Tag Archive | faith

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

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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 EMPTYTOMB

Hi all! In the next few days we will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection day. Honestly, toward to the Passover day sometimes I feel a bit sad and emotional because I still heard question like, “Is it true that Jesus has risen?” It could be normal if the question comes out from the unbelievers, but I really don’t understand when that question came out from people who have lived in Christ. It’s a very sad and weird reality! However, it’s okay! I’m trying to understand and accept this reality. I know that Jesus’ resurrection story has been a debate and causing the occurrence of pros and cons. Not only today, people who lived in Jesus’ time also didn’t believe or doubt; even worse some Jesus’ disciples also too (Matthew 28: 16-17)

Therefore, I’m longing to write about the facts of Jesus ‘resurrection. This post just a reminder that Jesus has really risen! I’m interested to choose Jesus’ tomb as a topic of this post. In my opinion the empty tomb was a starting point of the entire Jesus’ resurrection story. All things that happened in the tomb and the existence of tomb itself became a controversial story throughout the human life history and will goes on. Many people scientifically strongly objected to all things that happened in the tomb. They claim that it was only a legend or myth development created by Jesus’ disciples and followers. Some other argued it just an apologetics device rather than a historical fact that can be accounted for. The extreme opinion was said that Jesus actually never arose but His disciples stole Jesus’ body. Now, let’s take a look in detail what happened at the Jesus’ tomb.

The Angel of the Lord

The moment of Jesus’ resurrection begins with an amazing event. Along with a violent earthquake, The Lord’s angels with white clothes like a snow and appeared like a lightning came down from the Heaven, then rolled a multi-tons stone back at the entrance of the tomb then sat on it. (Matthew 28: 1-4) Oh, I imagine how wonderful the moment was. The angel sat on the stone was showing the magnificent of Jesus’ resurrection power and symbolized a glorious triumph over the death and sepulcher! Then the angel said to Mary Magdalene and other Mary who at the dawn went to look at the tomb,

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. “He is not here, He has risen, just as he said… (Matthew 28:5)

I took time for a while pondering this word then I tried to put myself as Mary Magdalene. When I heard the word, “He has risen, just as He said…” I am very sure the Angel not trying to delude me and there’s no more reason for me to not believe the angel’s words. The angel’s remarks has been totally become a very strong proof that Jesus has risen. The Angel wasn’t made up a fish story! Angels are the God’s messengers! They never lie! At the time, the angel was telling a thing that Jesus had said before (Just as he said…) but to convincing both of the women, the angle asked them to get into the tomb and showed where Jesus lay. The Angel said, Come and see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:6) A statement will be more credible if accompanied with authentic proof and at the time the angel gave an authentic, undeniable, and undoubted proof. The both of women didn’t see Jesus’ body. They simply found the neat grave clothes! After that the Angel told to the women tell to the Jesus’ disciples Jesus has risen from the dead and will see Jesus in Galilee (Matthew 28:7)

Women witnesses

My beloved readers, there was interesting thing in Jesus’ resurrection story and it becomes another absolute proof of Jesus’ resurrection. Titus Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian, says that women weren’t even permitted to serve as witnesses in a Jewish court of law. But at the time, the fact was, the women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary was mentioned and included as the first and main witnesses. I quote a comment of William Lane Craig about this matter; the discovery of the tomb by women is highly probable… Why women and not the male disciples were made discoverers of the empty tomb is that women were in fact the one who made this discovery. If I may conclude, the women, regardless of their status in Jewish society, were a part of grand design of Jesus’ resurrection story. The women had been plotted like that way. So if there’s an objection about women as witnesses, it doesn’t matter! Who cares! Jesus’ resurrection wasn’t a case in the court of law but a part of fulfillment of God’s promise. The happened fact the women found the empty tomb, they tell men (the disciples), the men made verification, and then they spread the word. It means the truth of the women’s testimony can be accounted for. So once again I think the idea of Jesus’ resurrection was only a legend created by Jesus’ followers is a very unreasonable idea. An event that involving trusted witnesses (though women) and someone else trust it cannot be called as legend or hoax!

