bad end!

This businessman reminded me to the one of Bible figure named Saul in the book of Samuel. Saul and the businessman have similar story. Let’s take a glance to Saul’s figure. Saul was a chosen people, handsome and taller than any people. (1Samuel 9:2) He also was known as a humble man (1 Samuel 9:20-21) and He filled with the Holy Spirit like a prophet. (1 Samuel 10: 10-13) Saul became a first King of Israel. See, Saul actually started his step very well. He had higher quality than others. I imagine, with the high quality he had at the time, actually he could achieve resounding success. He supposed could be a great king in his era and remembered all the time. But unfortunately, the reality was different. Saul was stringing his life story very ironic or even tragic. My dear readers, when I said to my husband that I want to write about Saul, He asked me, “in fact, what is Saul’s fault?” I know my husband was testing me with that question but to be honest it makes me ponder deeper. Well, let’s see what Saul’s fault really is. Let’s pay attention seriously to the Saul’s answer when Samuel asked him after offered a burnt offering, “What have you done?”  Saul replied,

 “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.” (1 Samuel 13:11-12)

 Dear readers, I invite you for a moment to go backwards to the days of Saul and imagine we’re close with Saul, also imagine the situation. People scattered from Saul (six hundred men left), Samuel didn’t come, and worse the Philistines will come. Well, what do you think? Wouldn’t it very sensible if Saul took action while the situation at the time was quite dangerous, right? So, where is Saul’s mistake? Did not Saul take precaution and rescue for the Israelites? Many people discuss that Saul’s mistake was about offered up the burnt offering. Saul was a king and offered up the burnt offering is a priest’s authority. Yes that is right! But…Saul’s impudence to ordered bring the burnt offering was just an effect and if we remain want to say it was a mistake, it wasn’t become a fatal mistake. There’s one big and fatal mistake that causes Saul fall. Let’s see… Actually, there was dealing between Saul and Samuel. Saul had to wait the time that set by Samuel. Seven days! (1 Samuel 13:8) But because after seventh day Samuel didn’t come while Saul’s men began to scatter, then Saul took an initiative to offered burnt offering. My dear friend, you know what, this’s all a matter of time. Saul cannot wait a little longer until Samuel comes. Actually the seventh day hasn’t finished yet and in fact, Samuel arrived a few moments after Saul finish offered the burnt offering. So actually, Saul’s impatience in waiting for Samuel became the root of Saul’s fall.

Impatience was the biggest Saul’s fault. His impatience produces disbelief and disobedience, and the result of his disbelief and disobedience, he took over Samuel position as a priest, and worst, there was a consequence. Saul lost his kingdom because he less of two or three hours patience.

Besides, this’s just my personal opinion (I’m sorry if I’m wrong). Saul had a personal interest. Saul tried to be sole ruler by concentrating political and religion power in his hand. He wants to be a hero, but he forgot that his act has been violate Samuel’s authority as a priest and it wasn’t pleasing God.

Now let’s see what Samuel reaction is. Saul might have a thought that he already acted right and wisely.  It turns out, Saul action wasn’t reaping a compliment from Samuel but he got the opposite. Let’s take a look what Samuel says in 1 Samuel 13:13.Samuel said, “You have done foolishly” Samuel’s reaction was clearly implies rebuke to Saul. My beloved readers, in this part we’ll see Saul’s faith quality. If we look carefully, from the beginning Saul used dangerous condition as an excuse to do something that turn out totally wrong, even Samuel said, ” You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God” Saul didn’t realize that precisely the danger situation put his faith and obedience to a test. He didn’t realize that indeed God is testing his faith. At that time, Saul was controlled by condition not by faith. As a man who chosen by God and filled with the Holy Spirit, in the danger condition Saul should be by faith completely trust , obey and rely on God, not using the danger situation as a reason to did foolish thing. Samuel said that God will have established Saul’s kingdom over Israel forever. It means God will also control the dangerous situation at the time; God will do something for Saul and his kingdom. But unfortunately, Saul’s faith fails and loses by the condition. Saul didn’t do what has commanded by God, he already doubts God’s power, and he prefers to act according his own understanding.

Every action is always having consequence. Like that businessman, Saul also got consequence. Because of his disobedience, Saul’s kingdom will not continue and God has sought and appointed someone else to be a king. (1 Samuel 13: 14) Because of his impatience and disbelief to God Saul should accept a bitter and tragic reality. His shining early career wrecked in an instant and because of Saul’s another fault at the later time, Saul had to end his story life tragically killed himself with a sword and the Philistines cut off his head. (1 Samuel 31:4, 8)

My dear friends, this evening allow me to use the story of Saul and the businessman as an example and reminder for all of us.  Make it as our reminder to always keep and maintain our obedience and faith to God.  When for the first time we take a decision to repent and accept Jesus as our Savior, we’ve already begun the beginning of our lives very well. We begin with a very good start. We receive God’s promises of protection, care and salvation as a form of His grace. But we’ve to know that not only stop there; we still have one important duty. Our duty is keep our repentance and salvation to the finish line by remains obedient to God’s command. When we’re in difficult situation, in the depressed state, or surround by hard problems, we’ve to believe wholeheartedly that God has power beyond anything. If God seems silent and do nothing, let’s be patience. Actually God is always able to free us from our hard time but not according our time but in His perfect time. So, let’s be patient! I strongly believe if Saul could a bit be patient waiting for Samuel come his story will be totally different.

