Tag Archive | Jesus

FOLLOW THE GUIDANCE (guest post)

In the middle of February, my husband and I ministered to a city that’s quite far from our city. We drove on the highway along 780 km, across three provinces and around 20 big and small cities. It was really fun. Then on Sunday afternoon we traveled home after two days of service. The highway was wide and quiet, the sun was bright, so perfect. But we cannot continue to enjoy that comfort. Half the trip had passed when we saw a thick lump of black cloud covering the sky in front of us. The color of the black clouds with the golden glow of dusk showed contrasting scene. Beautiful but also frightening! Moments after I captured it with a cellular camera, apparently our car began to enter the area under the black cloud. The rain immediately flushed and the longer the more heavy accompanied by strong winds. The heavy rain, the strong winds, and the darkness of the night, made our visibility very limited. A comfortable journey turned to full of suspense.

The lighting on the highway that we passed is only at the interchange, namely in the area before and after the gate of highway. Along the rest of the road there are only traffic signs and small plates at a certain distance that function as reflectors. The yellow reflector on the guardrail separates our lane from the opposite direction, and the red reflector on the guardrail on the edge of the highway. For hours traveling in the dark night accompanied by the roar of the rain and strong winds we only relied on traffic signs and luminescence from the reflectors that reflected the lights of our cars. And even then only a few meters, limited to the distance of the lights of our car. Those points of light were the guide for us, whether the road we are going through will turn left, right, straight, down, or uphill. Meanwhile, our windshield wipers were competing with the rain that forms a kind of water curtain covered the windshield, making the view more blurred. Many times we have to lean forward so we can see the signs and the road more clearly. We must pay attention to and ensure that we follow each sign directions correctly because a little mistake make us misdirected.

OBEDIENCE THAT BRINGS TO THE AIM

For me, the situation we experienced at that time described a phase in the journey of life. There are times when everything goes very pleasant, comfortable, safe, easy, and smooth. There is also a time when problems come, like clouds cover the sun and change the light to dark. That is the dynamics of life that can be experienced by anyone, whether in extreme forms or only wavelet.

The characters in the Bible also experience times when they have to walk in dark valleys. Moses, a Hebrew who was educated and lived in the palace of Pharaoh, had experienced the phase of becoming a fugitive and had to live in the house of a priest in the land of Midian for fear of being killed by Pharaoh (Ex 2: 11-22). Joseph, a favorite son who was given a tunic of many colors by his father, also experienced several times the ups and downs of the dynamics of life. Starting from being dumped to a well and sold to Egypt, then got a position as a trustee of Potiphar, but then being imprisoned for being slandered (Gen. 37: 12-36; Gen. 39). David, a worshiper of the Lord, experienced the extreme dynamics of life from a sheep shepherd who was suddenly anointed to become king, then became the person trusted by King Saul. But then the situation changes. David became Saul’s main enemy until he had lived on the run for several years (1 Samuel 16-30). Then when he became king as God promised, there was a treason led by his own son until he had to flee from his palace (2 Sam 15-17). Those are three of the many stories of the characters in the Bible. Their experiences differ from one another but there is one common thread, namely obedience. They were people who remain obedient to follow the guidance of God even though they are under pressure. They didn’t deviate from the provisions of God, didn’t compromise with sin, and remain faithful to do what is right in the midst of their plight. In the end, it obedience brought them into fulfillment of God’s plan and made them reach the finish line brilliantly.

God has a special plan for each of us and He has provided everything needed so that we can work on His call, but it can only be realized if we obey Him.

Obeying God’s guidance in the midst of dark times has its own difficulties. Like walking in the rain on a dark night, heavy pressure can make us unable to see everything clearly because we panic, worry, fear, stress, depression. Our feelings become uneasy so it is difficult to pray. The desire to get out of trouble quickly makes us impatient waiting for God’s help. These various psychological conditions can make our spiritual eyes unable to see clearly and our spiritual ears become insensitive. We can be tempted to take shortcuts and seek help in our own way. When we finally choose to follow our own will, we will be misguided, because what we think is good is not necessarily good and what we think is right is not necessarily true.

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV)

Solving problems in our own way at first often seems successful but we don’t know what will happen at the end of the road. Obeying God’s guidance is the only way if we don’t want to get lost and regret later on. Knowing God’s guidance isn’t complicated. God has provided complete guidance for us, namely the Bible. The Bible is the written word of God. Following God’s guidance means doing what is written in the Bible.

