Tag Archive | ministry

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

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Woman of Faith (Lydia)

woman_of_faith_by_arvhee

 

This is the fifth post of “Woman of Faith” The last posts is based on the book of Esther and Sarah, The Canaanite woman, and Rahab. This time I collaborated with my friend Kimberly to write this post.  Today I had the opportunity to have breakfast with Kimberly and I tell her about my post “Woman of Faith” Then we decided to write together. For this post we chose Lydia.

And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. (Acts: 16:13-15)

For both of us, figure of Lydia is an awesome example. Her faithful could be a wonderful testimony to every of us especially to the new Christian. We can learn something valuable from Lydia. Oftentimes after a person becomes a Christian they don’t know what to do next, or maybe they feel intimidated by other, more seasoned, Christians. A new Christian has a loss of inertia, a waning of energy.

But let’s we see Lydia. All of these matters not become a hindrance of her commitment as a new Christian. Wholeheartedly she immediately threw herself into the Kingdom of God. She provides and opens her door house, also open her heart to the weary and tortured Christians.

Her vehemence determination should to be notice. Act 16:15 mentioned: “She constrained us” it looks like there is no word “No” for an answer. She insists to taking part in the Kingdom of God work that was available to her. She does not sit around and wait for people who need her help or waiting until someone informed her that there is people who need her help. What did she do? She drowned herself into the first place of service that she could find.

She unites herself to the church ministry and then her house became the default place for worship and refuge for Christians. Even Paul and Silas came to her house. After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left. (Act 16:40).

My dear lovely blogger, there is something valuable of this story. Figure of Lydia, once again reminds us that to be active, plunge and actively involved in the ministry is do not need years of experience. Become the member of the Kingdom of Lord works just need openness of our heart. Like Lydia, she opens her heart wholeheartedly to serve God. God has opened Lydia’s heart through Paul’s message and she commit to serve God wholeheartedly, Come; now it’s our turn to get involved in God services with what we can do. Do not only sitting and waiting, to be active! Let’s we learn from Lydia’s determination and faithfulness who have longs to serve our God. If at this time we have not participated in the kingdom of God’s work starting from now let’s we thinking about what we can do.

Taking part in God’s work does not always have to be in the church. We could do the God ministry everywhere. We can do it all around us whether in our office, among our friends, our neighborhood, or even in our family. Discover our talents that we can use for God’s work. Find out where the fields of God services are available to us and which in accordance with our ability. Let’s we go to the place that God has provided, but not to the convenient and safe place as we would like. Amen.

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.(Luke 10:2)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.(John 15:16)

Karina – Kimberly Gow – Young Christian Career Woman Fellowship

Photo art work by Ar Vhee http://metarvheenoia.wordpress.com

Prepare ourselves

Fall asleep in the church?! No Way!!

Mr Bean asleepThis morning I saw a pretty shameful thing. A man who sitting in the front of me was asleep when the sermon is in progress! Fortunately, his girlfriend nudged him so he awake immediately.

Sleepy in the church seems not become a new problem. At least at the time of Paul’s ministry this incident has been occurred. We can read a story about a young man named Eutychus who fell asleep while listening to the Paul’s sermon.  Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead” (Acts 20:9). Fortunately Paul raised him back, so he was getting a valuable lesson to be spared from death. Paul went down threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” (Acts 20:10).

The problem is not only on falling from the third floor like Eutychus, but we must realize that throwing the opportunity to listen and ponder the God’s words may lead us fall into the death. We are able to learn, read and ponder the Word of God in the home, or in small groups or fellowship, but of hearing the God’s word in the church by the pastor should not be ignored. Often it is hard for us to understand the meaning contained in the word of God, Sermon by the pastor will be very helpful because it was delivered with a clear explanation, accompanied with examples that can be applied in our lives.

“Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrew 10:25)

In worship together brothers / sisters we will be more excited, there we can also build a solid relationship, mutually reinforcing, entertaining, remind and help each other in many things. And we should to remember, Jesus said: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”(Matthew 18:20)

Let us always prepare ourselves as best as possible for worship, fellowship, praise the Lord and hearing God’s Word. Do not dispose the opportunity to be blessed by the God’s word and fellowship with other congregations with joyfully. Worship with the earnest heart make us constantly filled with the word of God in power to give all the good things for us.

We require the strength that comes from the Lord in order that able to walk safely. The God’s word has power to it. Prepare ourselves as best as possible to hear the God’s word or we will be like Eutychus.

Note: There are lots of photos of  fall asleep in the church. But I do not want to use it because I’m afraid could offend or humiliate certain people. Therefore I use a photo from one episode of Mr. Bean’s movies.

Karina

Photo credit: youtube.com

Pain For a Ministry

Broken heartA few weeks ago, one of my friends sent me an email and shares her relationship problem. She was broken heart.  Their love affair that has lasted more than 3 years has ended. I feel very sorry about her problem and I tried to encourage him to stay strong and resilient.  I said:” your love story this time might have ended up and feel hurt but life does not end just because of the love problems. God has a beautiful plan behind your problem”

One of the most painful emotional experiences is that of a “broken heart” whether it is from a severed relationship or the death of a loved one. Everyone has to deal with a broken heart at some point in life because we live in a fallen world, and, as a result, we are constantly faced with shattered dreams, unexpected losses, and hurting relationships.

Many times, songwriters have tried to capture the heart-wrenching feelings that arise from these circumstances with lyrics like, “How I am supposed to live without you when all I’ve been living for is gone?” and “I will never get over you getting over me;” as well as “You’ve lost that loving feeling.” Yet, these emotions are not articulated as clearly as we often wish they were. Often the pain is so deep and so excruciating that we tend to repress and deny the anguish rather than handle it properly.

But God gives hope to all those who suffer from a broken heart by promising both His abiding presence and His overflowing peace. Psalm 34:18 says that the Lord “is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” In John 14:27 Jesus states, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Right now God can use us even in your heartache. In II Corinthians 1:3-4 Paul writes, “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” Sometimes the very reason pain has been allowed into our lives is so that we can be more effective in our ministry to others.

Consider this: Can she who has never felt rejection and isolation understand the plight of a woman who battles depression and loneliness? Can he who has never lost a loved one empathize with a man who has just lost his father? Can she who has never known the pain of unrequited love minister to the teenager whose love interest has chosen someone else for a prom date?

God’s purposes in allowing pain in our lives are multi-faceted. Not only does He teach us about His love and faithfulness amidst our times of sorrow, but after our grieving has ended, He gives us strength to offer words of edification to others who are experiencing similar trials. I Peter 5:9 says, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Thus, we serve as both a support base and a hope for those who are walking through difficult situations proving that with God’s help even seemingly insurmountable obstacles can be overcome.

If we are struggling with emotional pain, take comfort in the fact that God has our situation as well as we are in the palm of His hands. He will not let us go, and He will not let us down. A final word of hope can be found in I Peter 5:10, And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. Take heart, the pain we experience today may be your platform for ministry tomorrow.

God is ever near to those Who have a broken heart
Through the loss of someone dear That tears your world apart
It seems so overwhelming The grief, too much to bear,
But know that God is with you, He loves you and He cares. (MS.Lowndes)

I dedicated this post to my best friend Anggie Chang in Thailand.

Karina

Photo credit: dmatxi.com