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A SAFE FEELING IN THE FATHER’S LOVE (guest post)

Today, the awareness of believers to be active in ministry is growing up.  In fact, some positions in ministry become something that is desired and proud of.  Whether we realize it or not, all activities in serving God has taken up a lot of time and energy, and is sometimes seen as more important than God himself.  As a result, many servants of God actually lose something more important and valuable. . . something from which the ministry comes out, that is a personal relationship with the God being served!

How important and valuable something is to us is reflected in how we treat it.

The Lord Jesus illustrated this through three parables in Luke chapter 15.  Jesus gave a parable about sheep, drachma and sons, which was important and valuable in the lives of the Jews at that time.  The number of sheep has indicates the amount of wealth and social rank, the drachma is the wage for one day, and the son is the successor to the descendants who continue the family inheritance.  When these things are gone, the owner will try to find it with all his efforts and will rejoice when he finds it back.

In the parable of the son in Luke 15: 11-32, the Lord Jesus tells the story of the father with his two sons, the younger and the older.  The younger asked for his inheritance, sold it all, then left and squandered his money to waste.  When he fell into poverty and hunger, he remembered his father and decided to go home.  His father, who had been waiting for him, immediately received him back and restored his position unconditionally, even holding a party to celebrate him.  The older was angry because he felt he had spent years to serve his father, work hard and tried to obey every command of his father, but was not heeded.  While his younger brother who acted poorly was welcomed in a special way.

Looking at verses 1 and 2, there are two groups of listeners in this parable.  The first group are tax collectors and sinners who usually come to hear Jesus’ teachings.  The second group are the Pharisees and the scribes.  The Younger is a depiction of tax collectors and sinners, while the older is a description of the scribes and Pharisees, those who feel they have done many things for God, feel they have done the right thing.

These two groups have in common, that is, they are not related to the father.  Naturally, if the younger loses relations with his father.  But what about the older?  How can a person who always stays in his father’s house, obeys orders and works hard in his father’s years, lose intimacy with his father?  It was seen from his reaction when he saw what his father had done to welcome his brother’s return.

“The older brother became ANGRY and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.  But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.  Yet you never gave me even A YOUNG GOAT so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when THIS SON OF YOURS who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill THE FATTENED CALF for him!’  (Luke 15: 28-30 NIV)

His first reaction was ANGRY.  He didn’t rejoice together with his father, even calling the younger as ‘THIS SON OF YOURS’, not ‘my brother’.  And, pay attention to the comparison of the words he uses, namely ‘THE FATTENED CALF’, which the father slaughtered for his younger brother, compared to ‘A YOUNG GOAT’ which according to him has never been given by his father to him, even though he has worked hard.  Implied envy and disappointment in his sentences.

Today, the older are people who know many of God’s words, are strict with various religious rules, and may be someone who is active in the ministry in the church, but unconsciously they have lost their personal relationship with the Father.  When we are easily triggered by anger, easily disappointed with God, disappointed with friends in the ministry, jealous of the blessings received by others, begin to measure what the Father should be given by what we have done in ministries, and lose love for others… maybe without us knowing we have lost our personal relationship with Heavenly Father.  Maybe we are the older who lost in the Father’s house.  Now is the time to return the position of our hearts to their proper place, which is in the presence of the Heavenly Father.

A ministry should come from the relationship between the child and Heavenly Father and be filled with the love of Christ.

A service that isn’t sourced from a relationship with Heavenly Father will only be an activity and busyness that will increasingly dry our spirituality.  When this happens, we will begin to calculate our efforts in God’s field and become disappointed when God doesn’t give us what we want.

THE PERFECT LOVE

Back to the parable of the prodigal son.  Does the Father love the younger more than the older, so the Father has a party to celebrate the return of the younger?  Or does the Father love the older because he is an obedient son who serves faithfully in the Father’s field?  The answer to both questions is NO.  The Father’s love is perfect love, not because of what we do or what we don’t, but because He loves us, as we are, even when we are sinners, so that He is willing to give His most precious possession, His Only Son, Jesus Christ.

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

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8: 32 NIV)

We are people who are loved by the Father.  Have “a safe feeling” in the Father’s love.  We must not think that we must “do this and not do that” so that we are more loved by the Father or that the Father will grant our prayers.  Instead, we should not assume that if our prayers are answered, it is because we have served, fasted, did good, and so on.  If the Father blesses or if our prayers are answered, it is because the Father loves us.  And… If the Father doesn’t fulfill our prayers, it’s also because the Father loves us.

