Tag Archive | Paul

CONQUER YOURSELF (guest post)

Hello my dear readers! I just wanted to let you know that this guest post is the last post of my blog this year. I’ll be back on January next year. I personally want to say thank you very much for the support, comment, suggestion, and likes on my posts throughout this year. I also want to say sorry if during December I’m inactive do blogging just because I’m on vacation in Paris. Thank you very much. God Bless you all.

 

 

In the previous guest post (PUTT OFF YOUR EGO) , we understand that every response and our reaction to everything is influenced by the ego. That’s why we must abandon our old human ego, and begin to look at ourselves in the Divine perspective and act in harmony with what God says so that we don’t fall into the sins caused by the ego. To completing that post, let us together learn about conquering ourselves as Paul did while he served the Lord with his whole life.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it TO GET A CROWN THAT WILL LAST FOREVER.

Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.

No, I BEAT MY BODY and MAKE IT MY SLAVE so that after I have preached to others, I myself will NOT BE DISQUALIFIED FOR THE PRIZE.

    (1 Corinthians 9:25-27 NIV)                

Paul made an analogy that every Christ’s follower is an athlete in a match. A truly athlete not only exerts his energies, but also invests his entire life to focus on winning in every game. They keen to practice to become more and more expert in their field. They struggle to control themselves: regulate their diet, condition their thoughts and feelings, and often have to overcome their laziness and pleasure. Paul says that all the self-denial they do is for a mortal crown, but we, the spiritual athletes, are fighting for an eternal crown. In the context of 1 Corinthians 9: 25-27, the eternal crown isn’t talking about salvation, but the eternal blessedness which will be a prize to the genuine servants of God and Christ. Isn’t it for eternal blessing we should try harder?! Now let’s see the spiritual life of the Apostle Paul.

Paul’s dedication and totality to the preaching of the gospel is unquestionable. The letter of 2 Corinthians 9: 23-28 describes Paul’s sacrifice and suffering in ministry. He was physically abused, faced with disasters and dangers everywhere. He has to work hard so often not sleep, starvation, thirst, cold, fasting, and so on. None of the suffering made him weak and retreated. It is precisely from a person who is willing to die for the Gospel came out this statement: “No, I BEAT MY BODY and MAKE IT MY SLAVE so that after I have preached to others, I myself will NOT BE DISQUALIFIED FOR THE PRIZE.”

There are two points emphasized by the apostle Paul, that are “I BEAT MY BODY” and “MAKE IT MY SLAVE”.

I BEAT MY BODY

The body which Paul speaks of in this context is not physical, but the existence of the human self in which there are thoughts, feelings, and will with all its strengths and weaknesses. So, the meaning of “I beat my body” is discipline himself by hardships, handle it roughly like a boxer one buffets his own body. This self-discipline isn’t enough just once but every day, constantly, and for the rest of our lives!

Often we angry, hardened, and unwilling to tolerate others. On the contrary, we become weak to face ourselves. We too often surrender to our desires, feelings, and thoughts. Though we know that what we want or what we are doing isn’t good and even wrong, but we are powerless to stop it. If we want to win we must be like Paul. He applied a very hard discipline to himself. He is beating his flesh, defeating his ego, forcing himself to do what he should do, not what he wants to do.

BECOME SLAVE

Paul disciplined himself very hard like a master to his slave. Being a slave is an unpleasant word. In the days of slavery, a slave had no right to question, deny, and resist his master’s orders. The life of a slave is wholly owned and controlled by his master. Paul says “MAKE IT MY SLAVE”. Paul made himself his slave. In other words, Paul doesn’t allow himself to be controlled by his own will, feelings, and thoughts. Then to whom did Paul subdue himself? To God.

For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. (1 Corinthians 7:22 NKJV)

Many people want to rise from their downfall and abandon their bad habits, but in reality they continue to do it again and again. They are powerless because they have been enslaved by their own minds, feelings, and wills. Dear reader, if we want to be free and not enslaved by ourselves, then we must subdue ourselves to God. All our existence must be submissive to God like a slave who has no right to himself.

SERVING GOD UNTIL THE END

An athlete’s struggle has begun since he decided to attend a match, and an athlete’s victory is not only determined when he is in the arena, but is largely determined by his preparations.

We are spiritual athletes. Our race starts from the moment we decide to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. Since then our lives are not ours anymore but belong to God. God is the Master, and we are His servants. The sign that we have made Christ as our Master is if we serve Him, not serving our own desires.

Unfortunately, the greatest obstacle for us to devote ourselves completely to God is OUR SELF. All that comes from outside us can indeed affect and trigger, but the final decision remains in our hands. Live in holiness or adultery, be patient or angry, forgive or grudge, faithful to a spouse or an affair, honest or lie, and so on, we decide it. It’s not just about choosing between sin and not, but also about everything that doesn’t support our devotion and service to God, even though it is not evil. For example: praying or sleeping longer, reading the Bible now or later, excessive shopping passion, moody, and so on. Often we have to wrestle with ourselves to make the appropriate choice of God’s will. James said: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” (James 1:14 NKJV) That is why we should not compromise with ourselves but must conquer it under the feet of Christ.

