Tag Archive | christianity

YOU ARE PRECIOUS MORE THAN YOU HAVE KNOWN (Guest Post)

The most beautiful pearl of life are often hidden deep in the heart

Imprisoned by the hardness and the fragility of the soul

Covered by sorrow and a fleeting pleasure

Distracted by ambitions that sometimes makes man be delirious

 

There is no way to get there, except to surrender to the will of the Father

Allowing His hand to disclose all that is hidden

To let go off everything that you think of as a treasure but actually rubbish

 

Only by following His call and living in His ways

You will find the most beautiful pearl

At that moment, you will understand who you really are

That you are more precious than you have ever known!

 

(Sella Irene – Beautiful Words)

 

Have you ever felt that there is “something” that is lacking even though you have got everything you want? Have you ever felt you should be on a particular path or have to do something that you may not know exactly what it is, but you know that you are prepared for it? Does your heart flush with desire to be an extension of God’s hand more than you have been doing? I call it all “the spiritual hunger and thirst” that coming out of our souls and spirits that wants God. This hunger and thirst for God will push us to seek God, draw nearer to God, and find His calling.

We are designed to live in God’s call, and for that God has equipped us. If we think we have developed all of our potential, we are wrong! For surely God has invested in us a much greater potential than what we already know today. But we will not find it until we give our whole lives to enter into the plan that He has set apart for us from the beginning. The psalmist paints beautifully how God knew us long before we could know Him.

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And [that] my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, [And] skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When [as yet there were] none of them. (Psalms 139:13-16 NKJV)

There are at least two things we can get from this Psalm: WE ARE VERY PRECIOUS FOR GOD and WE ARE IN THE PLAN OF GOD.

First : WE ARE VERY PRECIOUS FOR GOD

Man is the culmination of God’s creation. Every human being is created personally, not mass production, not copy and paste. Behold, no human being is physically identical to any other human being. Timbre sounds, face details, pupil color, hair, fingerprints, and so on. Even twin brothers still have differences. It shows how creative our Creator is, and how special every one of us is!

If we are so special to God, then there is no reason for us to disrespect ourselves. Therefore one of the fundamental things we must do is to fully accept our existence. This isn’t “accepting” in the sense of tolerating and compromising our weaknesses and sins by reason of “this is what I am”. No, this isn’t like that. To fully accept our existence is: on the one hand to realize our weaknesses, but on the other hand we also appreciate our existence as God’s grace, whatever and however our condition. God knows our weaknesses and ugliness, God knows all our sins, but God still loves us.

The Lord Jesus describes His love for us as the Father’s love for Him: I have loved you just as the Father has loved Me; remain in My love [and do not doubt My love for you]…… No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends. (John 15:9,13 AMP) The Father is willing to give His beloved Jesus to save mankind and Jesus willingly laid down His life to do the Father’s will, so that the man who has been separated from God by sin can again have fellowship with Him and enjoy His love. Therefore the most important thing we have to make is whether we have accepted Jesus as the only Savior and the only God in our lives. Only by accepting Jesus into our hearts will we discover the true meaning of ourselves. But the story doesn’t stop at the moment we receive salvation. Furthermore, we must live according to His way so that we may find His calling for us, that is a special work that God has prepared beforehand.

Second : WE ARE IN THE PLAN OF GOD

In His omniscience, God has known our way of life from beginning to end. He works in everything with perfect calculation and planning. He assigns everyone to be born in a particular era and year, in a particular family, to a particular nation, and gives us the uniqueness that characterizes us. All there is purpose and reason, not random and not coincidental. You and I … are in a part of God’s whole plan for the world. The people of God are called to be specifically involved in His plan according to His timing and in harmony with the uniqueness that He bestowed upon each one of us.

In this regard, Luke wrote in Acts about King David: “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; … (Acts 13:36 NIV)

In the beginning, David was no different from most of the Israelites of the time. He wasn’t a famous person. He was just one of thousands of people. The youngest child who wasn’t too calculated, even by his own parents. David had reason to feel rejected, inferior, or became a rebellious person. But David chose to build a relationship with his Creator. This continued until he became king. He chose to be close to God in his success and in his failure. The result is as written by Luke: David had served God’s purpose in HIS OWN GENERATION. Even David’s life became the standard for kings after him. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.” (2 Chronicles 29:2 NIV)  We can find some similar verses in the Bible.

Not only King David, our Bible is full of God’s work through ordinary people God used: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, Elijah, Elisha, Gideon, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Peter, Paul, and many more. They’re members of the community with various professions and backgrounds. They weren’t perfect people. They had flaws and weaknesses just like us, but they’re willing to be processed by God. They associated with God, found and received God’s call. They wanted to dedicate themselves and committed themselves to living in the call even though they had to let go of their own dreams. The Bible records their lives weren’t in vain, useful to their own generation, and God used them to do great things beyond their existence. I am sure that they are the people who arrive at the end of their lives with satisfaction. Not because they become rich, famous, or powerful, but because their conscience bears witness that they had lived according to the God’s plan. They’re the ones who did the God’s will in their era.

