Tag Archive | faithful

GOD’S LOVE IN THE SUFFERING (guest post)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

THE CARE OF GOD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE GOOD FATHER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOD WITH US

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

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

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

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

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

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

A M E N

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

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

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

Photo Credit: Google Images  (edited with pixlr app)

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IN HARMONY AND IN UNITY WITH GOD’S PLAN (guest post)

IN HARMONY AND IN UNITY WITH GOD'S PLAN

There is nobody wants to live in an ordinary or even futile life. In the deep down of their heart, everyone wants to be successful and reach the highest point in their lives. But the reality isn’t always like what we dream of. Many people get success but not least have failed. But there are some people who are in the midst of their great achievement still feel missing something. They have an impression that they supposed could be more optimal than the current life, optimal in a positive impact and to be a blessing to others.

If life is like a train … Whether we are on the right track and the right direction to achieve the goals that God has prepared before??

One of the driving factors for the accomplishment is a PASSION. If our passion IN HARMONY AND IN UNITY WITH GOD’S PLAN, then there is nothing could hold us to live beyond our limitation.

PASSION

As in the image of God’s creation, humans equipped with intellectuality, ability, and talent. It all enables people to do many things in appropriate with capacity and willingness to work hard. But among all that we do, there must be specific things we love, we want, and we dream of. A great desire that come out from the deepest of the heart to do and pursue something, and encourage us to live in, it is called PASSION.

Passion makes us “alive”. Without passion, we would just like a machine who doing something over and over, but without “the life” in it.

Passion gives us energy and strength to do the best, keep focus, and doesn’t give up easily. Passion makes us happy to work with and without compulsion. Passion even makes us willing to sacrifice many things so what we yearn for will come true.

GOD HAS A SPECIAL PLAN

Although some people may not realize what their passion, each person certainly have a passion. So we are. And as God’s children, we also know that God has a special plan for each of His children. The question is whether our passion in harmony with the Father’s plan??

If right now what we are pursued or what we live has been same with the special Father’s plan, it means we are on the right track and in the right direction. But if not, we will have inner turmoil because the spirit within us can be satisfied only when we live in the special plan of our creator! Then how to make our passion in harmony with His plans? What should we do that our in harmony and in unity with God’s special plan?

INTIMACY WITH GOD

From the beginning man was created to live in an intimate fellowship with God. But unfortunately mankind fell into the sin so that must be separated from God and loss of the glory of God: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NKJV)

The only way so that humans restored, go back to the initial quiddity that is live in an intimacy with God!

In this case we already on the right way because we believe in Jesus as the only Lord and Savior. However, although we have opened our heart to Him, God will never pervade us, yet God wants to build an intimate fellowship and fill us with His Holy Spirit. It means there are two persons in this fellowship. That is God and us.

In our fellowship with God, actually we are being changed to become more like Him. The goal is we can live in His fulfillment plan, namely when we were created by Him.

“For we are God’s handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus,  that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us , that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 AMP) 

In this process, we need a willingness to surrender and obedience to do His word, including submits our passion under His will.

SURRENDER AND OBEY

Longing of every God’s child is to know the Father and understand His will. But on the other hand, we also have our own dreams and passion that unknowingly sometimes contrary to God’s plan. What I mean of contrary isn’t the meaning of sin, but what we pursue isn’t same with God’s perfect will for us. For example, we really want to become a successful entrepreneur but actually God wants us to take the other profession or the other way.

If our dream and passion is still on our prayer and pondering, let’s learn to surrender it all to the God’s hand and obey His decisions. Isn’t so easy to let go our dream and passion especially when we struggle to achieve it, we have risked many things. We will feel a part of our heart gone. However, please believe me within our surrendering and obedience to God there is always blessing and Glory from God alone. The future that God has created for us is more beautiful than our own plans.

“If God does not allow our plans to be comes true, it means God has provided the better one for us.”

However, if right now we live our life in accordance with our passion and after long time we realized that God calls us to live in other way, it isn’t easy move on instantly. There is a responsibility must be completed. We have to experience consequences. But don’t be afraid and worry because God is able to do anything.

“Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19 NKJV) 

His name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). There is wisdom and favor in Him. So let’s always to living in fear of the Lord and growing in the true knowledge of Him, because: “The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning (the chief and choice part) of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 AMP)

To know God is so important. Increasingly we know God’s heart, will be easier for us to believe Him. When our faith is growing, and then will be easier for us to surrender and obey to His will. Further, the Holy Spirit will guide and show us what we have to do.