To conquer yourself means discipline to say “no” to ourselves to all things that not build our quality of life in Christ, and force ourselves to submit and say “yes” to everything that pleases God as our Master, even if we don’t loved it!

Conquering oneself requires a strong commitment. Not so that we may obtain salvation because salvation is not through man’s work but a free gift from God on the basis of grace. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and to all believers that the purpose of our struggle is: “….. so that after I have preached to others, I myself will NOT BE DISQUALIFIED FOR THE PRIZE.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27 NIV).

If an athlete is disqualified, then there is no longer any chance of winning a prize. When we are “disqualified”, so we will not get eternal rewards from God for all our ministries. How can? For, if we don’t conquer ourselves to God then we will be controlled and enslaved by our own desires. In other words, our master isn’t God but ourselves. The person who is the master of himself, will not be able to serve the Lord because what he serves is his own ego. This thing will be hinder our purity in serving God.

Knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ (the Messiah). (Colossians 3:24 AMP)

God doesn’t see the number of activities in the ministry, but the most important is the transformation of life. Have our lives been in harmony with the gospel we preach? Have we lived righteously as the truths we know? Are we becoming more and more like Christ that we serve? If the answer is “no”, maybe we have not become a true servant of Christ. Maybe we serve because of hobbies, pride, happy to perform, develop talent, love to socialize and organize. All that isn’t wrong. But if we just stop at that stage and do not want to undergo a process of self-conquest that erodes our ego and transforms ourselves, then we can never serve God in the right way and pleasing to Him.

Look at the Apostle Paul. In his second letter to Timothy, the last letter he wrote from prison in Rome before he was beheaded by Emperor Nero, he said: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV) Paul was surely believe that he has finished his race very well. It is the hope and purpose of all believers.

Dear readers … Before this year’s end, let’s make a commitment and ask the Holy Spirit to help and strengthen so we can discipline and subdue ourselves. If we are always obedient to conquer ourselves under the will of God then our lives will bear the fruits of the Spirit. We will be more loving, able to rejoice even in distress, peace, be more patient, more generous, kinder, more faithful, gentle, and more self-controlling. If the fruit of the Spirit is abundant in our lives, then our ministry will be blessing our neighbor and glorify God’s Name. Until the time comes, we will receive eternal rewards for every of our labor in Jesus Christ. May the last post of this year be a blessing to you, and we will meet next year in a more mature spirituality.

Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

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PUTT OFF YOUR EGO (guest post)

Basically all humans have an ego. Family, environment, status, economy, education, the treatment and the words of others, certain events and the things that are intensely repeated in one’s life, can be shape and predispose the ego. In Greek, “ego” means “I, me, my” (a primary pronoun of the first person I – only expressed when emphatic). Simply put, the ego is a perspective on self or an individual’s concept of self, or “A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance”. How we respond, react, and act against everything is a manifestation of our ego. Therefore as disciples of Christ we must see ourselves in God’s perspective so that we have the same self-concept as God’s concept of ourselves, and as much as we can avoid falling into sin caused by the ego.

SHOULD LIVE AS CHRIST DID

In John 8: 12-14, the Lord Jesus testifies of Himself:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am (in the original language using the word “ego”) the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

Jesus answered, “Even if I (in the original language using the word “ego”) testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.”

Jesus knows exactly who He is. He knew exactly the purpose of his life, and in his obedience He had accomplished the Father’s work perfectly. That’s our longing, right?! Everyone who truly loves God will want to understand God’s will, to be used by Him, and to experience the fulfillment of His plan. But that is often hindered by our-selves alone (the ego). The “I AM” factor with all the attributes and peculiarities that stick to us – character, nature, perspective, strength, weakness, and so on – often makes us give the wrong response. Consequently, we fail to understand God’s intentions, fail to recognize His call, be confused and don’t understand His will, even acting wrongly.

Since we were born and grow, along with it the ego is evolving. Then when we meet Christ, there will be alignment. That is our self is more aligned with the Word of God. The parts of us (the ego) that are wrong must be corrected, the impure must be cleaned, the deviate must be straightened, the useless must be removed. When we believe and accept Christ as the only God and Savior, at once we become new creatures: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) But that doesn’t mean automatically our entire existence will change instantly. There are things that require our cooperation to respond appropriately to any process of God.

The first thing we must realize is that our identity – originally created in God’s image and likeness – has been restored! We no longer live under the curse but abide in the Father’s grace for Jesus has paid our condemnation. Our names have been written in the Book of Life. Our status has been transformed into a God’s child and the heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. We no longer live for ourselves, but are called to do the noble task of the Father. The purpose of our lives is no longer self-satisfaction, but pleases God and becomes His true worshipers. His Holy Spirit dwells in us. We will be increasingly transformed into Jesus like in words, thoughts, and deeds. And because we belong to Christ, we must live like Christ did. Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did.” (1 John 2:6 TLB)

It is all God’s perspective on His children. As His children, we must see ourselves just as the Father sees us. We must have and live the restored self-concept. Our paradigm in looking at ourselves and this life must be change.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Transformed by the renewing of mind means we have to change in thought, feeling, and will. The measure of good or bad, right or wrong, profit or loss, worthy or not, etc., is no longer ourselves alone (ego) but God’s word!