PRIVILEGE OF HEAVEN

How about you and me? Have we lived in His plan? God equips all human beings with various potentials, but what distinguishes us from those outside Christ is that each of those potentials must be used according to God’s will. Not to fulfill our ambition, but to please God. Not for our pride, but for the glory of God. Not in a good way according to our thinking, but must be in accordance with the word of God. The ultimate goal isn’t for ourselves but to bring many people to Christ.

Are the above statements idealistic and theoretical? It could be, but that’s what it should be. I’m sure Christians already know about it, but we have to be honest that it’s not easy to apply it. We must endure the suffering, surrender constantly, humble ourselves, submit ourselves and learn to obey God’s decisions, and abandon the things we love but are disliked by God. For some, it can mean giving up their dreams. The road to go is heavy. Some Christians choose to avoid, some give up and retreat in the middle of the road then turn to follow their own desires. It’s a pity, because they’ve let go of the opportunity to get the priceless pearl of life up ahead.

Nowadays wherever we are on the journey with Christ, don’t get tired to deny ourselves and take up the cross. Let’s be strong to walk to the end while continuing to hold on to God’s promise. God doesn’t leave us alone. He has given the Holy Spirit as a Helper and Comforter. He will guide us to the whole truth (John 16: 13-14) so that every decision we make in this life can be in harmony with God’s decision. The more we obey and diligently walk according to the direction of the Holy Spirit then the potential that has been planted by God from the beginning will emerge and grow. Even God will add new talents along with our increasing responsibilities and in harmony with the extent to which we can be trusted by God.

One day when we look to the years we have passed, we will realize how amazing the God’s works in our lives is. Maybe we aren’t as prosperous as our brothers, don’t have positions as high as our friends, and not as successful as others in the world eyes. But “strangely” our souls and hearts abound with satisfaction and joy. A satisfaction and a joy that can’t be measured by the doses of the world because it doesn’t come from the world. It’s the true satisfaction and joy that comes from the Holy Spirit because we have been living in His calling. How precious … How honorable … In our life that is only a blink of an eye in this perishable world, we – who are actually unworthy – are given the privilege of being fellow workers in the field of God. Ultimately we aren’t “just” being saved Christians, but also bringing others to salvation through every potential of our lives. How special are you and me. That is the true meaning of ourselves and our lives.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV)

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: https://www.wallpapersin4k.org

Edit text with Pixlr app

Advertisements

May I Pray for You?

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

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

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

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

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

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karina – Living by Faith

Image source:thoughtco.com

THE NEW SEASON 2 : “THE HARD SEASON” (guest post)

In the previous article (The New Season – click here) we understand that life is a journey through season after season. Each season has its own joy and sorrow. We can predict certain seasons so that we can prepare ourselves, such as schooling, working, getting married, having children, and so on. But in the span of the season common to almost everyone, there is a time of unpredictable seasons that suddenly come and force us to make new plans, even urging us to take a new path that we never imagined. It would be nice if the season unpredictable it is a promotion. But often the unpredictable season is precisely a hard season that dims the light of hope and obscures the future. Somehow, suddenly everything moves beyond reason and control, insistently, without any logical reason. That’s what happened to Job. He had to face the hard season in the greatest scale ever experienced by a human being.

Job wasn’t a fictional character. He was a northern Arabian who was estimated to live around the time of Abraham or even before. The story of Job takes place in “the land of Us” (Job 1: 1) which later became Edom’s territory, located in the southeast part of the Dead Sea or north of Arabia. There is no clue to the history of Israel or the Law of Moses so as to suggest that the story of Job happened before the time of Moses (before 1500 BC). The Bible itself confirms Job’s existence, one of them in Ezek 14:13-14 NIV “Son of man,….. even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign LORD.”

How deep God’s wisdom, which gives the story of Job in His Word to us. Specifically, as a book that writes the sufferings of the righteous, the honest, the fear of God, and away from evil, the Book of Job answers one of the greatest questions of man throughout the ages: “Why do the righteous must be suffer?”.

The graph of Job’s life was like a man standing on top of a mountain and suddenly swooping down to the lowest bottom of a cliff. From being the richest man in the eastern region of the time, suddenly became the one who almost lost everything in the blink of an eye. From a respected man, suddenly his life was filled with pain and suffering, even blasphemy from his wife. In the midst of the great burden that must be borne, he must face a long debate with his friends, until God revealed himself and revealed his faults. Job 42: 1-6 is Job’s response to God’s rebuke. This passage is a conclusion of the hard season experienced by Job, as well as the opening key to a new phase with a broader horizon of looking at life with a true heart and the personal recognition of God.

