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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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Rejoice Within Suffering

 

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

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

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

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

And in his final exhortation to the Philippians,

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

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

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

(Philippians 3:10-11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karina – Living by faith

*) Quote from Dwight L Moody

Image source: Renfrew Christian Fellowship

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

Trust on the Each Piece

After formally retiring from all of his business activities, my father spent his daily time with gardening and playing with his grandson. But now he has a new hobby. Now he really interested playing jigsaw puzzle. Few weeks ago he asked me to buy some jigsaw puzzle from small to the large size. Excitedly he could spend for hours patiently along with my mom or alone choosing piece by piece of jigsaw puzzle then putting it together to the frame until the picture of puzzle formed perfectly. Though I’m not too interested to play jigsaw puzzle, I love watching its process. We all know what picture we will get from a box of jigsaw puzzle. We also know how many pieces of each jigsaw puzzle, but to make the picture complete need long process.

Every time I see the process of making a jigsaw puzzle, I always think about life in this world especially as a Christ follower. A jigsaw puzzle is a very good example to depict the parts of our lives. We live this life piece by piece, begin when we were in the wombs, then we were born, growing up, and become a mature. It’s called a life process and in that process, at times in one moment, period or the pieces of our life, beside happy things we have to experience and feel many unpleasant or even painful things. We may have to suffer because having big problems, maybe we should be mourning caused loss someone we love. When my father putting a piece of puzzle, he sometimes made mistakes or my son, Andrew, messed it up, and have to start all over again, so it’s with our lives, maybe there’s a part we have failed, whether in career, marriage, family, and many other aspect of life and we have to rise from the failure and start again from the beginning. All of it is parts of plan and grand design of God to us.

One similarity between the jigsaw puzzle and our lives is, both has own design and there’s a process in it. The difference is we already know for sure the design of the jigsaw puzzle but we often pretty hard to know what God’s plan to us is and what the grand design for the whole of our lives. Isn’t become a problem when our lives always running well but become a problem when we’re in difficult and unpleasant situation. We will start to ask God why we should to have all unpleasant things, we will begin to complain to God why have to suffer and why should to fail. Is this a part of God’s plan? What God actually wants?

Once again there’s a process completing a jigsaw puzzle and in the process is our own decision to choose each piece of puzzle to put it on the frame based on our own understanding or follow the provided tips and trick. Once we made a mistake then the main design will not formed perfectly. As well as the process of our live, as a human we are totally free to make and choose a decision to assemble each part of our lives. The question is, when we have to make decision and choice, to whom should we must rely and trust?  Whether we lean and trust on our own understanding, conviction, and ability or we totally surrender to God, completely trust in Him, and make God’s word as a great guide?

Dear readers, the process that we live isn’t an instant process but long process where there are times we have to cry, there’re times we’ve to suffer, there are moments we’ve to fail, and in the process of assembling all pieces of our lives, we cannot fathom God’s work, we cannot understand what God’s purpose is, we cannot even understand why we should have hard season in a process because our way is not God’s way, our thought isn’t His thought. God’s position is much higher than us.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)

So, what should we do? There’s no other way besides handing over all the processes of our lives to God, doesn’t lean on our own strength, and trust completely in God. God’s word very firmly said:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding”  (Proverbs 3:5)

 Here, our faith plays important role.  Faith will enabled us to know and trust no matter how difficult the process, no matter how many tears, no matter how many times we failed, God’s plan and purpose is always beautiful as He has promised that:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

 When the beautiful time comes?  Next week?  One year later? How long we have to wait? Well, we don’t know when and how long we have to wait for. Maybe need tens of years like the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. Maybe like Joseph who experienced suffering and injustice for 20 years before he became ruler of Egypt. Or maybe like Noah who struggled more than 100 years to build an ark as God command. We don’t know, my dear friend. There’s nothing happens instantly. All need process and through process we live, God actually guiding us until we’re ready to see His beautiful plans. In time we will rejoice to see His beautiful plan that has been conceptualized flawlessly. Moreover, through uncertainty, confusing and hard time, failure, and all unpleasant things in our life, actually God has a purpose in order that we getting closer to Him day by day and our faith grow stronger. Eventually by faith that sees the invisible, believe the unbelievable, and receive the impossible*, we are able to really trust that God’s plan are always beautiful as He said to us:

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

My beloved friends, we are currently assembling piece by piece puzzle of our lives and we cannot skip one of it. Each piece has its own place. Maybe this time we cannot see the final result the grand design of our lives. We cannot know the end of our journey; we cannot know the ending of our story. Our life isn’t like reading a story book where we can easily flipping to the last page so we could know the ending of the story or simply choosing the certain chapter that we like. We must live each chapter of our live in complete.

We cannot figure out what tomorrow will bring and what lies ahead. What we can do is, by strong faith put each piece of our life to God. Believe that every single piece of our lives is parts of God’s grand design, still being sensitive to hear God’s voice, remain faithfully follow His guide step by step, though we will have difficult time and even painful, keep trust that God is always with us as He promise  to us:

“… I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

We don’t have to worry about our future. If God finally gave the Israelites Promise Land after long and hard journey in the desert, If thousands years ago God finally made Joseph as the greatest man in his era after facing hard times due to the ruthless betrayal did by his family, if God finally saved Noah from the flood, it all will also happens to our live now. If our lives seems too difficult to face, if our puzzle of life seems so mess and formless, please don’t worry and strongly believe God will not let us alone. He said to us: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”(Hebrews 13:5)  Don’t ever lose of hope because God is source hope and He gives us hope (Psalm 62:5, 1 Timothy 1:1) We have to trust that each piece of our lives designed by God and become a part of His great plan for our lives, and at the end, our puzzle slowly but sure will be revealed, the jigsaw puzzle of our lives will be complete, and we can see the beautiful grand ‘Image” designed by God remarkably. Amen

Note:

This post was inspired by a wonderful post “How Will My Story End?” Wrote by my beloved blog friend Anna Bachinsky  Please kindly visit her awesome blog and read her wonderful posts. Thank you for your inspiring post, dear Anna.

Karina – Living by faith

*Faith quote by Corrie ten Boom

Image source: cdn.shopify.com

 

 

 

Candle of Hope

Once upon a time, there are four shining candles in a room. They are red, green, blue, and white candle. As time goes by, they are slowly begun to melt down. In the quiet night, was heard their talks.

 The white candle said, “I am a peace.  But unfortunately more and more people are not able to keep me even longer to appreciate the meaning of Peace. Therefore, I’d better just turn myself off” So little by little the blue candle goes out.

The green candle then said, “I am faith. But like the white candle, I also have the same fate. This time, there are many people don’t have faith anymore. Though they claim to have me, but sadly they place me at the bottommost of their lives. Not infrequently they sacrifice me solely for their own interests. It’s useless for me to keep light up. I will follow the blue candle!” Slowly the green candle dimmed and finally disappears.

With the sad and pessimistic feeling the blue candle also said, “I’m a love. But lately I often ask to myself, if love is still there? I feel people no longer look at me and think I’m useful. Today, the world is full with hatred. People hate each other. Love in human being is already fading. So I think there’s no point I am keep shining.” Soon, the light of blue candle goes off too.

There is one remaining candle that still shinning, the red candle and the room is getting darker. Suddenly, there is a little girl get into the room and she immediately fears because of the dark room. “Oh no… what is going on with you, candles? I am afraid of darkness. You must keep shine up and brighten this room!”  She begins to crying.

Then the fourth candle cried out, “Hey, dear little girl! Don’t be afraid! I am still here for you. As long I still there and light up, we can light on the other candles. I’m a candle of hope! Please take me and let’s light on the dead candles. Let’s light up this room so you will not be afraid again!”

