Tag Archive | Christ

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)

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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)

ONLY THROUGH LOVE (guest post)

Our Christian identity is not like ID card that reads “Christian”, the symbol of the cross, or a painting of Jesus hanging on the walls of our homes. Nor various attributes nuanced “Christian” that we use.

Our Christian identity is LOVE, because love is God’s “FINGER PRINT” in us. Only through the love then the world will know the Father through us.

Have we live and move only in and by Father’s love??

From the beginning the Christ followers had experience a variety obstacles and challenges. Acts 4 tells us that Peter and John were arrested by the priests because they proclaim Jesus’ resurrection. In Chapter 5 the high priest and his followers captured the apostles and put them in jail because of jealous and indignation. And after the martyrdom of Stephen in chapter 6 and 7, many obstacles and challenges increasingly expanded until now.

This is not surprising because the Lord Jesus himself said: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18–19 NKJV)

As followers of Christ in the modern world, we not only have to maintain the purity of faith in the midst of an increasingly free lifestyle, but we also have to be careful and thoughtful in dealing with various obstacles and challenges that may come. Knowingly or not, the world will continually see us. They see every speech and our actions. They assess how a follower of Christ to respond when treated not well.

When our hearts are hurt, whether we will reply to wounding with sharper “arms” or we will forgive them.  When we are insulted, whether we will turn disparage them or we give them smile. When we hated, whether we will respond with scorn or we will give them love. The world will see what our respond when all the unpleasant things happened to us.

In Acts 6 & 7, Stephen was being treated cruel and unjust. He was falsely accused on charges of blasphemy: Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen.  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” (Acts 6:9-11)

The result of all that is Stephen brought to the council and must take the punishment that should not be, that died at the hands a lot of people who stoned him. Right at the threshold of death, Stephen prayed: “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60 NKJV)

In the midst of overflows hatred and anger of crowd to him, Stephen’s heart surrounded by the love that enabled him to forgive those who wronged him. What kind of love that able to forgive that great sin? It was not love that comes from the heart of an ordinary person!

In Acts 6:3,5,8 was written that Stephen was a good reputation person, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, full of faith and power. All of it, are spiritual qualities which only owned by the pious people, namely those who actually maintain his relationship with God. People are not just run a religious duty, but always live in intimacy with God, abiding, and really put their lives on God.

The reflection of Stephen’s intimacy with God is look so clear in the council when the witnesses gave false testimony about Stephen: And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw HIS FACE AS THE FACE OF AN ANGEL. (Acts 6:15 NKJV)

Stephen was full of God’s presence. The glory of God is so real surround him until other people can see it! The Holy Spirit lives within Stephen so he filled with love that enabled him to forgive and faithful till the end. Musing for all of us is: Did anyone else see the glory of God through our lives??

We know that human nature is returning evil for evil, and kindness with kindness. Some are even repay kindness with evil. But as followers of Christ we are required to live in different standard of love:

“For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46 NKJV)

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28 NKJV)

Christ teaches us to love those who hate us because they don’t know what they did. They hate us because they do not know God the Father. “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.” (John 15:21 NKJV)

If we hate them, then who will preach the Gospel of Salvation to them?! Hate those who “persecute” us is tantamount to closing the door of salvation for them. Father’s will is that everyone is saved. Therefore we must demonstrate God’s love for them through concrete actions. Thus they will get to know Father in Heaven through us.

If we’ve done a good and right thing but others are still figure out our mistakes… If we are currently facing particular pressure because we are the obedient Christians… If someone mock us as “fanatics” or “pastor” because we do not want to compromise with certain sin… No matter of the form of obstacles and challenges that happened, our first response must be LOVE. If our hearts are always filled with Christ’s love, then that love will keep us so that our next move will not deviate from love corresponding with Father’s will.

In 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 was written the extreme comparison of love. Let me quote it in full for we reflect together:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV)

Love is our Christian identity. Without love, all we do is nonsense, useless, and nothing! Let us not be known just as Christians who went to church, energetic in ministry, and is active in various social activities. All was good, but above all let us be known as a Christian who full of loving Christ.