Here are four of Job’s statements:

GOD IS POWERFUL AND SOVEREIGN

“I know that you can do all things; …” (Job 42:2a NIV).

Earlier, in chapters 38-39 God told Job that He is the God who created the universe and in His omniscience He sustains and nourishes everything in this universe perfectly. In Job 46:2, Job declares his confession that God is powerful and sovereign to do everything He wills. Everything means all things, without limitation, without exception, including manifesting His will in human life. Man has no right to question and challenge his decisions.

“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’? (Isaiah 45:9 NIV)

GOD’ PLAN CAN NOT BE THWARTED

“I know that…. no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2b NIV)

God always has a plan in doing things. There are special intentions and goals when God allows a hard season to happen. When God allows Satan to tempt Job, God knows the end result. God not only sees the time range when an event is in progress. In His omniscience He has looked to the future and God uses all aspects to realize His plan. Satan, man, natural factor, anyone and anything, can not thwart God’s plan!

GOD’S PLANS ARE TOO MIRACULOUS TO BE UNDERSTAND

You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42:3)

When we read the previous chapters of the Book of Job, we find that Job has spoken of God and his bitter suffering. In chapter 42: 3, Job cites the Lord’s question in chapter 38: 2: ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?”. Then honestly Job acknowledged that he has spoken without knowledge (without true understanding) about things too miraculous for him to understand.

Without true knowledge and understanding, a godly and fear to God, we can be misunderstand and even blame God. If our attitudes toward God are not true, then we can’t grasp God’s purpose and plan behind what God is permitting in our lives.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and decisions and how unfathomable and untraceable are His ways! (Romans 11:33 AMP)

God’s plan is very mysterious and too magical for human being. Man with all its limitations, it is impossible to understand the great God. The more we measure God from our own point of view, then we will be further from the true understanding of the miraculous and beautiful of God’s plans.

GOD SHALL BE KNOWN PERSONALLY

You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!  I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said,  and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” (Job 42:4-6 NLT)

Once again Job quotes the question of the Lord ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ From Job 38: 3b. Then Job answered the Lord with a confession that he has not known God personally. He only knew God from what people told him. Then he took away all his words that he had spoken and repented humbly before the Lord. His repentant and confession was the turning point of his life.

A true knowledge of God can’t be obtained simply by hearing about God from people. WE HAVE TO HEAR ABOUT GOD FROM GOD HIMSELF. God is too big, too great, and too powerful, far beyond all human understanding. We will not be able to know God properly, UNLESS GOD TALKS AND REVEALS HIMSELF to us.

Where and how do we hear God speak of Himself to us? From the Bible which is the word of God. Since the Bible is the word of God, the Bible can’t be read only as an information. The Word of God must be accepted, meditated, believed and lived in a personal relationship with God intensely.

Suffering is painful, but it is often the most effective way to change the human heart. Often we feel right and know God, until suffering reveals the hidden side of us. Our moral piety and moral integrity will be meaningless as we begin to realize who we really are before God that He is so great and we are only mortal dust that can’t live without Him.

REFLECTION

What season are you currently experiencing? Joy or a hard season? A friend advises me on what to do first when we have a hard season: self-correction. Have we done things that don’t pleasing to God, whether we unconsciously hurt people around us, whether we have made a mistake in managing our lives? Self-correction isn’t only to the what we have done but also to the inside of our heart and mind. It’s all about faith! If there’s a little piece of doubt to God, it would be a big problem with our relationship with God. Learning from Job, after he realized and confessed his mistake, God restored and blessed his life. Repentance is the door to restoration and humility always precedes honor.

The hard season is never easy to get through. What we must always remember is that God never leaves His children. God who from the beginning didn’t intend to harm Job, is God who also never intended to harm us. Let’s pray not only to ask for His help, but also to give thanks for His decision to allow us through difficult times, because God must have a beautiful plan that He wants to realize in our lives through His way. Keep rejoice within the suffering. Stop focusing on our hard times because it will hinder us to have joy. Let’s focus on God because there is always joy in the Lord. When we see the roses, don’t think and asking why God put the thorns on the rose but be grateful God put the rose on the thorns. 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.

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

 In addition to the blessings we can enjoy in the world, every hard season that we go through with God will also produce divine character and abundant spiritual fruit. And the end is that we know God more personally, which is more valuable than all the pleasures of the world.

My dear reader, the hard season often comes suddenly. But it doesn’t mean we can’t prepare ourselves at all. The wisest way is to build our lives on a solid foundation that is the word of God. Don’t treat God’s word only as a story or an information but treat it as our conversation with God. Understanding, believe with all heart, ponder, and response it with our deeds.

I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When the flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. (Luke 6:47-48 NIV)

If we make the Word of God as the guide of life and do it faithfully, then we not only don’t easily waver during the hard seasons, but also gain the wisdom and guidance to pass through. “Nun Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119: 105 NIV) As long as we go through that hard season in His own way, at the end of the season we will find the beauty of God’s plan fulfilled in our lives.

