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Smyrna, The suffering Church

 

SMYRNA, THE SUFFERING CHURCH - Karina's Thought

To be followers of Christ then our lives completely secure, free of problems, enjoy life without any obstacles at all. Have a life with abundance blessings, and live in prosperity.  I thought this is a misconception about following Christ and sadly, this concept is currently held by many people and becoming a benchmark when they decided to follow Christ.  Personally, I know a businessman who suddenly decided accept Christ in order to save his business that is threatened with bankruptcy. Today, there are many wrong purposes in following Christ. They only think about blessings, help, and miracles from God. Actually, we all know that being a Christ follower doesn’t mean that we will be hundreds percent have a safe life, trouble-free, and without any obstacles.  In fact, when we become a Christ’s follower, we will face so many trials and our faith will be tested.  It is so easy we says, “God is so good” when our lives is free of problems and there is no obstacles and pressure at all. But the question is, have we remain easily say, “Good is so good” when we have so many life pressure and in a very hard situation? Can we remain being faithful and obedient even though our lives in unpleasant condition? These are questions which the answer will indicate how far we love and believe in Him.

My brother and sister in Christ, this evening I would like to take all of us to learn from one of seven churches that received the message from God in the book of Revelation 2. Let’s take a look to the church in Smyrna. Smyrna was a seaport city about 40 miles north of Ephesus. It has been described as the most beautiful of the seven cities. Today it is called Izmir, Turkey. Scripture does not give us any information concerning the founding of this church, nor is it mentioned in the book of Acts. Presumably, this church was founded during Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. Smyrna is the Greek word for myrrh, a flagrant perfume used in burial. Many believe that this church represents the martyrs of all the ages and the sweet-smelling fragrance of their faithfulness until death. There was no rebuke for this church and because they were faithful until death. Why the church in Smyrna mentioned as the martyrs of all the ages and sweet-smelling fragrance of their Faithfulness? Actually, the life of the church in Smyrna was contrary to the conditions the city of Smyrna itself. The church of Smyrna was the suffering church. How suffered they are? Let’s have a look together.

I know your afflictions and your poverty… (Revelation 2: 9 NIV)

The church of Smyrna suffered because of the pressure of the Roman government, at the time, made it mandatory that all citizens should worship the emperor or they will facing the death. They must burn incense and acknowledges that the emperor is God. Here lies the root of the problem. The church in Smyrna refused to do all that and they considered as unpatriotic traitors. Then the affliction begins. Many of them were boiled alive, many others were roasted alive, some crucified, or the Roman authorities took them to the coliseum and fed to the angry and hungry lions.

The church in Smyrna lived in poverty. Based on some of the commentary on the book of Revelation I have read, they were not only poor but they absolute poor. They were absolutely didn’t have anything.  They cannot live their lives normally. They hated, boycotted, people didn’t want to make a trading with them just because they were Christians. They cannot develop their work; there was no way to make a living, and worse it seems the all city dwellers trying to make them starve.

The affliction does not stop there, there is another one. The church in Smyrna was slandered.

I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2: 9b NIV)

The Jews was making false allegations and reported it to the government. They slandered that the Christians make a practice of cannibalism, immorality, considered atheists, people instigator, and a family crusher.

Another affliction is the church in Smyrna had long suffering.

…I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days… (Revelation 2:10 NIV)

Verse 9 talking about the suffering that has been experienced by the church in Smyrna, but the verse 10 speaks of the suffering that are still will experienced by them. There are many Bible commentators assume that “ten days” refers 10 period of time of suffering for the God’s church that will be experienced during the reign of ten anti-Christ Roman emperors.  And it was true; history noted that there were around five millions Christian dies as a martyr during ten period of Roman emperor.

What lessons that we can take from the church in Smyrna?  After I study deeper this passage, I thought there are two important things we can learn. Being fearless and be faithful. God gives two instructions to handle their suffering.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer… Be faithful, until death(Revelation 2: 10 NASB)

Do not be afraid and be faithful! God said these with His omnipotence and omnipresence (These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. Verse 8) and His omniscience (I know your afflictions and your poverty. Verse 9) and the church in Smyrna chose to be fearless and be faithful. They are not afraid to die to defend their faith in Christ. Polycarp, a pastor in Smyrna offered freedom by governor if he willing to deny The Christ. But He said: “for 86 years I have served Him and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my king and my savior?” Before Polycarp was burned, he prays, “Oh Lord, almighty God, I thank you for counting me worthy of sharing the cup of Christ among the number of your martyrs”. The church at Smyrna knows He is the Word that is the first and the last. What this means is that He is God who fought in the entire history of this world and have full authority over what happens. They also realized and understand in their suffering God always be with them and even will strengthen them. Suffering because of their faithfulness is not due God forgetting to help them but rather God is present in their lives.

