Tag Archive | Israel

NO DECEIT (guest post)

Since ancient times “what appears before the eyes of men” has become a measure. Look at how a great prophet like Samuel mistakenly recognized Eliab as the anointed of God only because of his appearance or his height (1 Sam 16: 6-7). We also use this perspective often when interacting with other people, right ?! For example, sometimes we quickly conclude someone is mature and wise just because he doesn’t talk much. Even though the reality is not necessarily so. In Proverbs 17: 27-28 it is written: “He who has knowledge spares his words, [And] a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; [When] he shuts his lips, [he is considered] perceptive.” (Proverbs 17:27-28 NKJV) This shows us how easy it is to judge someone’s personality only from the outside.

Conscious or not, often our judgments and attitudes toward others are influenced by what we see and what we hear. Indirectly this makes ourselves to be a person who is more concerned with “what appears outside” like our appearance and the way we speak in order to get the “image” that we want in the eyes of others. We become a person who cares deeply about what other people say. We feel “okay” when people say we are great, cool, kind, humble, and various other compliments. On the contrary, we feel bad or even feel rejected when people say our performance isn’t as good as usual, considered boring, not smart, our opinions are not accepted, and so on. The judgment of others becomes very important to us as if it contributes to our self-worth.

Without realizing it, we carry such a mindset when worshiping and while serving God, whether to get a positive assessment from others or even to obtain God’s “favor”! We diligently come to church and serve so that others see us as godly people. We sing, close our eyes, and raise our hands in worship, but actually our minds are wandering everywhere. The prayers we offer are just strands of beautiful sentences that we speak eloquently but without faith. Our services to God is only the talent that is presented well without any life offered on the altar. Even worse, we wrap our speech with “spiritual languages” while in church, even though we often emit our emotions with inappropriate words in the work environment. We are kind and friendly to all economic strata while in church, but we often discriminate people in our daily activities. Not the kind of worship that is desired by God. What God longs for is we come to Him with sincerity, without falsity!

We will learn about this from Jesus’ conversation with Nathanael. According to tradition, Nathanael and Bartholomew were considered to be the same person, namely one of the 12 disciples of Jesus. The opinion developed since the ninth century may be based on writing a list of the names of 12 disciples in the three Synoptic Gospels (Mt 10: 1–4; Mk 3: 13-19; Lk 6: 12–16) who always juxtaposed Bartholomew’s name with Philip, while Nathanael was a friend of Philip. The story of Nathanael began when Jesus went to Galileam, where He met Philip, whom He called to follow him. Philip rejoiced that he had found Jesus and immediately invited his friend, Nathanael, to meet Jesus. Then there was a very interesting conversation between Jesus and Nathanael in John 1: 45–51.

GOD LOOKS AT THE HEART

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.

(John 1:45-48 NIV)

Regardless of the estimate of who Nathanael really is, what is interesting is Jesus’ statement when he saw him: “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” (John 1:47 NIV)

There was a quality within Nathanael that Jesus likes: there is no deceit. No deceit means no guile nor duplicity. This means that everything in Nathanael’s self – his actions, his heart and mind – all are sincere, not acting, and without falsity. What appears on the surface is a reflection of what is in him, without pretense. As what appears in people’s eyes, that’s how he is. Not made up, not hypocritical. Nathanael’s sincerity was the opposite of the condition of the Israelites of that day, especially the scribes and Pharisees, who were only concerned with outward things. On different occasions Jesus criticized them: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28 NIV)  In the midst of such Israeli conditions, it is not surprising that Jesus called Nathanael as truly Israelite.

No matter how good one’s performance in the human eye, one’s value is not determined by what appears outside because God’s eyes penetrate far to the bottom of the heart: “…..The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7 NIV)  God knows every thought and motivation that we don’t even realize. God wants whatever we do, more than just because we care what people say. God wants us to do our best not because we just carry out our obligations, even more than just professionalism. Let us not do something just because of politeness, especially if there is a hidden purpose.