“Like a rose and thorns. Don’t focus on the thorns but let’s focus on the roses. Be grateful God put the rose on the thorns. Stop thinking and asking why God put thorns on the rose” (Karina Lam – Living by faith)

Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images

 

THE SECOND CHANCE (guest post)

There are certain circumstances in our lives that the way out can be obtained only through a breakthrough. A divine momentum that will produce a supernatural leap, which is impossible to achieve in ordinary situation. This momentum can be a scarce chance that given by God. But unfortunately sometimes we fail to recognize and take that chance. If we ponder deeper, the failure is mainly because of ourselves. Either because we don’t know, don’t want to do it, fear, worry, hesitate, and so forth. Eventually we lose the momentum that we don’t know when it will come again, or even never come again. That was what the Israelites experienced. They failed to enter the Promised Land at the first opportunity because they rebel against God. As a result, they have to wander in the desert for 40 years.

THE FIRST CHANCE

God brought the Israelites out of Egypt with miraculous signs. After passing through several stops, three months later they arrived at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:1) and camped at there for about 13 months. In Sinai God gave the Ten Commandments and various rules about the ordinances of worship and daily life. Then the Lord commanded to count the number of all the men from 20 years old and above who are able to go to war. In fact, God was preparing them to enter Canaan, the Promised Land.

Furthermore, God led them until they arrived at Kadesh Barnea, which is an 11-day journey from Sinai (Deuteronomy 1:2). Then Moses sent 12 men, including Joshua and Caleb, to spy on Canaan. After 40 days the spies returned and reported: “We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:33) Israelites became angry and rebelled against God by intending to return to Egypt. Only Joshua and Caleb who still believed God could bring them into Canaan. God was angry and decided that the rebellious generation who was 20 years old and above would not enter the Promised Land. As a consequence, they must wander in the desert for 40 years! (Numbers 14:1-38)

“For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.’ I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this desert; here they will die.” (Numbers 14:34-35)

Because of remorse and fear of God’s punishment, the people finally attacked Canaan. But because of God was not with them, they were easily defeated until they scattered by the enemy (Numbers 14:39-45). That was the failure of the Israelites to enter the Promised Land at the first chance. But God keeps His promise, though to get the SECOND CHANCE they have to wait for 40 years!

THE RESPONSE IN DEALING WITH THE SECOND CHANCE

After 40 years of circling in the desert, the Israelites finally arrived for the second time in Kadesh. They are a generation that was under 20 years old on the first occasion that happened in the past decades. Now, they will enter the Promised Land with their children, while their parents have perished in the wilderness.

It teaches two things to us:

From those who eventually die in the wilderness we learn that THERE ARE DIVINE MOMENTUM WILL NOT COME TWICE IN THIS LIFE. Therefore if God commands something for us to do, let’s immediately obey and believe it even though it seems impossible. Because if we reject it, we may miss it forever.

On the other hand, from this story we affirmed that THE GOD’S GRACIOUS HANDS IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE FOR HIS PEOPLE. The Israelites had failed at the first chance, but God gave them the second chance. This means we always have the reason to hope. “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverb 23:18)

Then, how should we behave when God grants us a second chance? Let’s learn from the preaching of Moses to the generation that will enter Canaan in DEUTERONOMY 9: 1-6.

There are THREE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGES to us:

First: HEALING FROM THE TRAUMA (Verses 1 – 2)

Hear, O Israel. You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky. The people are strong and tall—Anakites! You know about them and have heard it said: “WHO CAN STAND UP AGAINST THE ANAKITES?”

The Anakites are the ones who on the first chance ago have terrified the Israelites. The Israelites also have a history of losing the battle against them. The Anakites are a scourge and a bad memory for Israel, so among them there is a thought: “WHO CAN STAND UP AGAINST THE ANAKITES?” The meaning behind that statement is “No one can stand up against the Anakites.” The fact that the enemies of Israel are the people who  greater and taller than them, with the cities are large with the wall upto the sky, made the Israelites see an impossibility to win. But … to enter the Promised Land, God commanded the Israelites to fight against them. This means they must RESOLVE THE TRAUMA AND DARE TO FACE ALL THE IMPOSSIBILITY IN THE FUTURE.

Trauma can be a hindrance to enjoying the noble things God has provided for us in the future because trauma binds our hearts to the past. Trauma makes it hard to believe that with God we can overcome challenges greater than us. Therefore we must solve it.

If there is past event that when we remember that our hearts become injured again, depressed by excessive regrets, , and always afraid and worry if it happens again. That’s the trauma. There is only one way, come to Jesus who is able to set us free. Forgive if anyone should be forgiven, including forgiving ourselves. Do not let failure be a burden that hinders our steps toward the future, but make it a valuable lesson.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

God does not want us to escape reality. God wants us to be HEALED AND RESTORED. Past mistakes or failures can not be changed, but God is able to change our future. It begins with our decision today to come to Jesus and lay the burdens of our hearts upon Him: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) The time we are free from the trauma, there is nothing that stifles our steps to walk with God and through all our future impossibilities with Him.