My dear friends, what about us today? What season of life are we in today? Maybe we are in a season that everything is going great and we just love life. Things are running smoothly. We are so in love with the Lord. Every day there is just a wonderful surprise and we are just in a great season of life. But I going to tell one thing that God never promises us as a believer that life is going to always be fun. He never promises us that life is just going to be great. As a matter of fact, He promises us that if we are a believer, we will face suffering and you will have some persecution in our life.

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)

Jesus Himself reminded:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24 NIV)

This evening,  allow me to encourage all of us to learn from the church in Smyrna. We may be hated by the world, received unfair treatment, insulted, slandered, and so on, but it should not make us turn away from God. Jesus had reminded this thing. He said:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:18-19 NIV)

Let’s emulate the church in Smyrna to remain faithful, never give up, and keep stand firm in their faith despite the torment and suffering continue come upon them. And eventually, they got great rewards. There are two rewards from God. The first is “The Crown of life”

…and I will give you the crown of life. ( Revelation 2 : 10 NASB)

The second reward is, “The Eternal life”

He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2 : 11 NASB)

As a believer, we do have eternal life and He is saying we may suffer the first death, we may die physically, but spiritually we will never die again.

If today we facing so many severe pressures, problems, treated unfair, and any form of inconveniences, Please remember God said:  

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12 NIV)

Do not grumble when there is a problem, do not despair and give up. There is a crown of life and eternal life that God provides to all of us who remained faithful to God in all circumstances. Just as the church in Smyrna, let us prove the strength of our faith in Christ through fortitude, obedience and faithfulness whatever our situation. Amen

Karina – Living by faith

Supporting material resources:

Clarke, Adam. Commentary on Revelation, studylight.org

Keeth, Janane. Rekindle the Fire (Revelation 2-3), bible.org

The Pulpit commentaries, revelation 2, studylight.org

Related post:

https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/daily-devotion-july-21-2015

http://tworiversblog.com/2015/12/10/smyrna-i-know/

 

 

Image credit:  The Church in Smyrna. padfield.com

He Will Carry You

HE WILL CARRY YOU-Karina's Thought

 

In the morning, thousand years ago, stood two men who are physically and power was completely not comparable. The one had six cubits and a span height. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore five thousand shekels bonze coat of scale armor. He also wore bronze greaves on his legs, and a bronze javelin with six hundred shekels weight on its iron point was slung on his back. While the other one, a young man without any body armor and just armed with a sling. It seems a pretty unbalanced fight will be happen. Logically, we all certainly know who the winner of the fight is. But we also know very well who finally the winner becomes. Yes! The young man was the winner.  This is a very famous story about young man named David and a giant named Goliath.

Why I begin this post with the story of David and Goliath? In these past weeks I really had a hard time. I had many big problems in the office. One problem hasn’t resolved, the other problem already waiting. Knowing that I have many hard problems, my husband tried to encourage me by read again the Bible passage about David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.  He said, “This story doesn’t resolve our problems, but there’s a relation between this stories with us today and we can learn from it. Let’s change the figure of the giant with the problems that pressing us today and place ourselves as a young David. Why did David successfully defeat a giant simply by using a stone and sling?”

My beloved readers, Yes! Through this story we can through learn through David how to facing “the giant” which mean our big problems.

Not focus on the problems but to God

When the Israelites faced the Philistines, they were dismayed and terrified because they only looked to the problems and it weakens their mental. But wasn’t to David. A young David not focused to the big problems but he rather focused on who should to rely and who will be with him. Let’s see David’s reaction when heard the Philistines’ threats and intimidation:

David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God? (Verse 26)

How David can say like that?  Because he not constantly focusing to the magnitude of the problem but rather focusing to the living God who be with him. Our minds tend to work like a magnifying glass. The more we focus on our problems, it will look bigger and bigger in our minds and it will not change anything and we can even completely immersed in it. How big our problems today? Is it greater than God’s power so that God no longer be able to help us? Of course not! There’s no problem too big God cannot solve it. If we always focus to God we will not intimidated by the problems but we could remain calm facing and overcome our big problems. God said,

“In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength…”

(Isaiah 30:15 NIV)

Do not lose heart

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” (Verse 32)

Let’s examine how David can be so confident against Goliath and compare it with the Israel army that in fact highly trained and experienced. Isn’t it feels very strange a young man who everyday just herding cattle his father but boldly advised the king of Israel and his troops? David emboldened for he knew exactly who was behind him. David knew that if God is with him, he didn’t need to fear and lose heart to anything. Instead, David took an advantage from Goliath who had giant body. Goliath’s body will become an easy target. This is an attitude of an abundant faith that can give superb results. Why we could be losing heart? Just because our point of view merely focuses on the magnitude of the problems so we forget that God always be with us.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

Learn from the experience

I’m wondering why David technically can be so convinced and courageous to face Goliath. By only looking at the completeness of the arms, very obvious that David wasn’t comparable against Goliath and Saul actually doubted his ability. (Verse 33) But let’s look at the following verses:

But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 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.”(Verse 34-37)

Yes, David could be bravely and confident because He learns for his experience as a shepherd. Through his own experience he has been felt how God protect him if there was the beast wanted to attack his sheep. When facing the problems David immediately opened his life journey book, recalling his experiences when felt The God’s power and care. For David, Goliath is nothing more than a lion that has been conquered with the Lord. If God is able to make David be able to beat the beast, why should he afraid to face Goliath?

