Tag Archive | Judah

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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Strong as a Lion

 

Lion -Karina's Thought

I really love one of the animated movies which titled “Lion King”. Yesterday evening once again I watched its movie. In this movie we can see a lion named “Simba” fought against Hyena group. Until finally Simba proudly stand up to be a king! In the real world, lion dubbed as king of the jungle. Why? Here are the reasons; Lion has incredible ability to fight, powerful, predatory, brave, and even a lion be able to climb a tree. This makes lion tougher than tiger. Lion has a very famous style which is when the lion pounced on their enemy’s nape. It is believed could knock down and kills the enemies in a very short time. There is so many another reasons why lion called as king of the jungle.

But there is another thing from a lion that couldn’t be ruled out and this noted in the bible. Lion is a strong animal even strongest than other animals because lion never give up easily from anything. Lion is an unyielding animal.

a lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing (Proverb 30:30)

However, the bible pay attention even not on the lion’s fighting ability but rather to the mental ability to face many challenges.

So now, what is the relation between us as Christians with the lion? Ok here’s a bit explanation about it. Lion could be a good example or illustration for us how supposed we behave as God’s children when we face so many life’s challenges. We should being like lion. Strong, never easy to give up, had a mental hardiness, and not easily discouraged. But in fact, many of us as Christians do not have it all. We are oftentimes become very weak and vulnerable buffeted by storm of life, easy to waver when hit by many problems. Even not a little of us had give up before truly facing the challenges.

Actually, as Christians we have been equipped by God with various abilities and talents and we can use it to overcome many problems. Not only that, we are have been equipped with God’s Spirit who dwells within us.

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:6-7)

These verses firmly stated that we are the son and no longer become a slave, and God’s Spirit lived in us. Verily, with all that we have we are not supposed to be a vulnerable and weak person. We should to be a tough person. God created us as winner, even more than a winner. Not a loser!

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37)

Let us briefly look at the story of David when facing Goliath’s challenge. At that time, David was still very young.  His job is only as a shepherd. Not like his brothers who accustomed and trained on the battlefield. But, facing a giant which equipped with powerful and complete weapon makes the soldiers fear. Then what happened to David? Whether David scared too? Absolutely no! David fully aware of who really he is. He also knows as to what God created his identity. Here’s his response to Goliath’s challenge…

David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26)

David was not afraid at all because he really knows where is God will stand. David knows God will standing in the row where he is. And the fact, successfully, David beat Goliath who wear armor and complete weapon. Unbelievable! Goliath defeated only with a traditional weapon. Stone and a slingshot! This is David’s attitude who illustrates a lion’s attitude which not easily to give up when facing many challenges, whatever it is.

In the book of Revelation Jesus was said to be the lion of Judah who come from the line of David.

Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”(Revelation 5:5)

Jesus as the Lion of Judah has proven His true strength as the King of king and never steps back from His tasks in this world as the Lord commanded to Him. And finally His tasks completed on the Cross. Just for our save sake!

My dear reader, once again God created us to be like a lion, to be like genuine the Lion of Judah. We were created not to be a loser but conqueror, even more than a conqueror!  We were created as His eldest Child. We have equipped with various skill and abilities to be performed with a figure like a lion. And not only that, because God be with us who always ready carry us to the each level of success, no matter how difficult the situation that we face today.

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

I will end this post with a few questions. How do we dare to face the life’s challenges today? Do we have the courage like David who has an attitude like a lion who never give up? Or we still in the category who could give up easily? Where is our position now?  Become a winner or loser?  This evening I would like to encourage you to contemplate this one:

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

 I am not saying that as Christians we will definitely free from problems and obstacles. There are always obstacles and challenges in our lives. But with God, with a resounding, we will be able to overcome any problems and obstacles. As the verse above said, if God is for us, who can be against us? My dear friends, Do not ever give up, keep endure and struggling, to be a winner not a loser. Be strong as strong as lion. Have a winning mentality like a lion. Are we ready? Amen.  strong as a lion.

Karina – Living by Faith.

Photo credit: Google Images