My dear readers, what about us now? Let’s take time for a moment for self-reflection. Have we been faithful and obedient to the God’s word no matter in the hard times or not? Could we be patient waiting for fulfillment of God’s promises? Are we still able to hold our faith strong even in the most critical conditions? This evening, allow me to encourage all of us to learn from Saul’s fault.  Don’t do the same thing like Saul did so make us loss of God’s blessing just because of impatience we do the foolish thing and it takes us into the sin. Don’t make God regret like He regret made Saul to be a king.  We’ve to always totally aware that difficult and danger situation in our lives often become a powerful weapon used by Satan to tempt us and make us down, or sometime God want to test us to know how strong our faith quality, how obedient we are to do God’s command, and how much we patient await for the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Therefore, my beloved friends, it’s very important to keep our heart and mind always close to God so there’s no gap at all for Satan enter to tempt us. Praying that God always give us strength of faith, remain faithful and obedient to His Command, and has infinite patience.  Don’t make our repentance and the salvation that God has given to us become in vain just because we tempted to do thing seemingly good and wise but actually a foolish thing, bring us into the sin, and finally we will get very bitter and tragic consequences like Saul and the businessman. Don’t make a good start but with the bad end. Let’s make a good start till the finish line like Paul said,” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) Amen

 

Karina – Living by faith

 

 

 

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Our Ultimate Goal

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)

“Karin, you really like your father!” Many people around me always said like that. Yes I have to admit it. I have many likenesses with my father. The way we talk, our mindset, the way we handle problems, and many more likenesses. Still remembered until now, when I was a kid, if anyone asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Confidently and firmly I replied, “I want to be like my daddy” I really idolized my father. From him I have learned so many precious things. He taught me about the meaning of life, he taught me about humanity, from him I learned about true love, How to sincerely love one another, he also taught me about how to have empathy to others, and many other important lessons to live this life.

Talk about father, as Christians, beside worldly father, we have good and loving Father in Heaven. My dear friends, I have a question. As Christians and Father’s child, what is our goal?! I strongly believe all of us have personal goals to be achieved. We have big dreams to be reached. We want to be succeeding in career regardless of what we become. We want to be rich, maybe we want to be famous and honorable; we want our live always run smoothly, have problem-free life, and other worldly things. All of that isn’t wrong and indeed we must have goals and have dreams in our lives. But you know, as Christians, we actually have another important goal and it will become our ultimate goal. Let’s take a look to the Bible verse at the first paragraph of this post to get the answer. Let’s focus to:” …He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…” From these words we clearly know what our ultimate goal as Father’s child is. Our ultimate goal is to become Christ-like.  Actually, the message about this thing already stated from the beginning in the first book of Genesis. God said:

 “Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:26-27)

 We’re Different with another God’s creation, we’re created very special. We were created in the image and likeness of God. Not physically but in character. It is very important to be implanted in our heart. Paul stresses the importance of living like Christ and describes his longing to see the fulfillment of this ultimate goal could be happen. He said, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,” (Galatian 4:19) in other word, That Paul willing to suffer again, like a suffering mother in childbirth so that Christ’s image is completely and permanently formed or molded in us.

What and how God’s characteristic is?  Actually it’s easy to know and understand God’s character. God has given the way to know His character through Jesus Christ who came to this world.  Generally, Christ – likeness encompasses two aspects, namely: First: the mind, attitude, and Christ’s heart. And the second thing is Christ’s character/ Integrity.  Easy to know but it turns out isn’t easy to apply in our lives.  Honestly, I have many times met Christians but they exactly don’t reflect the character of Christ. Instead they more reflect the worldly characters. For example, by chance I involved in the business world and really know how cruel the business world. I found so many sly businessmen. They can do anything just for the sake of their own business. They could run their business with dirty way, They compete unfairly, they in a sneaky way can  turn off the business of others that runs the same business with them, and you know, I got a sad fact that not a few of them are Christians. They assume that Christianity and business world are two very different things that cannot be mixed. They argue that Christian doctrines aren’t related with business rules. Business will be difficult to grow if always stick to the Christianity.  Once again I remember when for the first time I started to take over my parents’ businesses, my mom and dad give me myriad of advices and it all based on Christian doctrines. This proves that the Bible also deals with issues of how to run a business based on Christian teachings.