In the book of Psalm 46:1 (AMP) says that: God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble. The word of well-proved was stating something that has happened. The Psalmist knows that his life filled with so many proofs how the God’s power can help us in distress, how God is able to be a refuge and strength as a solution or an answer of every of our problems. If thousand years ago God can help David against Goliath, as well as today, God also still can help us to defeat our big problems.  God is never changes.

“For I am the Lord, I do not change…” (Malachi 3:6 NKJV)

As well as with Jesus, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 NIV) Each of us certainly been faced a very severe problem, and we also must have experienced how marvelous God help us solve our problems. If today we again confronted by so many severe problems, don’t be afraid and discouraged because God will remain help us again. Please remember He will never change.

Nothing shall be impossible with God

In the previous post I had discussed and learned that nothing shall be impossible with God through the story of the Israelites against the Moab. Here, through the story of David and Goliath, once again we can see another proof that there’s nothing impossible with God. Because David wasn’t used wearing and using the arms, he said to Saul: “I cannot go in these, because I am not used to them. “ Then he chose a sling and stones. (Verse 38-40) David realized that he wasn’t familiar and untrained using the arms. He will go against Goliath who wore the complete war equipment only with a sling and a stone. Something extremely impossible, isn’t it? But David realized that it wasn’t about the arms but it was about the God hand will work through the simple arms that he uses. He truly believes that as long as God be with, there’s nothing impossible with God. David also believes that a sling and stones in God’s hand can be a potent weapon to defeat Goliath. And it was proved. This was another example attitude of an abundant faith from David.

As I said in my previous post, when we facing very big problems we tend to think that our problems are impossible to be resolved. We tend to only focus on our problems with our limited logic and mind. We forget that there is God who in control all of our lives. Today, once again we can learn through this story that there’s nothing impossible with God. David triumphed over Goliath with a sling and a stone. Without a sword in his hand he struck down Goliath and killed him. This was a proof that nothing shall be impossible with God.

My beloved readers, is there any among us today are being confronted with a “Giant” problems and our shoulder burdened by very hard problems? We become afraid and lose heart, think that we couldn’t handle it, and it seems impossible to be resolved? This evening, allow me to encourage all of us to learn from David to face our problems. David said:

“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. (Verse 45)

Let us learn to bravely say the same thing to the problems that intimidate us. Problem may come attack us with the complete arms but we are ready to face it in the name of the Lord. We may not have a complete arms but we have God’s power that more powerful than any kind of arms.  The “giant” problems may come to us, the storm of problems probably trying to hit us, but we have to know that there’s no one problem bigger than God. He will carry the weight of our problems upon His shoulders. And if because of the problems we become weary and burdened, God said:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

I will end this post with a song that I always hear when I face so many big problems. This song truly could strengthen, bring me comfort, rest, and remind me that there’s no problem too big God cannot solve it. “He Will Carry You” Amen.

I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4 NIV)

Karina – Living by faith

Photo credit: vinnie1982.deviantart.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a Friend We Have In Jesus

WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS -Karina's Thought

 

My post this time was inspired by a hymn song that I heard when I on my way from the church to my home this morning.  “What a friend we have in Jesus” A beautiful well-known hymn song composed by Joseph M. Scriven. Do you have many friends? I am very sure yes you have so many friends. So do I. I have so many friends, even friends from different country. I love make a friendship with everyone.  Friends could make my life more colorful, cheerful, and excited. But the question is how many true friend we have? I am pretty sure we don’t have much.  When I was teen my mother once said that, “It is so easy to find friends, but isn’t easy to find and have a true friends.  There is a difference between ordinary friends with true friends. An ordinary friend could easily come and go but the true friend is someone who always is there in any of our condition. The true friend is someone who could give us encouragement and motivation when we are weak. Could make us feel safe because we know that we are not alone, could be a good listener, strengthen, help, and comfort us when we are in grief. With a best friend we can laugh together, cry, arguing, even quarrelling, but will not leaving each other.”

“What a friend we have in Jesus” remind us that even though we have very best friend, there is a friend above of all. Jesus is an extraordinary true friend that we can find. We may have a very best friend but they are still human being who has weakness. There is a time they could disappoint us but not with The Lord Jesus. He will never disappoint us.  Jesus longs to be our true friend and He himself reached out His hand offers a true friendship with us. If to build a true friendship with humans already provide a lot of advantages and benefits, much less if the friendship that intertwined between us and Jesus. He said:

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.

