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Good Start, Bad End

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Karina – Living by faith

 

 

 

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GOD’S LOVE IN THE SUFFERING (guest post)

Not a few Christians have the mindset that when they were saved and become followers of Christ their lives will be free of all problems and sufferings. Some of my friends were disappointed because their lives after receiving Christ didn’t get better and sometimes even become harder than before. And then they begin to doubt God’s promises that say,

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. (Isaiah 43:1-3)

For God do not afflict willingly nor grieve the Children of Men. (Lamentations 3: 33)

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

. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11-12)

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (1Peter 5:7)

 We all know that God really love His child.  If God is so good and loving, why does He allow suffering to His children? Even His begotten son had to suffer tortured beyond humanity and death on the cross.  This is the most common question that has been haunting many people especially for Christians. So, why the problems, trials, and tribulations seem to be part of our lives? My dear readers, this time, Sister Sella will give all of us an explanation as the answer of the question above. All comment hopefully could be reply by Sister Sella.  Thank you very much, dear readers.

 

Suffering is not a comfortable word to imagine. Even some of our prayers contain requests about the health, blessing, and protection of God. If we ponder more deeply, the point is to be escaped from suffering. But the facts… sadness, failure, loss, and the things connoted as suffering will always be a part of life. Not because God does not love us, but because the Lord has a noble purpose for our benefit:

Suffering is one of God’s ways to teach, mold, and purify His people: “Remember how THE LORD YOUR GOD LED YOU ALL THE WAY  IN THE DESERT these forty years, TO HUMBLE YOU AND TO TEST YOU in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” (Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV)

And any suffering that we must bear because of the truth as the people who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, or the suffering that we go through in obedience to God, is a process to produce the unshakable spiritual quality and makes us more firmly holding on to God as the only hope. Not just for the present life but to eternal life: “Not only so, but WE ALSO REJOICE IN OUR SUFFERINGS, because we know that SUFFERING PRODUCES perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:3-5 NIV)

The various forms of suffering – whether caused by sin and human error, or the suffering that God allows in the lives of His chosen people, like Job – all can be used by God to reveal His love even in ways that transcend our understanding !!

THE CARE OF GOD

A few weeks ago, one of the chapters in the book “A Heart for God” by Sinclair B. Ferguson helped me to see suffering from another perspective: SUFFERING IS ONE OF GOD’S WAYS TO CARE FOR HIS PEOPLE. But … If God cares and loves His people, why should He show it through suffering? So let’s see the life of Naomi in the book of Ruth.

Once upon time there was famine in the land of Israel. One from Bethlehem-Judah named Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, went to country of Moab to live there. Then Elimelech died there. Naomi was left with her two sons, who eventually married women from Moab, Ruth and Orpah. Then her two sons died too, so Naomi alone with her two daughters-in-law.

Naomi had two choices: stay in Moab in the sad memories of her husband and two beloved sons who died there, or return to Israel, the Promised Land, from where she came from. By God’s grace, Naomi returned to Israel with Ruth, Mahlon’s wife, who was determined to go wherever Naomi goes. This was Naomi’s word about her life:

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara,  because THE ALMIGHTY HAS MADE MY LIFE VERY BITTER. I went away full, but  THE LORD HAS BROUGHT ME BACK EMPTY. Why call me Naomi? THE LORD HAS AFFLICTED ME; THE ALMIGHTY HAS BROUGHT MISFORTUNE UPON ME.” (Ruth 1:20-21 NIV)

It was not words that comes out of a bitter and disappointed heart with God. It was Naomi’s recognition that GOD ALMIGHTY ALWAYS EXIST AND WORK in all her suffering. Naomi knew for sure that all things God allowed to happen in her life is to bring her back home, bringing her back to God and all His promises.

She remembered… when the famine occurred ten years ago, she and her family chose to leave Israel, the land on which the Lord had promised to bless and care for His people. Leaving the Promised Land is the same with to doubt the promises of God. She went away full, which is full of plans, hopes, and dreams of a better tomorrow, and possibly by bringing all their treasures, to build a new future in a foreign country. Then suffering for the sake of suffering was “forcing” her to return to the Promised Land despite with “empty hands”, nothing else can be expected and relied upon besides God!!