Look at the younger.  When the younger back home, the father immediately restores his rights and status as sons and heirs, without the younger having to prove to the father by his actions in advance that he has repented.  There is no guarantee that he will no longer do shameful things to his father.  That is the love of the Father, that is the perfect love, the unconditional love.

A REFLECTION OF LIFE

The younger and the older are both losing relations and intimacy with the Father.  The younger who is a depiction of sinners who have not been saved, or it can also be people who have received salvation but choose to leave God for the sake of the world.  The older who is a depiction of God’s children who actively works in God’s fields and knows many of God’s words, but loses fellowship with the Father and does not know the character of the Father.  What does it mean all the toil in ministry when losing intimacy with the Heavenly Father!

Enthusiastic and active in the ministry is good, but it is really a shame if the busyness in serving God’s work makes us not have enough time to build a personal relationship with God.  We must view building a relationship with Heavenly Father as far more valuable than serving His work, because ministry should come out of intimacy with the Father and come from the love of the Father.

The Father has shown us how valuable and serious the restoration of relationship between Himself and humans is, so that the Father is willing to give Jesus to atone for sins, so that human can fellowship with Him.  Let us respond to the seriousness of the Father with the same attitude of heart, which is to place a personal relationship with Him above all else.  Let’s look at the relationship with the Heavenly Father as something valuable, something that we look forward to, we look for, we maintain, and become our joy.

When we are confronted with all kinds of problems and conditions in this world, let us always remember the high price paid by the Father to restore His relationship with us.  When we want to make a decision in life, let the main factor in our consideration be whether that decision will result in the deterioration of our personal relationship with our Father.  Let’s be Christians and servants of Christ who have a deep personal relationship with the Heavenly Father, know Him, and always feel ‘safe’ in the Father’s love that has been proven in the work of Christ, so that by His grace and by His strength, we can say:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Roma 8: 35, 38-39)

 

AMEN

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( unsplash.com ) edited with pixlr apps

 

A Man Crying

Hello my beloved readers! I’m grateful to God finally I could spend my time to write my own post again. This post inspired by a conversation between my husband and his friend some time ago. I hope and pray this post could be a blessing to all of us. Thank you very much to the all loyal readers who always visit and read my blog posts.

“As the only man and the eldest brother in family, I shouldn’t show my grief and shouldn’t cry. A mam must be strong!! This word came out from a best friend of my husband who some time ago just lost his beloved mother. Then my husband said, “But actually you are very sad and want to cry, right?”  My husband’s friend replied, “I cannot lie to myself. Yes, actually I am very sad and want to cry to express my sorrow. But you know, since childhood my parents have taught that men should be strong and should not be whiny.”

My dear friends, I kept quiet during the conversation. Those conversations made me thinking and ponder. There was something I didn’t agree of my husband’s friend’s statement. I didn’t agree that a man shouldn’t show his sorrow and shouldn’t cry. I just feel that a man as if made from iron and wire like a robot that didn’t have feeling at all. In fact, the same as women, men could face a similar situation. Death, pain, loss, and various other things that can make a man feel sad. And all of them need a way to express their feeling.

Talk about crying, I remembered one of David saying when he got deep distress. Let’s see what David said at the time. “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8) At the time, the Israelites were using a bottle as a container for water or milk. Other than that, there was a unique culture that comes from Egyptians where they contain their tears into the bottle and then put it on the grave of their family or brethren as an expression of their grief. Well, I will not talk about the culture but I want to talk about David’s word.

We all know very well who David was. Though David was a man who was brave facing the lion, a man who was very brave against Goliath and successfully defeated him, and finally become a king, it turns out, he didn’t ashamed to cry. Why David crying? At that time David was under great pressure because besides being on the run to be chased by King Saul who was jealous with him, he faced another danger of entering the enemy territory of the Philistines in Gath and he was arrested. In the stressful situation, David didn’t look that crying is something shameful to do. He cried just because his mind was depressed but not because he weak. David cried not because he was afraid. Let’s take a look to the following verse,

When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me. In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid….” (Psalm 56: 9-11)

These verses are proof that even though David cried it doesn’t mean he became weak and afraid and his faith remained strong. Although he was crying, David remained steadfastly surrendering his life to God, and still fully believed that God remained with him.

So, whether a man shouldn’t cry? Is crying a symbol of Men’s weakness? My dear readers, allow me to take all of you to reflect on these three things.