(John 15:15a NIV)

When I ponder this verse, I felt that I have a very big privilege. “I no longer call you servant” This is the first big privilege. Jesus not places us under Him. Jesus didn’t make a boundary between servant and master. He places us align with Him and made us a His friend. What are other privileges that we can get through making a friendship with Jesus? Let’s have a look together.

Love

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (Proverb 17:17 NIV)

The Jesus’ love is always shed for us, whatever our condition, because He remains faithful. Jesus understands what became our struggle because He had suffered on this earth and bear all the sins of mankind sins. Jesus is always there for us, although as though He feels away, He is always there in our hearts. And He always listen our complaint and prayers. Anytime we want to confide, He always await us.

Sacrifice

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13 NIV)

Jesus’ sacrifice cannot be doubted. His greatest love has been proven by His death on the cross. He willingly laid down His life to redeem all of our sins. Jesus is a true friend who really loves. We may have best friends but we may not have best friends who willing to sacrifice their lives for our sins. His redemptive work is cleans every sins that we confess before Him. His blood cleanses us and brings up to standard to be able to come into His presence with courage (Hebrews 10:19 NIV)

Closeness

… But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24b NIV)

When Job experience of suffering, all the family and friends left him, and even forget him. But there is one person who never left and forgotten Job, He is the Father in heaven. In our daily lives maybe we once experienced that our brethren left us in misery and at the time a companion even accompany us faithfully. So it is with Jesus. He will never leave and forget us. He always closes to us.

Receptiveness

 I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15b NIV)

 Friendships very close with receptiveness. There is no secret story to a true friend. Likewise, Jesus will reveal all the secrets of heaven to us His people. We shall know God’s heart, His messages, advises, and His reprimand because Jesus himself who will tell us. His extraordinary grace will be poured out for us, when we build a friendship with Jesus. He will guide us and show His bright ways to our lives. He will provide the way out for every of our problems.

Trust

And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. (James 2:23 NIV)

Friendship contains a bond of trust. When we believe in Jesus, we become His friend and we become people who can be trusted by Him. Trust will lead to the provision of greater responsibility. We see that the Lord gives a remarkable promise to Abraham, and the promise was fulfilled.

Is it difficult to be Jesus’ friend?  Let’s see what the Bible say to answer this question. First, have a look to this verse:

The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant. (Psalm 25:14 NLT)

Fear Him. This first condition that He wants from us to become His friend. What is next?

You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:14 NIV)

What kind of God’s command that we should to do? Let’s have a look at verse 12:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

We will get privilege as Jesus’ friend we love each other as He loves us. Then, what other thing we have to do?

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

(James 4:4 NIV)

This verse clearly says that if we are friends with the world, we will become the enemy of God. This means that we should not be double-minded. We must choose to love God and to be His friend or loved the world and death as the consequences. (Romans 8:6-7 NIV)

I strongly believe that we all want and longing to make Jesus as a true friend and actually it is not difficult to be that way. It all is only depends on us. Whether we want to do all what is commanded by Him? Whether in our daily lives we have already fear Him? Have we loved each other as He loves us? Whether we are still friends of the world and love the worldliness things?

There was an inspiring story about friendship. There were two boys named Zac and Vincent. They were friends. When Zac was 6, he had the acute lymphoblastic leukemia and should take chemotherapy. Vincent as Zac’s best friend realized that the medical treatment for Zac was costly. Then he took the initiative to raise funds to help Zac’s medical treatment. He sold 20 scarves and was able to donate $200 to Zac’s family.  Vincent did not stop there, his sense of friendship also shown by coming to school with a shaved head. He said he did not want Zac feel weird having to bald alone, so he too shave his head.

If we make comparison between Vincent in that story with Jesus, Both of them did something for their friend. But Jesus not shaves His hair for us. Jesus did something greater and important than shaving hair. He willing to suffer endured terrible pain because tortured for many hours. He let His body covered in blood beaten and caned, and in His powerlessness He still had bear the cross. His Head wounded punctured with crown of the thorn. And finally He nailed and dead on the cross. For whom Jesus did all of that? For all of us! For what Jesus did it all? For redeem all of our sins! He paid it all of our sins that hinder our way to salvation by sacrificing Himself. Is there a friend like Jesus? If we have friends who are willing to suffer and sacrificing his own life for the sake of our salvation like Jesus did for us? I am afraid in this today world we cannot find a friend like Jesus.

My beloved readers, in His resurrection day, I ask all of us to ponder again where we place Jesus in our life? Whether we have been placed Jesus as our true friend? Or whether our heart are still ambiguous, even choose make a friend with the world? With all that Jesus has done for us, whether we are still hesitating to make Jesus as our true friend? In this Easter day, allow me to encourage all of us to always remember that God always longing and always reached out His hand to be our true friend. Human being still has weakness and limitations but neither to Jesus the Lord. There is a time human could let us down but neither to Jesus. Jesus has proven His perfect love to us through the great redemption work on the Cross. Jesus fulfilled all that was prophesied. In this Easter day let’s again examine ourselves. Have we become a true friend to Jesus? And if we have made Jesus as a true friend, whether we have done all His command? Let’s make this Passover to be a momentum to rebuild and renew our relationship with the Lord Jesus and truly make the Lord Jesus as a true friend. What a friend we have in Jesus. Amen

My dear friends, I, my husband Kevin, and our little precious Andrew says, wishing your Easter is decorated with love, peace, and joy of spring and the season’s blessings! HAPPY EASTER.