 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.” (Psalm 119:105-106 NIV)

“Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:129-130 NIV)

The Word of God is like a traffic sign that shows direction and is like a light that illuminates our path. If our lives are on a dark road, just do what the Bible says even though it’s not directly related to the problem we are facing. Obedience to God’s word will make us smarter, wiser, and more understanding, even beyond knowledgeable and experienced people.

“Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers,  for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders,  for I obey your precepts.” (Psalm 119:98-100 NIV)

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV)

We really don’t know the whole of our journey. Be obedient, because every obedience to the word of God will take us step by step to the way out of our struggle. The wisdom and understanding that comes from God through His word will enable us to view problems with the right perceptions so that we can make the right decisions. Moreover, every obedience to the word of God will change us day by day to become more and more like Christ.

BELIEVE IN GOD

We cannot totally obey Him if we don’t believe in Him.

Moses, Joseph, and David were people who obeyed God’s guidance because they were believe in God. Moses could have kept hiding and refused to be sent by God to meet Pharaoh, but Moses chose to obey. Moses obediently worked on God’s call to lead millions of Israelites across the desert with the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. When the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire stop, he stops. Where the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire move, there he follows. Joseph could have complied with the wishes of Potiphar’s wife, but he chose to run away from her because he knew that it is sin. Joseph also had the opportunity to take revenge on his brothers who had made him suffer, but instead he gave them a place to live and fulfill their needs because he knew that God had a special plan for his life in Egypt. David had more than one chance to kill Saul, but David did not want to do it. Actually, if he killed Saul, he would easily occupy the position of king, but he chose patiently to wait for God’s time.

Moses, Joseph, David, and the people used by God in the Bible are people who fully believe in God. They don’t put their secure feelings into the situation. They don’t entrust their future to experiences, skills, connections, position and wealth. They don’t make decisions based on their own passions and considerations, but they follow God’s guidance even though sometimes for a moment it seems that their obedience doesn’t make things better. They still believe in God and rely on God in all circumstances, good or bad.

Dear brothers and sisters, if we are in a bad situation, remember what David did when he was greatly distressed in Ziklag: “David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” (1 Sam 30:6 NIV). Let’s strengthen our trust in God. Not with our own strength but with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will enable us to faithfully step in to follow God’s guidance. Not only until we get a way out of our problems, but until the end of our lives. Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (edited with pixlr apps)

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BECOME A NEW CREATION (guest post)

Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil. (Jeremiah 13:23 NIV)

The physical characteristics of living things in a species are inherited traits inherited from genetic factors. We can’t change it like if we take off our clothes and then replace them with other different clothes. God used this analogy when rebuking the people of Judah. In the eyes of God, like a leopard can’t change its spots, so the people of Judah who are accustomed to doing evil can’t do good. This very strong rebuke was delivered through the prophet Jeremiah in the years before Judah fell to the king of Babylon who later took them into exile for 70 years.

During the time of Jeremiah, sin was rooted in the daily lives of the people of Judah. They lived in sin and carried out various forms of idol worship, even killing their children in sacrificial rituals to the gods. When King Josiah called for national repentance in Judah, they did return sacrifices to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but they didn’t completely abandon their sins. Sin has colored the entire area of life and controlled their hearts, so God said:  “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with a point of diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of their altars…” (Jeremiah 17:1-2 ESV).

Sin has been carved so deeply in the hearts of God’s chosen people. Such a condition of the heart will not be formed only because it is a sinful thing, but it is the result of a process that continues to be repeated. Jeremiah 13:23 clearly says that they are accustomed to doing evil. The word “accustomed to” in Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament, also means “taught, learned, discipled”. The word comes from words that mean “to learn, to teach, exercise in, be trained”. Even in some variants of the Bible, that word is translated as “diligently, expert, skilful, teachers”. Seeing the original meaning, the phrase “accustomed to doing evil” means they are not only occasional or sometimes fall into sin, but there is a continuous repetition that may be intentional, which to a certain extent makes them expert, skilful, and trained in sin or that evil deed.

The same thing can happen to us. When we fall into sin, then “the alarm” of the Holy Spirit will be heard loudly in our conscience, making us aware of mistakes, asking for forgiveness, and arising from our sins. When we repeat the same sin again and again and again, then slowly but surely we will begin to ignore God’s rebuke, then our consciences begin to be torpid and insensitive.