Another fact, I met many Christians that look like have “split personality”. In one particular situation and time their attitudes reflect Christ’s character. They seem like “A holy man” in the Church but in the other place and situation (out of the church), they changed and have completely contradictory attitudes. They didn’t have DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) they are totally normal but they can easily set up their attitudes as needed. I call them as hypocrite. Another Sadder fact, the attitudes that didn’t reflect Christ’s character instead occurred in the church environment. Some time ago, one of my church friends in Singapore told me that just because there was dissent in some of the church assemblies, conflict occurred and they blaspheme and lash out each other and eventually they are hostile to each other. The examples and facts above are proofs that not necessarily people who claim as Christian could automatically reflect characters like Christ. I apologize to have conclusion that it’s not definite guarantee people who have been baptized and busy with church ministry automatically will completely reflect Christ’s character.  My father once said, “Don’t ever claim as Christian and already live in Christ if we aren’t reflecting His image. Once we claim we are Christian and live in Him, we have to always could reflect the form of His image” Then my father gave a simple example a glass and water. When the water gets into the glass, the water will follow the form of the glass. It’s impossible we pour water into the glass and the form of the water like a bowl. The water will always follow the shape of the vessel where it is poured. It means, when we say that we are living in God; we are obliged to follow the lead of Christ. We have to do something as exemplified by Jesus himself. About this thing John also affirms:

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6)

My beloved readers, this evening I want to ask all of us to seriously take time for a moment. Let’s think, ponder, and make an evaluation. How our spiritual life as Christians right now?  If we claim to be Christians and live in Christ, have we already reflect two aspects of Christ’s character through our behavior, deeds and lifestyles? Have we succeeded in getting people around us say: “Oh, their deed and behavior are truly reflecting the figure of Christ” Or even otherwise we are simply becoming a stumbling block to others? Let’s examine ourselves whether each thing we think is already in line with Christ’s character. Let’s evaluate again the way we think, the way we behave, our temperament, attitudes, character, integrity, and we have to make sure that it all still leads to the Christ. Do we already have a solid and genuine Christian character or we as if have “Split personality” that could be changed any time as needed and then people around us will labeling us as hypocrites.

Personally I have to admit it’s not easy to become Christ-like. Not infrequently I have to experience a struggle when I try to always reflect the character of Christ in my personal life.  As long as we live in this world, it’s not easy to always reflect Christ’s character because there are many things in this world are opposed with the Christian teachings. That’s true but isn’t an impossible thing to do and we have to remember one important thing that if anyone in Christ, the new creation has come the old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17) As a new creation, we have to put off our old behavior and habits and day by day we should continue to experience renewal and increasingly get an Image of Christ and we continue to proceed to become Christ-like.

… you have put off the old man with his deeds,  and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him. (Colossians 3:9-10)

And we also have been granted with the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, teach, help, and remind us of everything God has said to us:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:26)

 Let’s always longing to live in God, really love Him, and always live in His words, faithful and obedient to His teaching, and fear to God. God will give us strength and ability to continue to live in accordance with His will. God’s word said:

 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Don’t be affected by worldly temptations, stay focused on the process of reaching our ultimate goal. Stay focused to Jesus Christ as our role model and let Jesus mold and process us according to His will and also let Him eroding and destroying our old unpleasant character until finally our ultimate goal become Christ-like will be achieved. Amen

Karina Lam – Living by faith

Image source: thePreacersWord

Break The Wall

break-the-wall-karinas-thought

Hello my dear readers! I am happy could come back to the blog with my own post and I am grateful to God in the middle of my busyness this evening I could write something to share.

A few days ago one of my business friends invited me to visit her new house.  She built a new big and luxury house that surrounded by thick and high wall. I felt a bit weirdness when saw the house from the outside; the house looks more like a fortress. My husband jokingly said, “Maybe this wall could only be destroyed by missiles. Or we must march around for seven days like Jericho wall”

I smiled but suddenly remembered about the story of Jericho wall (Joshua 6:1-27). As we all know the Jericho wall destructed by the irrational and unique ways. After spending forty difficult years wandering in the desert of Sinai, they came to the eastern banks of the Jordan to take the Promise Land and they were facing first obstacle. The City of Jericho! Jericho city was surrounded by virtually impregnable thick massive stone. But Jericho wall was successfully destructed (seemingly) by a foolish strategy.  This  was a strategy that given by God to Joshua: All men of war and seven priests that bear seven trumpets of rams before the ark must around the city once a day for six days. On the seventh day they shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. When the sound of trumpets sounded they must shout with a great shout and the wall will fall down flat. (Joshua 6:3-5) Like most war stories, normally a giant fortress could be destructed only by enormous military force with all its weapons. But in fact, Jericho wall destructed not by military strategy and force but by beyond the logic supernatural power.

My beloved readers, in this post please allow me to share two valuable things that I learned from Jericho story. I hope and pray it could be a great lesson for us and could be applied in our lives.

 God’s promises, Faith, and Obedience

In my thought, there is an integral relationship between God’s promises, our faith, and obedience. When God promise to us, He will definitely fulfill His promises. God said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. (Joshua 6:2) This isn’t just a statement but rather to guarantee of God’s promise. God didn’t say: “…I will” but He even said “I have given…” even though the victory over Jericho was guaranteed but it wasn’t automatically. Israelite had to follow instructions from God.  Though God’s instruction seems odd and silly Joshua remains followed God’s command without asking and protest at all! Then Joshua said to the priest and his people:

“Take up the Ark of the Covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.”  And he said to the people, “Proceed, and March around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the Lord.” (Joshua 6: 6-7)

Here, faith and obedience plays an important role so Joshua and his people got victory over Jericho. We can see the obedience manner of Joshua. I imagine if only Joshua didn’t obediently follow God’s instruction, I strongly believe the Jericho wall wasn’t necessarily collapsed and the Israelite will never enter to the Promise Land. Why Joshua and his people could be obey to do God’s command? The answer is because they have faith. It is written in Hebrews 11:30, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days” although in the past Israelite’ faith had frequently failed, at the time by faith they believed and trusted God and His promises and they did God’s command obediently. It means they saved by faith and their faith evidenced by obedience. Here we can learn something important. When there are so many hurdles and problems in our lives and God give instructions that seemed doesn’t make sense to do, let’s accept the instructions by faith and do it obediently. It is written in Deuteronomy 13: 4, “It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him”.