Sometimes we are also like that. When faced with problems, we don’t immediately seek God but instead seek help from others with our own strength. Sometimes we are so confident that we don’t fully rely on God until God allows suffering to rob all we have. Maybe it’s money, position, power, self-esteem, relationships, or anything else that WITHOUT WE REALIZE ALREADY REPLACE THE POSITION OF GOD IN OUR HEARTS. Sometimes we feel our hearts are right and our relationship with God is all right, until suffering discloses hidden secrets from the depths of our hearts and makes us realize our true reality. That’s when we are purified and our commitment with God is renewed!!

“I USED TO WANDER OFF UNTIL YOU DISCIPLINED ME; but now I closely follow your word. You are good and do only good; teach me your principles.” (Psalms 119:67-68 NLT)

Sometimes the bitter things permitted by God as a form of His care for His people. The care of God is not only about an abundant blessing, but also discipline, rebuke, and protection for His people. Discipline and rebuke so that we repent of sin and soon return to Him. Protection – not just for the salvation of body and soul – but also protect us from everything that potentially to lead us away from God. In order to care for us, sometimes God has to discipline, rebuke, punish, and let us through suffering for our good, like a father to his beloved child.

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the LORD’S DISCIPLINE, and do not lose heart when he REBUKES you, because the Lord DISCIPLINES those He loves, and He PUNISHES everyone He accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:5-6 NIV)

If God allows us to suffer, that means God cares about our lives. Why go through suffering? Only God knows!! He knows before anything happens, He knows our hearts, He knows our tendencies toward everything, and He knows exactly how to treat each one of us. He knows when to talk to us through the word we read, through the words of others, through an event, or through suffering. When we ask “why”, no human answer can satisfy us. For He is God. It is impossible to understand His decision with our mind. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!.” (Romans 11:33 AMP)

One thing we must understand is that God is love and everything He does for us is out of love. When illustrated very simply, the God’s care is like parents who teaches and disciplines their children. A good parent will discipline their child to eat, learn, or sleep at the proper hour even if the child is in the mood to play. A good parent will supervise and not allow their child to do things that are not good for the child, and train their child to live in good habits that can make the child grow and develop to the maximum. When necessary, parents will be angry or punish their child who did wrong. In the feelings and limitations of a child’s understanding, of course the child will feel suffer and cry. But one day… according with their growth and maturity, they will know that all that their parents have done is for their good. So it is with our Father in Heaven. Whatever He does that makes us suffer is for our good, for He is a good Father.

THE GOOD FATHER

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN GIVE GOOD GIFTS to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 NIV)

When we pray and say “Amen” about GOOD GIFTS from the Father, often what we imagine is: get promotion in career, prosperous life, running well in business, and other GOOD THINGS FROM HUMAN VIEWS. But something good in the eyes of man is NOT ALWAYS GOOD FOR US FROM THE FATHER’S VIEW because FATHER KNOWS US VERY WELL. Father really knows what is best for each of His children personally and specifically!! Something good for one of His children does not mean it is also good for His other children. We can not measure our lives by comparing with the lives of others. We can not say God is unfair because we have to experience a certain suffering, while others do not experience it. The Father gives and does every thing according to our maturity, His perfect time and His plan in each of our lives.

The good gifts of the Father is not only what is good for our happiness and prosperity in the world, but especially what is good and has an impact on our eternal life. Under certain circumstances and when if necessary, God can use the suffering in order to accomplish His plan although actually His heart is not willing to see us suffer: Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion according to the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.” (Lamentations 3:32-33 NLT)

The reason for every thing the Father allows to happen in our lives is: LOVE. If suffering has to happen (even if it is caused by our own mistakes or sin), it will not harm us because God’s purpose is not to destroy us but to build our lives in Him so that He can bless us and make us as His partner to do His works in the world.