The more we repeat the same sin, we will become more proficient in committing that sin, which will surely lead us to other sins! This is the same as we train and discipline ourselves to sin until it becomes a habit and our whole life is controlled by it. To some extent we may not feel the sinful act as something wrong because we have experienced moral degradation and a very severe spiritual deterioration!

REPENTANCE

There is no way out of sin other than repentance. That was what Jeremiah called upon many times to the people of Judah. Unfortunately they didn’t respond as they should until finally God’s punishment struck them. If at present some of us are still bound by sin, I pray that the Holy Spirit will realize that we need repentance. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:” (John 16:8 ESV).

Like how sin begins to take root in our hearts that is because we train ourselves to doing evil, then we also have to do the opposite in the same way if we really want to repent. We must train ourselves to do the truth by disciplining ourselves constantly to live in obedience to God. This must continue to be done because as long as we are still breathing, in us there will always be an attraction between the desires of the flesh and the desire of the Spirit.

As believers who are still proceeding to be like Christ, we can still fall into sin if we don’t take care of our hearts. But there is a fundamental difference with our previous condition, that we are no longer a servant of sin but we have the power to win over sin because the Holy Spirit dwells in us.

STAY IN THE TRUE SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY

Training and discipline to live obediently to the word of God requires perseverance and fortitude because we live in a world where some of the values are contrary to the Bible. Every time we are faced with reality, hear various news, and interact with people of different characters. Directly or not, it can influence or even shape us. In our topic this time, the tribe of Judah is a clear example of how environment and association have transformed them into sinners and idolaters. Long before Joshua had warned them about it: “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.” (Joshua 23:12-13 NIV).

We must not isolate ourselves from the world because we are sent to be salt and light in the midst of this world. What we have to do is be wise in choosing relationships and communities, because: Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt {and} deprave good manners {and} morals {and} character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 AMP)  How the influence of an association is very serious for our lives. Therefore we must pray a lot, read and do the word of God, and live in the true spiritual community. Thus we can grow spiritually so that we are not easily swayed by world values, and have brothers and sisters who rebuke if we start to deviate and strengthen if we start to weaken.

KNOW CHRIST PERSONALLY

Repentance is the right first step. A true association will prevent us from bad influences. But, one of the most important things that become our strength is to experience and know Christ personally.

The tribe of Judah in Jeremiah’s day didn’t lack “information” of God. They heard the story of how the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob freed their ancestors from slavery in Egypt, kept them in the wilderness, and led their ancestors into the Land of Canaan. They heard the story of various miraculous deeds done by God. But unfortunately all of that is just “a story about God” that they heard from generation to generation, but they themselves didn’t experience it. They didn’t know God personally because they have never met God personally. As a result they become easily misled and turn away from God.

We can hear many sermons and hear various testimonies from people who experience God’s help. We can read many books about Christianity or even read the Bible. But without experiencing and knowing God personally, all that will only be information for our brain, like we hear stories, read news, or watch movies. Every Christian must meet the Lord Jesus personally and continue to learn to know Him. The more we know Him, the easier it is to trust Him and obey Him without being suspicious. Every step of obedience will take us one step closer to becoming more and more like Him.

CHANGED TO BE A NEW CREATION

Originating from the same seed of life, a caterpillar that for some people looks disgusting can transform into a beautiful butterfly that flies elegantly. The colors of butterflies are not costumes and their graceful wings are not accessories, but a permanent change that can only be realized through a process of change from within.

Now, if the same question is presented to us: “Can we do good if we have previously used to do evil?” YES, WE CAN !!! In what way? By becoming a new creation in Christ: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

No matter how dark our past is, no matter how deep we fall into sin, God must forgive and restore us if we want to come to Him. 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 NIV) and Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

The important thing after we are forgiven is not to commit sin again. We must intentionally place ourselves in a spiritual community (church) that can encourage our spiritual growth so that we are stronger in facing challenges and still standing firm even though we have to go against the flow!

Repentance is not just a moment of confession, but requires our commitment to continue to live in that conversion.

Repentance is not a make-up to correct deficiencies or accessories to beautify the appearance, nor is the disguise mask so that we are not recognized.

Repentance is a complete change from within that encourages us to behave contrary to before.

If then our old environment does not recognize us anymore because we are no longer the same person, it is not because we turn into someone else’s person but because we are restored by God to be our supposed selves, that is, humans who are created like and similar to Himself and to do His works.