We must remember that God can use anything even the most unreasonable thing to declare His unlimited power. There was so much evidence in the Bible God showed His power through the irrational ways and beyond the range of human logic. God is never wrong. Any God’s instructions and commands has become a part of His plans and God’s entire plan is plan to prosper us and plans to give us hope and future, even not to harm us. (Jeremiah 29:11) We just need to trust by faith and obey it as our real deed. The scripture says that “Faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26) Joshua and his people showed their faith through deed by obey carried out God’s command and conquered Jericho and God fulfilled His promise by gave them victory over an enemy that was trying to keep them out of the Promised Land.

God’s way or our way

The second thing we could learn from this story is about God’s way. There is a vast difference between God’s way and the human way. It is written in Isaiah 55:8-9,

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

I would like to take you to imagine the physical condition of Jericho wall. I am so sorry couldn’t take much time to explore deeper to find out the authentic information about the size of the wall. Below is the specification of the wall that I got from my father’s Bible archaeology books. Let’s take time a moment to imagine it. Jericho was surrounded by a great earthen rampart with stones retaining wall at its base, the size of retaining wall was around 12-15 feet high. On the top of that was 6 feet thick of mud brick wall and 20-26 feet high. There was similar mud brick wall on the crest of the wall with around 46 feet high above the ground level. Other archaeological discovery stated that Jericho wall consists of 2 layers. 6 feet thick on the outside wall, 12 feet thick on the inside wall, and the distance between outside and inside wall was around 12-15 feet. My dear friends, no matter about the size and construction, by human logic and reason this wall was very difficult to penetrate even impenetrable. If it can be, as I said before the wall must be destructed by very enormous military force but the fact Jericho wall was destructed didn’t by military weapons force but even by the very unique way.

In our daily lives, when the problems and obstacles hit us, which way we chose to overcome? Whether we remain chose God’s way even though His way looks so strange? Or we even chose our own understanding and way? The story of Jericho reminds and teaches us that God’s way is higher than our way. The world gives so many alternatives to solve our problems but once again we have to remember that God’s way isn’t our way. Personally, I’ve often felt God provide remarkable way and beyond of my mind to solve my problems. You know, when God gives an instruction or command, we must be fully aware that it’s God’s way and we must believe that God’s way is always the best for us. So there is no reason at all we still stand on our own understanding and disobey His command because God said:  so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverb 3:5)

Dear, friends. What about us now? If this time you and I are surrounded by “thick wall” of problems of life?  Is there a “giant wall” that hinder God’s promises and blessings get into our lives?  Whether we want to break it down but we don’t have enough power?  This evening allow me to encourage all of us to learn from the Jericho story. Thousand years ago God showed His amazing way to tear down the Jericho wall. So it’s with us today. God will provide the amazing way to break our “Wall”. God will give us victory over the “enemies” that we face throughout life. Let’s ask to the Lord to show His miracle ways. Let’s hear His instruction heartily, accept it, believe it by unwavering faith and do it obediently. By faith, let us bear in our hearts and minds that there are no walls as thick as anything that cannot be break if God pleased. Don’t ever under estimate God’s way because actually He is the way (John 14:6) and our ways aren’t His way. Don’t ever rely on our own thoughts because His thoughts aren’t our thoughts. There is nothing impossible before God (Luke 1:37) and God does His best work in impossible situation.

Let’s keep our faith remain working together with action and make our faith complete by what we do (James 2:22) let’s prove our faith by obedience. Let’s show our faith to other as evidence that we truly believe God will always fulfills His wonderful promises. By faith and obedience to God we can conquer all “wall” of problems in our lives and we could be a winner. Amen

Karina – Living by faith

Image source: Google images

 

 

 

 

Living in Humility

Living in Humility -Karina's thought-Paul Militaru

 

Some time ago when I was walking around in the shopping mall accidentally I met an old friend when was in college. I am so excited met her because been many years I have not hear news about her. Afterwards we were deep in exciting conversation. We were talk about many things. But after a while, I felt there was something different from her. I heard sound of arrogance in every of her words.  There was her sayings that really show her arrogance when we talked about business, “If you have a problem in business, you can come to me for help. Now with the position and authority that I have, I can do anything. I can change everything from impossible become possible!”