In His wisdom and sovereignty, FATHER CAN DO GOOD THINGS THROUGH A BAD CIRCUMSTANCE, as God’s care in Naomi’s life. Who can surmise that after all the painful things she experienced, God not only restored her life but also touched the life of Ruth, even giving a new future for them both. Through Ruth, Naomi was supposed to live alone without heredity, eventually having a grandson, named Obed. As we know, Obed is the grandfather of King David. A priceless gift!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who  have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)

Therefore, if the situation is not good and suffering presses, do not lose hope because our Father must work together in it. But if we know for sure that we still have sin, it is better to straighten it out before God. God’s grace can sanctify and restore us. God is the Master to turn a ruined life into a new glorious one.

GOD WITH US

We can say that God’s care in Naomi’s life is remarkable because the Bible tells us the end of the story. But in everyday life, often we are in a dark valley without knowing “when and how” it will end. In such circumstances, our hope is that the good Shepherd never leaves us. His love always keeps us in spite of the time we can not feel Him. He always walks with us even though sometimes we can not see Him: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,  I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4 NIV) When God with us in the valley of the shadow of death, everything definitely in His control.

Dear reader, SUFFERING IN THE WORLD IS ONLY TEMPORARY, BUT THE LOVE OF GOD IS ETERNAL. If we remain faithful to God then we will get the reward: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Roma 8:18 NIV)

Therefore if God allows suffering to happen … Do not falter, because: “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” (Proverbs 24:10 NIV). Do not become weak, because: “The strong spirit of a man sustains him in bodily pain {or} trouble, but a weak {and} broken spirit who can raise up {or} bear?”(Proverbs 18:14 AMP)

All that power can only be obtained in fellowship with the Holy Spirit which will enlighten our hearts with His word, so that we may understand the will of God. Therefore, let us hold on to the Word of God when we are in distress. “Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight. Your statutes are for ever right; give me understanding that I may live.” (Psalms 119:143-144 NIV)

Do not be angry and disappointed with God because His love never leaves us. The apostle Paul, who had experienced so much suffering in his ministry, said: “Rejoice {and} exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering {and} tribulation; be constant in prayer.”(Romans 12:12 AMP).

Let us still rejoice even though we are in the midst of suffering. Rejoice in the midst of suffering is not based on our feelings, but based on faith in every promise of God and believing that God must fulfill all of His promises, so that in the midst of suffering we can say: I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me.” (Philippians 4:13 AMP)

A M E N

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Additional source:  Sinclair B. Ferguson, “A Heart for God”, by The Banner of Truth Trust, Scotland, 1987

Note: I use this book in Indonesian translation, page 117-132   (“Hati yang Dipersembahkan Kepada Allah”, Momentum Christian Literature, Surabaya, 2010, cetakan-3, translated by Hendry Ongkowidjojo)

Photo Credit: Google Images  (edited with pixlr app)

Rejoice Within Suffering

 

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

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

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

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

And in his final exhortation to the Philippians,

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

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

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

(Philippians 3:10-11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karina – Living by faith

*) Quote from Dwight L Moody

Image source: Renfrew Christian Fellowship

HOLDING THE ANGER (guest post)

Anger is one form of expression of human emotions. Everyone can feel angry, including a child who has not been able to express the feelings through words. Many things can trigger our anger, from big things to trivial issues. Angry with the particular situation, people around us, ourselves, even against God. People can also feel angry though not know angry to no one or anything. Even some people can hide anger in their hearts although from the outside they look fine. And in the some situations, one can get angry for no reason then vent their anger on others just because of a bad mood. As a Christian, is it wrong to have anger in our hearts? The answer depends on what causes the anger and how we handle it.

 

ANGER KILLS

Anger has dangerous potential if not resolved soon. People who are ruled by anger will tend to vent their emotions in the wrong way and excessive. The Bible had written many stories about the adverse effects of anger, such as Cain and Haman.

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering….. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So CAIN WAS VERY ANGRY, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, SIN IS CROUCHING AT YOUR DOOR…..; it desires to have you, but YOU MUST RULE OVER IT.” (Genesis 4:3-7)

At the time Cain became angry, God didn’t say that Cain had sinned at that moment, but God warned that “SIN IS CROUCHING AT THE DOOR” and Cain MUST RULE OVER IT. Unfortunately Cain didn’t obey God. He allowed the anger to manipulate and control himself. Then the first murder occurred in the history of mankind: Brother killed his brother! All started with an anger!