Second: GOD IS WITH US (Verse 3)

But be assured today that the Lord your GOD IS THE ONE WHO GOES ACROSS AHEAD OF YOU LIKE A DEVOURING FIRE. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out and annihilate them quickly, as the Lord has promised you.

The Lord reveals Himself to His people as THE ONE WHO GOES ACROSS AHEAD OF YOU LIKE A DEVOURING FIRE.

GOES ACROSS AHEAD OF HIS PEOPLE: This shows that He is the God who gives direction and leads us to the goal. A guarantee that our journey will surely succeed whatever happens.

“who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.” (Deuteronomy 1:33)

“The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land.” (Deuteronomy 31:3a)

GOD LIKE A DEVOURING FIRE: It states that He is a jealous God: “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, A JEALOUS GOD.” (deuteronomy 4:24) As a jealous God, He accompanies and protects us as His own. On the other hand, He wants to be the only God in our lives. Therefore don’t turn to other gods. Be faithful and follow His lead, then the Lord will lead us to His triumphal path.

Third: DON’T BOAST YOURSELF (Verse 4 – 6)

After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, DO NOT SAY TO YOURSELF, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. IT IS NOT BECAUSE OF YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS OR YOUR INTEGRITY that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Understand, then, that IT IS NOT BECAUSE OF YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

The Israelites won over their enemies not because Israel was great in war, but because of the wickedness of the enemies themselves. Therefore there is a warning from God: “Don’t say to ourselves that all because of our righteousness and our integrity”. Boast ourselves, though only in the heart, is tantamount to arrogant which also means stealing the glory of God. And why does the statement “It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity” is written more than once in this passage? Because human tendency is pride of himself and feel that every achievement because of their effort and hard work. Even we as children of God can also feel all the blessing we receive is because we are living righteously, already diligently serving, praying, fasting, reading the word of God, and doing other righteous things. That isn’t pleasing God’s heart. That’s why from now on if our life is successful, don’t connect that success with all the good and right things we have done, because it can make us become arrogant.

THE WAY TO THE SECOND CHANCE

From the story above we know how to respond when God takes us on the second chance: heals from the trauma, follows God’s lead, and does not boast about having succeeded. Now, what should we do to get a second chance?? Learning from the failed of Israelites at the first chance because of sin and rebellion so they must wander in the wilderness, there are two things we must do:

First: REPENTANCE. Sin is the separator between us and God. As a human, the child of God can still fall into sin. But if we continue to live in sin, we will not be able to do God’s will for us. Therefore let us ask for forgiveness and leave our sins immediately. God’s promise is: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

There is always a restoration in repentance and reconciliation with God. Jacob, Samson, Jonah, Peter, Paul, are some examples of people who had a second chance after their repentance.

Second: HUMBLE. When the Israelites failed at the first chance, God took them around in the wilderness. The goal is to humble them (Deuteronomy 8:2-3). If we want to get a second chance we must believe in God’s leading and follow His ways. All that requires humility, for only humble people are willing to obey and submit to the authority. “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (Psalms 25:9)

More than that, every chance comes only from God. We can not force Him. He will give it according to His wisdom and omniscience about our lifetime. But as long as our heart is still beating, let’s hope for the second chance. And if the second chance is no more, at least we have cleared our hearts before God, healed and restored, so that we can freely worship Him and doing our best of every part God entrusts to us in the rest of the time we still have. Let’s learn from Moses’ life about this. Moses had made a fatal mistake for hitting a rock in Meribah in Numbers 20: 2-13 which caused Moses and Aaron not allowed by God to enter Canaan. Moses prayed for grace to be allowed to enter and see Canaan, but God did not grant it. “…But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter…” (Deuteronomy 3:23-26) How’s Moses’ reaction?? He was not disappointed with God. He continued to serve the Lord and did his work thoroughly to the end. In Hebrews 3: 1-6 it is said “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,…” May this article strengthen us to do our best in every chance that God gives us, for God will count every one of our deeds. God bless you, amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Image source: www.pixelstalk.net   (Edit with Pixlr app)

CONQUER YOURSELF (guest post)

Hello my dear readers! I just wanted to let you know that this guest post is the last post of my blog this year. I’ll be back on January next year. I personally want to say thank you very much for the support, comment, suggestion, and likes on my posts throughout this year. I also want to say sorry if during December I’m inactive do blogging just because I’m on vacation in Paris. Thank you very much. God Bless you all.