Honestly I  really sad to saw her changed drastically. I knew her very well before.  A meek young college girl even there was an impression of inferiority. But now she totally changed become an arrogant and snobby woman. Even worse, it seems she was not aware of the changes that happened to him. He felt all she did was reasonable. My husband said to me, “That’s one of the human weaknesses. Many people when they have a great success they could change drastically. When they have high position and powers, they turned out to be an arrogant person. They are forget that it all just a blessing from God”

Of what happened with my friend, I am increasingly aware why in the Christian life God many times advised us to always being humble and always live in humility. As God through Paul advised the Ephesians,

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)

 To the Philippians God advised,

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, (Philippians 2:3)

And to the Colossians God said,

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. ( Colossians 3:12)

There are many more advice to always be humble, and this is very important because  “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6)

I am reminded of the story of Joshua when he wanted to lead the Israelites to cross the Jordan. (Joshua 3:1-17) God spoke to Joshua before entering the Jordan,

“Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.” (Joshua 3:7)

After Joshua receive God’s message, he was immediately conveyed it to the Israelites. Let us pay attention to what Joshua said to the Israelites, he said,

This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites (Verse 10)

Please note, Joshua did not say, look, today you all will see how the Lord rearing my name, exalt me among you  …” Joshua did not say, “Here I am! I am the chosen, higher than all of you, and if you survived it all that because of me.”  Not at all! What Joshua said is,” This is how you will know that the living God is among you…” When I pondering this story I found and see Joshua’s humility. Joshua remains being humble because he was fully aware that it is not because his great or strong power Israelites would have crossed the Jordan, but because of God’s care. Joshua focused not on himself but to God. The focus is only to the God that glorified in all things have ever, is and will happen. Joshua did not take over of what is become God’s right. Furthermore, Joshua also explained in detail how they should to cross (Verse 11-13), and that he did to show that what will happen is not a simply coincidence, or not because of the greatness of Israel or himself, but because there is the power of God that works to protect and save them.

Now let we look at a story which opposite with the story of Joshua. Let’s see to the story of Korah. Initially, Korah was a quite influential leader at the time when the Israelites came out from Egypt. As with other Levites, Korah trusted to do the work in the tabernacle of the Lord and has a duty to serve the people. With such a status Korah automatically got a higher trust compared the other Israelites. It was such an honor and a big responsibility. Yet the fact was, Korah fell into the rebellion sin. He became oblivious to the essence of trust which God has given to him after success. He appreciates himself excessively and then fails to recognize the limits that God has set for him. He forgot to what became the line of his duty and he became arrogant.  He was plotting a rebellion.

And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: (Number 16:2)

Why did he rebel? Because he felt himself great above others and thirst for positions.  Then Moses rebuked Korah,

Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too (Numbers 16:9-10)

Arrogance made them forget that they are actually not opposed Moses and Aaron alone but God who has outlined immediately like what they have to walk. And what happens next was very fatal. The wrath of God came upon them and the destruction was befalling them.

And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. (Numbers 16:32-33)

Korah and his people eventually perish, down alive into the realm of the dead. It is God’s punishment for the people who are arrogant and dared against to God. And this is a warning to us not to be destroyed caused by our pride.

The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them along with Korah, whose followers died when the fire devoured the 250 men. And they served as a warning sign. (Numbers 26:10)

In everyday life we could found those who extremely changed just because they reached great success, have a high position and authority, feel the most powerful and can do anything. As a Christian, when God blesses us with success and was entrusted with full authority whether we would to be like them change drastically become arrogant and forget the essence of the trust that has been given by God? Today we could learn from these two stories. Whether we want to be like Joshua who was always focused on God and not take over what is become God’s right? Remain humble because he was fully aware that it was not as great or strong his power the Israelites would have crossed the Jordan, but due to the God’s power. Or we want to be like Korah who appreciates himself excessively and become an arrogant person, thirst for the position and honor, wanted to go beyond the limits that God has set for him, and eventually just got God’s wrath?

My dearest friends, this time please allow me to encourage all of you to always remember that everything that we have is only from God alone. Success, position, honor, affluence, authority, it all is just because blessings from God. Always remember to not steal the God’s glory and do not snatch the right of God to boast ourselves as written in Jeremiah,

Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Please always remember that we saved to save, we are blessed to be a blessing not to be a stumbling block. All of blessing that we have received is not use to boast ourselves but merely for the channel of blessings for others and just for God’s Glory. Without God we are nothing!

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John15:5)

 Do not be oblivious and feel that we are the greater than other then forget and steal the glory which becomes God’s right. When we become successful  let’s keep it well, continue to being humble, bless others over and over again and continue to glorify God.  Do not feel we can do anything just because Intelligence, talent or expertise or even a chance to succeed are only comes from the God’s grace. Amen.

For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! (Romans 11:36)

Karina – Living by faith

Photo by Paul Militaru http://photopaulm.com

 

 

 

 

The Whole New Creation

The Whole New Creation-Karina's Thought

 

Few days ago when I was gardening, suddenly there was a beautiful butterfly landed on my arm. Closely I watched its colorful wings. It was very, very beautiful. Along I looked to that butterfly, I pondered how amazing and wonderful God’s creation. Butterfly experienced four stages of metamorphosis before becomes a beautiful butterfly. Initially started from the eggs that hatch and give birth to larvae (caterpillars), which may be for many people especially women considered to be a disgusting thing. This caterpillar movement would easily make many people shudder in disgust when seeing or touching it. Then the caterpillar will change into a cocoon, and finally from the cocoon it will come out a beautiful butterfly. Gracefully the butterfly will fly showing its beauty. It is really change in total.
Another thing crossed to my mind. In our Christian living, Metamorphosis that occurs in the butterfly could we use as an analogy / simple model from a change in life. As Christians we change from the old person becomes a new one. I just thinking that indeed the changes that happen to us are no less amazing than the butterfly. When we accept Jesus, we experience a peace process with the Lord. We previously smeared with sins and do not deserve to be saved, now becomes feasible to accept the great salvation solely through the God’s grace and mercy, through the great redemptive work of Christ on the cross. Thus, when we are united with Christ, we also experienced a metamorphosis, totally becomes a new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