The unknown tomb

Now let’s look to the tomb itself. There were so many disclosed theories to break the fact and truths of Jesus’ resurrection. There was a theory said that the Jesus’ tomb site was unknown. Well you know this theory made me take a deep breath and felt really confused. The Jesus’ tomb was unknown? I think this’s (I’m sorry to say) the dumbest theory ever revealed. I’ve no idea at all why they can make this stupid theory. I think the theorists had forgotten three important fact that written in the Bible. First, the brand new, hewn out of solid rock tomb was owned by the rich man from Arimathea named Joseph a member of supreme council of the Jewish (Sanhedrin) who asked Pilate to take Jesus’ body for burial (Matthew 27: 57-60) the second thing, at the time, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary also were there (Matthew 27:61) And later after three days, those women went back to the same and exact location, as did the disciples who ran to see it by themselves when hearing from the women that the tomb was empty. The third, because of the concern that Jesus’ body will be stolen by Jesus’ disciples, then the leaders of the Jewish priest took extra precautions (Matthew 27:65). They ensured that Jesus’ tomb was guarded by groups of highly trained Roman soldiers with very strict rules. So I think those who made this theory weren’t smart enough made a theory! Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene and other Mary, the Roman soldiers, they all knew where the exact location of Jesus’ tomb! I’ve personal opinion about the tomb. Though until now still a debate about the precise location of the tomb, it doesn’t matter! For me personally, the reason why Jesus dead, it does matter!

The broken seal

Beside guarded by highly trained soldiers, Jesus’ tombs was also sealed with Roman seal. A seal represented the power and authority of the Roman Empire. Break the seal means dead! And the ruthlessness of Roman soldiers was well-known and feared so there was no one dares to break the tomb that automatically break the seal, and steal Jesus ‘body even by Jesus’ disciples! Actually, Jesus’ crucifixion made the disciples confused, afraid, and most of them were hiding. Even Peter, who swore he willing to die for Jesus, denied Jesus three times before the crucifixion!

The unusual stone position

There was unusual thing in the tomb. When the women and other people were approaching the tomb in the morning they found the unusual position of the rolled stone. To explain the stone position, Mark, in his gospel mentioned “Anakulio” from the root “Kulio” which mean “roll” So “Anakulio” (with preposition “Ana” means “to roll up a slope or an incline” I imagine something about this stone. It’s not too difficult a small number of men put the stone weighing one to two tons in place because typically the place in front of the tomb was sloped down. But isn’t so easy for a few men to roll the stone uphill to the slope. The unusual position of the rolled stone was another proof that Jesus’ body wasn’t stolen even by the disciples. It was so impossible for a few men roll the stone away secretly without being noticed by the Roman soldiers. Moreover, the tomb was guarded all the time. Periodically the guard would be exchanged.

The grave clothes

My beloved friends, actually the tomb wasn’t completely empty. Jesus was gone, but His grave clothes still there and became a silent witness and showed a supernatural nature of His resurrection. John in his gospel carefully explained the fact that the Jesus’ grave clothes were still in place. (John 20: 1-7) the grave clothes lay there as if Jesus’ body lifted out of the grave clothes. When buried, Jesus’ body was wrapped in linen cloth with aromatic spices mixed with a gummy substance called “myrrh” The myrrh will strongly adhered to Jesus’ body. Logically, let say the Jesus’ body was stolen; the thieves will work as fast as they can and take the Jesus’ body along with the grave clothes. It was so impossible and a ridiculous act the thieves take some time to separate the grave clothes and the body then again laid it out neatly.

My dear readers, after we’re reminded again by six important facts in the Jesus’ tomb that I submit in this post, I hope and pray there’s no more doubt in our heart and mind about the facts of Jesus’ resurrection and stop wasting our time and energy to think unneeded thing about Jesus’ resurrection. All theological facts have been completely written in the Bible even written by four apostles. Trustable and credible historical facts also have been found. Now is just a matter of our faith! Jesus’ resurrection among the dead is a foundation of Christian faith. It’s written in 1 Corinthians 15:14,

and if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

The resurrection of Christ made the apostles’ faith drastically growing so they were daring to proclaim the God’s word and they were willing to be martyr. Jesus’ resurrection was becoming a revival of their faith. I also earnestly pray what has happened to Jesus’ disciples at the time also happens to us. Maybe we don’t have to be martyr but we’re experiencing a resurrection of faith. Our faith becomes stronger in waiting for the next fulfillment of God’s prophecies and promises, and by faith keeps watch until His second coming.

