Tag Archive | God’s love

A SAFE FEELING IN THE FATHER’S LOVE (guest post)

Today, the awareness of believers to be active in ministry is growing up.  In fact, some positions in ministry become something that is desired and proud of.  Whether we realize it or not, all activities in serving God has taken up a lot of time and energy, and is sometimes seen as more important than God himself.  As a result, many servants of God actually lose something more important and valuable. . . something from which the ministry comes out, that is a personal relationship with the God being served!

How important and valuable something is to us is reflected in how we treat it.

The Lord Jesus illustrated this through three parables in Luke chapter 15.  Jesus gave a parable about sheep, drachma and sons, which was important and valuable in the lives of the Jews at that time.  The number of sheep has indicates the amount of wealth and social rank, the drachma is the wage for one day, and the son is the successor to the descendants who continue the family inheritance.  When these things are gone, the owner will try to find it with all his efforts and will rejoice when he finds it back.

In the parable of the son in Luke 15: 11-32, the Lord Jesus tells the story of the father with his two sons, the younger and the older.  The younger asked for his inheritance, sold it all, then left and squandered his money to waste.  When he fell into poverty and hunger, he remembered his father and decided to go home.  His father, who had been waiting for him, immediately received him back and restored his position unconditionally, even holding a party to celebrate him.  The older was angry because he felt he had spent years to serve his father, work hard and tried to obey every command of his father, but was not heeded.  While his younger brother who acted poorly was welcomed in a special way.

Looking at verses 1 and 2, there are two groups of listeners in this parable.  The first group are tax collectors and sinners who usually come to hear Jesus’ teachings.  The second group are the Pharisees and the scribes.  The Younger is a depiction of tax collectors and sinners, while the older is a description of the scribes and Pharisees, those who feel they have done many things for God, feel they have done the right thing.

These two groups have in common, that is, they are not related to the father.  Naturally, if the younger loses relations with his father.  But what about the older?  How can a person who always stays in his father’s house, obeys orders and works hard in his father’s years, lose intimacy with his father?  It was seen from his reaction when he saw what his father had done to welcome his brother’s return.

“The older brother became ANGRY and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.  But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.  Yet you never gave me even A YOUNG GOAT so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when THIS SON OF YOURS who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill THE FATTENED CALF for him!’  (Luke 15: 28-30 NIV)

His first reaction was ANGRY.  He didn’t rejoice together with his father, even calling the younger as ‘THIS SON OF YOURS’, not ‘my brother’.  And, pay attention to the comparison of the words he uses, namely ‘THE FATTENED CALF’, which the father slaughtered for his younger brother, compared to ‘A YOUNG GOAT’ which according to him has never been given by his father to him, even though he has worked hard.  Implied envy and disappointment in his sentences.

Today, the older are people who know many of God’s words, are strict with various religious rules, and may be someone who is active in the ministry in the church, but unconsciously they have lost their personal relationship with the Father.  When we are easily triggered by anger, easily disappointed with God, disappointed with friends in the ministry, jealous of the blessings received by others, begin to measure what the Father should be given by what we have done in ministries, and lose love for others… maybe without us knowing we have lost our personal relationship with Heavenly Father.  Maybe we are the older who lost in the Father’s house.  Now is the time to return the position of our hearts to their proper place, which is in the presence of the Heavenly Father.

A ministry should come from the relationship between the child and Heavenly Father and be filled with the love of Christ.

A service that isn’t sourced from a relationship with Heavenly Father will only be an activity and busyness that will increasingly dry our spirituality.  When this happens, we will begin to calculate our efforts in God’s field and become disappointed when God doesn’t give us what we want.

THE PERFECT LOVE

Back to the parable of the prodigal son.  Does the Father love the younger more than the older, so the Father has a party to celebrate the return of the younger?  Or does the Father love the older because he is an obedient son who serves faithfully in the Father’s field?  The answer to both questions is NO.  The Father’s love is perfect love, not because of what we do or what we don’t, but because He loves us, as we are, even when we are sinners, so that He is willing to give His most precious possession, His Only Son, Jesus Christ.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 8 NIV) 

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8: 32 NIV)

We are people who are loved by the Father.  Have “a safe feeling” in the Father’s love.  We must not think that we must “do this and not do that” so that we are more loved by the Father or that the Father will grant our prayers.  Instead, we should not assume that if our prayers are answered, it is because we have served, fasted, did good, and so on.  If the Father blesses or if our prayers are answered, it is because the Father loves us.  And… If the Father doesn’t fulfill our prayers, it’s also because the Father loves us.