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( https://www.pixelstalk.net/blue-butterfly-wallpaper )

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A SPECIAL GIFT (guest post)

 

Two months ago my husband had a birthday. From some of the gifts he received, there was one gift that didn’t look as beautiful as it usually packs a gift. There were several lines of creases on the wrapping paper. It seems that the person who gave the gift had to uncover the crease of paper several times before finally succeeding in wrapping the gift. But all our impressions about the gift changed after we opened it. Not because the gift contained expensive item that was deliberately camouflaged with makeshift packaging as some people do to make a surprise. Not also because the gift contained the items we needed. The gift is “only” five small sachets of chocolate powder commonly used for instant drinks. On the sachet there was a pink paper that is usually used by children to make crafts, with congratulatory sentences and simple prayers in the typical handwriting of children. It was a gift from our niece, Joceline, who was only five years old. Instantly our hearts became warm.

Her mother told me how Joceline really loved all forms of chocolate. Usually she often whines with a sad and miserable face if her chocolate has to be given to someone else. But at the time she was very excited about wrapping her chocolate and writing a card to give to my husband. We still remember how Joceline gave her gift with a smile on her lips and sparkling eyes. Although the nominal value of chocolate powder is much lower than other gifts, but now we have more than enough reason to place the gift in a special position in our hearts.

What about us and the Father in Heaven? Have we offered the best of ourselves to the Father and pleased Him? Have we offered this whole life as a special gift to Him?

LOVE AND FAITH

In Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4 it is written the story of a poor widow who put two copper mites into the temple treasury. This passage literally tells about giving offerings in the temple, but I believe that we must have the quality of giving as the poor widow did, in every aspect of our lives. For truly everything we do in this life must be our offering and worship to God.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44 NIV)

Jesus didn’t just sit and see, but He view attentively how people put money into the temple treasury. The Lord Jesus observed and perceived each of them. His eyes penetrates to the bottom of the heart. More than just knowing the nominal value of the money, He knows every way of their lives and motivation. Among the many people who made offerings, He praised a poor widow who gave her two copper mites, the smallest and least valuable coin among the coins circulating in Judea at that time.

What was the distinguishes the poor widow’s offering from others? Were the coincidences that made offerings at that time were all rich people and this woman was the only poor person? Were there no other poor widows who also made offerings at that time? We don’t know for sure because the Bible doesn’t tell details about it. But surely this is NOT ABOUT THE AMOUNT OF MONEY and also NOT ABOUT RICH OR POOR. This is about HEART ATTITUDE AND LIFE BEHIND AN OFFERING.

Jesus’ words in verse 44 are the key: “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” ” At that time two copper mites was equal to the cost of food for one person per day. Not fancy food, of course. We must remember that she was a poor widow. The two copper mites certainly means a lot to her. It money was all she had to live on, but she gave all to God. That’s what makes her offering worth much higher than the others. In this poor widow’s offering there was a SACRIFICE based on FAITH. He will not give all her living if she didn’t has faith that God must preserve and will never leave her. In other words, letting go of all her living is the same as entrusting her life into God’s hands. That is the BEST part she can give to God.

Now let’s look at this in a broader context. Indeed, we will never be able to “give” to God because everything comes from Him:

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; (Psalm 24:1 NIV)

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:7-8 NIV)

If the whole universe including ourselves belongs to God, then what can we give to Him? Nothing at all! So, when we “give” offerings to God we are actually “offering back” what is truly His mine. This is not just money, but our entire life! Whatever we do in this life must be an offering that pleases God, but everything must be done in faith in Christ.

Faith is the assurance of our hope for God’s promise. Faith makes us willing to sacrifice because we believe that what we do in God will not be in vain. We sacrifice our pleasure in sin and fleshly desires in order to obey God’s word. Faith affirms us to be faithful until the end because we believe that there is a reward that awaits us in Heaven. And only faith makes us fully able to entrust our whole lives in His hands as long as we walk in the world. Faith must be the basis of all our actions, because without faith everything we offer is like ordinary activity without eternal value. And above all, LOVE must be our driving force and main motivation because without love all our sacrifices are nothing and useless.

…and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2b-3 NIV)

SINCERE

In previous events, Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23:1-36; Mr 12: 38-40; Luke 11:37-54; Luke 20:45-47). These Pharisees and Scribes were people who were very respected and influential at that time. Their words were like the law that the Jews must obey. Jesus called them hypocrites, who knew and taught the truth but they didn’t do it. They look godly and holy on the outside, but they full of trash and decay inside. “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. 28In 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).  Everything they do is done for people to see…” (Matthew 23:5a NIV). It seems that at that time there was a special pride if it was seen as a pious and devout person, so there was a tendency to do everything in order to be seen by others. In the midst of such a spiritual atmosphere, sincerity is something rare.