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:42)

And by the firm faith we’ve great longing to spread the truth of God’s word to all people especially to unbelievers so they repent, believe, be saved, and they become disciples of God, as Jesus commanded to us,

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)

Happy resurrection day from me, my husband Kevin, and Andrew! God Bless!

Karina – Living by faith

Special thanks to Sister Sella Irene for the great suggestions

Image source: urantiansojourn.com

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

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MAN PLANS GOD DECIDES

 “Let me think and learn this project” That’s my answer or response every time my company’s directors deliver a new business project. Then they’ll ask when they could get the fix decision and my answer was: “Could be tomorrow, next week, next month, or  maybe you’ll not get any decision from me” Often time my answer made them a bit upset because they expect me to approve their business plan very soon. Usually they’ll do anything they can to convince me that the project will be running successfully if executed soon.  My secretary once asked me why I always took a quite long time and seems too slow to make a decision and my answer was, “Beside I’ve to think and learn carefully about all details of the project, I’ve to take it into our prayer. I’ve to involve God in every decision I made” My other business colleague even extremely said, “Karin, I know you’re a good Christian business woman! But come on, this isn’t about spiritual matter! This’s about the big business opportunity that can give a big profit to the company and I do believe your parents would be definitely agreed with this project. Don’t let this opportunity be taken by others just because we are too much consideration and you aren’t considering business technical but you rather to the emotional consideration.”  I just smile and stick to my stance. I will take it into my prayer first. I don’t care people judge me too religious or godly. I have to do what I have supposed to do.

My beloved friends, why do I so insist like that? Well, I always remember one of my mother’s advices in doing business. She said, “You may have brilliant business idea, you may have very good business plan and strategy, but God decides your plans will work or not. Therefore, please involve God in every plan you make, involving God doesn’t mean we force Him to make our plans work successfully but trust and submit all the plans and everything you will do. Take it into your prayer!” Beside my mom’s advice, I also learn from one of my father’s friend experience. He’s Christians. I called him Uncle Joe. In all of his life, he has repeatedly failed in business. Actually he had brilliant business idea; he had very good and detailed planning, he also had good business estimation by involving consideration of various aspects. Unfortunately when executed, he failed and bears big loss. He actually should be a successful entrepreneur. Then he tried to find out what’s the cause of his failures by consulting to a pastor and He finally got a simple but important advice, “Don’t keep on building a blueprint that are different with God’s plan and you may forget to involve God in every of your plan.”

My dear readers, in this life, there’re always plans that we make and we certainly want those plans work well. My post this time talks about our plan and God’s plan and I choose one verse from Proverbs 16:3,

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans”

This verse is God’s command and promise. The meaning of this verse is very clear; if we want our plan work well we’ve to submit wholly what we plan and what we want to do. Not just submit but trust it all to God. This’s a simple to be understood but isn’t easy to do because once we totally trust and commit to God, we’re no longer commit to our ego, personal desire, and other motivations. What does it mean? I give a simple example, when I come to my parents with a new business proposal,  I cannot hold on my own ego because not all of my ideas will be accepted and at that time I must be ready and willing to sacrifice some of my ideas so that my proposal will be accepted and could be implemented. Because I’m totally submit my plan to my parents and I also completely believe in them, then I couldn’t  longer argue with them in order to stick up my opinion in the hope that they approve my proposal. Often my parents sharply criticize my ideas, they ask me to make big revisions and adjustment, or even if my plans and ideas not align with their main business concept they will hardly reject all of my ideas.  Like that anyway if we totally commit all of what we do to God. We must be ready to be rebuked, shaped, and advised, ready to be taught, or even rejected by God. We must be ready for a process and sometime the process could be uncomfortable, or even painful. We must be willing to accept if we’ve to make a big adjustment and if there will be an even bigger change of what we’ve designed and prepared. In this case, the strength of our faith plays an important role. How big our faith to totally trust that God will establish our plan.