However, how perfect the love of Christ! How high and deep His love is always far beyond of human’s love. Without His help, we would not be able to reach it. The love that could meet standard of God’s love is only love that comes from God’s Spirit alone!

“Now hope does not disappoint, because THE LOVE OF GOD HAS BEEN POURED OUT IN OUR HEARTS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5 NKJV)

If we want to have the love of Christ, we must always be in with the Holy Spirit. If we continue to build intimacy with the Holy Spirit, from time to time, we will be change into more and more like Christ, so that we will enabled to love others as Christ has loved us first.

The core of Christianity is love because God is love. The reason of God’s works for the world is love. If we wish to be a blessing and bring many souls to Christ, there is no way other than we must always be connected with the Holy Spirit.

Let us open our heart and allow the Holy Spirit pour Father’s love till the love attached to be our identity that cannot be separated from our lives, flow through our lives, and touch a lot of people so they can feel and see it. Because only through love we can be a blessing and praising God.

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV)

Amen

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo credit: Google Images

Edit with: pixlr App

THE TITHE (guest post)

the-tithe

Every believer will surely want to please God and live in His entire promise fulfillment. Some of us are praying, fasting, and serving God with hope will be blessed. It’s not wrong because God promise and longs to bless His children. But on the other hand there are certain things that we “should do first” before all of God’s promises fully fulfilled in our lives. One is to “give” tithes.

 

RECOGNIZING GOD GREATNESS AND WORKS

In a battle in Genesis 14, Sodom and some of its allies conquered by king Chedorlaomer. They took all the wealth of Sodom and Gomorrah, including Lot and all his possessions. Hearing brother was taken captive, then Abraham and his men were trained to chase and finally defeated them. Abraham took home back Lot and various possessions booty.

After Abraham returned with triumphant from the battle, Melchizedek meet Abraham and bringing the bread and wine. Then Melchizedek blessed Him. After that was written in verse 20“And he gave him a tithe of all…”

Abraham, the father of all who believe, the owner promises “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed…..” (Genesis 22:18), gave tithes to Melchizedek after Melchizedek blessed him!

Who was Melchizedek so Abraham gave tithes to him?

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God….first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” (Hebrews 7:1-2)

Now observe and consider how great  this was to whom even Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth  of the spoils. And it is true that those descendants of Levi who are charged with the priestly office are commanded in the Law to take tithes from the people–which means, from their brethren–though these have descended from Abraham. But this person who has not their Levitical ancestry received tithes from Abraham  and blessed him who possessed the promises . Yet it is beyond all contradiction that it is the lesser person who is blessed by the greater one.(Hebrews 7:4-7 AMP)

Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek because he admitted that Melchizedek is greater and higher than himself!

As believers, giving a tithe to God means recognizing the greatness of God and recognizes that all blessings we receive are from God. Tithing means to believe that God, Jehovah Jireh, is able to maintain and meet all our needs.

 

BELONGS TO GOD

“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, BELONGS TO THE LORD; it is holy to the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30 NIV)

Indeed, when bringing tithes to the house of the Lord, we are not “give” offerings but “bringing back” what actually belongs to God. But I still use the word “give” because God is not going to rob us. Although it is a must to do, but God wants us to do it not because of coercion, but with joy and love Him.

Tithe is belongs to God, God’s rights. It is not “if we can or “if we want or “if we are able”, but “WE MUST”! No matter in abundance or shortage, we must bring tithe to God.

 

TITHE IS A TITHE

You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year.” (Deuteronomy 14:22 NKJV)

Tithe is not a freewill offerings as we like. Tithe is a tithe, should not be reduced. God doesn’t look big or small of the nominal we give but God rather look to the amount is actually one-tenth of our income or not.