Proverbs 23: 7 is a real example of insincerity: For as he thinks in his heart, so is he [in behavior—one who manipulates]. He says to you, “Eat and drink,” Yet his heart is not with you [but it is begrudging the cost]. (AMP version) This verse also serves as a reminder for us to be careful of kindness and hospitality accompanied by hidden intentions, as well as a warning to ourselves so that we do everything with a pure heart. God wants us to live without falsehood and not hypocrisy. A life that is in harmony between heart, mind, words, deeds. A piety without pretense. Life isn’t just good on “packaging”, but really beautiful and fragrant. This quality isn’t produced overnight, but is the result of spiritual discipline and consistency to continually decide life with a sincere and pure heart before God.

EASY TO BELIEVE IN GOD

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

(John 1:48-49 NIV)

Nathanael was surprised how Jesus could know him even though they had never met before. Shortly after hearing Jesus’ answer “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you”, Nathanael gave a spontaneous statement that showing his belief in who Jesus is: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” (John 1:49).  Look, how easy for Nathanael to trust Jesus, even though Nathanael had made a skeptical statement when Philip told him about Jesus of Nazareth. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46 NIV).

Nathanael is an example of how people who are with no deceit will easily to believe in God because his heart is sincere and pure before God. Why is it sometimes difficult for us to believe in God? One of the causes is because we are not truly sincere and pure towards God. Unconsciously we still have a hidden agenda and veiled motivation for God. We don’t come to God with ” as we really are “. Often it is hidden deep in the heart, but God who sees the heart knows everything. Therefore, allow God to investigate and justify our hearts, straighten out and show our mistakes, so that there is no obstacle between us and God. Let the psalmist’s prayer before this omniscient Lord also be our prayer: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23-24 NIV)

SEE GREATER THINGS THAN BEFORE

Jesus said, “You believe[h] because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.”

He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

(John 1:50-51 NIV)

Living with no deceit will make us uncomplicated in trusting God and easier to follow God’s guidance because we believe in Him. Walking in God’s guidance will lead us to greater things, as Jesus promised to Nathanael: “You will see greater things than that”. Larger things aren’t just about miracles, God’s help, blessings, promotions, and things like that. Much bigger than all of that is the knowledge of God. Jesus said to Nathanael: “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” This is similar to Jacob’s dream at Bethel in Gen. 28:12, but this time with a special revelation regarding the Son of Man. Previously Nathanael acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God but Jesus stated that He is the Son of Man, as prophesied in Daniel 7:1-14. This equipped Nathanael’s understanding of Jesus. When we read the rest of the story, Nathanael was one of those who saw Jesus when He appeared on the shore of the lake of Tiberias after His resurrection in John 21:2.

It is a gift to be allowed to know God personally, because in fact we will not be able to know God if He doesn’t reveal Himself to us. If at this time we can trust and know God, it is because the Holy Spirit has placed the seeds of faith in our hearts. This is Paul’s statement that understands how valuable the knowledge of God is:

But whatever former things were gains to me [as I thought then], these things [once regarded as advancements in merit] I have come to consider as loss [absolutely worthless] for the sake of Christ [and the purpose which He has given my life]. But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ (Phillipians 3:7-8 AMP)

Believing and knowing Christ is the most valuable thing in life. Without Christ we will be lost, aimless, and unsaved. Therefore let us faithfully follow Christ. Let’s keep living in sincerity and true piety with no deceit, so that we become people who are easily formed by God and obey Him. By continuing to believe and live in His guidance we will increasingly know Him and experience greater things with Him in all areas of our lives. Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (Edit with: pixlr app)

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THE NEW SEASON 3 “THE DANGEROUS SAFE ZONE” (guest post)

Life is a journey through season after season. Every season is the unpredictable season (click here) because we don’t know what will happen, whether it is happiness or the hard season (click here). All must be addressed wisely because what we do in this season will affect our situation the following season. That’s what experienced by Asa. Asa was the third king of Judah after Israel was divided into two regions, namely Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (Southern Kingdom). This great-grandson of King Solomon was listed as one of the godly kings in the history of Judah: “…Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life.” (2 Chronicles 15:17 NIV),  and “Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done.” (1 Kings 15:11 NIV). The story of Asa is written in 1 Kings 15:9-24 dan 2 Chronicles 14:1 – 16:14. There are many lessons that we can learn from Asa’s attitude through the seasons of his life.