First, in my whole life I have never found a rule of life or laws that forbids a man to cry or crying for a man is a disgrace! There’s no single verse in the Bible stated that a man shouldn’t cry. Even Jesus was crying (Luke 19:41) My husband said that, “Crying is how your heart speaks the pain you feel when your lips can’t” So I say firmly, there’s nothing wrong if a man cries and a man doesn’t need be ashamed and feel weak when he cries. The important thing is, when a man cries, his faith doesn’t weaken. David was crying because he was totally under pressure but didn’t mean his faith weakening. At that time David still believed God was by his side. The wrong one is, when a man crying then it makes his faith weaken, weaken his mental, and made he didn’t dare to face all the problems of life.

The second, Actually God doesn’t require us to pretend to be strong even though inside of us are broken. He knows suffering is painful, and for that He is ready to be with us through those painful time. God doesn’t forbid us to have sad feeling. God doesn’t scold us when we crying. My husband’s friend just lost his beloved father. God Himself also definitely understands very well what it feels like to lose. God knows it feels hurt because He also experienced hurt when He let His only begotten Son died to redeem our sins in the cruel ways.

The third, crying because our suffering and sadness isn’t a waste thing. Why? Because actually God know every single teardrop that flows from our eyes. God really understands the tears language which expresses unbearable suffering and bitterness of life. Not only understand, God also collect and record every single of our tears as David said. “… Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8) This verse shows us one important thing that God actually never leaves us alone. Even when we feel like “abandoned by God”, indeed, God doesn’t leave us. God is on collecting and taking note every tears of our crying and as if He said, “My child, I will never leave you alone…Please be patient… Just a little more time will be fulfilled and I will declare my glory”

My beloved readers, through this post allow me once again to express my opinion that there’s nothing wrong at all if a man crying. Crying isn’t a taboo thing for a man. Crying isn’t a symbol of weakness of a man. Beside mind, character, intelligence, and feeling, God also give man tears. As long as a man has feeling, same as a woman, when the lips isn’t able to speaks, crying is a good way to express our sorrow. Crying is the way our heart speaks. But… We must remember that behind our weeping there’s still strength in us. Behind every single teardrop there’s still a firm faith, there’s still strong trust that God will never leave us alone. We have to always remember God’s promises,

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:17)

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. (Luke 6:21)

At the end of this post, I long to encourage all of men that there’s nothing wrong at all if one day you have to crying and there are compelling reasons why you cry. Not just for women, crying is something normal and humane. Don’t ever feel ashamed to express your feeling through crying. Crying doesn’t mean weak. Cry if it can make you relieved and the burden on you is lighter. But let me remind you one thing, don’t be a whiny man. Like David, keep strong, still have firm faith, and keep trusting God that He will wipe every of our tears as He promises, He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Amen.

 

Karina Lam – Living by Faith

Image source: themanmodern.com

 

 

BEAR FRUIT FOR CHRIST (guest post)

A few months ago I wrote about the Tamarind tree in front of my house that the leaves and fruit can be used as a spice for traditional dishes and drinks (click here).  The tree is large and very tall, far beyond the roof of our house.  In the rainy season the leaves always grow vigorously and in summer the ripe fruit will fall to the ground.  It’s really fun to pick it up.  I feel like a happy farmer who harvests his work, whereas in fact I have never done anything for the growth of the tree.  In fact, the tree grows by itself.  For dozens, maybe even decades, the tree grew without anyone watering or weeding the surrounding soil.  During that time the tree continued to live and bear fruit.  However, this year something is different.

As in previous years, I was waiting for the ripe tamarind to fall on the ground.  How happy I am, when the wind blows hard and hit the branches of the tree and then heard the distinctive sound of ripe tamarind fruit falling on the ground.  However, immediately my excitement turned to be disappointed because the fruit that looks good on the outside is actually rotten inside.  Why?  What’s wrong?  I looked at the tamarind tree.  The trunk is large and tall, looks tough and strong.  Dense fruit hanging from its branches.  The tree looks healthy and there is no problem, but why is the fruit not as good as the tree’s appearance?  There must be something inside of the tree that isn’t working as it should, because fruit is the result of internal processes.

The condition of the tamarind fruit shows that not always something looks good from the outside, as well as the quality inside.  Likewise with fruit in human life.  People can arrange their outward appearance to create the impression they want, for example to be seen as generous, loving, kind and pious.  But sooner or later, the quality of “the fruit of the person’s life” will show his true spiritual condition.  Regarding this, the Lord Jesus taught through a parable about the tree and fruit.

No GOOD tree bears bad FRUIT, nor does a bad tree bear GOOD FRUIT.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit.  People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  A GOOD MAN brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  (Luke 6: 43-45 NIV)

What is a GOOD tree and GOOD fruit? What is the meaning of FRUIT in human life?  And what kind of people are categorized as A GOOD MAN who brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart?