For more detailed story about Zac and Vincent please click here:

http://www.today.com/health/little-boy-shaves-head-comfort-best-friend-fighting-cancer-2D11975522

Karina – Living by faith

This post also can read in my other blog at http://karinalam.godinterest.org

Image source: http://www.theendlesslife.org

 

 

The Faith of The Centurion

THE FAITH OF THE CENTURION -Karina's Thought

 

Today, my yearly Bible reading reached to the book of Matthew 8 and I am interested to share a bit what I have learned from the Centurion of Capernaum in verse 5 to 13. Even though this passage talks about faith of the centurion, I got another important lesson from this centurion.  There are three important things we could learn from this passage. Let’s have a look together.

 Mercy

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, asking for help for his paralyzed servant at his home. (Matthew 8:6 NIV) The centurion came to Jesus not because he is sick but he felt so sorry with his servant’s suffering. As a leader, would be so easy for him to cast away his servant and find a new one. But let’s see, he was willing to spent his time and try hard to meet Jesus. Here we could see that the centurion not just had a mercy but also accompanied with action by asking for help to Jesus. He did something concrete.

A question arises in my mind. In this very difficult live today, how big our mercy to our friends or relatives who are in difficult situation and need our hand? Whether our mercy has been accompanied with action? It is easy to have mercy but we may not easy to help them concretely. We may tend to have sympathy but difficult to have empathy. I often heard the old and classic reason: “How we could help others if ourselves in the difficult and shortcomings situation?” I remembered with the church in Macedonian. In the midst of very severe trial, they still have overflowing joy in giving and they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. (2 Corinthians 8:2-4 NIV) Maybe this time we do not like the church in Macedonia who is in poverty but are we already have generosity to give a little we have for those who are in need? Are we already have mercy that accompanied by action? It is very good to show a mercy and sympathy, but in reality oftentimes it is not enough to lighten those who have burden concretely.

Actually, God takes into account all mercy that we show to our neighbor no matter how small it is. Jesus said: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40 NIV) In our daily lives I often see the contrary situation to what was done by this centurion. The higher one’s position they lose their sense of mercy for others. This centurion has great mercy regardless of his position or status. And did not merely have sense of mercy but he revealed with the real action. This centurion of Capernaum can be a role model to us to always remember to have sense of mercy to others no matter their position lower than us or not because God alone has a great mercy to us and He will forget our sins.

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. (Hebrews 8:12 NKJV)

Humility

Now let’s take a look at the second important thing from the centurion of Capernaum. Humility! Yes this centurion had humility. Let us examine together. After Jesus knew the centurion ask for help to heal his servant, Jesus said that He wanted to come to the centurion’s house and heal his servant.

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.

(Matthew 8:7-8 NIV)

Let’s pay attention to the centurion reaction. He did not say: “Yes, that is I want from you. Please come to my house and heal my servant immediately” but let’s look at his answer on verse 8: “Lord I do not deserve to have you come under my roof…”  Here we can see the sense of humility of this centurion. There are two things that show the centurion’s humility. First, let us notice to his efforts to meet Jesus in order to his servant to be healed. I imagine one thing. As a centurion, I do believe he has a lot of soldiers. It will be easier he ordered one of his men to go to meet Jesus. But he did not do it. He did it himself. The second thing is he felt unworthy to have Jesus come to his house. This centurion really realized who he was and that was clearly reflected in the following verse:

“For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me…. “(Verse 9)

This humble centurion truly realized that he is not the highest person in the world. He still has a leader and above of all he really realized that he was dealing with the King of kings.

To be honest, this part immensely touched my heart, become a rebuke, and makes me asking to myself. As a person who has position in the company, whether I already have humility in the eyes of all who are under me? This centurion becomes a great reminder to me. Although I have high position and big authority but there is still my parents who in fact is the owner of the company. Every single policy and decision that I take still needs their approval. And more than it all, there is God who created and become the owner of all in this world. This time maybe God bless us with the very high position and have full authority in a company, an organization or wherever we are. Be grateful for that and be grateful God entrust us to sit on the high position. But we must always remember to keep being humble. Remember that all of it is blessing from God. If we are become arrogant, God will not be pleased and anytime He can take it all back from us. Let us learn from the centurion of Capernaum to always has humility as God commanded,

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

… All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (1 Peter 5:5 NIV)

Great Faith

My beloved readers, now we come to the part that become a title of this passage. For me, this section is the most important thing that I got and learned from this centurion.  It is talk about something that becomes a foundation in the Christian living. Now we talk about faith. The centurion had something great and awesome. He had a great faith. Let’s take a look again to the verse 8.