 

ASA’S LIFE SEASONS

First Season: The New True Dawn

Asa began 41 years of his reign by conducting spiritual renewal in Judah which at that time had fallen into idolatry. He removed the foreign altars and smashed the idols, and ordered his people to return to worship the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and to obey His laws and commands. This first step was seen as good and right by God: “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.” (2 Chronicles 14:2 NIV) For his sincerity, God bless Judah with security. In that peace time Asa built fortified cities in Judah: “He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest.” (2 Chronicles 14:6 NIV)

A position – at any level – is the responsibility entrusted by God to His children to achieve His goal which is to bring people to Christ. The right first step is one of the determinants to achieve it. But that right first step must be followed up consistently in all situations.

Second Season: War and Victory

After a safe period of several years, Judah was attacked by Zerah with an army of a million men and 300 chariots. It was a force that was almost impossible to conquer because at that time Asa had only an army of 300 thousand Judeans with shields and spears and 280 thousand Benjaminites who were shield bearers and archers. In that critical state Asa called on the Lord: “….Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army….” (2 Chronicles 14:11 NIV) God answered his prayer by giving glorious victories and abundant spoils of war.

The victory of God’s children in the face of the darkness of life isn’t determined by what and how much they have, but depends on how far they want to rely on God, because only God is able to paint a rainbow behind a dark cloud. As long as we rely on God, we will not only win over problems but also get the opportunity to level up more than we are able to reach with our own strength.

Third Season: Strengthening Commitment to God

God saw Asa’s heart and sent a prophet, Azariah the son of Oded, with the message that Asa must be remain firm to cleanse Judah from idolatry and bring Judah back to God, because there was a reward God would give for his effort: “But as for you, be strong and don’t give up, for your work will be rewarded.” (2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV)  Asa responded by carrying out a total spiritual reformation as a continuation of what he had done at the beginning of his reign. He removed the repulsive idols and restored the altar which was in front of the temple of the Lord. Then he assembled all Judah and Benjamin and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them to strengthen their commitment to God by entering into a covenant to seek the Lord with all their heart and soul.

We must respond to each of God’s blessings and help with a commitment to life increasingly pleasing to God. Get rid of all forms of idolatry in our lives. Maybe we don’t worship idols literally, but there could be other things that we love and pursue more than God. For that we must learn to say “no” to ourselves when our hearts want things that deviate from God’s will.

Fourth Season: War, again!

One time Baesa, king of Israel, fought Asa by blocking Rama, which was near the border of Israel and Judah. This action might have been triggered by the many people of Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who crossed to side with Asa (see 2 Chr. 15: 9). But Asa didn’t rely on God like when he faced Zerah but he asked for help from Benhadad, king of Aram. Aram, also called Syria, was the enemy that David had conquered (see 2 Sam 8: 5). Asa sent tribute in the form of gold and silver from his palace and from the treasury of the house of God, so that Benhadad was willing to cancel his peace agreement with Baesa. Benhadad agreed to Asa’s request and ordered his troops to attack Israeli cities. This tactic succeeded in making Baesa stop blocking Rama (see 1 King 15: 20-21) but there are consequences that Asa must bear because of his attitude that doesn’t rely on God. Through Hanani, a seer, God rebuked Asa: “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and haven’t relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand…… In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.” (2 Chronicles 16:7-9 NKJV) Asa became angry when heard the word and then he imprisoned Hanani!