Some Christians that living in abundance think that the number of one-tenth of their income is too big, then they cut a certain number and assume that it is okay because after reducing the amount still very big. Otherwise, that who living in shortage assumes that it doesn’t matter if they not give tithe.

God’s word speaks strictly about those who do not give tithe properly:

Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud Me. But you say, In what way do we rob or defraud You?  tithes and offerings. (Malachi 3:8 AMP) 

People who do not do or do not fully bringing back the tithe called the fraudsters and robbers who take what belongs to God.

 

TWO PROMISES

“I have a small income and not enough. If I still have to set aside for tithing, how can I meet all of my needs?”  Some of God’s child who have financial problem will think like that. Mathematically is true and logical but we don’t live based on the world standard. We actually lives in the law of Kingdom of God that supernaturally far beyond of human logic.

We believe that God is not selfish God who demands us to do His command without caring about our situation. God isn’t an extortionist and not a beggar. God is the owner of the entire universe and everything in it, including the breath of our lives. God doesn’t need our money. Then for what God asks us to give tithe?

 

TITHE OPEN THE DOOR OF BLESSING

Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10 AMP)

There is power in obedience. When we move to do God’s word, then the power of the word will work wonders and make the promise of God becomes real in our lives.

By Malachi 3:10, when we bring the tithes to the house of God, then God will open the windows of heaven and pour His blessings to us abundantly.

When you have very wealthy, God is able to bless you more. And if you are still in a state of a mediocre or even the needy, do not worry about your finances will worsen when you set aside a tenth of all your income.

We will not become richer by “reducing the amount of our tithe” and we will not become poorer because of “we cut our rations to bring tithe to God

I love to give a short testimony to you. Compared with people who have a lot of possessions, I am not a rich people. My life isn’t luxurious based on the world size. There are certain situations I also have to be thrifty. But no matter how much I get I always give tithes with joy and gratitude to God. I don’t delay it, do not bid, but even prioritize it. After tithing then I start to use the rest for other needs.

Until today I proved that I never lack because (Please forgive me should use the following words) I must cut ten percent of my budget for tithe. In fact, by faith I dare to say that I am rich in Christ. My life is happy. God has always helped me in all situations. God always provides all of my needs with His way and always on time. I enjoy His cares and loves. Also I am grateful to His way by using me to be a blessing. God’s promise is “Yes” and “Amen”

 

SEED PROTECTION

“While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”  (Genesis 8:22 NKJV)

 “…..for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7b NKJV)

The Word of God depicts very clearly that this life is to sow and reap. A student must sow through studying diligently to achieve graduation with good grades. A marketing must sow through friendliness, product presentations, proposals, etc. to reap consumer confidence. An athlete must sow through exercise discipline and unyielding to victory in the match. Every aspect of life is about sowing and reaping. It is the same in the terms of finance and tithing.

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness (2 Corinthians 9:10 NKJV)

Our job is to sow the seeds that have been provided by God. But there is time to wait between sowing and reaping. It is a crucial time span that will determine the outcome of our harvest because there is the devourer can eat the seed we sow and destroy the fruit so that eventually run out and do not give any results. But God gave His promise:

Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house….. And I will rebuke the devourer  for your sakes and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground, neither shall your vine drop its fruit before the time in the field, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:10-11 AMP)

When we obey bring our tithes, God promised give protection of our seed we sow in the land of our life so that it can grow and produce fruit.

Now let’s together see our lives. If there are certain things that we try the best but always failed or didn’t give the outcome as they should be, there may be a devourer destroys our seed and fruit. Are we doing disobedience especially about tithing? Let us pray and allow the Holy Spirit shows it to us and immediately repent

From the two points above, we know that the tithe is not to meet God’s needs but for the sake of ourselves.

 

ALL MUST

God gives the right to the sons of Levi to receive the tithe from the people as it is written in Numbers 18:21. But God’s Word also says that the Levites had to give tithe.

Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak (Hebrews 7:9 NKJV)

If Abraham, the father of faith, offered a tithe, then there is no single reason for us to not give tithe as well. No matter who we are and not matter what is our profession (church full-timer, evangelist, employee, entrepreneurs, etc.) ALL MUST bring tithe to God.

 

OBEDIENCE AND PURE HEART

Not bring the tithe it is the same with shut the door of blessing and opening the door of devourer to damage the fruit and foil our harvest.

God promises a blessing and protection for those who obey to bring tithe. Believe and put hope on that promise. God is pleased when we understand His word and then waiting for Him to fulfill it. But do not give tithe is only a motivation to pursuit His blessing. Scripture does not say “Wait for His blessing” but “Wait on the Lord”.

When we give tithe simply to waiting for God’s blessing then we will be people who always make calculation with God. We will miss love and purity of our faith.

This time let me remind you of something that I am sure we are all already know, that the tithe belongs to the Lord and we have to bring it completely to God.

There are two teaching about  to whom we should to bring our tithe.  Some churches teach the tithe should be given to the church,  some other allow tithe give directly to the needy. We don’t have to debate this thing.  Let us obey our church leader in which we attend,  embedded and grow: “Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them , for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account . (Hebrews 13:17a AMP). The Holy Spirit will lead us to the whole truth.

Dear readers, please allow me once again in the love of Christ to remind you:

All that we have received is not merely our efforts. All is a blessing and a gift from Heaven. Therefore bring our tithe faithfully. Don’t reduce the amount because the tithe is belongs to God, but do it all with gratitude and full of joy for our loves and obedience to God Father. His promise is sure to be evident to anyone who obeys Him.

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for GOD LOVES A CHEERFUL GIVER. (2 Corinthians 9:7 NKJV)

 

AMEN

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo credit: Google images (edit with pixlr app)

NOTE:

Dear readers, thank you so much for your precious time to read this post. Karina still on vacation in Japan. All comments will reply by Karina when she come back next month. Once again thank you and God bless you all. (Warm regards from Karina)

AGREED (Guest Post)

AGREED

By infinity love God came down to the world to save humans. From the outset His hand reached out waiting for us to accept Him. His great plan has been prepared for each people who willing to surrender to Him. There is no one that “simply” salvaged but each people are given the honor to work with God on this earth.

His plan is not ordinary plan, yet a terrific plan which is not affordable by the hand and human existence, EXCEPT when we willing to walk with Him! Not just to walk together, but hand in hand and AGREED with Him.

Like one yoke on the two oxen’s shoulder… Without a deal, two people cannot walk together and achieve the goal, because it will tug of war between the two interests.

“Can two walk together, unless they are AGREED?” (Amos 3:3 NKJV)

“Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren’t GOING TO THE SAME PLACE?” (Amos 3:3 MSG)

Amos, the Prophet speaks of the God of Israel. That verse is not just about the relationship of man with man, but the image of God and man walk together.

We will never be able to walk with God if we do not agree with him. Agreed with His mind, agreed with His heart, agreed with His ways, and agree with His objectives. That means we have agreed with the whole His word.

Agree with God means always say yes and no arguing (contend) with His word. When we do not do His word, that’s when we do not agree with him. When we act out of His word, that’s when we’re arguing (contend) with Him.

Agreed with God means always be obey to Him no matter the conditions! Indeed it is not easy for people have full of limitations and weaknesses. But there is ONE INFINITUDE WAY WITH GOD… THAT IS FAITH!

 

FAITH

If we want a life above average, let’s walk with Jesus. But, often His way is not the same as our way. Often our brain cannot understand His ways. His truth is always contrary with the world concept, but we must continue to be in it without compromise! That’s why we must have faith..

Without faith, there would be no meeting point between God and us. Without faith, no one is able to walk with Him. His plan is too magical. His ways is fathomless. His mind is immeasurable.