For he was not worthy to have Jesus come in his house, then he said: “But just say the word, and my servant will be healed” I am so impressed with his word. This is amazing words that show such a great faith. His faith made him believe that God has a mighty power that is not limited by the dimensions of space and time. His faith also made him believe that through one word, Jesus has incredible power to do a healing miracle to his servant who far away in his house without Jesus’ touches hand directly. When Jesus heard this, He was amazed and said to those following Him:

“Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” (Verse 10)

 I imagine what I will do if one day my baby boy is sick then I ask my pediatrician come to my house but unfortunately he could not come and just give me suggestions what I have to do. Perhaps I will remain force the pediatrician come to my house because I will not satisfied and believe if I not see my doctor directly cure my baby. Oh, how much I want to have great faith like this centurion. Without need to look directly Jesus heal his servant, his great faith makes him believe that his servant will definitely healed. And it is proven. Jesus said, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment. (Verse 13)

This time I will not deliver my thought about faith too much. I have written some posts which talk about faith and there are so many other excellent posts in the blog which talk about the same thing. Right now I just want to all of us to take a moment asking ourselves: How big our faith now? Whether we already have a great faith like this centurion? Are we having a great faith that makes us believe a miraculous thing will surely happen without we need to see it first? How deep these following verses embedded in our heart?

“…blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29b NIV)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

Whether our faith can make us believe something invisible, believe something unbelievable and make us believe can receives something impossible [i] as we believe there is God even we cannot see His real figure? Let’s together examine ourselves again how the quality of our faith today.

My dear friends, at the end of this post I encourage all of us to learn from the centurion of Capernaum wholeheartedly. Let us unite in prayer, pray for one another so that in every step of our lives, we have great mercy and accompanied with real action for our neighbor regardless of whom they are and no matter whom we are. Let us also remain have the humility even though we have a high position and authority wherever we are. Although there is no one higher than us, still remember there is God who the highest of the high. And the most important thing let us always maintain our faith in God. Let us pray so our faith keep growing, getting stronger day by day, strengthen our faith with outpouring of God’s word every day and finally will enable us to believe in something without having to look at. Amen.

Karina – Living by faith

Related article: https://insightsfromtom.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/john-448-believing-without-miracles/

 

Image source: historylectionary.com

[i] Quoted from Corrie Ten Boom’s quote

The Palm and Cedar tree

PSALM 92 12- Karina's Thought

 

In the bible we found so many parables especially that used by Jesus Christ to deliver His teaching. Also before Jesus came down to the world, God has been using many parables that given through His prophets. If we look carefully God uses many elements of nature as a parable. This time I am interested to talk about a parable in the book of Psalm namely the parable of a palm tree and cedar of Lebanon

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; (Psalm 92:12 NIV)

The interesting thing from this parable is The Psalmist compares the righteous with the shoots that appear in the palm trees, and lush like a cedar in Lebanon. To capture the meaning and essence of this parable, let us first look at the character of both of these trees. First, let’s have a look on the palm tree. For the wanderers who walk in the dry and barren desert, it is uplifting thing if they see a palm tree. Why? Because if they meet the palm tree, so it means soon they will meet an oasis or water spring. There will be no a palm tree if there is no water spring around the tree.

How does the palm tree can grow in the barren and dry desert? When the seeds of palm are planted, the fibrous roots will penetrate the ground to find and absorb the water. Even though the roots of palm tree do not penetrate too deep to the ground but each fiber of the roots will spread and gripping the ground so strong. That is why the palm tree could become a strong tree. The palm tree will be deeply rooted although not too deep.

This is the meaning and essence that The Psalmist wants to convey. Deeply rooted! The righteous shall have strong roots. The righteous will be able to stand strong in the midst various obstacles, remain strong even though hit by powerful desert storm, and be able to continue to grow and produce fruit. I likened the problems and obstacles such as the dry, barren and scorching desert but the palm tree remain able to grow through deeply roots and know where put their hope. And the God’s word clearly says:

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV)

Palm trees are able to grow in the middle of a barren desert because they know where to find water. So it is with us, we will be able to live even though in the middle of struggles and hard life if we know where to obtain the “Living water” furthermore, when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well:

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water… Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:10, 13-14 NIV)

Besides having a deeply rooted character, Like a palm tree which is full of nutrients and invigorating,  the righteous supposed to be a refresher for the “barren and dry “environment , become an oasis in the desert,  and be blessing that bring joy to others. In the other word, be the light and salt as the message of Jesus himself. (Matthew 5:13-16 NIV)

Now let’s take a look to the second tree, Cedars of Lebanon.  Cedars are known to be very strong and not easily weathered. Getting older instead of being fragile, even the wood is getting stronger. The tree is also known to have a strong resistance to weather changes. No wonder at the time, cedars is often used for palace’s pillars and even the temple courts. In the book of Kings we can get a picture of this cedar tree. When Solomon built his palace, he mostly uses this cedar trees from Lebanon.