The story of four candles above was told by mother when my father was in critical condition because of bad heart attack. She tried to strengthen me because I was a bit shock and down. This story gives us the message that what never dies in our heart is HOPE. Although Peace, Faith and Love are often dry, lost and dead in our lives, but Hope is still able to liven up many other important things in our lives.  My mom said, “Don’t ever despair because there is always hope as long we put our hope on the right place.”

My beloved readers, as human being who has weaknesses, I honestly say, I had a few moments losing my hope when I had to face how critical my father’s condition at that time. One of the team doctors said to me that the possibility to recover is only around 25%. It was so hard for me. I really wasn’t ready at all to lose my dad. Beside Father in Heaven, my father is everything to me. That’s why I said to the doctors to do anything for my father. If necessary, hired the best cardiac specialist in this world, I don’t care about the cost. My mother once again said, “Yes you could do anything for daddy! But, don’t forget one important thing, everything you do will be in vain if you not put hope on what you have to do”  My dear friends, to be honest, I feel slapped by my mom’s words. Then she excerpt one bible verse from 1 Corinthians 9,

… This is written that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. (1 Corinthians 9:10)

This verse has a meaning that we have do everything in hope. What my mom said was true. I can definitely do everything for my father’s healing, but it all will be useless if I don’t have a hope. Then my mom reaffirmed, “We must put great hopes on what we do. But please put our hope on the right place. Don’t put hope on the doctors and its medical equipment, but we must place our hope in God. Because it is written in the bible:

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. (Psalms 62:5)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

This letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, appointed by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus, who gives us hope. (1Timothy 1:1)

 These verses vividly show us where we should to put our hope in this life. There is only one in this world that can be our hope; He is God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is source of hope and through Jesus Christ He gives us hope.

My dad finally made it through a critical period after surgery. It can be happen not only because of the sophistication of medical technology today, also not just because of the greatness of the doctors to handle, but it all could be happen because God’s loving hand touched my father through the doctors and I was immediately back to the core, put my hope on God alone. Once we put our hope on God, then we will not disappointed because hope doesn’t disappoint and we will secure because there is hope and we will find the rest in God because our hope is come from God.

You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.(Job 11:18)

My dear friends, if this time any of us are in a dark room like a little girl in my mom’s story, we are afraid losing of someone we love like I was afraid losing my father, We are desperate because got a dead end for all the problems of our lives, this evening please allow me to let you know that there is always hope in our lives. There is always “A candle of hope” that could be able to brighten our dark lives. Immediately direct our view and mind to Jesus who gives us hope and as a Highest Priest. It’s our duty to keep up the candle still shining brightly. Let’s hold fast our hope in God without wavering as it says in Hebrew 10:23,

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Let’s do everything for the best but don’t put our hope to humans,

Don’t put your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. What good are they? (Isaiah 2:22)

 Put hope of what we do in the Lord Jesus Christ who already sitting at the right hand of the throne of God the Father in Heaven. Amen.

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:18)

Karina – Living by faith

The story is based on a “four candles” poem

Image by poetic of expression

It Is Finished

it-is-finished

Hello, my dear readers! I am so grateful to God could come back again to the blog after been awhile not active do blogging. My post this evening coincides with Good Friday and this post is revision of my old post titled “By His Wound We are Healed” I hope and pray this post could be a reflection for all us in Good Friday. Thank you and God bless.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”(Matthew 26:39)

Bible verse above is the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane before He arrested. We all know that is the beginning of the series of Jesus’ suffering. Jesus will experience so many terrible suffering in order to fulfill God’s will. Jesus was willing to commit all that just for us. Supposed we are the ones who receive it all, but it was Jesus who replace all our sins and redeem with His sacrifice. Why Jesus was willing to do all of this? There are three reasons. It all started from how much God’s love to us as He said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus loves us so much, and He knows very well how great the love of the Father for us, and for that He willing to undergo a series of terrible processes in order to fulfil the work of salvation according to the Father’s will  which is given to everyone. All is about love. Because of love, Jesus was willing to replace us and bore all of our sins. Love can move Father’s heart to deliver us from all sins. Jesus loves us so much, and He knows very well how great the love of the Father for us, and for that He willing to undergo a series of terrible processes in order to fulfil the work of salvation according to the Father’s will  which is given to everyone.