And all of it, once again, comes from God through Christ,

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (2 Corinthians 5:18)

We might previously such as disgusting caterpillars or larvae, now we have a great opportunity to be transformed into a beautiful butterfly with accepting Christ and baptism.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6: 4-5)

When we are baptized as a sign of obedience and our faith in Jesus, all our bad habits and all sin in the past is already death. We restored and transformed. Therefore we should no longer devote ourselves to sins, because the power of sin has been defeated.

 

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. Because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:6-7)

A question arises in my mind. In our everyday life, whether we have truly morphed and become a new creation? Have we really left our old life? Whether we already give an impact to others with our new life? And how we live our life as a new creation? In the difficult and tough world today, I often find and see the sad fact that there are many people claim to be Christians but in their daily lives do not reflect as the new creation. For a simple example, in the business world that I involved, I found many entrepreneurs who known as Christians still not reflect as a new creation. Without any sense of guilt and fear, they still compromise with worldly things which are contrary to what is supposed to do as a Christian and as a new creation just for the smoothness of their business sake. They justify the ways that are contrary to God’s command to get their business benefits as they expected. Very sad but that is the fact. They forgot or maybe even deliberately ignoring what God wants from us as a new creation. Paul emphatically said to the Romans,

 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

This verse is very clear that God want us truly experience a metamorphosis which is granted by God, like what happened to the caterpillar up to become a butterfly. We have to change our lifestyle, outlook and mindset becomes a new one. If previously we do not know what is pleasing to God, now we know about it, and know what is perfect in God’s eyes. Changes are not just stop at the physical changes alone, but are also able to change what is within us. In the previous verse, Paul also asserted that it is important for us to get to the level where we deserve to give ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God,

 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)

Becomes transformed or in my analogy above described as metamorphosis is a beautiful and precious opportunity from God, we should be able to appreciate the amazing grace that God has given to us to live our life as a new creation. All has been bestowed by God to us. The problem is, do we want to make the decision to experiencing the process of becoming a butterfly or just stop being a caterpillar and cocoon only. Are we willing to leave our old life and starting a new better life. As when we wear dirty clothes, we have to throw the dirty clothes then we wear with the clean one. It is impossible if we wearing the new clothes without releasing the old and dirty clothes. Do we are willing and able to leave all of our old dirty lives and abandon all the habits and bad character as Paul said,

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. (Colossians 3:5-6)

It used to be possible we indulge the various desires of the flesh as mentioned in those verses; maybe we even be controlled by it all. But as a new creation who experience a metamorphosis, we have to totally rid it all as it is written in Colossians 3:8-10,

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

On the other side, when we have truly experienced a total change into a new creation, it will enable us spiritually to be fruitful. We changed to become God’s child, to be a “chosen people, holy and beloved”, and in the form of a new creation we have compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness. (Colossians 3:12-13) We also put love as a binder in perfect unity. (Verse 14-15)
My beloved friends, let we think and ponder these; How our spiritual quality now? Whether we are thirsty and longing to be transformed totally into a beautiful butterfly or our metamorphosis just stop being a cocoon only? If we have really took off our “dirty clothes” or we are just wearing a new clean clothes but behind in it still lags behind the “dirty clothes” Have we totally put to the death all of our earthly nature? This evening, with all humility, I encourage you let’s together to do not waste the opportunity that has been given by God to be changed, Let us not waste the gift of God that we have received by returning to the deeds of our sins as in the past.

 

As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. (2 Corinthians 6:1)

Let’s we win the spiritual warfare against the devil temptations, no longer to be a slave of sin, say goodbye to the darkness live, soon come into the God’s light, living in it and has a light of life.

 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”(John 8:12)

We also have to always living in the unity of Spirit and remain walk in the Spirit.

 

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3)

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25)

Then we could become a beautiful butterfly that brings God’s grace, to be fruitful to those people around us, and finally people will call us as “The whole new creation” Are we willing to? Amen.
Karina – Living by Faith
Photo credit: http://www.sharefaith.com
Related article: http://astorybyme.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/butterflies-in-the-darkness/

Fear Not, For I AM with You

FEAR NOT FOR I AM WITH YOU - Karina's Thought

Once again, I begin this post with my childhood story. I really love swimming. Every day I always spent about 30 minutes to take swim before I go to the office. I was remembering when I was a kid for the first time my daddy taught me to swim. At that time I felt very scared when my daddy carrying me to the pool. “Daddy..! I am scared!” shouted me. But with his gentle smile he said patiently, “My dear little princess, please do not fear. I am with you and will hold you tight. I will not let you drowned. Just trust me, ok. Everything will be fine.” My daddy’s eye gaze and loving smile finally make me trust him. Though I am still afraid but I trust that my daddy will keep me safe.