 

 

In the previous guest post (PUTT OFF YOUR EGO) , we understand that every response and our reaction to everything is influenced by the ego. That’s why we must abandon our old human ego, and begin to look at ourselves in the Divine perspective and act in harmony with what God says so that we don’t fall into the sins caused by the ego. To completing that post, let us together learn about conquering ourselves as Paul did while he served the Lord with his whole life.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it TO GET A CROWN THAT WILL LAST FOREVER.

Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.

No, I BEAT MY BODY and MAKE IT MY SLAVE so that after I have preached to others, I myself will NOT BE DISQUALIFIED FOR THE PRIZE.

    (1 Corinthians 9:25-27 NIV)                

Paul made an analogy that every Christ’s follower is an athlete in a match. A truly athlete not only exerts his energies, but also invests his entire life to focus on winning in every game. They keen to practice to become more and more expert in their field. They struggle to control themselves: regulate their diet, condition their thoughts and feelings, and often have to overcome their laziness and pleasure. Paul says that all the self-denial they do is for a mortal crown, but we, the spiritual athletes, are fighting for an eternal crown. In the context of 1 Corinthians 9: 25-27, the eternal crown isn’t talking about salvation, but the eternal blessedness which will be a prize to the genuine servants of God and Christ. Isn’t it for eternal blessing we should try harder?! Now let’s see the spiritual life of the Apostle Paul.

Paul’s dedication and totality to the preaching of the gospel is unquestionable. The letter of 2 Corinthians 9: 23-28 describes Paul’s sacrifice and suffering in ministry. He was physically abused, faced with disasters and dangers everywhere. He has to work hard so often not sleep, starvation, thirst, cold, fasting, and so on. None of the suffering made him weak and retreated. It is precisely from a person who is willing to die for the Gospel came out this statement: “No, I BEAT MY BODY and MAKE IT MY SLAVE so that after I have preached to others, I myself will NOT BE DISQUALIFIED FOR THE PRIZE.”

There are two points emphasized by the apostle Paul, that are “I BEAT MY BODY” and “MAKE IT MY SLAVE”.

I BEAT MY BODY

The body which Paul speaks of in this context is not physical, but the existence of the human self in which there are thoughts, feelings, and will with all its strengths and weaknesses. So, the meaning of “I beat my body” is discipline himself by hardships, handle it roughly like a boxer one buffets his own body. This self-discipline isn’t enough just once but every day, constantly, and for the rest of our lives!

Often we angry, hardened, and unwilling to tolerate others. On the contrary, we become weak to face ourselves. We too often surrender to our desires, feelings, and thoughts. Though we know that what we want or what we are doing isn’t good and even wrong, but we are powerless to stop it. If we want to win we must be like Paul. He applied a very hard discipline to himself. He is beating his flesh, defeating his ego, forcing himself to do what he should do, not what he wants to do.

BECOME SLAVE

Paul disciplined himself very hard like a master to his slave. Being a slave is an unpleasant word. In the days of slavery, a slave had no right to question, deny, and resist his master’s orders. The life of a slave is wholly owned and controlled by his master. Paul says “MAKE IT MY SLAVE”. Paul made himself his slave. In other words, Paul doesn’t allow himself to be controlled by his own will, feelings, and thoughts. Then to whom did Paul subdue himself? To God.

For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. (1 Corinthians 7:22 NKJV)

Many people want to rise from their downfall and abandon their bad habits, but in reality they continue to do it again and again. They are powerless because they have been enslaved by their own minds, feelings, and wills. Dear reader, if we want to be free and not enslaved by ourselves, then we must subdue ourselves to God. All our existence must be submissive to God like a slave who has no right to himself.

SERVING GOD UNTIL THE END

An athlete’s struggle has begun since he decided to attend a match, and an athlete’s victory is not only determined when he is in the arena, but is largely determined by his preparations.

We are spiritual athletes. Our race starts from the moment we decide to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. Since then our lives are not ours anymore but belong to God. God is the Master, and we are His servants. The sign that we have made Christ as our Master is if we serve Him, not serving our own desires.

Unfortunately, the greatest obstacle for us to devote ourselves completely to God is OUR SELF. All that comes from outside us can indeed affect and trigger, but the final decision remains in our hands. Live in holiness or adultery, be patient or angry, forgive or grudge, faithful to a spouse or an affair, honest or lie, and so on, we decide it. It’s not just about choosing between sin and not, but also about everything that doesn’t support our devotion and service to God, even though it is not evil. For example: praying or sleeping longer, reading the Bible now or later, excessive shopping passion, moody, and so on. Often we have to wrestle with ourselves to make the appropriate choice of God’s will. James said: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” (James 1:14 NKJV) That is why we should not compromise with ourselves but must conquer it under the feet of Christ.

To conquer yourself means discipline to say “no” to ourselves to all things that not build our quality of life in Christ, and force ourselves to submit and say “yes” to everything that pleases God as our Master, even if we don’t loved it!