The second reason is Jesus strongly adheres to His Father will. Did Jesus know how horrible what should He pass? Yes of course. Even in His position as human, Jesus felt so scared and there was a desire to avoid the terrible thing that had to bear. We can see Jesus’ fear at that moment from his word: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” But because of His great obedience and love  Jesus willingly surrender all to the Father’s hand. At that time Jesus didn’t say: “Father, by Your power please deliver me from this terrible suffering” But Jesus said, “Yet not as I will, but as you will”

The third reason is all of what Jesus did and experienced in this world was a fulfilment. Was prophesied in the book of Isaiah,

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”(Isaiah 53:5-6)

Let us look some of Jesus’ fulfilment.  It is written in Isaiah 53:7: He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. What is written in that verse fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew 27:12-14: And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly. Another proof of the fulfilment of Jesus is when He cried out with loud voice at the cross: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Long time before this happened, it was written in Psalm 22:2:” O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent” That is all of Jesus’ fulfilment and all the fulfilment marked by His word before He died: “it is finished” (John 19:30) Yes, the fulfilments of God’s wish to save us from perish and move us into the eternal salvation. Jesus completed perfectly a remarkable work of salvation for all of us. The book of Hebrews said, and as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:27-28) One for all and forever. Just once Jesus was present in the world as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Later He will come a second time, but no longer to solve the problem of sin, because “it is finished” He did, but to pick us up, those who have obeyed and faithfully loved Him And appreciate what He has done by remaining holy without blemish.

My dear friends, this evening, let’s we take a special time to give thanks and heartfelt gratitude for all the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for all of us. Today if we can go to the pure and holy throne of God without fear, if we could hear his voice and feel His presence this time, all of it is the fruit of Christ’s redemptive work. When people give a special gift to us, it means that people love and care for us.  It is same as our Lord. He gives us very, very special gift. That is the greatest gift; there is no greater love than this. Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away our sins. Jesus has completed a series of Father’s will with thoroughly and perfect, so we were supposed to perish now been granted of the eternal salvation. And then make sure to avoid all of Christ’s sacrifice be in vain upon us. Living in Divine truth, be faithful to Him and manifest His love significantly with proclaim god’s love to others. Amen.

Karina Lam,Living by faith.

Facing the GIANT

When I was on vacation in Japan, I took time to watch a Japanese wrestling sport, Sumo; I watched something interesting and become an idea of this article.  At the one session, there was an entertainment session that performs a real sumo wrestler against a little boy. It was so funny saw their body size that totally incomparable. “A little boy facing the giant” said my husband laughingly. I saw that little boy was trying hard to push 382 pound weight the sumo wrestler and finally the real wrestler falls and lifted his two hand up as a sign he give up and lose.

What I saw an impossible thing yet very funny and entertaining. But, in other side it was made me thinking. I am thinking about our lives. In our daily lives, we often like that little boy. We often are facing “The Giant”. Not the real giant but one thing that couldn’t be separated from every aspect of our lives. “Problem” There’s time we face a big problem as though we face a giant and we are like the little boy that too small compared with the sumo wrestler. Often time we aren’t just facing one problem but we have to face a huge of problems that come at the same time and seem impossible to overcome. Even worse, in my personal experience the problems seemed compete who the first that successfully beat me.

