Tag Archive | Paul

Rejoice Within Suffering

 

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

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

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

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

And in his final exhortation to the Philippians,

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

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

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

(Philippians 3:10-11)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karina – Living by faith

*) Quote from Dwight L Moody

Image source: Renfrew Christian Fellowship

Someone Behind

SCREEN

Few days ago my husband and I watched again a Christian music concert which was held by Rose of Sharon Church in which one of the singers is my blog friend, Sella Irene. I was really impressed, amazed, and so blessed by their performances. They have a very beautiful voice and incredible musicians as well. I said to my husband, “They are all really impressive!” My Husband replied, “Yes, they are! But please do not forget to those people who are behind them on the stage. I think they also have a very important role in that concert. They have an amazing stage director, very skilled sound engineer, and there are many more people who are very supportive of their performances. Without them all, I guess they could not perform very well. My husband’s answer makes me thinking. Yes, I forget that there are a lot of people behind them who very influential for the success of their performances. In reality, they often miss from our attention. We more focused to those people on the stage.
I remembered one of Jesus’ disciples. Andrew. Andrew was the first Jesus’ disciple. Although he was one of the disciples of the Lord Jesus, but his name is not as famous as Peter, James, Paul, or John, who were said to be the people who are in the inner circle of Jesus’ closest disciples. If I liken Paul, John, and Simon Peter is the main actor in a movie, then Andrew is like a supporting actor which not too stands out and not gives a big impact. However, it does not mean Andrew is not important. Many things have been done that we do not realize because he was a lot of work behind the screens. Let’s dig up what the important things that he did.

 

The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). (John 1: 41-42)

 
Let’s pay attention to the word “And he brought him to Jesus.” It was Andrew’s first response when he met Jesus. Andrew was the first person who tells to Peter. At that time, without Andrew’s presence, Simon probably would not meet Jesus. Without the role of Andrew, Probably there is no Simon’s name in the list of disciples of Jesus. We all know that the later Simon Peter became a great apostle. But the important thing is, it all would not have happened if Andrew not brought Peter to Jesus. The interesting thing is, even though he is not as famous as his brother, he did not even include three closest disciples of Jesus, Andrew really did not concerned it at all. With joy and humbly he continued his task.
Another important thing that Andrew did is, when Jesus fed 5000 people. At that time Jesus gave preaching to the thousands people. Then Jesus said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”(John 6:5) then “Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little” (John 6:7). Let’s see Andrew’s reaction at that time.

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:8-9)

See? Once again Andrew bring someone came to Jesus. I am sure, at that time Andrew also knows that the food brought by the boy would not be enough to feed about 5000 people. But he still brought that child to Jesus. What happens next? Through the child, a miracle happens. Jesus fed 5000 people only from five loaves and two fishes. This story shows that Andrew is a very caring person. He brought the children to Jesus to be used in the service of the Lord Jesus and the food problem finished. That is Andrew. An apostle was not famous who work behind the screens. Almost never come forth like Paul, John or his brother Simon Peter. But in fact he is a caring person who brought many people to God.

 
There was a Sunday school teacher named Edward Kimball. Who is he? He is just an ordinary Sunday school teacher. But through Edward there was a boy who believed and accepted God as his savior and later on this boy became a very famous and great preacher and evangelist. The boy is. Dwight L.Moody. Through his ministry Moody can make a lot of people in England and America repented. And through Moody’s sermon, a young pastor named Frederic Brotherton Meyer changing his ministry and decided to become an evangelist like Moody. “If you are not willing to give up everything for Christ, are you willing to be made willing?” This was what Meyer said in his preaching, and these words make J. Wilbur Chapman responded God’s call in his life. Later on Chapman become one of the most effective evangelists. Billy Sunday a baseball player, a volunteer in Chapman Ministry eventually took over Chapman’s ministry and become one of the most dynamic evangelists of this century. Billy Sunday’s preaching brought thousands to Christ. Then this evangelism chain finally up on the great name: Billy Graham. Through Billy Graham million people in the world repented and accept God as their savior. If we look carefully to this chronology, it all begins from someone named Edward Kimball. An ordinary Sunday school teacher but through him many people brought to God and make many great names in the evangelism world.

 
My dear friends, what about us in our daily lives? Wherever we are, in the office, church or else, whether we also pay attention to those people who work behind the screens? Are we appreciate and honor them same as those who always come forth on “the stage”? Through this post I would like to ask you to change our mindset to not always focus on who we see on “the stage” Lets always remember that behind their successful there are so many people behind them. If we look and hear a touching and powerful preaching in the church, do not just look to the pastor but please remember that there are people behind them. It may be husband/wife and their children who always give a big support to their ministry. Their roles are really important as well. Let’s always remember that God can use anyone for His Kingdom works even they are not always come forth and unknown to many people. Do not belittle to those people who work behind the screens because sometimes actually we have to learn a lot from them. They are the God’s invisible tools, but so worthwhile. Do not underestimate to those people who work around us which is seem trivial.
And otherwise, for us who always work behind the screens wherever we are, we might not do many great things, and maybe people do not see our work at all, maybe even people underestimate our work, this time I encourage to not be desperate and discouraged. We could learn from Andrew story. We May not do something great but please believe, what we are doing it may be the beginning of great things that will be happen later. I encourage you to always believe and trust that God can use any little thing to declare His power and glory. Probably Simon Peter will not be a great apostle without Andrew. We may not know D.L. Moody without Edward Kimball’s role. Whatever we do, do it with wholeheartedly, faithful, full of diligence, and is only intended for the glory of God. Amen.