IN YOUR ANGER DO NOT SIN: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL A FOOTHOLD. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

Do not let the sun goes down while we are still angry. The anger that “momentarily arises in the heart” if not immediately resolved is the same with open up the opportunity for the devil to bring us into the sin: vilification, slander, hatred, resentment, bitterness, murder, and other evil acts. In his anger Cain killed one man, but Haman designed the massacre of one nation simply because he was angry with one man!

And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and did reverence to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or do him reverence……. And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or do him reverence, HE WAS VERY ANGRY. But he scorned laying hands only on Mordecai.……Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus. (Esther 3:2-6 AMP)

Furthermore, we knew that God thwart the evil design of Haman, even it turned destroy himself!!

Unresolved anger can be a snare to ourselves. Maybe we don’t physically kill others, but anger kills our own soul and spirituality, also destroys our relationship with God and our neighbor. Venting anger blindly will not solve the problem, it just makes the situation and communication worse.

There are many other examples in the Bible about the ravages and deaths caused by anger. Therefore the Lord said that we should stop anger immediately before the anger drags us into evil.

CEASE FROM ANGER, AND FORSAKE WRATH; Do not fret–it only causes harm. (Psalms 37:8 NKJV)

Then to what extent we are allowed to get angry? The answer is back to what is the motivation of our anger, and whether our anger leads to destruction or generates goodness and restoration.

 

THE RIGHT ANGER

The right anger is to be angry for the right reasons with the right sayings and actions, just as Jesus did: Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (John 2:13-16 NKJV)

Jesus was angry for the right reason: NOT COMPROMISING WITH SIN. Jesus immediately acted decisively by removing what was wrong. But notice that Jesus didn’t burst His anger blindly or cursed them. Instead, He told them what their fault is, and taught them what is the right so that they don’t continue to live in their sins.

And as HE TAUGHT THEM, he said, “Is it not written: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because THE WHOLE CROWD WAS AMAZED AT HIS TEACHING. (Mark 11:17-18 NIV)

Right anger must be accompanied by a right guidance and action. The guidance and action must be delivered in love and in harmony with our authority. Wise communication is needed so as not to cause misunderstandings, although the risk is still possible. When Jesus was angry and declared what was their fault, some of them didn’t like it. But on the other hand, many people were amazed at His teaching. They must have experienced a paradigm shift in their lives, as long as they didn’t harden their hearts.

Anger based on true motivation that delivered in the right way with the right guidance and action in love, sooner or later will build people and become a blessing. On the contrary, we will be guilty before God if we don’t angry at the moment we should be angry, like Eli who did nothing and not rebuked his children even though he knew that they have sinned.

I’m bringing judgment on his family for good. He knew what was going on, that his sons were desecrating God’s name and God’s place, and HE DID NOTHING TO STOP THEM. (1 Samuel 3:13 MSG)

I’ve told him that I’m about to judge his family forever because of the iniquity that he knew about. His sons committed blasphemyg and HE DID NOT REBUKE THEM. (1 Samuel 3:13 ISV)

There is a moment we must be angry, that is when we see unrighteousness and various forms of sinful deeds. But again, the anger must be controlled and delivered with love.

 

SLOW TO BECOME ANGRY

Anger is a normal psychological reaction and doesn’t necessarily make us become sinners in the time we feel angry, but it doesn’t mean we free to be angry. Angry isn’t the same as irritability. Everyone has many reasons to get angry if always follow ego and feelings. It will form our personality and characters become irritable person if we don’t handle it.

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and SLOW TO BECOME ANGRY, (James 1:19 NIV)

God not only asks us to slowly become angry, but also teaches us not to associate with one easily angry:

DO NOT MAKE FRIENDS WITH A HOT-TEMPERED MAN, DO NOT ASSOCIATE WITH ONE EASILY ANGERED, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared. (Proverbs 22:24-25 NIV)

This shows how anger is so bad and harmful to our lives. Why? “for MAN’S ANGER does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:20 NIV)

Man’s anger is all anger that comes from human flesh: offended, feeling belittled, hurt, disappointed, dissatisfied, and everything from human ego. Man’s anger is always self-centered: what bothers me, what I don’t like, what I want, what I think is good, and everything that is centered on “me”. The benchmark is always “me”, regardless of the other person. Cain and Haman are examples. Cain was angry because envy of his brother and felt rejected by God. Haman was angry because he felt unappreciated. The Bible tells clearly how the bad consequences of man’s anger.

