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A Letter from Mother

Hello, my dear friend! In this mother’s day I wanted to share something that changed my life. Well, when I was a teenager I had a little problem with my mother. We had a less harmonious relationship. After celebrating my 17th birthday, she came to my room brought a small box of gift and a letter. At the time she said, “Here’s a special birthday gift from me and this is a letter that I have written quite long time. I just waiting for the right moment to give this letter to you. My princess, I realize we have a bit problem with our relationship but I as your mother, I deeply understand and always struggling to make our relationship better. I hope and pray, when you read this letter you will understand too and also want to make a better relationship with me.”

At first I wasn’t interested in reading my mother’s letter, but somehow I felt there was a very strong urge to open and read the letter. Then I read it. My dear friends, after I finished read my mom’s letter, I cannot hold my cry. Then I ran to my mom, I hugged her tightly, and along with my crying I said, “Mom, please forgive me…Please forgive me… I love you, mom! I love you…”

My beloved readers, after my mother granted me a permission, I want to share her letter to all of you. I hope and pray this letter could be a reminder to all of us that figure of mother is incredible figure in this world. There’s always unseen tears in the mother’s heart, there’s a pain behind her smile, and there’s fatigue behind her eyes. But she never complained. She chose to hide her sadness behind her sweet smile, she chose hide her tears behind her shining eyes, she chose to hide her pain behind her laugh, she chose bring her hurt into prayer. Here’s my mom letter,

To my little princess,

When I was married, I never thought about what kind of child I want to have, I never thought how to care for and the way I raise my child. I just live my life.

When I gave birth you, I was experiencing a terrible pain that equal with the broken body bones at the same time. I felt a pain beyond the pain that any man in this world can bear. I almost give up! But for the sake of to see you born and live in this world, I struggled against the threat of fear of the death. I risked my own life for you.

When I saw and hugged you for the first time, I was speechless. There was only a deep sense of emotion, and unstoppable happy tears and proud came out from my eyes. You know, at the time no matter how hard and difficult, I immediately promised to myself and to God I will take care and raise you with both of my hands.

It wasn’t easy to raise you. It wasn’t so easy to made you grows. It wasn’t a simple matter teaches you many important things about life. Not infrequently when you were angry at me, you even yelled at me. But it doesn’t matter at all. For me, it all was a part of process toward a goodness. A process to form you to be good.

When you felt grown up, you felt restricted. You should not do this and that. You think I’m old-fashioned, out of date, and unable to understand what you want. When we were walking together, you choose to keep distance from me. Maybe you as grow up girl, you felt ashamed still walking with her mother, or you just didn’t like my dress that I wore

To be honest, in the deepest of my heart I sometime felt hurt! But when I remember the first time I hugged and carried you, my hurt immediately vanished. You are still my one and only daughter. Whatever happens I love you and will always love you. You’re my reason to keep survive, and beside God you’re the source of my strength. You’re the one who makes me willing to work hard all day long even though I have to feel sorrow, pain, and suffering. Because of your presence I feel so meaningful especially when I hear you call me, mother!

My dear princess, maybe the time of my presence in this world is limited. If you work hard and success, you don’t need to give me a luxurious palace and an abundant wealth. Keep it for yourself. I just hope and pray you’re willing to set aside a bit your time for me. Sitting beside me and talks heart to heat is enough for me.

I’m so proud of you. Please forgive me if I once hurt you, scolded you, forbade you to do what you want to do. Believe me, it’s all just because I want you to be a good girl and fear to God. I always love you, yesterday, now and forever.

My beloved readers, I end this post with a poem for my mother

God has given me a disguise Angel with a strong wings and a gold heart,

She so selfless, so giving as she can be, she shares her mercy without thinking about herself

She risked her own life for the sake of my safety

She is so faithful, wise, and so kind.

She gives a never ending love and unstoppable prayer for a reason I always fine

God has given me a blessing a tremendous hero all the time,

And I am so proud call the angel, Mother!

Happy mother’s day, Mom. Please forgive me. I always love you, yesterday, now, and forever.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Though she may forget, I will not forget you! (Isaiah 49:15)

Karina – Living by faith

Rebecca Fong.

Image source: Google images

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May I Pray for You?

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

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

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

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

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

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karina – Living by Faith

Image source:thoughtco.com

You In The Eyes of God

 

At my parents’ new house in Paris, they used one room of the house as their private library. When I was helping them put the books on the shelf, I saw a small diary that written by hand writing “You in the Eyes of God” and there is my mom’s signature under the right corner on its cover. Don’t know why, I was tempted to saw the content of the diary. After I got permission from my mom to read her diary, at first I thought it was just a random thought of my mom but the more I read I became aware that the writing wasn’t just a random thought but rather to contemplation and it made my heart touched. My dear friend, this evening I love to share what my mom wrote about. Here it is…

You in the eyes of God

If Jacob saw Joseph as a good child,

If in the eyes of his ten brothers, Joseph was a useless dreamer

 If in the eyes of Midianite traders looked Joseph as a slave

If Potiphar saw Joseph as wise man, and as a lover in the eyes of Potiphar’s wife

In the eyes of God Joseph was an Egypt young king candidate.

