Tag Archive | spiritual

FOLLOW THE GUIDANCE (guest post)

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

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

OBEDIENCE THAT BRINGS TO THE AIM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BELIEVE IN GOD

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

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

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

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

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (edited with pixlr apps)

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NOT TO RULE BUT TO SERVE (Guest Post)

 

Realizing or not, humans love to be respected, appreciated, and even feared by others. In varying degrees, there is satisfaction when humans are able to rule and control others, whether with charisma or with the authority they have. Some people sincerely want to be a blessing to others, but others pursue a certain position to fulfill their needs for influence and power. There are also those who initially start leadership with the right motivation, but feeling satisfied and comfortable when respected and served, can slowly shift their sincerity and humility into pride. Accustomed to being respected by others can make us assume ourselves higher than others if we don’t take care of our hearts.

Leadership in the church isn’t immune to such attitudes. As leaders at any level in ecclesiastical ministry, we must remain vigilant so as not to fall into arrogance which could be changes our hearts from the heart of a Christ’s servant to the heart of a ruler. On the other hand, as a church congregation we should not put too much admiration and hope on our spiritual leaders so that we don’t fall into the sin of idolatry. As great as our spiritual leaders, God must accept the highest admiration from us and God must be the only source of our hope. Because what makes our leaders great isn’t their ability but the power of the Holy Spirit that works within them.

TO BE A SERVANT AND A SLAVE

In Matthew 20: 20-28, once James’ mother and John’s mother made a request to Jesus that Jesus give their children a position on His right and left in His Kingdom. In other words, they want to be given a power to rule. Lord Jesus gave a very interesting answer using a comparison of TWO TERMS:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.

Not so with you. Instead, whoever WANTS to become GREAT among you MUST BE your SERVANT,

and whoever WANTS to be FIRST MUST BE your SLAVE—

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Matthew 20:25-28 NIV)

There are TWO COMPARISONS in the statement of the Lord Jesus: 1) whoever WANTS to become GREAT among you MUST BE your SERVANT, and 2) whoever WANTS to be FIRST MUST BE your SLAVE.

In the first comparison: “GREAT” refers to people who are influential and have certain powers within a certain scope. And “SERVANT” in the original language uses the word “DIAKONOS” which means people who are in charge of serving or emphasizing humility to serve others.

In the second comparison: “FIRST” refers to a person with the highest position, occupying the most important or most respected position. “SLAVE” in the original language uses the word “DOULOS” which means metaphorically someone who is completely under the will and authority of others.

If we paraphrase, this is what Jesus’ said: “He who wants to be a great or powerful and influential person must become a servant who always serves the needs of others, and whoever wants to be the most respected and highest position he must surrender himself to become a slave who willingly places himself to do the will of his master.”

Note that the HIGHER a position someone wants to achieve, the LOWER he must position himself! This is the principle of leadership in the Kingdom of God.

HUMILITY COMES BEFORE HONOR

“Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 18:12 NIV)

Humility comes before honor. This principle cannot be reversed. If we pursue honor without first learning to humble ourselves, then we will become authoritarian leaders and don’t respect others. It’s not impossible in the end we also don’t respect God. God doesn’t set us to be leaders and then we must be willing to serve others. Not like that. But, the first we are a servant of Christ then He calls us to be a leader: We are a servant of Christ who called as leaders.

The proof of humility comes before honor is the Lord Jesus himself:

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and TOOK ON THE STATUS OF A SLAVE (DOULOS), became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” (Philippians 2:5-8 The Message)

The Lord Jesus humbled himself and was willing to position himself as a slave who was subject to the will of the Father to die on the Cross. The result is that Jesus was greatly exalted by God the Father:

“Therefore GOD EXALTED HIM TO THE HIGHEST PLACE  and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV)

The last sentence is really interesting. Paul, an apostle who led and anointed by the Holy Spirit to write a large part of the New Testament, stated that the Lord Jesus was exalted not for the glory of Jesus himself, but for the Glory of God, the Father. This kind of humility is what we must have. Whatever achievements and successes we reach out, we must always return all praises to the glory of God the Father, not take credit points for ourselves!

SLAVES TO RIGHTEOUSNESS

Like the Lord Jesus who humbly took on the status of a slave (doulos) who was willing to surrender himself to carry out the will of the Father, so we are.

“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become SLAVES (DOULOS) TO RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Romans 6:17-18 NIV)

We have been redeemed from sin and paid in full through His sacrifice. We no longer have the right to live for ourselves, but we must be “a slaves to the righteousness” namely “slaves” who are fully obedient to do all the word of God which is the highest truth. Being a slave to the righteousness means we always crucify our flesh, including our pride and selfishness, to always submit to the will of Christ. Only by continuing to submit to Christ, we are continually processed and trained to be humble so that we can serve God and others according to His commands. Thus we can become leaders in accordance with the standards of God’s Kingdom, that is NOT TO RULE, BUT TO SERVE!

The road to humility isn’t easy and unpopular. Often we have to be willing to take off our “robe of greatness” then wrap a towel to our waist to wash our fellow feet. We can no longer say “Here I am, look at me”, but must always be humble ourselves and say “All glory to God the Father”.

May this Lord’s message to the Philippians also speak strongly in our hearts: Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:1-4 NIV)

 

AMEN

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (edited with pixlr apps)

Miracle of All Miracles

Miracle

Natural eyes opened – the spiritual to behold.
Stony hearts softened – once hard and cold.
Deaf ears unstopped – hear the joyful sound.
Silent voices speak – God’s message all around.
Feeble knees bow – finding strength for the day.
Restless feet turn – to walk the narrow way.
Selfish hands grasping – now reach out to give.
Sinful souls, spiritually dead – given new life to live.
Praise God for the Miracle of all Miracles
Wrought by His mighty power,
Transforming lives even this hour.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Eze.36:26)

© Connie C. Bratcher

Photo credit: lightworker.org