A few years before his death, Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. but in his illness he didn’t seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians. Asa didn’t apostasy and didn’t leave God. In 2 Chr 15:17 it is written that Asa’s heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life, but the Bible also tells us that Asa’s spirituality in the last years of his life wasn’t as good as when he began his position as king.

This season teaches us the importance of always relying on God in every situation, no matter whether the problem is heavy or light. Indeed, human tendency is difficult to fully rely on God if they can still do something with their own strength. Humans tend to seek human help whose response can be immediately known and heard, rather than waiting for God’s help that doesn’t know when it comes and often the way isn’t as expected. Then, can God’s child succeed in his own way? Yes, but there are consequences that must be borne. Not because God is evil, but because of our own mistakes. Like Asa, he succeeded in defeating Baesa through the hands of the king of Syria but he had to “pay” it by losing the opportunity to conquer Syria and since then he had to experience war.

Every problem is a test and our response will determine the end result. The wrong response and action to a problem not only makes us lose the blessings we should receive, but also opens up opportunities for new problems that are often bigger than the previous problems. Following God cannot be half-hearted. The choices are only “yes” or “no” because we cannot serve two masters. When we aren’t wholeheartedly dependent on God, in fact at the same time we are dependent on others, whether it’s property, other people, or ourselves.

 

Message from The Seasons of Asa’s Life: DON’T BE LULLED IN A SAFE ZONE

“Sometimes the most dangerous place isn’t on the battlefield but in a safe zone.

Being lulled into a safe zone makes us no longer vigilant and forgets to guard the heart.

Gradually and without realizing it, we will feel that we no longer need God, no longer seek God, and no longer rely on Him.

Until at some point we will find that our hearts have changed and moved away from God. “

In this modern era, Asa can be described as a person who is diligent in worshiping, active in service and active in various church activities, and enthusiasm in preaching the gospel. A person who has a desire to bring others to Christ, and a leader who is in a strategic position to make changes. Imagine a person who is fiery for God like this and then turns into a person who is hesitate, even having the heart to imprison a servant of God because of heartache hearing the word said by the servant of God (2Ch 16:10). What made Asa change? Since when did the spirit begin to degenerate? If we read the whole story, it seems the answer is in 2 Chr. 15:19 “There was NO MORE WAR until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.” Indeed, that safe time is God’s blessing because Asa has been faithful and relied on God, but it seems that the safe period slowly makes Asa’s “fire” fade.

In everyday life, “no war” means no struggle, no challenges, everything goes smoothly without significant obstacles. If we aren’t aware of guarding the heart, this safe and calm situation can make us complacent and lulled. The sign that we are lulled into a safe zone is no more vision, dreams, and higher goals to be achieved. This is a situation that is actually dangerous because it can make us fall asleep spiritually. We are still in the church and still serving God, but slowly we lose fire and our love for God has ever been in our hearts. We aren’t firm anymore in holding the truth, no longer thirsty with God, not close to God as before, no longer leaning on and relying on God completely.

The safe zone isn’t wrong but it is dangerous if we are carried away in it. Therefore, when God takes us in a safe zone, that’s the TIME that God gives us so we can focus on BUILDING OUR SELF. As Asa strengthens Judah by building fortresses so that enemies cannot be easily penetrated (see 2 Chr. 14: 6-7), we must also build what is inside us to become a stronger person and ready to face what will happen to future. There are two possibilities that will occur before us: Problems or Blessings. Problems and blessings both need capacity to overcome. People who are unable to deal with problems can be desperate, angry with the situation, and disappointed with God. But people who aren’t ready to receive blessings can also be arrogant, too confident, not leaning wholeheartedly on God. Not a few Christians who diligently pray when there are problems and then move away from God when their prayers are answered and they are blessed abundantly. Therefore we must prepare ourselves to face problems and to receive blessings.