Conquering oneself requires a strong commitment. Not so that we may obtain salvation because salvation is not through man’s work but a free gift from God on the basis of grace. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and to all believers that the purpose of our struggle is: “….. so that after I have preached to others, I myself will NOT BE DISQUALIFIED FOR THE PRIZE.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27 NIV).

If an athlete is disqualified, then there is no longer any chance of winning a prize. When we are “disqualified”, so we will not get eternal rewards from God for all our ministries. How can? For, if we don’t conquer ourselves to God then we will be controlled and enslaved by our own desires. In other words, our master isn’t God but ourselves. The person who is the master of himself, will not be able to serve the Lord because what he serves is his own ego. This thing will be hinder our purity in serving God.

Knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ (the Messiah). (Colossians 3:24 AMP)

God doesn’t see the number of activities in the ministry, but the most important is the transformation of life. Have our lives been in harmony with the gospel we preach? Have we lived righteously as the truths we know? Are we becoming more and more like Christ that we serve? If the answer is “no”, maybe we have not become a true servant of Christ. Maybe we serve because of hobbies, pride, happy to perform, develop talent, love to socialize and organize. All that isn’t wrong. But if we just stop at that stage and do not want to undergo a process of self-conquest that erodes our ego and transforms ourselves, then we can never serve God in the right way and pleasing to Him.

Look at the Apostle Paul. In his second letter to Timothy, the last letter he wrote from prison in Rome before he was beheaded by Emperor Nero, he said: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV) Paul was surely believe that he has finished his race very well. It is the hope and purpose of all believers.

Dear readers … Before this year’s end, let’s make a commitment and ask the Holy Spirit to help and strengthen so we can discipline and subdue ourselves. If we are always obedient to conquer ourselves under the will of God then our lives will bear the fruits of the Spirit. We will be more loving, able to rejoice even in distress, peace, be more patient, more generous, kinder, more faithful, gentle, and more self-controlling. If the fruit of the Spirit is abundant in our lives, then our ministry will be blessing our neighbor and glorify God’s Name. Until the time comes, we will receive eternal rewards for every of our labor in Jesus Christ. May the last post of this year be a blessing to you, and we will meet next year in a more mature spirituality.

Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Image source: http://www.guoguiyan.com/runners-wallpapers/

Edit picture with pixlr app

PUTT OFF YOUR EGO (guest post)

Basically all humans have an ego. Family, environment, status, economy, education, the treatment and the words of others, certain events and the things that are intensely repeated in one’s life, can be shape and predispose the ego. In Greek, “ego” means “I, me, my” (a primary pronoun of the first person I – only expressed when emphatic). Simply put, the ego is a perspective on self or an individual’s concept of self, or “A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance”. How we respond, react, and act against everything is a manifestation of our ego. Therefore as disciples of Christ we must see ourselves in God’s perspective so that we have the same self-concept as God’s concept of ourselves, and as much as we can avoid falling into sin caused by the ego.

SHOULD LIVE AS CHRIST DID

In John 8: 12-14, the Lord Jesus testifies of Himself:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am (in the original language using the word “ego”) the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

Jesus answered, “Even if I (in the original language using the word “ego”) testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.”

Jesus knows exactly who He is. He knew exactly the purpose of his life, and in his obedience He had accomplished the Father’s work perfectly. That’s our longing, right?! Everyone who truly loves God will want to understand God’s will, to be used by Him, and to experience the fulfillment of His plan. But that is often hindered by our-selves alone (the ego). The “I AM” factor with all the attributes and peculiarities that stick to us – character, nature, perspective, strength, weakness, and so on – often makes us give the wrong response. Consequently, we fail to understand God’s intentions, fail to recognize His call, be confused and don’t understand His will, even acting wrongly.

Since we were born and grow, along with it the ego is evolving. Then when we meet Christ, there will be alignment. That is our self is more aligned with the Word of God. The parts of us (the ego) that are wrong must be corrected, the impure must be cleaned, the deviate must be straightened, the useless must be removed. When we believe and accept Christ as the only God and Savior, at once we become new creatures: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) But that doesn’t mean automatically our entire existence will change instantly. There are things that require our cooperation to respond appropriately to any process of God.

The first thing we must realize is that our identity – originally created in God’s image and likeness – has been restored! We no longer live under the curse but abide in the Father’s grace for Jesus has paid our condemnation. Our names have been written in the Book of Life. Our status has been transformed into a God’s child and the heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. We no longer live for ourselves, but are called to do the noble task of the Father. The purpose of our lives is no longer self-satisfaction, but pleases God and becomes His true worshipers. His Holy Spirit dwells in us. We will be increasingly transformed into Jesus like in words, thoughts, and deeds. And because we belong to Christ, we must live like Christ did. Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did.” (1 John 2:6 TLB)

It is all God’s perspective on His children. As His children, we must see ourselves just as the Father sees us. We must have and live the restored self-concept. Our paradigm in looking at ourselves and this life must be change.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Transformed by the renewing of mind means we have to change in thought, feeling, and will. The measure of good or bad, right or wrong, profit or loss, worthy or not, etc., is no longer ourselves alone (ego) but God’s word!