I do believe that now among of us there must be someone who has a special plan.  We may have a new business plan, a plan for find a better job, a plan to buy a new house, or another big plan in our lives, and I also strongly believe that we want all of our plans will running well and succeed as we expect. Right now please allow me to ask something. Have we submit and entrust all of our plans to God as advised in that verse above? Have we always involved God in every of our plans and work? If not, let’s start now.  Let’s totally submit everything we do to God and really trust that God (with His way) will make us success. If we already submit and trust to God, Praise the Lord! That’s good. It means we already did God’s command. Then, what? That’s all? No, my beloved readers! Actually beside verse 3 in Proverbs 16 there are some verses we must really understand and obey if we want everything we have planned succeed. Let’s take a look…

 To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue (Verse 1). We have to really know and realize that God is the one who give us ability to carry out our plans. It means it’s useless if we’re only having ability to make a good plan if God doesn’t give us ability to execute it. We need God because all of our ability is from God alone.  Furthermore, God is “The ultimate decision maker” We may make a very good plans but God decides! God has full authority of our plans. He has authority to decide our plan will be work well or not.

All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord (Verse 2) in everyday life, we often judge ourselves to be always right. We always assume that what we’re doing is always true but who judge us true or wrong is God because only God who really know the inside of our hearts and minds. My father said, “Don’t ever make plans as if from the outside looks good and right but the fact you have bad and wrong motif and also have bad purpose behind of your plans. If you like that, don’t ever expect your plans will be success. God really knows what’s in our heart and mind.”

The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished (Verse 5) , if we’ve a great plans and brilliant ideas please remember that we could be like that just because God gives us intellectuality, intelligence, and thinking ability. And if our plan is successfully implemented, please remember that it’s not solely because of our abilities but there is God’s intervention that decides the success of our plan. So don’t be arrogant! Not just our plans and ideas will be failed but we will be punished. God doesn’t like pride or arrogance. “…I hate pride and arrogance…”  (Proverbs 8:13)

… Through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided. (Verse 6b) My dear friends, everything we do must be based on fear to God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” (Proverbs 1:7) Everything we plan and what we have to do must be done with attitude fear to God. Fear to God is a foundation and reason for us not to do anything that doesn’t please God and we will be avoided from the evil things that want to mess our plan up.

 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps (Verse 9) No matter how well our plans, no matter how great our strategy to execute our plan, we still have to remember that God establishes the steps, sometime  God even direct our step into the place that  we really don’t like and expect. But we’ve to know and understand God will not take us to the place that could harm us.

My beloved readers, it’s true we need to work hard seriously and earnestly, we need to make and do our planning for all the work we want to build, but don’t forget that all success is depends on God. Not solely on our own effort. Once again please remember that we make plans, God decides! We’ve to do our best, we’ve to make good plans, but the first thing we’ve to make sure is to roll our plans and works upon Him. This evening please allow me to encourage all of us to reflect some verses from Proverbs 16 and use it all as a foothold when we want to make plans or work out our plans. Let us continue to involve God at every step of our lives including in making plans and doing all our work. Submit and trust whatever we do then God will establish our plans and if our plans doesn’t work as we expect, it means God has another plan for us! Just completely trust to the His perfect plan as he promises to us, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) and don’t ever try to reject, change, and stop His plan because nothing can stop God’s plan (Isaiah 14:27) Amen!

Karina – Living by faith

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GOD’S LOVE IN THE SUFFERING (guest post)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

THE CARE OF GOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE GOOD FATHER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOD WITH US

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

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

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

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

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

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

A M E N

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

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

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

Photo Credit: Google Images  (edited with pixlr app)

TRUST GOD’S HEART (guest post)

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

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

 

IF NOT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

DURING THERE IS A CHANCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

YES, NO, WAIT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

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