How big our strength and durability facing the “Giants”?  The answer will be different for each people. Mental factors, conviction, fortitude, experience, and many other factors will greatly affect. And of course there’s another important factor that gives big effect, which is our faith!  My beloved readers, this time I would love to take all of us to explore some Bible stories that could be a lesson for all of us in facing “the giant”

When we talk about facing the giant, I’m very sure we will reminded about the story of David against Goliath. David, a very young shepherd was facing a six cubits champion complete with bronze helmet, bronze greaves on his legs; a bronze javelin slung on his back, armed by spear with six hundred weighed on its iron point. We all also know the ending of this story. David won against Goliath only by a sling and one stone. There are two interesting point could be a lesson for us when we are facing “the giant” Let’s take a look at verse 37 of 1 Samuel 17. David said to Saul: “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Well, you know, this’s about David’s intense belief to God. He strongly believes if God has rescued him from the beast, God will also save him from Goliath.  Now let’s go to the verse 45. David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied”  It’s about relying on God. I’m pretty sure at the time David, with his background as a shepherd, aware of their ability to fight. He also totally realized Goliath wasn’t a balanced opponent. But David didn’t afraid at all because he was in God’s protection and didn’t rely on his own strength but he totally relies on the Lord almighty.

My dear friends, let’s take a look to the other story.  Let’s have a look when the Israelites were wedged between Pharaoh’s pursuits and the Red sea. At the time, Moses said to the people of Israel: “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever” (Exodus 14:13) There are three main keys should be done by the Israelites. First don’t be afraid.  The second is stand still, and the last is keep focus on God’s salvation. We all know what happened next, the Red Sea was divided, and the Israelites went into the dry ground. Not stop there, Through Moses God also overthrew the Egyptians into the midst of the sea and the water covered them! Not one of them survived! (Exodus 14: 26-28)

Now, I will take all of us to look the last story. Let’s have a look to the story of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20.  Jehoshaphat feared when he knew that a vast army of Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites will come against him from Edom. It wasn’t an easy situation. Because the power of Jehoshaphat and his people wasn’t enough to face the great multitude But Jehoshaphat made a right decision. He seeks God! He knows to whom he rely on. Then finally God said to him: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20: 15) And God also said in the verse 17: “…stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” The end of the story is Jehoshaphat and his people rejoice over the enemies.

Now let’s go back to our lives. Like it or not, there are times our lives will be facing “the giants”, there are times we even absolutely cannot shy away from them. Our lives will never be free from “the giant” named problems and they could come together at the same time so make us besieged and difficult to find the way out. Maybe this time there is among us who are facing “The Giants” where we are wedged between them. There’s no way out. We couldn’t go forward or even backward. We looked very small and helpless among the giants who ready to destroy us. This evening please allow me to encourage all of us to ponder and learn the stories above. If God has won David against Goliath, He will surely win us from every “Giant” we face off. If God has helped Moses and Jehoshaphat, He absolutely will help us to overcome every our problems. God told to us to not be afraid. Why we don’t have to be afraid? For God said to us:

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

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)

Yes we don’t have to be afraid because He goes with us together with His angel that will go ahead of us.

My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. (Exodus 23:23)

For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. (Psalms 91:11)

We also have to remember that God always with us in every situation as He said:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.  For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; (Isaiah 43:2-3)

My dear friends, God have promised that will never leave us; He will help us, and strengthen us. What we need to do is don’t ever be afraid and strongly believe that God will always fulfill his promises. He said:

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” (Mark 5:36)

We also must listen His word and do all that He say,

If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. (Exodus 23:22)

My beloved friends, we may not know what kind of “giant” that we must face. We may not know how strong the problems that will attack us. But once again I encourage all of us to always believe, stand still, don’t be afraid, and don’t give up. We are not alone. We have God who always with us.

“… I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

If the little boy actually impossible to take down the wrestler, it doesn’t applies to us. Jesus said to us that, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) as long we aren’t rely on our own strength but rely on God’s strength because He is our strength and shield (Psalm 28:7) Keep seek God, living in the Lord almighty, really love Him wholeheartedly, let His Holy Spirit anoint us, live in Holiness, and finally we can say:

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

And confidently we can say:

If God is for us, who can be against us?”(Romans 8:31) Amen.

Karina – Living by faith

Image source: gigaom.com