 
My dear readers, this is about fear. In human life fear is not become a new thing. Fear always be there in every side of our life. Starting from the fear of darkness and other forms of phobias such as heights, enclosed spaces, fear as haunted by the past, even fear facing the future. In the one side, fear could give the positive impact to remind us to not be careless and cautious in making decisions or doing something. But in the other side, if the level of our fear too excessive, it can turn off our spirit and brings us to other losses. Not only makes us cannot grow and evolve, but it can also bring other problems such as health problems, unstable emotion and so on. Even worse, for us a Christians, fears also potentially make us no longer able to hear God’s voice or feel His presence. As we talk with someone, the more we move away from that person, the more difficult we hear his voice. It will be going like that if fear allowed undermining our feelings and minds. Satan will use our fear as a powerful weapon to destroy us. Fear will be widen the distance between us and God and ironically we begin to think that God leaves us alone and even more we dare to accuse God is not loves us.

 
Now, I would like to take you to look at the one bible story. We take a look when Jesus was in the boat with His disciples in the storm. The Bible wrote that after Jesus was in the boat He slept in the stern. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake and makes the disciples panic and fear. (Matthew 8:24) Then the disciples went to woke Him and said, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” (Matthew 8:25) What was Jesus’ reaction at that time? When Jesus woke up, he did not say, “Sorry I fall asleep” or “Sorry, I am careless” but please pay attention what Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26) Then Jesus got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. What is the point of this story? The point is faith and trust! This event occurred after Jesus fed 5000 people. The disciples supposed do not need to be afraid because they already knew that Jesus be able to make a miracle. If Jesus can fed 5000 people by only 5 loaves and 2 fishes, He also can be able to overcome the storm. If only the disciples have a strong faith and fully trust to Jesus, they will not be shackled by fear.

 
The disciples’ attitude was also a picture of our attitudes in our lives. Our heart and mind more dominated and controlled by fear so our faith and trust to God getting waver. We forgot that we have God almighty who always be with us and can do anything to help us. At the time, the disciples should not have to be afraid because they are with Jesus the Lord that always preserves them. That’s why Jesus rebuked the disciples because they have so little faith and trust to Him. This is also a rebuke to all of us that we must have faith and trust which greater than our fear.

 
Let’s take a look to another story when the disciples saw Jesus walks on the water. They were frightened and thought Jesus was a ghost. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27) Then Peter said, “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28) Jesus said, “Come” (Matthew 14:29). What happens next? Peter was successfully walked on the water. But, when the wind hit him, he was feared and begins to sink. What makes Peter failed to walk on water? Once again, beside he doubts, Peter was afraid! But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30) And for the umpteenth time Jesus rebuked, “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) Jesus’ rebuke is also addressed to us today. Fear can make us fail to achieve success. Even when the level of our fear is greater than our faith it can obstruct our progress and even our dreams. We could not move on and trapped in the grip of fear.

 
From the two stories above, there is a causal relationship between being afraid and trust. When we talk about trust, we talk about faith. The lack of trust and fait will cause fear in our life. Because of fear, there is no more joy, victory, and peace. My dear lovely friends, what about us now? How big the fear haunts our life? How deep we trust in God? Fear will never disappear from our lives. But if we believe and surrender our lives wholly into the God’s hand that created everything perfectly, why we should be afraid? If God is powerful than anything else promised to continue to accompany, encourage, help and hold us to achieve victory, why should we falter and allow ourselves to continue gripped by fear? I ask you to remember one of God’s promises,

 

 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

If we ponder this verse wholeheartedly then we will realize a wonderful promise as an answer of what we face today. If I completely trust to my father who really loves me will keep me safe and not let me drown when taught me to swim, much less to Heavenly Father who created me. I strongly believe that our Heavenly Father really loves us and will keep us safe too in facing any problem and difficulties in life without fear. There is no father who would harm his beloved child. So it is with our Heavenly Father. When God said to us, “Come” We should to be confident and brave to walk and our eyes keep focus only to God. We should totally trust that He will always be with us, and even if during we walk our lives buffeted by the severe storm, He will not let us fall. As was written in Psalm,

 

The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. (Psalm 37:23-24)

My lovely friends, I don’t know what kind of fear you face now, but allow me to encourage you, immediately tried to get out and rid out from the shadows of fear. How? Continuously grow and strengthen our faith and trust in God. Keep walk with God and submit all of our worries to Him, wholly trust in His mightiness. Maintain our intimacy with Him through prayer and ponder God’s word day by day. Always embed “Fear not, for I am with you” in the deepest of our heart and mind, make it as our guidance. Always Living in God’s love and feel His perfect love in every step of our life, for there is no fear in love. Amen.