Return to the poor widow with her two copper mites. What can be proud of with two copper mites compared to the offerings of rich people who must be jingling loudly when put in the offering treasury. The jingling might invite admiration and respect from the people who saw it. This was in contrast to the poor widow’s offering. There was no pride gained by this widow in the human eye even though she gave all her income. I believe that she only gave sincerely to her Lord without seeking human praise, because it was impossible for Jesus to appreciate this woman’s offering if she did it with the wrong heart.

God sees the heart more than performance. Incorrect motivation makes everything we do become wrong. Doing good but not sincere is the same as deceiving ourselves, others, and God. Sincerity means what we do and say are the same as what is in the heart. More than that, we are like the Pharisees and hypocritical scribes. If we long for our lives to be offerings that are pleasing to the Father, then all our deeds must be truly sincere and not just look beautiful on the packaging.

Everything we do in sincerity and sacrifice to give the best that is moved only by love and based on faith in Christ will be an offering that pleases God.

A HEART THAT IS BANDED TO GOD

In fact, none of our offerings can amaze and fascinate God because wealth, talents, and creativity that we offer are come from Him. No matter how good we sing, it will not be as beautiful as the singing of angels in Heaven. As great as our ministry or work that we do, there will always be weaknesses. What distinguishes one person’s offering from others is that HEART is involved because there are no things we do without involving the heart, whether our hearts are right or wrong! In the heart there is a motivation for each of our actions, which in turn will DETERMINE THE QUALITY of our offerings.

The gift from Joceline is worthless compared to other gifts we received. But because of the attitude of her heart – love, sincerity, sacrifice and willingness to provide what she herself likes, also joyful when she was giving up her gift – making her simple gift becomes a special gift. How about our hearts??

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21 NIV)

HOW FAR or TO WHOM we believe, love, sacrifice and give, it’s all DEPEND ON WHAT OR WHO IS the treasure to us. If God becomes our most valuable treasure, our hearts will be banded to Him. If our heart truly banded to God, we will definitely make Him the center and our main reason for living this life. The poor widow has offered her two copper mites to God. Now, let us rededicate our “two copper mites” – that is our whole lives – as a special gift for Father with love, faith and sincerity. I believe the Holy Spirit is with us. His strength and power will help us not only to choose what is right, but also to do it with the right heart and in a way that pleases God. Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo by: Sella Irene

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)

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

 

 

YOU ARE PRECIOUS MORE THAN YOU HAVE KNOWN (Guest Post)

The most beautiful pearl of life are often hidden deep in the heart

Imprisoned by the hardness and the fragility of the soul

Covered by sorrow and a fleeting pleasure

Distracted by ambitions that sometimes makes man be delirious

 

There is no way to get there, except to surrender to the will of the Father

Allowing His hand to disclose all that is hidden

To let go off everything that you think of as a treasure but actually rubbish

 

Only by following His call and living in His ways

You will find the most beautiful pearl

At that moment, you will understand who you really are

That you are more precious than you have ever known!

 

(Sella Irene – Beautiful Words)

 

Have you ever felt that there is “something” that is lacking even though you have got everything you want? Have you ever felt you should be on a particular path or have to do something that you may not know exactly what it is, but you know that you are prepared for it? Does your heart flush with desire to be an extension of God’s hand more than you have been doing? I call it all “the spiritual hunger and thirst” that coming out of our souls and spirits that wants God. This hunger and thirst for God will push us to seek God, draw nearer to God, and find His calling.

We are designed to live in God’s call, and for that God has equipped us. If we think we have developed all of our potential, we are wrong! For surely God has invested in us a much greater potential than what we already know today. But we will not find it until we give our whole lives to enter into the plan that He has set apart for us from the beginning. The psalmist paints beautifully how God knew us long before we could know Him.

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And [that] my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, [And] skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When [as yet there were] none of them. (Psalms 139:13-16 NKJV)

There are at least two things we can get from this Psalm: WE ARE VERY PRECIOUS FOR GOD and WE ARE IN THE PLAN OF GOD.