At least. there are three things that must be built and strengthened so that we don’t collapse when hit by problems and aren’t complacent when receiving blessings: SPIRITUAL, MENTAL, and SKILLS. Spirituality and mentality are built by fellowship with God, doing God’s words and through a willingness to change, so that we are rooted, grow, and bear fruit in Him (Luke 6: 46-49). Skill is built by training to sharpen existing potential and also learn new things to increase knowledge and enrich skills. If we consistently build ourselves in Christ, we will be better prepared at any time when problems come or at any time receive greater trust and responsibility from God.

In this life season after season will come in turn and there are times when we take the wrong step. At present some of us may be in a complicated situation caused by past sins. Actions that are already wrong are irrevocable, but there is always hope if we repent and are willing to change. Crucial issues are often not on the fault but on the attitude of the heart to God’s reproof. The response to God’s rebuke will certainly affect our future, namely whether we will be restored or even more trapped in new mistakes that increasingly drag us into spiritual degenerate. It is a pity if something that we have started properly finally doesn’t produce as much fruit as it should just because we hardened our hearts and didn’t want to repent. The past cannot be changed, but our conversion today can change the future. At present, whether we first started the first step correctly or not, the most important thing is to let the remaining time wisely and immediately turn away from mistakes. Don’t fall asleep with a safe zone that can endanger us and don’t give up on fulfilling the task that God has entrusted us to the end with excellence.

Stay vigilant even though in a safe zone, because a little disturbance in a calm atmosphere will be very shocking if we fall asleep in it.

Amen.

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images

 

 

THE SECOND CHANCE (guest post)

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

THE FIRST CHANCE

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

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

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

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

THE RESPONSE IN DEALING WITH THE SECOND CHANCE

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

It teaches two things to us:

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

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

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

There are THREE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGES to us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second: GOD IS WITH US (Verse 3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WAY TO THE SECOND CHANCE

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

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

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

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

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

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

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

THE CHANGE-MAKER (guest post)

God has the great project of salvation over the world. From time to time, God always calls and chooses people to be the ambassadors of His Kingdom. Those who are willing and credible to carry out the holy mandate of Heaven, that even powerful to save one nation. Not by working alone, but working together until “the baton” be accepted and continued by the next generation. If you and I are be there in it, what will we do for our generation? And what spiritual legacy that we will leave for future generations?

Moses, Samuel, and Manasseh, are three figures from different generation who are ON STRATEGIC POSITION TO MAKE CHANGES for the nation in their time. Yet there was a moment in the journey of the kingdom of Judah, where God mentioned their names in the statement: “Even if MOSES and SAMUEL were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go!….. I will send four kinds of destroyers against them,…..because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem.” (Jeremiah 15:1-4 NIV)

What had been done by Manasseh that made God so angry so that He said Moses and Samuel was not going to be able to mollify His heart??

 

FORGETTING AND MAKING FORGET

The meaning of Manasseh is “someone who forgetting” or “someone who makes us to forget”. There are at least two prominent figures named Manasseh in the Old Testament. The first Manasseh was Joseph’s son that born in Egypt. The second Manasseh was the 14th king of Judah (696-642 BC), the son of King Hezekiah.

The first Manasseh became consolation for his father:  Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh  and said, “It is because GOD HAS MADE ME FORGET ALL MY TROUBLE and all my father’s household.” (Genesis 41:51 NIV)

The second Manasseh, the king of Judah, made the people he led to forget God. He overturned all the spiritual and repentant reforms that his father had committed: “For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed;…..” (2 Kings 21:3 AMP) 

Manasseh’s history and all the sins he committed during his 55 years of rule were written in 2 Kings 21: 1-18 and 2 Chronicles 33: 1-20. He built altars for Baal and set up an Ashera pole. He bowed down to all the starry hosts, worshiped them, and built altars for them in the court of the temple of the Lord. He practiced various forms of occultism, even he burned his own sons in a sacrificial rite in the valley of Ben-hinnom.