 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, (Colossians 3:23)

Karina-Living by Faith
Image credit: Google Images

To Be or Not To Be

Paul

“To be or not to be, that is a question”

This is a very well-known phrase from the legendary drama play “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare. This sentence is very popular, but not many people know what it means or for what that sentence are intended.  If we read the script or seen the drama on stage or in the movie, we would know that the phrase was uttered by the main character, a prince named Hamlet. This sentence appeared when he felt a tremendous pain when his uncle killed his father and married his mother. It is painful for Hamlet, so he had thought he should continue to live (“to be”) or just end his life, (“or not to be”).

In the world today, sometimes in life we pain so badly and we began to feel despair and lose of hope, even the fact is there are many people who choose such as Hamlet, which thinking to ended his life because no longer endure to suffer.

What about us as sons of God?  Lets we take a look to Paul in the Holy Bible. As we know Paul is a militant in his duty to proclaim the Gospel. At one time he was experiencing very hard pressure. He found a threat everywhere; He suffered, was arrested, and threatened with death. Paul detailing his suffering in ministry in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27:  “Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.”

As a human being at one time Paul felt weak and he admitted it to the congregation in Corinthian. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1: 8-9)

But the very interesting thing is he does not let himself be controlled by despair and loss of hope continually. Paul quickly change his focus, He returned to the positive thoughts that holding completely to God. Paul was able to seeing the other side of a suffering, that is, as a lesson that we should not rely on ourselves but rather to God. “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”(Verse 9)

Paul’s suffering is not easy. Imagine, when he was wicked he is so powerful, but after repenting his life filled with many pressure. He knew that what lay ahead is much greater than the sufferings that he experienced in this temporary world, Paul directs his eyes far ahead, and at the same time he continued to holding with full trust in Christ. Even he said:  “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Suffering is painful, and sometimes when it was so heavy, we felt could no longer to bear it. But as happened to Paul, God really has given His grace is sufficient, which will enable us to survive when we are walking through the valley of suffering. Let’s we ponder this verse: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Actually in the thick of the pressure we can actually see the power of God is perfect. In our weakness will be able to witness the true power of God, which is capable of overturning all human logic.

Well my dear friend, once again what about us? Whether we want to have thought like Hamlet? Or like Paul we continue to rely on God, change our view with a new perspective, and keep put our faith in God? Paul is not a God. He was used by God to proclaim the gospel. He’s just like us who have weaknesses but Paul can endure in all suffering because he always leans back and hold on to the God’s word.

As long as we walk in this world, suffering will come to us at a time. But we must know that God will enable us to bear and the way out of God’s in time will be come upon us. If Hamlet thought “to be or not to be”, continue to live or die, we as children of God shall be aware that there is always a reason to keep alive. So, “to be” it is. There are always more than enough reasons to choose “to be”, millions of them, in the name of God. Amen

There is always hope in the darkness if we walk with the Lord

Karina

Photo credit: fineartamerica.com

Praying and Praising Within Suffering

Paul and SilasMany people were disappointed when they were in trouble when they’re walking to follow the God’s will. Often they were quickly doubted God’s goodness even accuses God is vicious, favoritism and so on. No one of us wants to experience suffering in life, but there are times when we have to experience it, though not because of fraud that we do on the God’s word.

There are many reasons why God sometimes allows His children are obedient even to feel unpleasant things. Trains us to be stronger, make us more mature and wiser, we realize that is not dependent on own power and experience for themselves but on the power of God’s consummation. It is something that we can get it when the suffering is present in our lives.

I was remember the story of Paul who had a vision to go to Macedonia,(Act 16:9), Paul believes that what he saw was a call to proclaim the message of salvation to it region. So Paul and Silas went to Macedonia. What happens when they land there? The situation is not in accordance with what they think. They got the inhumane handling. Even worse, they are shackled and placed in the inner cell. (Acts 16: 22-24)

God is not fair? Perhaps it is in our mind when experiencing what Paul and Silas experienced at that time. But whether that Paul and Silas think? Are they grumbled? Disappointed and blaming God? Not at all! They even sing praise to the Lord and pray! (Acts 16:25) and there was a miracle of God that releases them from the stocks and imprisonment. Then not just freedom obtained through a magical way, but we also see repentance the jailer and all his family.

From this story we could see that the follow the Christ and obedient to the heavenly calling do not as well as necessarily ensure that we will one hundred percent safe from suffering. But see that the beautiful God’s plan will be fulfilled, where the problem is just a part of His “master plan” that promises a joyfully in the future. Paul and Silas did not protest, they do not question God’s decision; accusing God is wicked by providing such benefits for people who are obedient to His call. They keep believing and obey, remain strong to undergo their vocation vigorously even for that they must pass through a suffering and even persecution.

The Lord Jesus said, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) and the Philippians 1:29 said: For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.”

I will end this post with questions to ponder together. Will we could be like Paul and Silas were still praying and praising God within their suffering? Whether we trust and believe that God already has a wonderful plan, full of peace to provide a hopeful future as it is written in Jeremiah 29:11:” For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.? Can we believe that God’s promise is still applies even when we experience suffering as Corinthians said: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”(2 Corinthians 12:9). Could we?

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1Peter 4:12-13)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”(Matthew 11:28-30)

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3)

Karina

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