There will be no vain life process in the Lord. Every single detail of live we have lived, though even it was a mistake, all of that still can be “raw materials” for God to change our future if we are always surrender and obey to Him. Therefore we must be shaped and changed so that we are more and more in harmony with him.

HARMONIZATION

Life with maximum achievement can only be achieved if we live in God’s will. Like a train, the train could only travel at the maximum speed and arrives at the right destination when in the RIGHT TRACK / RAIL and RIGHT DIRECTION. For that we should be harmonized with God.

Harmonization is a process that must be happen in the fellowship with God. We are harmonized with God in all things. We have to harmonize in personality, character, the way of thinking, lifestyle, life goals, priorities, and so on.

More we cling to Him and obey to His word, we will be more in line with Him. The more we know him intimately, and then we will have His heart and mind. So from time to time our passion will be IN HARMONY AND IN UNITY WITH GOD’S PLAN because we have been transformed into more and more like Him.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV) 

In each process, the Holy Spirit works to change and renewal from the deep of us. Holy Spirit works FROM THE INSIDE of us. Holy Spirit is a helper that gives us strength to surrender, perseverance to be obedient, and courage to walk into the Father’s will. Then like on the right track train and on the right direction, we will reach the goal by goal that God has planned before.

If right now you are currently living in your passion and you know for sure that it is according with God’s will, then perseveres in prayer and still hoping until your dream becomes a reality.

Challenges will always there. But don’t ever give up. God is always being there beside us. There is nothing can stop us.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NKJV)

Keep walk in faith and live in intimacy with God. Always surrender and obey to God, and make sure your passion is always in harmony and in unity with God’s plan.

While doing our part, keep the dream and the passion was still burning. Continue to live in it and do everything in love to the Father. Maybe at first looks nothing special and ordinary, be patient and remain faithful! If it is God’s will, sooner or later will bear fruit!

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:13 NKJV) 

 

Amen

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images

Note: Dear readers, just because of Karina still focus on her daddy’s health, so by Karina’s permission this post uploaded be myself (Sella Irene). And for this time comment and like are disabled.

ONLY THROUGH LOVE (guest post)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo credit: Google Images

Edit with: pixlr App

LEAVE YOUR “BIG BAG” (Guest Post)

leave-your-big-bag

I really love big size bag. Hand bag, tote bag, sling bag, or whatever it is I really love it as long they are big and have pouch “everywhere”. Well, I don’t even know when and how this fashion formed. Also don’t know the reason why! Maybe because of big size so I could bring much stuff or even I think I need to carry many things so need a big bag. I really just don’t know! The fact is this is a habit that very hard to be left.

A few weeks ago I suddenly really want to buy a new bag. Captured in my mind a formal, elegant and medium-sized bag would be very cool! But you know what happened? Ah…Again..! It’s not big enough, couldn’t, and I am afraid it would not be enough! Though initially I am interested with a medium bag my mind always filled with couldn’t, not big enough, and so on! And guys you could guess what happen next! Back to the habit! Big size bag stick on my hand!

Well, I really know carrying big bag with lots of stuff is the same like carrying a heavy load on the shoulder.  So often my shoulders feel so sore, stiff, and finally made my head dizzy! Friends, I always try hard to reduce the stuff to carry but I always difficult to decide which one I shouldn’t take it in the bag. It seems all stuff is important! But you know, in fact I scarcely didn’t need that damn stuffs.

 

UNNECESSARY BURDENS

Through the simple experience, the Holy Spirit teaches me an allegory, that quite often we bear unnecessarily burdens.  Sometimes unconsciously we did it for years. We become very familiar so that the burden stick strong in our soul, they shape our character and the way we thinking. It is so difficult to let it go. Increasingly the burden pressing and ensnare us. Make us unable to fully enjoy the joy and freedom in Christ, and make our steps become so hard and slow.

Burden could be anything. Could come in from life problems, but also could be made by ourselves. Examples:

-Pursuing achievement just for the sake of recognition of others

-Desire wants to get rich very quick

-Over perfectionist for the sake people couldn’t see our shortcomings.

-Trying hard to buy something far beyond the ability in order could be welcome in the certain social community.

-Manipulate our real situation because of shame or prestige

-Fear, anxiety, trauma, revenge, anger, disappointment, etc

-And the kinds of thing that do not grow our spiritual maturity, doesn’t bear the fruit of Spirit, doesn’t build godly character, doesn’t arouse hope and faith, and not make us dependent on God.