FRUIT

The fruit comes from the word “karpos” which figuratively means: Everything done in true partnership with Christ, that is a believer lives in union with Christ, like a branch abides in the vine in order to bear fruit.  Christ lives in us and we live in Him so that His life flows through our lives and we produce eternal fruit.  So, the fruit in the life of a believer isn’t all achievements or successes in the world, but what is come out from intimacy with Christ, namely the character of Christ, which continues to be shaped and tested through various life processes.

GOOD

In this passage the word “GOOD” comes from words that contain the meaning: Inspire or motivate others, as an outward sign of the inward good, a noble attitude and honorable character.  In Greek there are several words to describe “good”.  The word “good” in this verse is the higher word, namely “kalon“, which broadly contains the notion of physical or moral beauty that arises as a result of an appropriate response to a process.

The word “good” used for fruit is the same as the word “good” used for trees.  So, tree and fruit should have the same quality.  Not “good” that is just make up but sourced from within.  Its outside appearance reflects the beauty inside.  No manipulation, no acting, no cheating, no fake.  A quality that naturally arises from within, not artificial.

A GOOD FRUIT is not AN EFFORT but A RESULT

Return to the tamarind tree, its disappointing fruit indicates that there is a process inside the tree that isn’t working as it should.  Maybe bad weather is the main cause.  Maybe it’s also because parts in the roots or trunks of the tree don’t function optimally so it can’t distribute nutrients properly.  Whatever it is, once again, fruit is the result of internal processes and the quality of the fruit shows the quality of the tree.  Therefore the most important thing is to ensure the conditions inside, then good fruit will be produced.

REMAIN IN CHRIST

Fruit always impressive because that’s what people see.  But don’t focus on the fruit.  Focus on our spiritual growth.  The key is to build an ongoing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, like branches that must remain in the vine.

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)

Let’s start with a step: Pray and read God’s words every day.  Then do God’s word in every day of our lives in all conditions.  That’s what it means to remain in Christ.  The life of Christ flows in and through us so that what comes out of us comes from Christ.  Only by remain in Christ, we will bear the fruit of life that pleases God.  Only by remain in Christ, we will become A GOOD PEOPLE who brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart: those whose hearts have been touched and changed by Christ, believers whose lives are empowered by Christ through faith.

Remain in Christ will make our characters, paradigms, values, habits, even our dreams and goals, increasingly transformed into Christ and become like Christ.  That’s the fruit of life with eternal value.  Then. . . if one day we achieve certain achievements, success in career, become rich, or become famous, we will know that all of it is a gift and trust from God.  All of achievements will not backfire for us because our hearts have been changed by God.  And, even if God allows all of that to be lost from us, our faith and hope will not be lost because we have put our faith and hope in the right place, which is Christ.  Our faith and hope in Christ will carry us through day after day in joy and sorrow, in good or bad situations, until we meet face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Vine where we remain throughout our lives. Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( pxhere.com ) edited with pixlr apps

Faith, The Link Between God & Man

Hello my dear friend! How are you all? I hope and pray everything is well. I’m so happy and grateful to God could have time post my own article. This is a re-post from a writing that I’ve posted in 2013.  According to my blog tagline “Living by faith”, once again this post is about faith. An explanation about faith in an interesting and unique way. When someone ask and tries to make us doubt about the God’s presence and His existence, faith plays important role is restoring our beliefs in God’s existence in our lives. Not too biblical but deep enough to go into substance of faith. The conversation between a professor and his student below refers to the following the Bible verses,

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

For we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

 

Professor: You are a Christian, aren’t you, son?

Student: Yes, sir.

Professor: So, you believe in GOD?

Student: Absolutely, sir.

Professor: Is GOD good?

Student: Sure.

Professor: Is GOD all powerful?

Student: Yes.

Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn’t. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?

 (Student was silent)

Professor: You can’t answer, can you? Let’s start again, young fella. Is GOD good?

Student: Yes.

Professor: Is Satan good?

Student: No.

Professor: Where does Satan come from?

Student: From . . . GOD . . .

Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?

Student: Yes.

Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it? And GOD did make everything. Correct?

Student: Yes.

Professor: So, who created evil?

 (Student did not answer)

Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?

Student: Yes, sir.

Professor: So, who created them?

 (Student had no answer)

Professor: Science says you have 5 Senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen GOD?

Student: No, sir.

Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD?

Student: No, sir.

Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter?

Student: No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.

Professor: Yet you still believe in Him?

Student: Yes.

Professor: According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?

Student: Nothing. I only have my faith.

Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem Science has.

Student: Professor, is there such a thing as heat?

Professor: Yes.

Student: And is there such a thing as cold?

Professor: Yes.

Student: No, sir. There isn’t.

 (The lecture theater became very quiet with this turn of events)

Student: Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, super heat, mega heat, white heat, a little    heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.

 (There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theater)

Student: What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?

Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?

Student: You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, were you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?

Professor: So, what is the point you are making, young man?

Student: Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.

Professor: Flawed? Can you explain how?

Student: Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.

Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?

Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.

Student: Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?

 (The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.)

Student: Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?

 (The class was in uproar)

Student: Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain?

 (The class broke out into laughter)

Student: Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?

 (The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable.)

Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.

Student: That is it sir . . . Exactly! The link between man & GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving.

 By the way, that student was Einstein. 🙂

 

Karina – Living by faith.

Image source: Google Images

Meaningful Life Under the Heavens (part 2) : WAITING FOR GOD CALLING (guest post)

In recent times, God has led me and my husband in experience and ministries related to life and death.  Among the many things that happened, there were two moments that really touched our hearts.

First Moment

That afternoon we went to the hospital to pray for a grandmother.  She is more than 90 years old.  Her extremely thin body lay weak with her eyes closed. The doctor can’t do much to help her.  Not only because the disease is very malignant and hasn’t been cured medically resolved, but also because her old body is unable to receive proper therapy and treatment for the disease.  After praying for her, we sang a simple song that talked about the love of Jesus. We sing softly over and over again. We believe that even though her eyes are closed, even if in a coma, her inner man can certainly hear our voices even though her physical body seems to not respond.  After a while, we saw tears flowing from the corner of her eye.  Her eyes still remained closed and between conscious and not, but the flowing tears showed that her heart responded.  We continued to sing and sing, until then the grandmother began to open her eyes and sing.  At first her voice was soft and sometimes the pronunciation wasn’t clear, but while we continued to sing the simple song over and over again, the longer her voice was louder. We knew, at that time God was working touching her heart and giving new strength.  Then we prayed once more, leading her to not be afraid and doubtful of surrendering to Jesus, guiding her to make a confession that Jesus is Lord and Savior.  After being prayed for, she could sleep well and no longer be delirious about frightening things that were invisible as she had always seen the previous nights.  We believe that God gave her peace that transcends all understanding, beyond fear about everything she would leave behind or she would face in life after death.  The peace from God is a guarantee and an inward witness that she is safe in the Father’s hands.  A few days later we heard the news that the grandmother had calmly returned to the Father’s house.  Indeed, whatever we have been achieved in this life, ultimately the most important thing is the certainty of salvation in eternal life.

Second Moment

Near midnight a few days ago, we were shocked by the news.  One friend who has served with us for almost 30 years has suddenly been called home by God.  He was still around 55 years old.  He was sitting and chatting with his family when suddenly he bowed and left forever.  Many people could hardly believe because only two or three days earlier he had served with us at a big event.  Our hearts were moved, as if God were waiting for him to finish his task until the event was finished and then called him home.  What a sweet impression.

But … reality isn’t always like that right?  In fact, there are people even God’s servants who are called home by God when they are actively working on God’s vision and mission.  In the view of humans as if their task isn’t finished, but we are uncertain.  God has His own judgment and that is perfect. Whatever it is, death is always unpredictable, incomprehensible.  The measure isn’t t age, health, ministry, not even a person’s good or evil. What, why and how, only God knows.

ACCOMPLISHING TASKS

Indeed, each of us is waiting for the time to be called by God.  Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2 clearly says that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die (Meaningful Life under the Heavens – click here).  Every one of us has a period we don’t know when it will end. Each of us has a deadline that we don’t know when.  God can call us anytime, anywhere, in any way.  Now … as people waiting to be called by God, there are important questions that each of us must reflect on and answer it.

Are we ready whenever our lifespan runs out?  Are we sure of our eternal destination in life after death? Have we received eternal salvation from God?  Have we been living our lives according to God’s will?  How much time do we use to do God’s work, and how much time do we waste in vain?  What should we do while we wait for God to call us??  The preacher advises us:

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV)

The word “to do” comes from the Hebrew word “asah” which means accomplish that is “to finish something successfully or to achieve something”.  So, God asks us not only to do it but to accomplish it and to achieve what is supposed to be achieved.

The word “your might” comes from the Hebrew word “koach” which means “ability” which is “the mental or physical power or skill needed to do something”.  So, the word “your might” here is not doing on our own and carelessly, but works with the physical, mental, and certain skills needed to accomplish the task.