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NIV)

In that way, from time to time our ego will become increasingly eroded and God’s plan in our lives can be accomplished.

SUBMIT TO GOD

As a people who should live as Christ did, then we must imitate what Jesus did. In Matthew 4: 1-11, Jesus was tempted by Satan after He finished 40 days 40 nights fasting.

The first: IF YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD, tell these stones to become bread.” (verse 3)

The second: IF YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” (verse 6)

When we note, the essence of the first and second trials is not just about bread or about throw self down, but Satan manipulated and challenged Jesus to prove Himself and His power as Son of God.

The third: Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD AND THEIR SPLENDOR. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” (verse 8-9)

In the third temptation, Satan is “luring” Jesus with wealth, power, and honor in the eyes of the world. In those three trials, Jesus always answered, “It is written.”

The key to Jesus’ triumph over temptation is that He always submit Himself under the authority of God’s Word. If we are going to win over temptation then WE MUST BE SUBMIT OUR EGO UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF GOD’S WORD. Our standard of living and responding to everything is not the ego, but God’s Word!

Similarly, when Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion. Three times Jesus prayed, And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36 NKJV) Jesus declare that nothing is impossible for the Father. Jesus believed the Father must be able to grant His request, but Jesus submit Himself to the Father’s will.

If we desire to live in God’s plan, then OUR EGO SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO THE GOD’S WILL. Our standard in reacting to everything is not our thoughts, feelings, and will, but God’s will, because sometimes our ego pushes us into doing something we think is right but it is not true or not God’s desired way, as Moses did.

If we read in Exodus 2: 11-15, Moses acted to defend his people, Israel, by killing the Egyptians who were beating a Hebrew. It was easy for Moses to do that because he was educated and trained in the palace of Pharaoh. Should defend his people is the right attitude, but because the timing and the way was not right then what happenned was a misunderstanding. He was rejected by his own people and sought after by Pharaoh to be killed.

Our ego must always be submitted under God’s authority, that is the Word and His will, even when we want to do the right thing in our eyes! If the ego is not submitted and handled, we can be a selfish person who measures everything from the standpoint of oneself and for oneself.

LIVING IN GOD’S PLAN

Ultimately, the whole value of our lives comes from God. Our life will be meaningful and fruitful if it is founded on the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and built according to God’s plan. Do not let the ego prevent us from entering into it. The apostle Paul is a wonderful example.

Paul has a tremendous Jewish background. Born to an orthodox Jewish family, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee (Phil. 3: 5-6), living as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of Judaism (Acts 26: 5), and trained under Gamaliel – A famous scribe and member of the Jewish Council (Acts 22: 3). Regardless of his Greek-speaking ability and Roman citizenship, it is clear that Paul had the potential to serve as an apostle to the Jews, as did the apostle Peter. But God sent him to the Gentiles: “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'” (Acts 22:21 NIV)

Paul didn’t boast of himself as a capable man. He also didn’t argue with God. All he did is obey: But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.” (Gal 1:15-16 NKJV) Even though in the early days of his ministry he had been questioned by apostles and Jewish Christians, he continued to walk and work on God’s call until his last breath at the hands of Emperor Nero’s executioner in Rome. That is the life that fulfills God’s plan.

BEING A NEW CREATION

“Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to PUT OFF YOUR OLD SELF, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; TO BE MADE NEW IN THE ATTITUDE OF YOUR MINDS; and to PUT ON THE NEW SELF, created to be like God IN TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS.” (Ephesians 4:21-24 NIV)

Let us PUT OFF THE EGO OF OUR OLD SELF. Do not feel great, capable, and confident because of rich, clever, have power, handsome or beautiful, talented, influential, and many advantages. Also do not feel inferior because of feel ugly, poor, stupid, and many weaknesses. Don’t rely on our sense of self-esteem or self-importance based on all of that!

“He who leans on, trusts in, and is confident of his own mind and heart is a [self-confident] fool, but he who walks in skillful and godly Wisdom shall be delivered.” (Proverb 28:26 AMPC)

Rather, let us live in THE NEW ATTITUDE OF OUR MIND AND PUT ON THE NEW SELF IN JESUS CHRIST, also live in THE TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS, which are values that are not measured by our own perspective and our sense of self-esteem or self-importance, but based on what God says. Certainly not by relying on our own strength and effort, but by relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit all the time and continuously, until the whole process of our lives ends, that is, when we close our eyes forever to return to the Father, the owner of our life.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11 NIV)

 

A M E N

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

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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
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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

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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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