Whatever it is, all the things that hinder our walk with Christ are burden. Burden made us tired and weak. But there is good news.

 

INVITATION FROM JESUS

Jesus invites us through His Word:

COME TO ME, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST.(Matthew 11:28 NKJV)

HOW THE WAY?

TAKE MY YOKE upon youand LEARN FROM ME, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30 NKJV)

Come to Jesus! Let Him take our burdens and replace it with the God’s yoke. What is that? Willingness to life along and in tune with God by always aligning ourselves with God’s word. As long as we always live in obedience to God’s word and doing His call, it means the same we bear the God’s yoke.

Jesus promised that His yoke is easy and light. It is true! Because the fact is, we would not bear the yoke alone. Jesus carries it together with us.

But as light as any, bear the Lord’s yoke isn’t automatically change us as easy as blinking our eyes become immune to the pressures of life. We still have problems. We could still worry, disappoint, fear, arrogant, greedy, and the other negative emotional. That is why Jesus the Lord not only says “Take My yoke” but He also says: LEARN FROM ME”

We must learn from Jesus. But there is no instant learning. Every learning is always takes the process, and every process always takes time. Learning always involves two parties, teacher and student. We are as students need to open ourselves to be taught by Jesus as our Master. All that will be successful if we always obey and have the willingness to not give up in any God’s shaping. Then, what should we learn??

 

GENTLENESS AND HUMILITY

Jesus specifically said about for I am gentle and lowly in heart”.Jesus is the perfect example in gentleness and humility. He who is the King of kings had to let Himself be born in the flesh even to death on the Cross. In Hebrews 2:5-9 we read that to immediately Jesus made a little lower than the angels, which incidentally are His creatures.

In the three times of temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), Jesus actually had the opportunity to prove His power but He was not provoked by the Devil. Jesus chose to submit to the Word of the Father, then He said, “It is written …”.Jesus put the word of God above all else.

Similarly, when the Lord Jesus on the Cross. Indeed, He has the power to liberate Himself and repay those who persecute Him. But Jesus knew the Father’s will that He should die on the Cross and He chose to be obedient and faithful in fulfilling the Father’s will. That’s all the evidence gentleness and humility of Jesus.

Gentleness and humility will take us on walks toward the fulfillment of God’s plan.

Only the gentle and humble man that can submit and obey, so it can be more easily shaped and transformed by God.

But again, all of them require obedience and continuous processes. Don’t give up, the Holy Spirit will enable us to go through all the processes.

 

LEAVE YOUR BURDEN AND SIN

“Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses , let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 AMP)

There are many things could be a burden: health, financial, family relationships, spouse, career, and even ideals, all can be a problem and burden! It is normal we think about life problem. It means we are not indifferent. It is indicate we have responsibility. But do not let the thought drag us to the negative feelings that actually makes our soul depressed.

Leave our burdens by bring all the problems in prayer with faith and surrender all to God. The power of God is real and God’s help is always on time, even in ways that never occurred to us. There is a way out for all the problems in God.

On the other hand, don’t carry the “big size bag” filled with unnecessary things that could be a burden. Don’t fill our lives with self-desires, envy, angry, bitterness, worry, arrogance, and many useless things and sin. Do not open the door for sin because sin will ensnare us so we can’t run to reach the goals from the Lord.

If we always keep our steps day by day in harmony with God’s Word and faithful in the process to be meek and humble like Jesus, so we are freed from unnecessary burden.

Let us allow the Holy Spirit to change and shape our hearts, so that we are increasingly able to give the true response in all circumstances. Thus our souls will get joy and peace and we could more focus on doing God’s will.

God who commands us to do His will is God who have full of responsibility. He provides help, the certainty future with full of hope, and give assurance will be always going fine. The Holy Spirit will enable us to bear everything.

I pray this song lyric of HE WILL CARRY YOU could be a blessing for all of us. Amen.