 

SILENT AND MEDITATE

As human beings who are still living in blood and flesh, we can’t escape completely from egocentricity because we all still proceed to perfection. Then how if our hearts hit by anger??

BE ANGRY, AND DO NOT SIN. MEDITATE WITHIN YOUR HEART on your bed, and be still. Selah (Psalms 4:4 NKJV)

Be angry  and sin not; COMMUNE WITH YOUR OWN HEARTS upon your beds and be silent (SORRY FOR THE THINGS YOU SAY IN YOUR HEARTS). Selah ! (Psalms 4:4 AMP)

If we angry, don’t hurry to vent! Silence for a moment and take time to meditate deeply: why are we angry, should we be angry, what is our motivation, right or wrong, and so on. When our anger subsides and our heart starts to calm down, we will be able to see the situation and problems more clearly so we can express our hearts wisely, take the right steps, and not fall into sin in our anger.

If we angry for the right reason, the Holy Spirit will anoint and guide us to do what we must do in love and according to His will. If we find ourselves angry for the wrong reasons, the best way is to straighten our hearts and learn to put our flesh under God’s will. What if the anger has brought us into sin? The forgiveness is always available to everyone who confesses sin: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NKJV)

 

WALK AND LIVE IN THE SPIRIT

We can’t be a meek, patient, loving, and not grumpy person just by relying on our own strength. All it requires CHANGES FROM WITHIN. There is an ego that must be eroded, the flesh that must be subjugated to Christ’s will, the character to be processed, and the heart formed by God. We can indeed control anger with our own understanding and strength, but only God can do divine things with eternal fruits in our lives. The key is to live in communion with the Holy Spirit.

But I say, walk and live  in the  Spirit ; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the  Spirit, and the  Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other , so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do. (Galatians 5:16-17 AMP)

If we always walk and live in the Holy Spirit then our lives will bear the fruit of the Spirit: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a NKJV)

If we have love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, then we will not be easily angry. Let’s depend on and obey the Holy Spirit so that we mature in spirituality and character and become wise person who can control our emotions, even able to assuage the anger of others.

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. (Proverbs 29:11 NIV)

Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images  (edited with pixlr app)

 

TRUST GOD’S HEART (guest post)

As believers, prayer is like an entrance to a hopeful path, that along the way we can get answers to all the struggles. In every hope we bring to God, the happiest thing is if God gives us what we ask for. But the fact is we do not always get what we want, even if we plead with tears!!!

Many of God’s children pray for years of asking for miracles, but are instead faced with the opposite of their hope. While at the same time there are children of God with similar problems rejoicing in receiving the miraculous help from the hand of God. If we are in such a position, can we still trust God? Can we still believe that God is good while our situation seems to deteriorate? What is wrong? Do we lack of faith so we failed to obtain what we “believe in”? Do we still keep certain sins so that our answers to prayer are hindered? Before drawing a conclusion, let’s learn from some of the stories in the Bible.

 

IF NOT

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were descendants of the tribe of Judah who were brought to Babylon when king Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem. In Babylon, they were part of a chosen Israelite who was educated for three years and then worked for the king. Although they received special facilities from the king’s palace, they did not defile themselves at all. They were committed to always worshiping the God of Israel. God gave them knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom, which made them ten times smarter than all the magicians and astrologers in Babylon (Daniel 1:20). So the king promoted them to sit in government. Then came the time of their faith and faithfulness to God was tested.

King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden statue. Whoever does not bow down and worship to the statue shall be cast immediately into a fiery furnace. When the king was angry because the three of them refused to worship, then Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who in Babylon was called by the name of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, with boldly answered the king:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But IF NOT, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18 NKJV)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego believed that God was able to deliver them. But they also said, “IF NOT”. “If not” here was not “if God was not able” but “if God was not deliver them”. Whatever happens they will still worship God and will not bow down to the idol. The statement stakes not just losing their reputation, position, and wealth, but their lives! That’s not a fictitious belief. Their faith was pure, without falsehoods.