He built the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon a hundred cubits long, fifty wide and thirty high, with four rows of cedar columns supporting trimmed cedar beams. It was roofed with cedar above the beams that rested on the columns—forty-five beams, fifteen to a row. (1 Kings 7:2-3 NIV)

So, the meaning of cedars parables are, we are as the righteous is expected to be strong person who can act as a pillar for the life of our fellow, and for the God’s glory. We have to become a strong person who not easily wavers in facing the severity of the life’s problems, not easily fragile facing the heavy storm of life.  We have to still standing strong despite many world temptations trying to strike us.

Based on the character of both of these trees we can see clearly that the Psalmist does not arbitrarily take a parable. There is a strong intent behind this parable. Palm trees and cedar symbolizes us as the righteous that live in Christ. We expected to have characters like both of those trees. Deeply rooted, able to overcome obstacles, continue growing, able to live in the midst of difficulties, able to bear fruit and become fresheners that bring joy to the people around us, then also be able to become a strong pole in life.

When I read and ponder this parable, there are questions crossed in my mind.  What about us now?  As Christ followers, have we deeply rooted like palm tree and know where we have to get living spring water? Have we thrive and bear much fruit that gives joy and blessing to many people around us? Or whether in fact our life become like a dry and barren desert? Have we become a strong poles like cedars wood, growing with incredible strength? Or otherwise we are still easily wavering buffeted by wind, always unsteady and even someone else sustain us?

I strongly believe that we all have deep longing to always growing strong, bear much fruit, and can be a blessing to others. We also long to be a strong pillar who could sustain someone other. How we can grow, and bear fruit? Very clear God’s word says:

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4 NIV)

Then Jesus continued:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5 NIV)

Let’s pay attention to the verses above. Until three times Jesus the Lord mentions “remain in me” This means it is very clear to us that always remain in Him is the most important thing we have to do. To be fruitful and be a blessing to others, we have to live and deeply rooted in Christ.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.(Colossians 2:6-7 NIV)

Without it, all just be in vain. That is what will bring us to the living water, water that will be given by Jesus which  will not be able to make us thirst forever, become the water spring in Him who constantly welling up to eternal life.

But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(John 4:14 NIV)

And when we bear much fruits we will glorify God.

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8 NIV)

For how long we can bear fruits? If we refer to the nature laws, our capabilities will have decrease such as our eyesight, hearing, brain and mind, and so on. Our physical condition cannot resist the natural law in line with our ages. But it does not mean we have stop to bear fruits. How come? God has declared this long, long time ago:

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4 NIV)

Our strength is limited and will decline, but we must remember that the power of God will never decrease. And God says ready to carry, bear and saved us up even though our hair graying. This is God’s promise. That is clear, God still has a plan even when we are old and weak, and God still wants to use us regardless of age and ability.

My dear friends, let’s us encourage and pray one and another to always make effort and learning to have characters like palm and cedar tree by always live in God and the Holy Spirit. Always walks in the truth of God’s word and His will. Always maintain intimacy of our relationship with God. If our spiritual life begins dry and barren, immediately splash our spirituality with the living God’s word so we will continue to thrive and bear much fruit.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season,
 whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV)

Let God guiding and strengthen us in the forming process to be a person who have characters like palm and cedar tree. Do not rely on our own ability to become strong pole but be strong in God and in His grace. Amen.

… Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Ephesians 6:10 NIV)

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:1 NIV)

Karina – Living by faith

Thank you to brother in Christ Daniel Lyons for the great thought and further information about the palm tree

Image source:shintaluki.blogspot.com

Living in Humility

Living in Humility -Karina's thought-Paul Militaru

 

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

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

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

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

 To the Philippians God advised,

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

And to the Colossians God said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karina – Living by faith

Photo by Paul Militaru http://photopaulm.com

 

 

 

 

A True Love

True Love -Karina's Thought- Paul Militaru (2)

 

I begin this post with an old inspiring and touching story from China. There was an old grandfather named Bai Fang Li. He was living in Tianjin, China. What is interesting thing from this old man? The most interesting thing from him is even though he was live in shortage, he had has very rich heart. Poverty was not being a reason for him to keep giving to others. He was called to give donations to schools and universities in Tianjin city to help more than 300 poor children in order to able obtain an education for their future. Many years he was pedaling his rickshaw to get money in order to increase amount of his contributions.