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways!” (Romans 11:33 NET)

“O Lord, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep. A senseless man does not know, Nor does a fool understand this.” (Psalms 92:5-6 NKJV)

“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. “For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 MSG)

Walk with God means live by faith. If we want to walk with Him, let’s prepared to believe and trust to His guidance. Not easy, but not too difficult, because God never leaves us to fend for themselves. He is with us, in us. Our part is to be always agrees with His word.

Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, the prophets, apostles and followers of Christ are faithful to the end, are the ones who agrees with God. They catch the vision of God and totally give themselves to live in it. They walk with the Lord faithfully though the world often opposed. Their faith is proven by obedience in their every action.

Faith is not just a “sense of trust”, but faith is always accompanied by concrete actions, because our works are evidence of our faith.

How can they catch the vision of God and are fully confident to stay in it until the end?? Because they do not simply have knowledge about God, but they live in intimate fellowship with God in their daily life.

 

LIVING IN HABITUAL FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD

Our relationship with God is a very personal relationship. Jesus several times describes His people as the bride, and Christ is the bridegroom. And with the revelation of God, Isaiah, the prophet was uttered very beautiful prophetic about the relationship of God and His people:

For as a young man marries a virgin, So shall your sons marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62:5 NKJV)

That’s supposed to be as close and as intimate our relationship with God. But our intimacy with God will be not established if we do not accustom and train ourselves to interact closely with God.

Enoch is a man who walked with God and continues to build intimacy with God in all of his life until God lifted him. “Enoch WALKED STEADILY WITH GOD. And then one day he was simply gone: God took him.” (Genesis 5:24 MSG)

As well as Noah

“These are the records of the generations (family history) of Noah. Noah was a righteous man [one who was just and had right standing with God], blameless in his [evil] generation; Noah walked (LIVED) [IN HABITUAL FELLOWSHIP] with God.” (Genesis 6:9 AMP)

They both were very thirsty for fellowship with God more than his contemporaries and God responded by use their life in unexpected ways.

God wants much closer to us compared to we want to know Him. When we seek God wholeheartedly and says “yes, I do” to Him, God will impart His power and change us until we have the capacity to be the doer of the divine plan of God.

“…..but the people who [are spiritually mature and] know their God will display strength and take action [to resist].” (Daniel 11:32b AMP)

“….. the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (Daniel 11:32b NKJV)

Only people who know God that can be His co-worker because to walk together with Him need agreement and unity in all things. If we don’t know God so we will not know His “language”. Without the same “language” we will impossible to understand each other. If not understanding each other will be impossible to agree each other. What is God’s “language”? How God speaks with us? The answer is through His word.

 

IN HIS WORD

“Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.” (John 8:43 NKJV)

God never acts contrary to His word. Because it is very important for us to diligently read, contemplate, and do His word. When we faithfully abide in the God’s word, then our sensitivity to the Lord’s voice will be more refined, our minds will be renewed, and our hearts will be more aligned with God. Thus, the easier it is for God to direct us according to His will!

 

CONTINUOUSLY WILLINGNESS

Our agreement with God begins when by God’s grace we open our hearts to receive Jesus as Lord and one and only savior. That’s the first step of our faith with the seed of faith that comes from God alone. Surely we are being welcomed His outstretched hand. It is our first step of walk with the Lord and begins to enter to His plan. Keep moving, don’t stop, don’t turn, and don’t turn back!

“Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:38 NKJV)

The first step is the beginning of everything, but we cannot stop and be satisfied until there. If we want to continue to grow in God, so we must have the continuously willingness as when we have opened our heart to invite the Lord Jesus come into our heart. Continuously willingness to leave all of ego, seeking personal satisfaction, sin and worldly pleasures. Also willingness to always obey and formed by God until we will in the image of God.

We cannot continue to be the spiritual baby. We must grow to be adult, puberty, and is ready to become the bride of Christ. Only people who have grown that can be trusted well by God.

Continue to agree with God by constantly obedient to His every word. Many people want to know God’s will, but did not want to obey. Many people want to hear the voice of God, but do not regularly read God’s word. CAN NOT!