“…..He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger……Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites……Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols…..he had caused Judah to commit, so that they did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” (2 Kings 21:6-16 NIV)

With all of his power and influence, Manasseh has made his people to forget God and led them into a severe apostasy! So severely, that sin and its effects were passed down through generations!

Ultimately Manasseh did repent. He even called on his people to return to worship God: “In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; …..Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God…..Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings  and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel. The people, however, continued to sacrifice at the high places, but only to the Lord their God.” (2 Chronicles 33:12-17 NIV). But because sin had dominated all areas of Judah’s life, so Manasseh’s repentance and appeal was not enough to restore their whole hearts to God immediately.

Let us return to Jeremiah 15:1-4 “Even if MOSES and SAMUEL were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people…..because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem.” (Jeremiah 15:1-4 NIV). Verily, God said it word to the prophet Jeremiah was not in Manasseh’s time alive, but some descendants after Manasseh died. Even though Manasseh has gone but his sin still has an impact on the life of the people he led! Then what about Moses and Samuel?

 

PRAY FOR NATION

“Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called upon His name; They called upon the Lord, and He answered them.” (Psalms 99:6 NKJV) 

Moses and Samuel were two great intercessors who in the past have always prayed to God for the salvation of the Israelites. In Exodus 32:11, 32 Moses pleaded for forgiveness to the Israelites when God wanted to punish them for making a gold calf: But MOSES SOUGHT THE FAVOR OF THE LORD HIS GOD…”..But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

God answered his prayer: In accordance with your great love, FORGIVE THE SIN OF THESE PEOPLE,…..The Lord replied, “I HAVE FORGIVEN THEM, AS YOU ASKED.” (Numbers 14:19-20 NIV)

So it is with Samuel. When Israel was deeply distressed by the Philistine occupation, they asked Samuel to pray: “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us,…..” Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it up as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. HE CRIED OUT TO THE LORD on Israel’s behalf, and THE LORD ANSWERED HIM. (1 Samuel 7:8-9 NIV)

In some instances when God was very angry and wanted to punish Israel, several times Moses and Samuel besought to the Lord and He heard them. So imagine how magnitude and severity of Manasseh’s sins until God said that Moses and Samuel will not be able to change His decision to punish Judah!

 

SALVATION OR DESTRUCTION

Moses, Samuel, and King Manasseh, are the people who are in a strategic position to make a change for their nation. Moses led Israel out of Egypt to the land of Canaan. Samuel was the last judge before Israel entered the era of kings. Samuel also anointed Saul and David to be king. During his priesthood, Samuel was committed to bringing Israel to life in truth: “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.” (1 Samuel 12:23 NKJV)

In contrast to Moses and Samuel who prayed and brought salvation to his people, the king of Manasseh brought his people to destruction. So what is our current role, does our life make other people change in the right direction or vice versa ?!

 

A CHOICE THAT CHANGE THE WORLD

Being like Moses and Samuel or like King Manasseh, it all depends on our choices. I believe that none of us would deliberately choose to be like king Manasseh. But we can make mistakes without we realize. Therefore we must be very careful in everything to avoid becoming a stumbling block or causing a person to fall into sin. We must be wise, especially when we are in a position with authority to make important decisions which it decisions will affect the lives of many people we lead. Remember, more higher our position then more greater and wider the impact we make.

If we choose to be a change-maker who leads others to salvation, then we must return to the breath of Christian life that is intimate fellowship with God as the lifestyle of Moses and Samuel.

Moses was close to God like a friend: “So the Lord spoke to Moses FACE TO FACE, AS A MAN SPEAKS TO HIS FRIEND…..” (Exodus 33:11a NKJV)

Samuel knew God so he acted according to the heart and mind of God: “Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest WHO SHALL DO ACCORDING TO WHAT IS IN MY HEART AND IN MY MIND. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever.” (1 Samuel 2:35 NKJV)

If we become more intimate with God, we will to know Him more and change more and more like Him. The way we see the world, our love for our neighbor, our vision and our mission, all will be more in tune with His heart. If we always abide in Him then our lives will bear fruit for His glory. His power working within and through us, and will make us His effective tool for rescue souls and transforming the world.