Look at the younger.  When the younger back home, the father immediately restores his rights and status as sons and heirs, without the younger having to prove to the father by his actions in advance that he has repented.  There is no guarantee that he will no longer do shameful things to his father.  That is the love of the Father, that is the perfect love, the unconditional love.

A REFLECTION OF LIFE

The younger and the older are both losing relations and intimacy with the Father.  The younger who is a depiction of sinners who have not been saved, or it can also be people who have received salvation but choose to leave God for the sake of the world.  The older who is a depiction of God’s children who actively works in God’s fields and knows many of God’s words, but loses fellowship with the Father and does not know the character of the Father.  What does it mean all the toil in ministry when losing intimacy with the Heavenly Father!

Enthusiastic and active in the ministry is good, but it is really a shame if the busyness in serving God’s work makes us not have enough time to build a personal relationship with God.  We must view building a relationship with Heavenly Father as far more valuable than serving His work, because ministry should come out of intimacy with the Father and come from the love of the Father.

The Father has shown us how valuable and serious the restoration of relationship between Himself and humans is, so that the Father is willing to give Jesus to atone for sins, so that human can fellowship with Him.  Let us respond to the seriousness of the Father with the same attitude of heart, which is to place a personal relationship with Him above all else.  Let’s look at the relationship with the Heavenly Father as something valuable, something that we look forward to, we look for, we maintain, and become our joy.

When we are confronted with all kinds of problems and conditions in this world, let us always remember the high price paid by the Father to restore His relationship with us.  When we want to make a decision in life, let the main factor in our consideration be whether that decision will result in the deterioration of our personal relationship with our Father.  Let’s be Christians and servants of Christ who have a deep personal relationship with the Heavenly Father, know Him, and always feel ‘safe’ in the Father’s love that has been proven in the work of Christ, so that by His grace and by His strength, we can say:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Roma 8: 35, 38-39)

 

AMEN

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( unsplash.com ) edited with pixlr apps

 

Rejoice Within Suffering

 

Few days ago I met one of my best friends, Audrey, who just lost her beloved father. She said that now she felt lonely because before her father passing away, every morning before she go to the office, at the dining table she always talks about many things with him.  Now there’s one empty seat at her dining room and it makes her realized that she couldn’t longer share many things to her father. But there is something made me amazed from her. She said, “Yes I am very sad because I had to lose my beloved father, I am so sad because had to lose a great role model in my life. But in the other side, I am grateful because I don’t lose my joy. In the midst of grief I still have joy. Because why? I am grateful my father passed away in the state of keeping his faith faithfully, I am grateful there’s no unresolved sin before God, I am grateful that God gave him long lasting life with good health, though I feel too fast to go, I really know and understand God’s time is not our time. And the most important thing is, I rejoice because I really know where is my father go. He now will become a member of Kingdom of Heaven with God.” 

My beloved friends, this post inspired by Audrey’s story. This’s about rejoicing. Do we’ve rejoiced today? Maybe we’ll easily answer “Yes we are!” if our living conditions are safe; running well and there’s no problem at all. But do we still easily say we’re rejoicing when we’re in difficult situation Like Audrey for example. Do we still have joy though we’re under the pressure of hard problems? Generally, people associate joy/ rejoice with a feeling in a condition where there’s no suffering and problem. It means the joy for the majority of people comes and depends on their conditions that are being experienced. Many people also think that it’s impossible keep rejoicing in the midst of suffering. After I heard Audrey’s story my mind drifted away to one of the great figure in the Bible, Paul. For me, Paul is always can be a good example of rejoicing within suffering.

After repented through encountering with Christ, Paul then devoted himself fully to serving God. After having a new life, Paul’s life doesn’t automatically become easier. In his ministry, he met with the severe situations, suffered many tortures, had physical injuries, had mental pressure, and prisoned waiting for the capital punishment. But the amazing thing was all of his suffering didn’t stop him to serve God. Was Paul angry and disappointed to God? Did he grumbling and complain to God why after repenting and serving God he instead had a lot of suffering? No! Not at all! Paul didn’t do it all. What he did while in jail?  He praising God, he even wrote many letters to his congregation and his ministry friends and the messages that wrote become an essential foundation for every believer’s life today. The other amazing thing from Paul was that none of his letters contained grunts, disappointment, and sadness. Faithfully he greatly encourages people to remain steadfast and not stop rejoicing. For example, to the Philippians he had many messages to keep rejoicing and he repeatedly said that his miserable condition will not made him stop to rejoicing.

Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.  For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me. Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you (Philippians.2:17-18, 3:1)

And in his final exhortation to the Philippians,

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

My dear friend, when I wrote this post, I stopped for a moment to ponder and imagine Paul’s figure and had questions. How Paul can be like that? How can a man who has served God for a long time still be able to encourage others to remain rejoicing while he had hard suffering in the prison and awaits the coming of capital punishment? Then I read again the series of Paul’s letters and finally I could make a conclusion that Paul directed his heart and mind wasn’t like the worldly people. He didn’t focus to get wealth, fluency, preferential treatment, prestige, or popularity that he might get it all easily before repented. I noted some of Paul’s letters content.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

(Philippians 3:10-11)

 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3: 13-14)

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3: 20-21)

From the verses above, we can know and learn what was become Paul’s focus in his life.  He focused to be like Christ, he always looked forward continuing to run for the purpose of obtaining a heavenly call from God in Christ Jesus. Though his worldly life was full of suffering and had capital punishment, he didn’t focus on his suffering. He more focus on the salvation that has been obtained through Jesus Christ and he had great opportunity to serve the Lord. I strongly believe this is reasons why he always rejoices within his suffering. Paul put his focus on the right position.

My beloved readers, I really don’t know how’s your condition right now. I’m so glad and be grateful if your life safe and everything is running very well. But maybe there’s among us who in the difficult time in life or currently facing very hard problems and it becomes a reason couldn’t be rejoicing. Right now, please allow me to telling this:  Actually joy isn’t come from what our condition is. Joy isn’t depends on how good or bad our life and also not depends on others. It’s really possible rejoicing within suffering. How come?  how can we keep rejoice in the hard time like Paul did? Let’s take a look to the following verses:

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:10-11

From two verses above we can conclude that there’s always joy and we will always be able to rejoice as long we live in His love and keep His command. This is the way that we can still rejoice even though our lives are full of suffering. Let’s take a look another verse,

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy (Psalms 5:11)

This verse above is another proof that when we take refuge in God we will be rejoice and everyone who love God will filled with joy.  The key point is “In the Lord” That’s all! So my dear friends, actually as true believers there’s no reason at all we couldn’t rejoice every day because we live and must be always live in God. Rejoice isn’t in and depending on our life condition or circumstances. True joy is always come from God and He’s the source of joy. Then what should we do in order to rejoice within suffering?  All we need to do is like Paul did. Put our focus on the right place. Not focus on the problems and suffering but focus on God who has given us salvation.  Like a rose and thorns. Don’t focus on the thorns but let’s focus on the rose. It would be better we think and be grateful God put rose on the thorns than we think and grumble God put thorns on the rose*). What does it mean? It’s all about our focus. If we always put our focus on the “thorn” we will grumble and will be difficult to have joy and rejoicing. But if we always put our focus on the “rose “then we will have joy and will always be able to rejoice. Don’t focus one the problems and difficulties because it will hinder us to have joy. Let’s focus on God because there is always joy in the Lord.  Moreover, we’ve to remember that joy/rejoice in the Lord is our strength. With rejoicing in the Lord then there will be strength to overcome our problems and difficulties.

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

My dear friends, I really now it’s no easy to keep rejoice within suffering. But please remember, we have God who is so good. Let’s stop focusing on the problems and suffering, change it with focus on God. Remember, ponder, be thankful, and rejoice for His existence, His loving kindness, assurance of His eternal salvation, His words, and for what He has done for us. If until now we can still live this life, it’s not because of our strength and ability but God give us strength and enable us to face and overcome all problems and suffering.  Keep maintain our relationship and fellowship with God. Let the Holy Spirit always dwell in our heart and let the true joy always shine on from our lives because joy is the part of fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) Amen.

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart! (Psalms 32:11)

Karina – Living by faith

*) Quote from Dwight L Moody

Image source: Renfrew Christian Fellowship