As the two persons who continue to closely communicate intensely, the longer they “language” will be the same, their thoughts and perspectives more aligned, and then they are more able to reach an agreement. So it is between us and God. If we understand “His language”, then we will be understand His heart, easily capture His vision, and easier to understand of His every instruction.

God does not force us. God is looking who are willing. Obey and do all of God’s will in willingness, then every our step of obedience will bring us to achieve the fulfillment of His plan for our lives.

May the strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit will sustain us, so that we remain firm and able to remain faithful to all calls and tasks assigned to us resolved definitively, according to His will. Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Image source: Google Images (edit with pixlr app)

CHRIST IS ENOUGH (Guest Post)

CHRIST IS ENOUGH

This world will never free from a crisis such as the economic crisis, social, politic, energy, and so on. Some part, the impact directly felt in the society particularly related with the economic issues. When the world got crisis, cannot deny that many God’s child got the impact as well. Whatever the professions they are also experiencing the price escalation in the market. The Christian employer would experience lost of job, the Christian entrepreneur could get turnover derivation, or even bankrupted and lost their asset. As long as living in this world, there is no one will invulnerable with the problems. But whatever happened we do believe Jesus is God who in control over the world. There is nothing happens without His consent, as well as our life.

 

BITTER OR SWEET

There will be two reactions came out when God’s children got the crisis. Disappointed to God or not, complaining or be grateful, be apathetic or continue to believe and put hope in God, away from God or even love God more, spiritless to serve God because they felt that serving God was useless or even more viable, as well as a variety reactions that reflect two contrary heart condition: BITTER or SWEET.

In the normal situation, moreover when living in abundance and everything was going okay, it is so easy to be grateful and praising the Lord: “God, You are so good. Thank you. I really love you. You are amazing for me. I believe in You.” However, if in the opposite condition our heart really being tested! Whether the reaction that came out will be still sweet or our heart changed to be bitter. Thing like this is cannot be made up. Bitter or sweet are responses that came out from the deepest of our heart and refined by sorrow.

“As in water face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man.” (Proverb 27:19 NKJV)

Such as a foundation sturdiness of a building tested by shocks, as well as a human heart. When all the form of pleasure, position, luxuries, amenities, pride, and everything that gives comfort to the body and soul suddenly shaken or permitted by God to be taken from our lives, in fact would be appear on what foundation we build our lives. If the foundation is in Christ we will remain firm but if we put the sense of secure and happiness on the comfort of living, then when the economic crisis hit us and  everything didn’t go as good as usual our faith will shaken.

 

CHRIST ALONE OR CHRIST PLUS

Let’s have a look to the Israelites’ journey. With His mightiness God took the Israelites out from Egypt. Because of God, they that were originally had status as slaves, came out from Egypt with richness. “And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed…….” (Exodus 3: 21-22 NKJV)

Not only equip with possessions, God also always maintain that they do not hunger and thirst even in the desert. Their food is always fresh every day and the water came out from the rock of Horeb (Exodus 17:6).

God provides everything the Israelites’ needs. “And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet.” (Deuteronomy 29:5 NKJV)  God protect and preserve them perfectly.

Not only act as a God who provided for their needs, the Lord himself who accompanies them along the way. “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.” (Exodus 13:21 NKJV)

It turns out this wasn’t enough for the Israelites. They were always reacting bitterly when every time faced inconvenience. Angry and complain. This was a daily thing that faced by Moses since the first step he leads Israelites out from Egypt.

When Moses took Israelites out of Egypt, the Israelites voluntarily followed Moses because they knew that they will go to the Promise Land which is abound with milk and honey, the place where they will live as free men and living in abundance. But, when in the journey they facing the difficulties they began to fall. Several times they fell into the idolatry and rebellion against God.

Their views were not focused on the Promise land but rather to the Egypt pleasures that has been left by them. They were complaining and got angry with God for the things about the comforts of life:  …“Who will give us meat to eat?  We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic;  but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” (Number 11: 4-6 NKJV)

They just saw all the hardships that they go through on the way without remembering and are grateful of the deeds and goodness of God. In fact, they did not honor the God who has been with them, as if the Lord’s presence alone is not enough!