The result is… The furnace was heated seven times more than usual, killed three men who took up them, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked with the angel of God in the midst of the fire without the slightest burning. Even the smell of the fires was not on them, as if a serious problem that just happened did not really happen to them. What an amazing faith that has been responded by God with a miracle that escapes them from the death.

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16b NKJV)

God always responds to faith. Great things are always born from the prayers of the righteous that based on faith. Strong faith will not easily falter although “IF” God do not help. But one important thing we must ponder: Could God not help His children?? Impossible! God MUST help us because God loves us so much. It’s just His way that is not always the same as we want it to be.

 

DURING THERE IS A CHANCE

“And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done.” (2 Kings 18:3 NKJV). When we read the books of Kings and Chronicles, we will find many similar sentences. Several times the Lord mentioned David’s name as a benchmark for kings who did what was right in His sight. Even in the New Testament Jesus is called the son of David: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” (Matthew 1:1 NKJV). Even farther: “He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, man after My own heart, who will do all My will.” (Acts 13:22). All these statements show how God pleased David. But… If the prayer of a man who is pleasing in the heart of God will always be granted by God??

One day the son of David with Bathsheba was sick. For many days David fasted, prayed and cried for God’s mercy so that his son was healed. The result is his son died. Whether David disappointed?

So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” And he said, “WHILE THE CHILD WAS ALIVE, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife. (2 Samuel 12:20-24a NKJV)

DURING THERE IS A CHANCE… That while his son was alive, David did not lose hope. He prayed, fasted, and believed that his son was healed and lived. But when reality differs from his will, David is not disappointed. He still worshiped God and even entertained his wife. With such extraordinary spiritual qualities, why did not God give according to his prayer? Was David “lacking of faith” so that he did not get what he was praying for? Certainly not!

Faith is not measured from “the outcome of faith”. We do not put faith in “the conviction that something we ask for we must have”, but we put faith in the person of God Almighty who can do everything, no matter whether God will do what we ask or not!!! If we put faith in “the outcome of faith” or answer to prayer, then our faith will easily waver if God does not grant what we pray.

True faith means believing in the LORD’s PERSON and not only ON THE WORKS OF HIS HAND!
If God chooses not to do what we ask, it does not mean that God is incapable and does not mean that we are lacking of faith, but because in His omniscience God knows what is better for us.

Keep hoping and praying in faith while there is still a chance. Do not give up! Keep believing and do not be disappointed whatever the outcome. There is always “a hidden blessing” behind every problem and God’s plan is always more beautiful beyond our expectations.

 

YES, NO, WAIT

The two stories above illustrate a prayer based on firm faith. Faith is not wavered by any answer of God. What about us? We know that God always answers prayers. If God answers “YES” we will get what we ask for. When God answers “No”, it means God does not grant our request. And if God has not given an answer, then we must “WAIT”. Until when? Only God knows. We must be patient and keep faith because in times of waiting all possibilities can happen. But do not worry. Though the problem persists and seems to be more complicated, God always keeps us and is in control of everything.

So what if after waiting, it turns out the answer is “no”? If God finally answers “no”, why wait so long? The answer to prayer is always related to God’s plan. We can only measure from the life we have lived and from the planning that we think is good, but God sees our whole life from beginning to end. If God allows anything to happen it means God is working His plan in our lives. Many times we could not understand of God’s ways. All we need is to believe. Believing that God is good, believing that God works together in all things to bring good to us as written in Romans 8:28.

Time and answer of prayer are God’s sovereignty. We can not force faster or slower. We can not question why one prayer is answered “yes”, the other is answered “no”, and another prayer “wait”. Whatever the answer of prayer we receive, that is the best gift from God for our future. If we truly believe in God, we must submit to His will and not impose our will.

In the struggle of the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, He set an example of prayer for all of us: “And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36 NKJV). That is a prayer based on true faith.

True faith does not just stop at “I believe that all things are possible for God”, but in an attitude of submission and surrender: “Not what I will but what God’s will.”