 People could look you with the different point of view and assessment. So it is with God. God has His own way to see you through His eyes. God said,

For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

When you are disparaged by people around you, don’t be discouraged, don’t be disappointed, and don’t be sad, because God has His own way and reason how He sees and judges you. Only God knows who you really are.

If God wants and wills,

 An office boy in your office could be a CEO in your own company.

God could make nothing to be something, impossible to be possible

And,

He doesn’t care about your age. God blessed Abraham in his very old age.

He doesn’t care about your ability. God chose Moses as Leader of Israelites

He doesn’t care about your experience, He chose David a young shepherd as a King of Israel

He doesn’t care about the gender, He chose an orphan, Esther, as a queen

He doesn’t care about someone who have dark past, Paul had dark past but God chose him.

God doesn’t care about one’s social status. God choose a hated person, corruptor, traitor of the Nation, and sinner. God was choosing Zacchaeus’ house to stay.

How people look you, it doesn’t matter. How God looks you, it does matter.

In the eyes of God,

You are Father’s child

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)

You are the precious and Honor in the God’s sight, and loved by God.

Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you… (Isaiah 43:4)

You were redeemed by God, belongs to God

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)

 You are protected by God

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)

The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. (Psalm 121:5)

You are no longer a servant, but God’s friend.

 I no longer call you servants; Instead, I have called you friends. (John 15:15)

You are set by God

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.  Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

God has wonderful plan for you

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)

You are who will always get the fulfillment of God’s promise

…not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. (Joshua 23:14)

You are who always get God’s help in the midst of the hard times

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)

You are who always receive every of your prayers in the Name of God

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22)

You were chosen by God with a special task. Bear fruit!

… But I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit (John 15:16)

After I read my mother’s writing I hug her and said, “Mom, thank you for this important reminder” then she said, “Finally you read it now.  Please always keep it in your heart and mind. When people degrade you, doubt your ability, or even maybe assume that you’re nothing, please remember that in the eyes of God you are so special because God created us in a special way. God ended His work with a “personal touch” God formed us from the dust of the earth and gave us live by breathing His own breath. And remember this; we also created in His likeness so we may rule over the other creatures. But don’t ever underestimate people around you for you don’t ever know what God’s plan to those around you. Be good always, my dear princess”

My Dear readers, not only for me, I hope and pray this post could be a reminder and strengthening for all of us. In the eyes of God we’re special. People might don’t like us, maybe we’re worthless in the eyes of human, but in God we’re precious, honored, and loved. Amen

Karina – Living by faith

“You in the Eyes of God” by Rebecca Fong

Image source: Google Images.

 

MAN PLANS GOD DECIDES

 “Let me think and learn this project” That’s my answer or response every time my company’s directors deliver a new business project. Then they’ll ask when they could get the fix decision and my answer was: “Could be tomorrow, next week, next month, or  maybe you’ll not get any decision from me” Often time my answer made them a bit upset because they expect me to approve their business plan very soon. Usually they’ll do anything they can to convince me that the project will be running successfully if executed soon.  My secretary once asked me why I always took a quite long time and seems too slow to make a decision and my answer was, “Beside I’ve to think and learn carefully about all details of the project, I’ve to take it into our prayer. I’ve to involve God in every decision I made” My other business colleague even extremely said, “Karin, I know you’re a good Christian business woman! But come on, this isn’t about spiritual matter! This’s about the big business opportunity that can give a big profit to the company and I do believe your parents would be definitely agreed with this project. Don’t let this opportunity be taken by others just because we are too much consideration and you aren’t considering business technical but you rather to the emotional consideration.”  I just smile and stick to my stance. I will take it into my prayer first. I don’t care people judge me too religious or godly. I have to do what I have supposed to do.

My beloved friends, why do I so insist like that? Well, I always remember one of my mother’s advices in doing business. She said, “You may have brilliant business idea, you may have very good business plan and strategy, but God decides your plans will work or not. Therefore, please involve God in every plan you make, involving God doesn’t mean we force Him to make our plans work successfully but trust and submit all the plans and everything you will do. Take it into your prayer!” Beside my mom’s advice, I also learn from one of my father’s friend experience. He’s Christians. I called him Uncle Joe. In all of his life, he has repeatedly failed in business. Actually he had brilliant business idea; he had very good and detailed planning, he also had good business estimation by involving consideration of various aspects. Unfortunately when executed, he failed and bears big loss. He actually should be a successful entrepreneur. Then he tried to find out what’s the cause of his failures by consulting to a pastor and He finally got a simple but important advice, “Don’t keep on building a blueprint that are different with God’s plan and you may forget to involve God in every of your plan.”

