Tag Archive | faithful

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

The Faithful Man

One night at a small church in Atlanta, Georgia, a man shared how he had become a Christian while in Sydney, Australia.

“I was at the street corner in Kings Cross,” the man began, “when I felt a tug on my sleeve. Turning, I found myself face to face with a street bum. Before I could say anything, the man simply asked me, ‘Mister, if you were to die tonight, where would you spend eternity?’ ” “That question troubled me over the next three weeks,” the man continued. “I had to find an answer, and I ended up giving my life to Christ.”

The pastor of the Atlanta church was amazed that a man on a street corner could have such an impact. But imagine his amazement when, three years later, another man came to his church and gave an almost identical testimony. He, too, had been at Kings Cross in Sydney when a derelict had pulled on his sleeve and then asked him, “If you were to die tonight, where would you spend eternity?” This second man, also haunted by the street bum’s question, eventually sought and found an answer in Jesus.

Shortly after hearing the second testimony, the pastor of that small church in Atlanta had to be in Sydney for a missions conference. On one of his nights off, he went to Kings Cross to see if he could find the man who had been mentioned at his church by two different people. Pausing on a street corner to look for someone like the street bum he’d heard about, he felt a tug at his jacket. He turned, and before the poor old man could say anything, the pastor blurted out, “I know what you’re going to ask me! You’re going to ask me if I were to die tonight, where would I spend eternity?”

The man was stunned. “How did you know that?” he inquired. The pastor told him the whole story. When he finished, the man started to cry. “Mister,” he said, “10 years ago I gave my life to Jesus, and I wanted to do something for Him. But a man like me can’t do much of anything. So I decided I would just hang out on this corner and ask people that simple question. I’ve been doing that for years, mister, but tonight is the first time Ever that I knew it did anybody any good.”

God calls us not to be successful, but to be faithful in following where He leads. We need to obey God even when we can’t see whether it does any good or makes a difference in someone else’s life. I encourage you to stay faithful to the Lord even when things don’t make sense and be sensitive to that still small voice because that is the Lord leading you to where He wants you to be.

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.(1Kings 19:11-12)

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Blessing within Suffering

This morning before I go to the office I have to visit my mom’s family who had an accident two days ago. She is 97 years old and she fell and her hip was broke. Both her doctor and the whole family have decided that surgery is not an option in her case (considering to the age factor). We chose, instead, at-home hospice care. Essentially, were trying to keep her as comfortable as possible until the Lord decides to take her home to Heaven.

A question comes across into my mind. Why she got it all? In her old age why she still had a suffering and what does God want from this accident? She is a good great grandmother. She has a very good relationship with God and being an example to the entire family. My mom said:” My dear princess, this is what we called a God’s will” I am a bit pondering and suddenly I remember with a bible verse in a sermon few months ago which is talk about suffering.

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Peter 4:19). This Bible verse becomes a basis of the sermon. Sometimes God’s will for His children is not comfort, but suffering. Yes, I do believe that is true. In fact, that may be the truth more often than you can imagine.

I am pondering again and slowly but sure began to understand. After the accident Many of her children, grand children, and great grand children have come around her bedside to pray with her and sing songs with her. God is receiving much, much glory because of all that is happening while she suffers. Imagine in your mind a bedroom filled with family members all praying and singing with loud voices to the glory of God! Through her suffering and pain we all entire family has more intimate relationship with God. God gave us blessing through the suffering.

If we read all of the 1 Peter 4 verses we will know that of all the verses dealing with God’s specific will for your life, one in particular is rather tough to swallow. It could be that God’s will for your life is not what you might personally consider a wonderful plan. It just might be that God’s desire for you is that you suffer, and suffer long, and suffer hard, and suffer painfully.

1 Peter 4 : 12 said : Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” continuing in verse 13 : “But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Sometimes or might be often God using physical suffering to be amazing blessing to others. The sermon gave a story about Joni Eareckson Tada as an illustration. In 1967, and at the age of seventeen, Joni was injured in a diving accident that left her a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. No doubt, there were many nights that Joni spent by herself with no one other than God. And there were likely times when she would ask questions like, “Why me, God?” or “Why did you let this happen to me?” But as one looks back at Joni’s life since that life-altering day, you can’t help but notice how often God has used her to be an amazing blessing to others.

Joni has authored over seventy books, served on the National Council on Disability under President Reagan and President Bush, and more recently on the Disability Advisory Committee to the U.S. State Department under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But as impressive a resume as that is, there are untold thousands of common folk who have been helped, encouraged, and ministered to by the positive outlook on life that Joni so eloquently models.

She has a heart of hurting people and grieves right alongside those in desperate need. I don’t think it to be a stretch in saying that it is highly unlikely she would have ever been used in the capacity she has obviously been used by God in, if she hadn’t had that terrible diving accident in 1967. God works in mysterious ways, indeed.

Does God care when His Children Suffer? Absolutely yes! When God’s children suffer, God also feels the pain. When Jesus was nailed to the cross for your sin, God the Father also felt the nail’s sting. Jesus endured God’s wrath for you. God understands your pain, and He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrew 13:5). But there are times when God’s plan might not be what you are expecting. Down through the centuries, millions of God’s people have been murdered, enslaved, and viciously beaten due to nothing more than their uncompromising Christian faith. But suffering comes in many different shapes and sizes, and not all suffering is created equal.

Through the suffering God wants us to entrusting our soul to a faithful Creator who will never leave or forsake us! He has our name written down in His Book of Life. Our acceptance is engraved on His hands. You will always be a part of God’s plan, for all eternity to come.

Karina