Become a change-maker that transforms the world! Does it sound too grandiose? No! Because it is not by our own strength but by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. Are only certain people that God can use? No, because God can use anyone who surrender and obey Him!

In large or small scope, God entrusts us with a mission: that is to save souls. One nation, one city, one family, or one man, all valuable in the heart of God. The change of one’s life is very meaningful because it will have an impact on the lives of others. Housewives, employees, entrepreneurs, students, laborers, artists, and so on, have the responsibility of making changes in accordance with our respective portions and positions. No matter how small our steps in God’s will, it will have an impact on the “world” around us.

We are a part of God’s “team”, which is composed of believers from all era. People who do God’s will and work their part in obedience and faithfulness until the end of their lives. From time to time, generation after generation, will complement each other until the whole of God’s plan is fulfilled.

Let us always stay in God’s love and choose to live righteously, and deliberately direct our lives to His will so that we can be used by Him to change the world around us. Nothing is impossible for Him. We just have to continue living in intimacy with Him, trusting, and giving our lives to do His will till the end.

Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (the text edited with pixlr app)

THE NEW SEASON (Guest Post)

Hello, dear readers. Now I am just stopping by to give a short note to this guest post. This time, with all of my respect, I would like to thank you for all of your prayers to me and my father. Though my father hasn’t totally recovered, we are grateful to God almighty his health condition is getting better. And for me personally, Right now I get into a new season of life. My father’s doctor team had given serious warning and ultimatum that starting from now, my father should resign and totally quit from all of his business activities. It means me (as his single daughter) and my mom should take over all of my father’s activities. This will be a hard season of my life. There will be a huge burden on my shoulder should to bear. But, as Sister Sella said in this post that there is too much proof of God’s promises when we are in the midst of hard season. I strongly believe God will not let me walk alone. His loving hand will always hold me tight to go through this season.

Dear readers, Thank you for your prayer and support. I am so sorry still couldn’t active visit and read your awesome posts. I do promise will be come back again. God bless you All.

(Karina Lam)

 

Life is a journey of time to go through season after season.

Every season is a new season because we don’t know what will happen in the future.

Kids are living in a child season. When they are growing up, they will enter the seasons that are no longer dominated by “their world” itself, but began to be burdened with different needs and responsibilities.

For the newlyweds, it will certainly have different season when in the later they have child, son-in-law, and grandchild. All was going along with the journey of human cycle.

THE UNPREDICTABLE SEASON

All of the seasons we have talked above are the common season and almost experienced by everyone. We even could make a prediction when the season will come up. We are able to make approximate calculation and prepare ourselves as best as we can do. We could make physically and mentally preparing, and even make financial planning. But how perfectly our preparations and planning, we still don’t know what will be happen in the upcoming season.

“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NKJV)

A shocking thing could be happen! The unpredictable season could suddenly come up and we are forced to change the plan, and even deflecting our lives direction. It would be so nice if it’s a beautiful season but often it’s unpleasant, hard to bear, and we definitely cannot run away from the reality. There’s no other choice! We have to go through until the new season comes again!

But don’t be terrified and discouraged, because we have the holy promise from God:

“Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.” (Isaiah 46:4 NKJV)

That is God’s promise to His children. People who really put trust in God will not allow walking alone. When “tough season” is coming, His presence is always MORE THAN ENOUGH for us.

GOD ALWAYS BE THERE

The Holy Bible has recorded the proofs of God’s involvement among His chosen people!

The Israelites was passing through the various seasons. At the first time they enjoyed the privileges in Egypt during the Joseph’s reign. All they needs was guaranteed very well until the situation changed drastically. The new season was coming, and brought Israelites into the slavery.