We weren’t created by accident.  Conscious or not, we are created with a purpose.  In our hands is being entrusted with a special mission, a life that doesn’t follow where the flow brings, but is in a plan to do God’s work for His Kingdom.  Therefore don’t ignore things that seem to come to our lives naturally or even coincidentally, that is, all the forms that the preacher calls as working, planning, knowledge and wisdom.  Whatever forms these things have in our lives, our task is to accomplish it.  For this reason, God has provided the equipment we need, namely mental, physical, and skill.  But mental readiness, physical strength, and skill aren’t things that fall from the sky.  God gave it for free, yes that’s true because God is the source, but we also have to study, train, and develop it.  This isn’t for the sake of our careers will increase so that our future will be better or that we be rewarded as smart people who are multi-talented, but to achieve and accomplish what is God’s purpose in our lives.

This life is a sure wait for God’s call to eternity.  We must be ready whenever the time comes.  Let us not be complacent with all the hustle and bustle of our busy life, but focus on what is God’s will in our lives.  As long as we continue to be faithful and diligent in doing everything that God allows in our lives by using every power provided by God, our lives aren’t in vain.  We will have a meaningful life.  At least we have tried earnestly to do God’s will.  Most importantly, make sure that we have believe in Jesus as our only Lord and Savior.  Make sure that we always make God as our Shepherd.  Only He is the Helper, Guardian, Leader and Guide who can guarantee us to arrive at the house of the eternal Father and stay with the Father forever.

“The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me],  I shall not want. . . . Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.” (Psalm 23 AMP)

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( pixabay.com ) edited with pixlr apps

MEANINGFUL LIFE UNDER THE HEAVENS (guest post)

Centuries ago, a wise teacher conveyed his reflection on the meaning of life.  In his writings classified as wisdom literature, the Teacher said, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2 NIV)  Yes, the time for birth is the beginning of a human being under the sky. But this isn’t an endless journey.  There is a time limit that no one can reject, namely the time to die.  Among these two phases, humans live a life full of color and dynamics.  Humans work, study, have fun, work, enjoy happiness, partying, prosperity, success, but in it there is also pain, loneliness, pain, poverty, destruction, and experiencing injustice.  All can come at any time, to anyone, whether they deserve it or not.  About all of that, the Teacher who was rich, powerful, and had the potential and opportunity to enjoy everything available in the world, gave his skeptical views: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.  “Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1: 2 NIV)  Then, about the various things that humans do throughout their lives under heavens, the Teacher concluded pessimistically that all these things are “chasing after the wind.”  What does that mean?

 

HEBEL, HEBEL, HEBEL

Hebel, a Hebrew word which in some copies translates as vanity, meaningless, futility, is a word that is repeated 37-38 times in Ecclesiastes.  Hebel, a word that means “through the breath, a breeze, a smoke, water vapor” is a very appropriate word to describe how short human life is.  Whether living for 30, 50, 60, 70, 90, or 100 years, all is like a single breath compared to limitless time, namely eternity, where every human being will go.

Hebel is the same word that is also used in Psalm 39: 4-6.  “Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am.  Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.  Selah.  Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they [b]busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches,  And does not know who will gather them.” (NKJV)

As with the Teacher, the Psalmist also viewed human life as “hebel”.  Very short, as a flash of shadow passed.  Contemplate … how briefly it can be finally be truly in vain if man only seeks satisfaction and the meaning of his life from what is transitory and temporary!  Then, what is the benefit of grandeur and pride under heaven, if in the end all things that are painstakingly pursued and maintained must be abandoned, and not contribute anything to eternity.  Up to this point, it is perfectly appropriate for the Teacher to describe it as vanity and chasing after the wind.  Then, how should humans go through life so that they aren’t trapped in a vortex of futility and a chasing after the wind?

 

CHRIST BE THE CENTER OF LIFE

The teacher doesn’t mean to say that human life is meaningless and useless, but that is what will happen if humans live their lives in their own way and do good things according to their own thoughts, without really seeking God.  Therefore, let’s return to the Teacher’s statement about the time for humans under heaven: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die.”  This statement shows that God has full power and sovereignty over everything, including determining the time of birth and death of everyone, without humans being able to choose for themselves.  However, between birth and death there is a period of time in which humans live their lives and in this life humans are given free will to determine their own choices, including those relating to relationships with God.