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NIV)

In that way, from time to time our ego will become increasingly eroded and God’s plan in our lives can be accomplished.

SUBMIT TO GOD

As a people who should live as Christ did, then we must imitate what Jesus did. In Matthew 4: 1-11, Jesus was tempted by Satan after He finished 40 days 40 nights fasting.

The first: IF YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD, tell these stones to become bread.” (verse 3)

The second: IF YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” (verse 6)

When we note, the essence of the first and second trials is not just about bread or about throw self down, but Satan manipulated and challenged Jesus to prove Himself and His power as Son of God.

The third: Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD AND THEIR SPLENDOR. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” (verse 8-9)

In the third temptation, Satan is “luring” Jesus with wealth, power, and honor in the eyes of the world. In those three trials, Jesus always answered, “It is written.”

The key to Jesus’ triumph over temptation is that He always submit Himself under the authority of God’s Word. If we are going to win over temptation then WE MUST BE SUBMIT OUR EGO UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF GOD’S WORD. Our standard of living and responding to everything is not the ego, but God’s Word!

Similarly, when Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion. Three times Jesus prayed, 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) Jesus declare that nothing is impossible for the Father. Jesus believed the Father must be able to grant His request, but Jesus submit Himself to the Father’s will.

If we desire to live in God’s plan, then OUR EGO SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO THE GOD’S WILL. Our standard in reacting to everything is not our thoughts, feelings, and will, but God’s will, because sometimes our ego pushes us into doing something we think is right but it is not true or not God’s desired way, as Moses did.

If we read in Exodus 2: 11-15, Moses acted to defend his people, Israel, by killing the Egyptians who were beating a Hebrew. It was easy for Moses to do that because he was educated and trained in the palace of Pharaoh. Should defend his people is the right attitude, but because the timing and the way was not right then what happenned was a misunderstanding. He was rejected by his own people and sought after by Pharaoh to be killed.

Our ego must always be submitted under God’s authority, that is the Word and His will, even when we want to do the right thing in our eyes! If the ego is not submitted and handled, we can be a selfish person who measures everything from the standpoint of oneself and for oneself.

LIVING IN GOD’S PLAN

Ultimately, the whole value of our lives comes from God. Our life will be meaningful and fruitful if it is founded on the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and built according to God’s plan. Do not let the ego prevent us from entering into it. The apostle Paul is a wonderful example.

Paul has a tremendous Jewish background. Born to an orthodox Jewish family, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee (Phil. 3: 5-6), living as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of Judaism (Acts 26: 5), and trained under Gamaliel – A famous scribe and member of the Jewish Council (Acts 22: 3). Regardless of his Greek-speaking ability and Roman citizenship, it is clear that Paul had the potential to serve as an apostle to the Jews, as did the apostle Peter. But God sent him to the Gentiles: “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'” (Acts 22:21 NIV)

Paul didn’t boast of himself as a capable man. He also didn’t argue with God. All he did is obey: But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.” (Gal 1:15-16 NKJV) Even though in the early days of his ministry he had been questioned by apostles and Jewish Christians, he continued to walk and work on God’s call until his last breath at the hands of Emperor Nero’s executioner in Rome. That is the life that fulfills God’s plan.

BEING A NEW CREATION

“Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to PUT OFF YOUR OLD SELF, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; TO BE MADE NEW IN THE ATTITUDE OF YOUR MINDS; and to PUT ON THE NEW SELF, created to be like God IN TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS.” (Ephesians 4:21-24 NIV)

Let us PUT OFF THE EGO OF OUR OLD SELF. Do not feel great, capable, and confident because of rich, clever, have power, handsome or beautiful, talented, influential, and many advantages. Also do not feel inferior because of feel ugly, poor, stupid, and many weaknesses. Don’t rely on our sense of self-esteem or self-importance based on all of that!

“He who leans on, trusts in, and is confident of his own mind and heart is a [self-confident] fool, but he who walks in skillful and godly Wisdom shall be delivered.” (Proverb 28:26 AMPC)

Rather, let us live in THE NEW ATTITUDE OF OUR MIND AND PUT ON THE NEW SELF IN JESUS CHRIST, also live in THE TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS, which are values that are not measured by our own perspective and our sense of self-esteem or self-importance, but based on what God says. Certainly not by relying on our own strength and effort, but by relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit all the time and continuously, until the whole process of our lives ends, that is, when we close our eyes forever to return to the Father, the owner of our life.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11 NIV)

 

A M E N

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Image source: http://www.bestandroidwallpaper.com/dry-flower-nature-wallpaper/

Edit picture with pixlr app

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)