My dear readers, in this life, there’re always plans that we make and we certainly want those plans work well. My post this time talks about our plan and God’s plan and I choose one verse from Proverbs 16:3,

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans”

This verse is God’s command and promise. The meaning of this verse is very clear; if we want our plan work well we’ve to submit wholly what we plan and what we want to do. Not just submit but trust it all to God. This’s a simple to be understood but isn’t easy to do because once we totally trust and commit to God, we’re no longer commit to our ego, personal desire, and other motivations. What does it mean? I give a simple example, when I come to my parents with a new business proposal,  I cannot hold on my own ego because not all of my ideas will be accepted and at that time I must be ready and willing to sacrifice some of my ideas so that my proposal will be accepted and could be implemented. Because I’m totally submit my plan to my parents and I also completely believe in them, then I couldn’t  longer argue with them in order to stick up my opinion in the hope that they approve my proposal. Often my parents sharply criticize my ideas, they ask me to make big revisions and adjustment, or even if my plans and ideas not align with their main business concept they will hardly reject all of my ideas.  Like that anyway if we totally commit all of what we do to God. We must be ready to be rebuked, shaped, and advised, ready to be taught, or even rejected by God. We must be ready for a process and sometime the process could be uncomfortable, or even painful. We must be willing to accept if we’ve to make a big adjustment and if there will be an even bigger change of what we’ve designed and prepared. In this case, the strength of our faith plays an important role. How big our faith to totally trust that God will establish our plan.

I do believe that now among of us there must be someone who has a special plan.  We may have a new business plan, a plan for find a better job, a plan to buy a new house, or another big plan in our lives, and I also strongly believe that we want all of our plans will running well and succeed as we expect. Right now please allow me to ask something. Have we submit and entrust all of our plans to God as advised in that verse above? Have we always involved God in every of our plans and work? If not, let’s start now.  Let’s totally submit everything we do to God and really trust that God (with His way) will make us success. If we already submit and trust to God, Praise the Lord! That’s good. It means we already did God’s command. Then, what? That’s all? No, my beloved readers! Actually beside verse 3 in Proverbs 16 there are some verses we must really understand and obey if we want everything we have planned succeed. Let’s take a look…

 To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue (Verse 1). We have to really know and realize that God is the one who give us ability to carry out our plans. It means it’s useless if we’re only having ability to make a good plan if God doesn’t give us ability to execute it. We need God because all of our ability is from God alone.  Furthermore, God is “The ultimate decision maker” We may make a very good plans but God decides! God has full authority of our plans. He has authority to decide our plan will be work well or not.

All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord (Verse 2) in everyday life, we often judge ourselves to be always right. We always assume that what we’re doing is always true but who judge us true or wrong is God because only God who really know the inside of our hearts and minds. My father said, “Don’t ever make plans as if from the outside looks good and right but the fact you have bad and wrong motif and also have bad purpose behind of your plans. If you like that, don’t ever expect your plans will be success. God really knows what’s in our heart and mind.”

The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished (Verse 5) , if we’ve a great plans and brilliant ideas please remember that we could be like that just because God gives us intellectuality, intelligence, and thinking ability. And if our plan is successfully implemented, please remember that it’s not solely because of our abilities but there is God’s intervention that decides the success of our plan. So don’t be arrogant! Not just our plans and ideas will be failed but we will be punished. God doesn’t like pride or arrogance. “…I hate pride and arrogance…”  (Proverbs 8:13)

… Through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided. (Verse 6b) My dear friends, everything we do must be based on fear to God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” (Proverbs 1:7) Everything we plan and what we have to do must be done with attitude fear to God. Fear to God is a foundation and reason for us not to do anything that doesn’t please God and we will be avoided from the evil things that want to mess our plan up.

 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps (Verse 9) No matter how well our plans, no matter how great our strategy to execute our plan, we still have to remember that God establishes the steps, sometime  God even direct our step into the place that  we really don’t like and expect. But we’ve to know and understand God will not take us to the place that could harm us.

My beloved readers, it’s true we need to work hard seriously and earnestly, we need to make and do our planning for all the work we want to build, but don’t forget that all success is depends on God. Not solely on our own effort. Once again please remember that we make plans, God decides! We’ve to do our best, we’ve to make good plans, but the first thing we’ve to make sure is to roll our plans and works upon Him. This evening please allow me to encourage all of us to reflect some verses from Proverbs 16 and use it all as a foothold when we want to make plans or work out our plans. Let us continue to involve God at every step of our lives including in making plans and doing all our work. Submit and trust whatever we do then God will establish our plans and if our plans doesn’t work as we expect, it means God has another plan for us! Just completely trust to the His perfect plan as he promises 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) and don’t ever try to reject, change, and stop His plan because nothing can stop God’s plan (Isaiah 14:27) Amen!

Karina – Living by faith

Image source: Shutterstock.com

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

 

 

 

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