Praise God the Father, if at one moment we have made the decision to receive salvation in Jesus Christ.  It is grace that has transformed our status into a child of God and made a significant difference to our entire life.  When we accept Jesus Christ, at that time there is also a displacement of purpose in eternity, namely from death to life, from curse to blessing, from vanity to the divine vocation.  Faith in Christ is a step that immediately puts us on the path of grace which provides unlimited power and opens opportunities for us to do noble things that are eternal, according to God’s time and determination.

The power has been given by God, His help is available, but how the outcome depends on how we live our lives, whether we really make Christ the center of our lives or not.  Making Christ the center of our lives means making Christ the only foundation, source, goal and motivation, which controls all our thoughts, actions and attitudes in all aspects of life.  The sincerity of making Christ the center of our lives will be reflected in every choice of our response to everything that God has permitted to happen throughout our lives.  Whether we obey the desires of the flesh or the will of the Holy Spirit, obey our feelings or obey to do the word of God, continue to believe or be disappointed with God, and remain faithful to the end or leave God.  In the end, the choice for choice will determine the life we ​​live in, in vain or produce fruit for the Kingdom of Heaven.  Later, we must give accountability before God.

 

ENJOY LIFE IN THE FEAR OF GOD

” Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14 NIV)

Actually, this whole life journey is a preparation for an inevitable responsibility, which must be faced by each person, personally.  Later, there is no reason and defense for every sin and mistake, because God has given us a lifetime opportunity to repent, be changed and shaped by God.  Therefore we must truly live right before God, because all of our responses to God when we are still alive today greatly determine how and where we will be in eternity.  God has bestowed salvation, given the Holy Spirit as Helper and Comforter, and has given the word that becomes the guide and contains the promises we need.  We just have to always live in fear of God.  Not fear of His judgment, but fear of God because we love and respect God.  So, we will be able to see and respond to this life properly so that we can receive and enjoy what God has provided in our lives with satisfaction and gratitude.  Thus, our focus isn’t on the pleasures of this world, but on God who gives everything.  As the Teacher’s advice: “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” (Ecclesiastes 5: 18-19 NIV) 

Life isn’t easy, maybe we have done wrong and failed many times, but as long as we wholeheartedly want to surrender ourselves to God, then God will help us rise again and again.  His love always forgives and His power certainly strengthens and enables us to live according to His purpose and plan, so that our lives and labors aren’t in vain.  Then later … when we stand face to face with God to account for our every act, we will look at the face of Jesus Christ without feeling accused, but with relief and gratitude because God has made our lives meaningful.  Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( pixabay.com ) edited with pixlr apps

FOLLOW THE GUIDANCE (guest post)

In the middle of February, my husband and I ministered to a city that’s quite far from our city. We drove on the highway along 780 km, across three provinces and around 20 big and small cities. It was really fun. Then on Sunday afternoon we traveled home after two days of service. The highway was wide and quiet, the sun was bright, so perfect. But we cannot continue to enjoy that comfort. Half the trip had passed when we saw a thick lump of black cloud covering the sky in front of us. The color of the black clouds with the golden glow of dusk showed contrasting scene. Beautiful but also frightening! Moments after I captured it with a cellular camera, apparently our car began to enter the area under the black cloud. The rain immediately flushed and the longer the more heavy accompanied by strong winds. The heavy rain, the strong winds, and the darkness of the night, made our visibility very limited. A comfortable journey turned to full of suspense.

The lighting on the highway that we passed is only at the interchange, namely in the area before and after the gate of highway. Along the rest of the road there are only traffic signs and small plates at a certain distance that function as reflectors. The yellow reflector on the guardrail separates our lane from the opposite direction, and the red reflector on the guardrail on the edge of the highway. For hours traveling in the dark night accompanied by the roar of the rain and strong winds we only relied on traffic signs and luminescence from the reflectors that reflected the lights of our cars. And even then only a few meters, limited to the distance of the lights of our car. Those points of light were the guide for us, whether the road we are going through will turn left, right, straight, down, or uphill. Meanwhile, our windshield wipers were competing with the rain that forms a kind of water curtain covered the windshield, making the view more blurred. Many times we have to lean forward so we can see the signs and the road more clearly. We must pay attention to and ensure that we follow each sign directions correctly because a little mistake make us misdirected.

OBEDIENCE THAT BRINGS TO THE AIM

For me, the situation we experienced at that time described a phase in the journey of life. There are times when everything goes very pleasant, comfortable, safe, easy, and smooth. There is also a time when problems come, like clouds cover the sun and change the light to dark. That is the dynamics of life that can be experienced by anyone, whether in extreme forms or only wavelet.