In the midst of suffering was coming a glimmer of hope for freedom. They stepped out of Egypt to the Promise Land. But apparently to heading there they had to experience “The desert season” for the long enough period of time, which is 40 years. And when the Promise Land was emblazoned in the front of their eyes, they weren’t immediately being able to live comfortably. They had to snatch it through one war to another war.

All seasons that they must experience was hard and requires a sacrifice. BUT SEE, THE PRESENT OF GOD IS ALWAYS REAL IN EVERY SEASON!!!

  • The existence of Joseph in Egypt is the proof that God is the Omniscient God who has prepared everything to preserve His people from the famine, long before it happened. (source: Genesis 50:20 ; Psalms 105:16-17)
  • The ten plagues on Pharaoh and on Egypt are the manifestation of God’s power to deliver His people. (source: Exodus 7:1-5)
  • The land of Goshen in which the Israelites dwelled has been spared from the plagues is a proof that God is the defender and protector of His people. (source: Exodus 8:22)
  • The pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire are the manifestation of the existence of God in the desert. (source: Exodus 13:22)
  • Manna from the heaven and water that came out from the rock are a proof that God always take care of the life of His people. (source: Exodus 16:35 ; Exodus 17:6)
  • The collapse of the walls of Jericho and the victory of Israel in any war are a proof of God’s help and defense. (source: Joshua 6 ; Hebrews 11:32-34)
  • Untill this day God is always there and reveal Himself through prophets, apostles, pastors, and through miracles.

Too much proofs of God’s presence in the midst of the hard season that we must go through. All of that are proof that God is always be there and real in the life of His children from era to era, from season to season until the end of time!

“… I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the  close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be).” (Matthew 28:20b AMP)

Let’s us holding on to the God’s promises and learning to put our trust in the Lord to anything that He allows happen to us, although we don’t understand His decision.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9 NKJV)

By the depth of His wisdom, God establishes and governs every season of our lives. Every season is a process that we must go through. We cannot choose or reject it, because God has a purpose in every process. All of that is to shape us to be more like Him to do His will according His grand design. We must obey and surrender to all God’s guidance. We must be willing to shaped and to transformed by God.

Each season has its own peculiarities. We cannot live in a new season in a way that we use in the season has passed. We must be willing to change everything that needs to be changed: habits, mindsets, perspectives, and ways of working, the pattern of relations, financial management, and so on.

When we go through every season in obedience and trust in the Lord, and do our part by diligently and grateful, then at the end of the season we will reap the results of the “exercise” we have been through. Namely the “muscles of faith” becomes stronger, the purity of heart, more to be holy, the way of our thinking be renewed, increasing in the knowledge of God, and spiritual maturity. And the most important is we will have an intimate and strong relationship with the Holy Spirit more than before, so that we are ready to entering a new season, whatever it is! Ecclesiastes wrote profound reflection on it.

“The end of a thing is better than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7:8a NKJV)

BEAUTIFUL IN ITS TIME

There is no easy process for the flesh. But the end of the result is the God’s glory will more shine on our lives. We will reap the fruit of the seed that we have sowed along the season.

  • After a long trip and full of struggle in the wilderness, finally Israel obtained the Promised Land. (source: Acts 13:17-19)
  • After sold as a slave and put into the prison, finally Joseph became governor over Egypt and even be a blessing to the nations. (source: Acts 7:9-10)
  • After losing all his children and all his wealth, finally Job got the double blessing from God. (source: Job 42:10)
  • Abraham, David, Noah, and people of faith, finally completing the God’s calling in their lives because they walked with the Lord in every season of their lives. (source: Hebrews 11)

So it is with you and me. If we always walk with the Holy Spirit in every season of our lives, then at the end the great grand design of God to us will revealed. Indeed, we do not know how the end of this season or how the next season to come. But God will not let us walk alone. Be patient and persevere in prayer. Everything must be beautiful in its time.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV)

“Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.” (Psalms 27:14 AMP)

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. Thank you 🙂