First : WE ARE VERY PRECIOUS FOR GOD

Man is the culmination of God’s creation. Every human being is created personally, not mass production, not copy and paste. Behold, no human being is physically identical to any other human being. Timbre sounds, face details, pupil color, hair, fingerprints, and so on. Even twin brothers still have differences. It shows how creative our Creator is, and how special every one of us is!

If we are so special to God, then there is no reason for us to disrespect ourselves. Therefore one of the fundamental things we must do is to fully accept our existence. This isn’t “accepting” in the sense of tolerating and compromising our weaknesses and sins by reason of “this is what I am”. No, this isn’t like that. To fully accept our existence is: on the one hand to realize our weaknesses, but on the other hand we also appreciate our existence as God’s grace, whatever and however our condition. God knows our weaknesses and ugliness, God knows all our sins, but God still loves us.

The Lord Jesus describes His love for us as the Father’s love for Him: I have loved you just as the Father has loved Me; remain in My love [and do not doubt My love for you]…… No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends. (John 15:9,13 AMP) The Father is willing to give His beloved Jesus to save mankind and Jesus willingly laid down His life to do the Father’s will, so that the man who has been separated from God by sin can again have fellowship with Him and enjoy His love. Therefore the most important thing we have to make is whether we have accepted Jesus as the only Savior and the only God in our lives. Only by accepting Jesus into our hearts will we discover the true meaning of ourselves. But the story doesn’t stop at the moment we receive salvation. Furthermore, we must live according to His way so that we may find His calling for us, that is a special work that God has prepared beforehand.

Second : WE ARE IN THE PLAN OF GOD

In His omniscience, God has known our way of life from beginning to end. He works in everything with perfect calculation and planning. He assigns everyone to be born in a particular era and year, in a particular family, to a particular nation, and gives us the uniqueness that characterizes us. All there is purpose and reason, not random and not coincidental. You and I … are in a part of God’s whole plan for the world. The people of God are called to be specifically involved in His plan according to His timing and in harmony with the uniqueness that He bestowed upon each one of us.

In this regard, Luke wrote in Acts about King David: “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; … (Acts 13:36 NIV)

In the beginning, David was no different from most of the Israelites of the time. He wasn’t a famous person. He was just one of thousands of people. The youngest child who wasn’t too calculated, even by his own parents. David had reason to feel rejected, inferior, or became a rebellious person. But David chose to build a relationship with his Creator. This continued until he became king. He chose to be close to God in his success and in his failure. The result is as written by Luke: David had served God’s purpose in HIS OWN GENERATION. Even David’s life became the standard for kings after him. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.” (2 Chronicles 29:2 NIV)  We can find some similar verses in the Bible.

Not only King David, our Bible is full of God’s work through ordinary people God used: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, Elijah, Elisha, Gideon, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Peter, Paul, and many more. They’re members of the community with various professions and backgrounds. They weren’t perfect people. They had flaws and weaknesses just like us, but they’re willing to be processed by God. They associated with God, found and received God’s call. They wanted to dedicate themselves and committed themselves to living in the call even though they had to let go of their own dreams. The Bible records their lives weren’t in vain, useful to their own generation, and God used them to do great things beyond their existence. I am sure that they are the people who arrive at the end of their lives with satisfaction. Not because they become rich, famous, or powerful, but because their conscience bears witness that they had lived according to the God’s plan. They’re the ones who did the God’s will in their era.

PRIVILEGE OF HEAVEN

How about you and me? Have we lived in His plan? God equips all human beings with various potentials, but what distinguishes us from those outside Christ is that each of those potentials must be used according to God’s will. Not to fulfill our ambition, but to please God. Not for our pride, but for the glory of God. Not in a good way according to our thinking, but must be in accordance with the word of God. The ultimate goal isn’t for ourselves but to bring many people to Christ.

Are the above statements idealistic and theoretical? It could be, but that’s what it should be. I’m sure Christians already know about it, but we have to be honest that it’s not easy to apply it. We must endure the suffering, surrender constantly, humble ourselves, submit ourselves and learn to obey God’s decisions, and abandon the things we love but are disliked by God. For some, it can mean giving up their dreams. The road to go is heavy. Some Christians choose to avoid, some give up and retreat in the middle of the road then turn to follow their own desires. It’s a pity, because they’ve let go of the opportunity to get the priceless pearl of life up ahead.