 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1John 4:18)

Further reading:  http://dbethandrews.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/in-my-prison-of-fear/

 

Karina – Living by Faith
Photo credit: Backhuysen, Rudolf, commons. Wikimedia.org

Someone Behind

SCREEN

Few days ago my husband and I watched again a Christian music concert which was held by Rose of Sharon Church in which one of the singers is my blog friend, Sella Irene. I was really impressed, amazed, and so blessed by their performances. They have a very beautiful voice and incredible musicians as well. I said to my husband, “They are all really impressive!” My Husband replied, “Yes, they are! But please do not forget to those people who are behind them on the stage. I think they also have a very important role in that concert. They have an amazing stage director, very skilled sound engineer, and there are many more people who are very supportive of their performances. Without them all, I guess they could not perform very well. My husband’s answer makes me thinking. Yes, I forget that there are a lot of people behind them who very influential for the success of their performances. In reality, they often miss from our attention. We more focused to those people on the stage.
I remembered one of Jesus’ disciples. Andrew. Andrew was the first Jesus’ disciple. Although he was one of the disciples of the Lord Jesus, but his name is not as famous as Peter, James, Paul, or John, who were said to be the people who are in the inner circle of Jesus’ closest disciples. If I liken Paul, John, and Simon Peter is the main actor in a movie, then Andrew is like a supporting actor which not too stands out and not gives a big impact. However, it does not mean Andrew is not important. Many things have been done that we do not realize because he was a lot of work behind the screens. Let’s dig up what the important things that he did.

 

The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). (John 1: 41-42)

 
Let’s pay attention to the word “And he brought him to Jesus.” It was Andrew’s first response when he met Jesus. Andrew was the first person who tells to Peter. At that time, without Andrew’s presence, Simon probably would not meet Jesus. Without the role of Andrew, Probably there is no Simon’s name in the list of disciples of Jesus. We all know that the later Simon Peter became a great apostle. But the important thing is, it all would not have happened if Andrew not brought Peter to Jesus. The interesting thing is, even though he is not as famous as his brother, he did not even include three closest disciples of Jesus, Andrew really did not concerned it at all. With joy and humbly he continued his task.
Another important thing that Andrew did is, when Jesus fed 5000 people. At that time Jesus gave preaching to the thousands people. Then Jesus said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”(John 6:5) then “Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little” (John 6:7). Let’s see Andrew’s reaction at that time.

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:8-9)

See? Once again Andrew bring someone came to Jesus. I am sure, at that time Andrew also knows that the food brought by the boy would not be enough to feed about 5000 people. But he still brought that child to Jesus. What happens next? Through the child, a miracle happens. Jesus fed 5000 people only from five loaves and two fishes. This story shows that Andrew is a very caring person. He brought the children to Jesus to be used in the service of the Lord Jesus and the food problem finished. That is Andrew. An apostle was not famous who work behind the screens. Almost never come forth like Paul, John or his brother Simon Peter. But in fact he is a caring person who brought many people to God.

 
There was a Sunday school teacher named Edward Kimball. Who is he? He is just an ordinary Sunday school teacher. But through Edward there was a boy who believed and accepted God as his savior and later on this boy became a very famous and great preacher and evangelist. The boy is. Dwight L.Moody. Through his ministry Moody can make a lot of people in England and America repented. And through Moody’s sermon, a young pastor named Frederic Brotherton Meyer changing his ministry and decided to become an evangelist like Moody. “If you are not willing to give up everything for Christ, are you willing to be made willing?” This was what Meyer said in his preaching, and these words make J. Wilbur Chapman responded God’s call in his life. Later on Chapman become one of the most effective evangelists. Billy Sunday a baseball player, a volunteer in Chapman Ministry eventually took over Chapman’s ministry and become one of the most dynamic evangelists of this century. Billy Sunday’s preaching brought thousands to Christ. Then this evangelism chain finally up on the great name: Billy Graham. Through Billy Graham million people in the world repented and accept God as their savior. If we look carefully to this chronology, it all begins from someone named Edward Kimball. An ordinary Sunday school teacher but through him many people brought to God and make many great names in the evangelism world.

 
My dear friends, what about us in our daily lives? Wherever we are, in the office, church or else, whether we also pay attention to those people who work behind the screens? Are we appreciate and honor them same as those who always come forth on “the stage”? Through this post I would like to ask you to change our mindset to not always focus on who we see on “the stage” Lets always remember that behind their successful there are so many people behind them. If we look and hear a touching and powerful preaching in the church, do not just look to the pastor but please remember that there are people behind them. It may be husband/wife and their children who always give a big support to their ministry. Their roles are really important as well. Let’s always remember that God can use anyone for His Kingdom works even they are not always come forth and unknown to many people. Do not belittle to those people who work behind the screens because sometimes actually we have to learn a lot from them. They are the God’s invisible tools, but so worthwhile. Do not underestimate to those people who work around us which is seem trivial.
And otherwise, for us who always work behind the screens wherever we are, we might not do many great things, and maybe people do not see our work at all, maybe even people underestimate our work, this time I encourage to not be desperate and discouraged. We could learn from Andrew story. We May not do something great but please believe, what we are doing it may be the beginning of great things that will be happen later. I encourage you to always believe and trust that God can use any little thing to declare His power and glory. Probably Simon Peter will not be a great apostle without Andrew. We may not know D.L. Moody without Edward Kimball’s role. Whatever we do, do it with wholeheartedly, faithful, full of diligence, and is only intended for the glory of God. Amen.

 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, (Colossians 3:23)

Karina-Living by Faith
Image credit: Google Images