What about the humans today?  The modern humans may not make statues and worship it but many people adore luxuries, position, fame, and so on. Even many Christians lost their faith when they lose their wealth or anything they think is worth.

A friend of mine had left the Lord just because a mate who requested never comes. Other brethren in Christ didn’t want to worship God because his wife who prayed not healed but instead called by God to return to the Father’s house. Another person still attended the church but his faith is not pure anymore because he had gone to particular idolatry place to get the wealth. It was so sad to hear all of it.

Actually what we are looking for in this world? What is most precious to us?

Is CHRIST ALONE enough for us or the CHRIST PLUS: Christ plus His blessing, Christ plus His miracles, etc? What if that there is no “PLUS”?

Is our faith will remain firm as Habakkuk?

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

I know that writing about this thing is much easier than live it. Currently I am facing the problems and waiting for the Father’s help. I really do not even know when exactly the help will come. I have to be patient and still rejoice in the Lord. It is so easy to say but not so easy to run it. But I am really sure the help will surely come. I can only pray and trying to live more earnestly and persevere in hope while do my part faithfully.

Christ is promising everything for us: to be the head and not the tail, keep going up and not going down, blessed abundantly, etc as written on Deuteronomy 28:13 (click here). But, what if for a moment we are allowed got decreasing like Joseph? What if for a moment our treasures are allowed retrieved like Job? What if we already fully alive to the Gospel but have to suffer like Paul who often suffers from hunger, shipwreck, jailed, etc.? (2 Corinthians 11:23-29)

Whether the Christ that we have is more than enough?

Or we have the heart to trade Him with the pleasures we desire?

Is the love of Christ is more than enough compared with everything so that we can say like the Apostle Paul:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 35, 38-39 NKJV)

 

ETERNAL INHERITANCE

Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26 NKJV)

The world is not our last port. Our true destination is Heaven. Our true goal is Heaven. Life in this world is only a journey that must be traversed before reaching the eternity. Our focus is supposed to the Heaven but often our energy and attention taken up only to take care of the entire dynamic in this journey. It is so sad much faith of God’s children fall when encountering the problems in the journey then decided to leave God.

Maybe this time you are in trouble too. Let’s together strengthen our faith and hope in God. God’s promises are “Yes and Amen”. God will surely help us and His help even more intense and powerful than we expected. I strongly believe that it will be happens to you too! Just believe! Don’t allow the problems in this mortal world rob our eternal inheritance.

For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” Says the Lord, who has mercy on you. (Isaiah 54:10)

We have been called and chosen by Him. Is not that special?! Don’t waste it. Come my brother and sister in Christ, we may not see each other in this world. But if we are remains faithful to the end, we will meet in our eternal home, in Heaven, along with an eternal inheritance of our glorious Christ. Amen.

 

Christ is enough for me, Christ is enough for me.

Everything I need is in You, everything I need.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

No turning back… No turning back!!!

The Cross before me, the world behind me

No turning back… No turning back!!!

Hillsong Live – Christ Is Enough – Live Acoustic (click here)

 

Note: Thank you very much for reading this article. All comments will be replied immediately by Karina after she goes back from her vacation. Jesus blesses you.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

https://sellairene.wordpress.com

 

Smyrna, The suffering Church

 

SMYRNA, THE SUFFERING CHURCH - Karina's Thought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another affliction is the church in Smyrna had long suffering.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Himself reminded:

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

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

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

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

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

The second reward is, “The Eternal life”

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

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

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

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

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

Karina – Living by faith

Supporting material resources:

Clarke, Adam. Commentary on Revelation, studylight.org

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

The Pulpit commentaries, revelation 2, studylight.org

Related post:

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

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

 

 

Image credit:  The Church in Smyrna. padfield.com