Nowadays wherever we are on the journey with Christ, don’t get tired to deny ourselves and take up the cross. Let’s be strong to walk to the end while continuing to hold on to God’s promise. God doesn’t leave us alone. He has given the Holy Spirit as a Helper and Comforter. He will guide us to the whole truth (John 16: 13-14) so that every decision we make in this life can be in harmony with God’s decision. The more we obey and diligently walk according to the direction of the Holy Spirit then the potential that has been planted by God from the beginning will emerge and grow. Even God will add new talents along with our increasing responsibilities and in harmony with the extent to which we can be trusted by God.

One day when we look to the years we have passed, we will realize how amazing the God’s works in our lives is. Maybe we aren’t as prosperous as our brothers, don’t have positions as high as our friends, and not as successful as others in the world eyes. But “strangely” our souls and hearts abound with satisfaction and joy. A satisfaction and a joy that can’t be measured by the doses of the world because it doesn’t come from the world. It’s the true satisfaction and joy that comes from the Holy Spirit because we have been living in His calling. How precious … How honorable … In our life that is only a blink of an eye in this perishable world, we – who are actually unworthy – are given the privilege of being fellow workers in the field of God. Ultimately we aren’t “just” being saved Christians, but also bringing others to salvation through every potential of our lives. How special are you and me. That is the true meaning of ourselves and our lives.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV)

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: https://www.wallpapersin4k.org

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THE NEW SEASON 2 : “THE HARD SEASON” (guest post)

In the previous article (The New Season – click here) we understand that life is a journey through season after season. Each season has its own joy and sorrow. We can predict certain seasons so that we can prepare ourselves, such as schooling, working, getting married, having children, and so on. But in the span of the season common to almost everyone, there is a time of unpredictable seasons that suddenly come and force us to make new plans, even urging us to take a new path that we never imagined. It would be nice if the season unpredictable it is a promotion. But often the unpredictable season is precisely a hard season that dims the light of hope and obscures the future. Somehow, suddenly everything moves beyond reason and control, insistently, without any logical reason. That’s what happened to Job. He had to face the hard season in the greatest scale ever experienced by a human being.

Job wasn’t a fictional character. He was a northern Arabian who was estimated to live around the time of Abraham or even before. The story of Job takes place in “the land of Us” (Job 1: 1) which later became Edom’s territory, located in the southeast part of the Dead Sea or north of Arabia. There is no clue to the history of Israel or the Law of Moses so as to suggest that the story of Job happened before the time of Moses (before 1500 BC). The Bible itself confirms Job’s existence, one of them in Ezek 14:13-14 NIV “Son of man,….. even if these three men—Noah, Daniel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign LORD.”

How deep God’s wisdom, which gives the story of Job in His Word to us. Specifically, as a book that writes the sufferings of the righteous, the honest, the fear of God, and away from evil, The book of Job does not literally answer man’s greatest question throughout the century about “Why do the righteous suffer?”, but in this book God gives us guidance on “how the righteous respond to suffering”.

The graph of Job’s life was like a man standing on top of a mountain and suddenly swooping down to the lowest bottom of a cliff. From being the richest man in the eastern region of the time, suddenly became the one who almost lost everything in the blink of an eye. From a respected man, suddenly his life was filled with pain and suffering, even blasphemy from his wife. In the midst of the great burden that must be borne, he must face a long debate with his friends, until God revealed himself and revealed his faults. Job 42: 1-6 is Job’s response to God’s rebuke. This passage is a conclusion of the hard season experienced by Job, as well as the opening key to a new phase with a broader horizon of looking at life with a true heart and the personal recognition of God.

Here are four of Job’s statements:

GOD IS POWERFUL AND SOVEREIGN

“I know that you can do all things; …” (Job 42:2a NIV).

Earlier, in chapters 38-39 God told Job that He is the God who created the universe and in His omniscience He sustains and nourishes everything in this universe perfectly. In Job 46:2, Job declares his confession that God is powerful and sovereign to do everything He wills. Everything means all things, without limitation, without exception, including manifesting His will in human life. Man has no right to question and challenge his decisions.

“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’? (Isaiah 45:9 NIV)

GOD’ PLAN CAN NOT BE THWARTED

“I know that…. no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2b NIV)

God always has a plan in doing things. There are special intentions and goals when God allows a hard season to happen. When God allows Satan to tempt Job, God knows the end result. God not only sees the time range when an event is in progress. In His omniscience He has looked to the future and God uses all aspects to realize His plan. Satan, man, natural factor, anyone and anything, can not thwart God’s plan!