He lived in an old and rusty hut in a slum area of the city where many rickshaw operators and garbage collectors live and he also lived without thinking of his own needs so that he could give more and more. Two raisin cakes and fresh water became his lunch menu and just a piece of meat or an egg for dinner. Regardless of weather conditions he was always pedaling his rickshaw from 6 am to 8 pm. “it is okay I am suffered”, but let that poor children can go to school “he said. When he was 90 years old, he realized that he was no longer able to pedal his rickshaw. His last saving that amounted five hundreds Yuan donated all to a school. He said, “I could not to pedal a rickshaw again. I cannot give a donation anymore. It might be my last donation that I could give” It was makes all teachers in that school crying. Three years later grandpa Li passed away in poverty. Yet, behind his poverty, during his lifetime he has been contributed a total of three hundred and fifty thousand Yuan. He devoted his life fully to help poor children who could not afford to school. What an inspiring story, right?

Now, what is the message of the inspiring story for us as Christians?  In the midst of the world which centered on self-interest, where the caring to others getting scarce, what was done by grandpa Li pointed out that there are still people who have a noble heart  more than a gold in this world. He was still loves and care to others though he lived in poverty. I called it “A True Love”

Apostle Paul describes love so beautifully in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Depiction of love in those verses so beautifully summarized by grandfather Li’s action. His contribution was not just limited by sympathy words but all real embodied through the sacrifices that he did for the sake of helping those children who did not have opportunity to get an education. I wonder, from the billions of people in this world, how many grandpa Li who care about each other and willing to sacrifice just for helping others? A poor man like grandpa Li wanted to do it, while many rich people just sat quietly does not have concern for the people around who really need help.

Holy Bible said, Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18) Grandpa Li did it so beautiful through the concrete action even in the midst of his poorness. He was not being a selfish or just thinking about himself but he even willing to sacrifice all-out until the last of his strength to help other. He also did all of that was not solely to seek popularity or honored by people. I think, for him have a decent life is more important than having popularity! Please remember he was just a very old rickshaw driver. He really had a sincerity and true love to helping each other.

Grandpa Li was gone but his devotion will continue to be remembered by millions people in this world. I am convinced despite physically he suffered, but his heart happy to be able to do something for others. He realized that it would be happier if can give rather than receive.

…‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Act 20:35)

After I read and ponder this inspiring story, I conclude that there are some important things that we could get from this inspiring story and I called it as the value of true love.

First, Initiative! True love has an initiative. This poor old man has initiative express his love by reaching out his hand to help others. It is same with God.  God loves us not in a passive ways. He not just waiting us to love Him first but God directly reached out His hand to express His love to us with a very beautiful ways. John said,

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

Furthermore, Paul said,

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

The second, beside has an initiative, grandpa Li was active in order to could express his love to others by working tirelessly pedaling his rickshaw. He not expresses his love just by his words but also by action as it is written in 1 John 3:18.

Third, grandpa Li has a great caring to others interests. He realized that there are hundreds poor children need help and threatened could not school and get a proper education. God’s word reminds us to not merely attach great importance to our own need and interests, but also pay attention to others needs and interests.

Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:4)

Be emphasized again in 1 John 3:17,

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

Fourth, sacrifice! This is a thing that quite difficult to do. Jesus said,

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

Not only with words but directly Jesus proved to be willing to give his life for the mankind salvation by dying on the cross. And this is then followed by His disciples willing to sacrifice their life just for proclaim God’s word to all over the world. Not many people are willing to sacrifice to help others while he himself lives in hardship. This old poor man was doing this thing so beautiful. He was willing to sacrifice for the sake of helping others. He was willing to lived in the slums and eat potluck so he could save his money.

My dear readers, it is so easy we say that we have love. But the question is what kind of love? Are we having true love that has initiative? Whether we have an active love that accompanied with action? How big our concern to others interests? And are we willing to sacrifice to others? Whether in everyday life we have to apply the principles of love as God wants? This evening I would like to encourage you to learn from this inspiring story. Let the story of grandpa Li could be a model for us to express the true love to others. We may not like grandpa Li who really live in poverty, so let us have an initiative to give  what we  could give to helping each others who in need. Do not be discouraged and ashamed if not be able to give much as long as we give with sincerity. God does not look at how much that we can give but rather to look our sincerity, our willingness to sacrifice and truly based on true love. God really appreciate to those who are willing to sacrifices to give in the shortage.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44)

 Suppose that we could not help people in the form of matter, we can help others in another form such as giving a tender smile and a warm hug to our friends who are in grief, spend our time to giving encouragement to people who are discouraged, or put them in our prayer list, and maybe just do very simple daily things such as say “hello” and asking “how are you. Are you okay?” It all will give a big impact to others. Let’s pray to God ask for the strength, wisdom and have a sensitive heart to the others difficulties so we always could express our true love to others.  Let us pray that true love remain thrives in our lives and keep it warm because we live in the world where wickedness is increased. As Jesus reminds us, Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, (Matthew 24:12) and let us could be a window for those people around us to know and experience God’s love through our true love. Amen.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (I John 4: 7-8)

Karina – Living by Faith

For the detailed story and photos of Bai Fang Li click here

I wish to thank you to Paul Militaru for the awesome and beautiful picture

Photo by Paul Militaru  http://photopaulm.com