 HE WILL CARRY YOU

There is no problem too big God cannot solve it

There is no mountain too tall God cannot move it

There is no storm too dark God cannot calm it

There is no sorrow too deep He cannot soothe it

 

Oh, if He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders

I know my brother that He will carry you

Oh, if He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders

I know my sister that He will carry you

 

He said, “Come on to me all who are weary

And I will give you rest”

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (edit with pixlr)

Smyrna, The suffering Church

 

SMYRNA, THE SUFFERING CHURCH - Karina's Thought

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another affliction is the church in Smyrna had long suffering.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Himself reminded:

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

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

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

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

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

The second reward is, “The Eternal life”

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

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

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

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

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

Karina – Living by faith

Supporting material resources:

Clarke, Adam. Commentary on Revelation, studylight.org

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

The Pulpit commentaries, revelation 2, studylight.org

Related post:

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

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

 

 

Image credit:  The Church in Smyrna. padfield.com

Woman of Faith (Mary)

woman_of_faith_by_arvhee

 

My dear all readers, this the sixth post of “Woman of Faith” and it will be the last post of the series which talk about woman figures in the bible. For the last woman figure this evening I chose Mary.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38)

Obedience and faithfulness! This is the first things that I got from figure of Mary. When the angel said to her: “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”(verse28-33), the privilege that she received gives her so many difficulties.

For Mary, this is not an easy thing. Let’s we imagine it. An unmarried woman suddenly had to conceive a baby. For Jesus’ sake, Mary would face the gossip, insults, and very likely have been rejected by his fiancé. Moreover she will bear shame in her community. Not only that, she would have to travel to Bethlehem to be taxed, she would have to flee to Egypt and later, finally she would see her own son tortured to death.

But look at how Mary deals with all that things. She did not refuse it, bargaining, or argued. Mary remains obedient to the God’s command. Even firmly and full adherence she said: “I am the Lord’s servant, May your word to me be fulfilled.”  I think it is no wonder why God chose Mary to conceive His Child. This is a grace from God. I am not sure there is another figure like Mary who has such extraordinary obedience like her. Even today I think would be very difficult to find a woman who has great obedience like Mary. Jesus himself greatly appreciates Mary.  Although Jesus was not the son of Mary and Joseph’s marriage, but let’s we take a look at how Jesus honored Mary. When Jesus was crucified, He still had time to say: “Woman, here is your son,” (John 19:26).

What can we glean from Mary’s story? Once again, obedience and faithfulness! Mary’s obedience and loyalty should be our inspiration in everyday life. I know it is not so easy.   Be obedient and faithful especially when we are in a difficult situation is not easily. But if we always submit our lives into the hands of the God’s provision, then God will help us get out of any trouble as written in Deuteronomy 31:8: The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Let’s we hold Mary’s utterance: “I am the Lord’s servant” Yes! We are the Lord’s servant like Mary. As a servant we should to obey and have loyalty to our Lord. “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey… “(Romans 6:16)May your word to me be fulfilled.” This is evidence of Mary’s submission to God. We should to submit our entire life to the God’s will and wholeheartedly trust in Him. Do not make refusal, bargaining, or even argued with God’s plan and will.

My dear lovely readers, For Jesus’ sake, Mary have experienced a very difficult situation. But she still Obedient and faithful to God’s word and submit her life into the God’s will. As a Lord’s servant she knows what the best for her life. Mary’s obedience and faithfulness should be an example. How about us? By figure of Mary, let us renew our faith and obedience to God. Have loyalty to the Lord, which would not easily shaken by the wind in a storm even though we are in very hard and difficult situation.

“Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.” (Isaiah 32:2)

Note: I would like to thank to all the readers for your comments and suggestions on the series “Woman of Faith” I really appreciate it and every single comment and suggestion will be my valuable lesson. I knew and realized that this is an imperfect writing and I still learn on it. Let God perfected all my writing, could be useful and be a blessing to all of us. Thank you to my dear lovely friend Ar Vhee who willing to made an art work for this series. Thank you to my inspiration blog friend and sister in Christ: Sue Nash, Julie Garro, my brother in Christ Rob Barkman, my Grandma Toni and many others blog friends. Thank you for your supporting. I love you all.

Karina

Photo Art work by: Ar Vhee http://metarvheenoia.wordpress.com/

 

 

He’s Still Faithful

Christ – the solid Rock, the Tower of refuge,
The Haven of restful calm,
Still reaches out in the worst of times
With a soothing, healing balm.

He’s the peace that passes understanding
That this world cannot give;
The joy unspeakable and full of glory…
The abundant life we live.

He’s the undergirding Strength in fiery trials,
Giving grace to endure;
The Anchor planted deep within our souls,
Holding safe and secure.

He is still our loving Shepherd and Friend
When our dreams fall apart;
And He’s Still Faithful to all who heed His call…
Surrendering their heart.

“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous
forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”( Psalm 37:25)
“…the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” (II Thessalonians 3:3)

© Connie C. Bratcher