GOD’S PLANS ARE TOO MIRACULOUS TO BE UNDERSTAND

You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42:3)

When we read the previous chapters of the Book of Job, we find that Job has spoken of God and his bitter suffering. In chapter 42: 3, Job cites the Lord’s question in chapter 38: 2: ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?”. Then honestly Job acknowledged that he has spoken without knowledge (without true understanding) about things too miraculous for him to understand.

Without true knowledge and understanding, a godly and fear to God, we can be misunderstand and even blame God. If our attitudes toward God are not true, then we can’t grasp God’s purpose and plan behind what God is permitting in our lives.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and decisions and how unfathomable and untraceable are His ways! (Romans 11:33 AMP)

God’s plan is very mysterious and too magical for human being. Man with all its limitations, it is impossible to understand the great God. The more we measure God from our own point of view, then we will be further from the true understanding of the miraculous and beautiful of God’s plans.

GOD SHALL BE KNOWN PERSONALLY

You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!  I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said,  and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” (Job 42:4-6 NLT)

Once again Job quotes the question of the Lord ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ From Job 38: 3b. Then Job answered the Lord with a confession that he has not known God personally. He only knew God from what people told him. Then he took away all his words that he had spoken and repented humbly before the Lord. His repentant and confession was the turning point of his life.

A true knowledge of God can’t be obtained simply by hearing about God from people. WE HAVE TO HEAR ABOUT GOD FROM GOD HIMSELF. God is too big, too great, and too powerful, far beyond all human understanding. We will not be able to know God properly, UNLESS GOD TALKS AND REVEALS HIMSELF to us.

Where and how do we hear God speak of Himself to us? From the Bible which is the word of God. Since the Bible is the word of God, the Bible can’t be read only as an information. The Word of God must be accepted, meditated, believed and lived in a personal relationship with God intensely.

Suffering is painful, but it is often the most effective way to change the human heart. Often we feel right and know God, until suffering reveals the hidden side of us. Our moral piety and moral integrity will be meaningless as we begin to realize who we really are before God that He is so great and we are only mortal dust that can’t live without Him.

REFLECTION

What season are you currently experiencing? Joy or a hard season? A friend advises me on what to do first when we have a hard season: self-correction. Have we done things that don’t pleasing to God, whether we unconsciously hurt people around us, whether we have made a mistake in managing our lives? Self-correction isn’t only to the what we have done but also to the inside of our heart and mind. It’s all about faith! If there’s a little piece of doubt to God, it would be a big problem with our relationship with God. Learning from Job, after he realized and confessed his mistake, God restored and blessed his life. Repentance is the door to restoration and humility always precedes honor.

The hard season is never easy to get through. What we must always remember is that God never leaves His children. God who from the beginning didn’t intend to harm Job, is God who also never intended to harm us. Let’s pray not only to ask for His help, but also to give thanks for His decision to allow us through difficult times, because God must have a beautiful plan that He wants to realize in our lives through His way. Keep rejoice within the suffering. Stop focusing on our hard times because it will hinder us to have joy. Let’s focus on God because there is always joy in the Lord. When we see the roses, don’t think and asking why God put the thorns on the rose but be grateful God put the rose on the thorns. Moreover, we’ve to remember that joy/rejoice in the Lord is our strength. With rejoicing in the Lord then there will be strength to overcome our problems and difficulties.

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

 In addition to the blessings we can enjoy in the world, every hard season that we go through with God will also produce divine character and abundant spiritual fruit. And the end is that we know God more personally, which is more valuable than all the pleasures of the world.

My dear reader, the hard season often comes suddenly. But it doesn’t mean we can’t prepare ourselves at all. The wisest way is to build our lives on a solid foundation that is the word of God. Don’t treat God’s word only as a story or an information but treat it as our conversation with God. Understanding, believe with all heart, ponder, and response it with our deeds.

I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When the flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. (Luke 6:47-48 NIV)

If we make the Word of God as the guide of life and do it faithfully, then we not only don’t easily waver during the hard seasons, but also gain the wisdom and guidance to pass through. “Nun Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119: 105 NIV) As long as we go through that hard season in His own way, at the end of the season we will find the beauty of God’s plan fulfilled in our lives.

“Like a rose and thorns. Don’t focus on the thorns but let’s focus on the roses. Be grateful God put the rose on the thorns. Stop thinking and asking why God put thorns on the rose” (Karina Lam – Living by faith)

Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

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