True faith always SUBJECT TO THE WILL OF GOD. Do not ever assume and treat God like a vending machine that once we put the coin into the machine and we simply press the button of the stuff, then immediately we get what we want. We can not force God to make Him willing to obey our will. Precisely in submission and surrender to the God’s will is reflected the real of our quality of faith.

Right now, let us ask the Holy Spirit to light our hearts. If indeed we still have sin, let’s ask God for forgiveness. Let us settle our relationship with the Father so that we may know Him better. The Father’s heart is good and always wants to help His children. Everything we need has been guaranteed by the Father. He knows everything more than what we want and need. If the answer of prayer we receive is not what we ask, then God is preparing for something more beautiful, more noble and eternal. Do not measure the goodness of the Father solely from the deeds of His hands. Do not doubt and question His answer. He is too wise to do wrong. He is too good to do evil. If we do not understand His plan, if we can not see the deeds of His hands, just TRUST HIS HEART. He loves us so much.

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32 NKJV)

 

A M E N

 

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images – pixabay.com  (the text edited with pixlr app)

Trust on the Each Piece

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Ecclesiastes 3:11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note:

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

Karina – Living by faith

*Faith quote by Corrie ten Boom

Image source: cdn.shopify.com

 

 

 

THE CHANGE-MAKER (guest post)

God has the great project of salvation over the world. From time to time, God always calls and chooses people to be the ambassadors of His Kingdom. Those who are willing and credible to carry out the holy mandate of Heaven, that even powerful to save one nation. Not by working alone, but working together until “the baton” be accepted and continued by the next generation. If you and I are be there in it, what will we do for our generation? And what spiritual legacy that we will leave for future generations?

Moses, Samuel, and Manasseh, are three figures from different generation who are ON STRATEGIC POSITION TO MAKE CHANGES for the nation in their time. Yet there was a moment in the journey of the kingdom of Judah, where God mentioned their names in the statement: “Even if MOSES and SAMUEL were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go!….. I will send four kinds of destroyers against them,…..because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem.” (Jeremiah 15:1-4 NIV)

What had been done by Manasseh that made God so angry so that He said Moses and Samuel was not going to be able to mollify His heart??

 

FORGETTING AND MAKING FORGET

The meaning of Manasseh is “someone who forgetting” or “someone who makes us to forget”. There are at least two prominent figures named Manasseh in the Old Testament. The first Manasseh was Joseph’s son that born in Egypt. The second Manasseh was the 14th king of Judah (696-642 BC), the son of King Hezekiah.

The first Manasseh became consolation for his father:  Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh  and said, “It is because GOD HAS MADE ME FORGET ALL MY TROUBLE and all my father’s household.” (Genesis 41:51 NIV)

The second Manasseh, the king of Judah, made the people he led to forget God. He overturned all the spiritual and repentant reforms that his father had committed: “For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed;…..” (2 Kings 21:3 AMP) 

Manasseh’s history and all the sins he committed during his 55 years of rule were written in 2 Kings 21: 1-18 and 2 Chronicles 33: 1-20. He built altars for Baal and set up an Ashera pole. He bowed down to all the starry hosts, worshiped them, and built altars for them in the court of the temple of the Lord. He practiced various forms of occultism, even he burned his own sons in a sacrificial rite in the valley of Ben-hinnom.

“…..He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger……Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites……Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols…..he had caused Judah to commit, so that they did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” (2 Kings 21:6-16 NIV)

With all of his power and influence, Manasseh has made his people to forget God and led them into a severe apostasy! So severely, that sin and its effects were passed down through generations!

Ultimately Manasseh did repent. He even called on his people to return to worship God: “In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; …..Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God…..Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings  and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.” (2 Chronicles 33:12-17 NIV). But because sin had dominated all areas of Judah’s life, so Manasseh’s repentance and appeal was not enough to restore their whole hearts to God immediately.

Let us return to Jeremiah 15:1-4 “Even if MOSES and SAMUEL were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people…..because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem.” (Jeremiah 15:1-4 NIV). Verily, God said it word to the prophet Jeremiah was not in Manasseh’s time alive, but some descendants after Manasseh died. Even though Manasseh has gone but his sin still has an impact on the life of the people he led! Then what about Moses and Samuel?