The characters in the Bible also experience times when they have to walk in dark valleys. Moses, a Hebrew who was educated and lived in the palace of Pharaoh, had experienced the phase of becoming a fugitive and had to live in the house of a priest in the land of Midian for fear of being killed by Pharaoh (Ex 2: 11-22). Joseph, a favorite son who was given a tunic of many colors by his father, also experienced several times the ups and downs of the dynamics of life. Starting from being dumped to a well and sold to Egypt, then got a position as a trustee of Potiphar, but then being imprisoned for being slandered (Gen. 37: 12-36; Gen. 39). David, a worshiper of the Lord, experienced the extreme dynamics of life from a sheep shepherd who was suddenly anointed to become king, then became the person trusted by King Saul. But then the situation changes. David became Saul’s main enemy until he had lived on the run for several years (1 Samuel 16-30). Then when he became king as God promised, there was a treason led by his own son until he had to flee from his palace (2 Sam 15-17). Those are three of the many stories of the characters in the Bible. Their experiences differ from one another but there is one common thread, namely obedience. They were people who remain obedient to follow the guidance of God even though they are under pressure. They didn’t deviate from the provisions of God, didn’t compromise with sin, and remain faithful to do what is right in the midst of their plight. In the end, it obedience brought them into fulfillment of God’s plan and made them reach the finish line brilliantly.

God has a special plan for each of us and He has provided everything needed so that we can work on His call, but it can only be realized if we obey Him.

Obeying God’s guidance in the midst of dark times has its own difficulties. Like walking in the rain on a dark night, heavy pressure can make us unable to see everything clearly because we panic, worry, fear, stress, depression. Our feelings become uneasy so it is difficult to pray. The desire to get out of trouble quickly makes us impatient waiting for God’s help. These various psychological conditions can make our spiritual eyes unable to see clearly and our spiritual ears become insensitive. We can be tempted to take shortcuts and seek help in our own way. When we finally choose to follow our own will, we will be misguided, because what we think is good is not necessarily good and what we think is right is not necessarily true.

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV)

Solving problems in our own way at first often seems successful but we don’t know what will happen at the end of the road. Obeying God’s guidance is the only way if we don’t want to get lost and regret later on. Knowing God’s guidance isn’t complicated. God has provided complete guidance for us, namely the Bible. The Bible is the written word of God. Following God’s guidance means doing what is written in the Bible.

 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.” (Psalm 119:105-106 NIV)

“Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:129-130 NIV)

The Word of God is like a traffic sign that shows direction and is like a light that illuminates our path. If our lives are on a dark road, just do what the Bible says even though it’s not directly related to the problem we are facing. Obedience to God’s word will make us smarter, wiser, and more understanding, even beyond knowledgeable and experienced people.

“Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers,  for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders,  for I obey your precepts.” (Psalm 119:98-100 NIV)

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV)

We really don’t know the whole of our journey. Be obedient, because every obedience to the word of God will take us step by step to the way out of our struggle. The wisdom and understanding that comes from God through His word will enable us to view problems with the right perceptions so that we can make the right decisions. Moreover, every obedience to the word of God will change us day by day to become more and more like Christ.

BELIEVE IN GOD

We cannot totally obey Him if we don’t believe in Him.

Moses, Joseph, and David were people who obeyed God’s guidance because they were believe in God. Moses could have kept hiding and refused to be sent by God to meet Pharaoh, but Moses chose to obey. Moses obediently worked on God’s call to lead millions of Israelites across the desert with the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. When the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire stop, he stops. Where the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire move, there he follows. Joseph could have complied with the wishes of Potiphar’s wife, but he chose to run away from her because he knew that it is sin. Joseph also had the opportunity to take revenge on his brothers who had made him suffer, but instead he gave them a place to live and fulfill their needs because he knew that God had a special plan for his life in Egypt. David had more than one chance to kill Saul, but David did not want to do it. Actually, if he killed Saul, he would easily occupy the position of king, but he chose patiently to wait for God’s time.

Moses, Joseph, David, and the people used by God in the Bible are people who fully believe in God. They don’t put their secure feelings into the situation. They don’t entrust their future to experiences, skills, connections, position and wealth. They don’t make decisions based on their own passions and considerations, but they follow God’s guidance even though sometimes for a moment it seems that their obedience doesn’t make things better. They still believe in God and rely on God in all circumstances, good or bad.

Dear brothers and sisters, if we are in a bad situation, remember what David did when he was greatly distressed in Ziklag: “David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” (1 Sam 30:6 NIV). Let’s strengthen our trust in God. Not with our own strength but with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will enable us to faithfully step in to follow God’s guidance. Not only until we get a way out of our problems, but until the end of our lives. Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (edited with pixlr apps)