 

PRAY FOR NATION

“Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called upon His name; They called upon the Lord, and He answered them.” (Psalms 99:6 NKJV) 

Moses and Samuel were two great intercessors who in the past have always prayed to God for the salvation of the Israelites. In Exodus 32:11, 32 Moses pleaded for forgiveness to the Israelites when God wanted to punish them for making a gold calf: But MOSES SOUGHT THE FAVOR OF THE LORD HIS GOD…”..But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

God answered his prayer: In accordance with your great love, FORGIVE THE SIN OF THESE PEOPLE,…..The Lord replied, “I HAVE FORGIVEN THEM, AS YOU ASKED.” (Numbers 14:19-20 NIV)

So it is with Samuel. When Israel was deeply distressed by the Philistine occupation, they asked Samuel to pray: “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us,…..” Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it up as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. HE CRIED OUT TO THE LORD on Israel’s behalf, and THE LORD ANSWERED HIM. (1 Samuel 7:8-9 NIV)

In some instances when God was very angry and wanted to punish Israel, several times Moses and Samuel besought to the Lord and He heard them. So imagine how magnitude and severity of Manasseh’s sins until God said that Moses and Samuel will not be able to change His decision to punish Judah!

 

SALVATION OR DESTRUCTION

Moses, Samuel, and King Manasseh, are the people who are in a strategic position to make a change for their nation. Moses led Israel out of Egypt to the land of Canaan. Samuel was the last judge before Israel entered the era of kings. Samuel also anointed Saul and David to be king. During his priesthood, Samuel was committed to bringing Israel to life in truth: “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.” (1 Samuel 12:23 NKJV)

In contrast to Moses and Samuel who prayed and brought salvation to his people, the king of Manasseh brought his people to destruction. So what is our current role, does our life make other people change in the right direction or vice versa ?!

 

A CHOICE THAT CHANGE THE WORLD

Being like Moses and Samuel or like King Manasseh, it all depends on our choices. I believe that none of us would deliberately choose to be like king Manasseh. But we can make mistakes without we realize. Therefore we must be very careful in everything to avoid becoming a stumbling block or causing a person to fall into sin. We must be wise, especially when we are in a position with authority to make important decisions which it decisions will affect the lives of many people we lead. Remember, more higher our position then more greater and wider the impact we make.

If we choose to be a change-maker who leads others to salvation, then we must return to the breath of Christian life that is intimate fellowship with God as the lifestyle of Moses and Samuel.

Moses was close to God like a friend: “So the Lord spoke to Moses FACE TO FACE, AS A MAN SPEAKS TO HIS FRIEND…..” (Exodus 33:11a NKJV)

Samuel knew God so he acted according to the heart and mind of God: “Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest WHO SHALL DO ACCORDING TO WHAT IS IN MY HEART AND IN MY MIND. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever.” (1 Samuel 2:35 NKJV)

If we become more intimate with God, we will to know Him more and change more and more like Him. The way we see the world, our love for our neighbor, our vision and our mission, all will be more in tune with His heart. If we always abide in Him then our lives will bear fruit for His glory. His power working within and through us, and will make us His effective tool for rescue souls and transforming the world.

Become a change-maker that transforms the world! Does it sound too grandiose? No! Because it is not by our own strength but by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. Are only certain people that God can use? No, because God can use anyone who surrender and obey Him!

In large or small scope, God entrusts us with a mission: that is to save souls. One nation, one city, one family, or one man, all valuable in the heart of God. The change of one’s life is very meaningful because it will have an impact on the lives of others. Housewives, employees, entrepreneurs, students, laborers, artists, and so on, have the responsibility of making changes in accordance with our respective portions and positions. No matter how small our steps in God’s will, it will have an impact on the “world” around us.

We are a part of God’s “team”, which is composed of believers from all era. People who do God’s will and work their part in obedience and faithfulness until the end of their lives. From time to time, generation after generation, will complement each other until the whole of God’s plan is fulfilled.

Let us always stay in God’s love and choose to live righteously, and deliberately direct our lives to His will so that we can be used by Him to change the world around us. Nothing is impossible for Him. We just have to continue living in intimacy with Him, trusting, and giving our lives to do His will till the end.

Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (the text edited with pixlr app)