The Joy of the Lord – Fighting from Victory

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Are you tired of being discouraged in your walk with the Lord? Has your joy left you? Satan wants your joy, and he wants it badly. Be of good cheer! This powerful truth will help you find your joy and get you back on the track of being a victor instead of a victim!

2Co 4:8-9 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed—

Don’t just read the troubles, read the note of victories as well. In Other Words: I might get knocked down, but you’re never going to knock me out!

In fact, Satan has been defeated on the Cross by our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan should be afraid of you, Christians are a terror to Satan ! How to become a Holy Terror to Satan? Make a decision (not just try…). Say this: “I am not going under, I am going over! No matter what lies ahead, none of these things move me”   If you are willing to wait, it will not take very long.

Let’s see the story of King David, who was called to battle and destined to win.

1 Samuel 30:1
David was so distressed he sat down to cry. House burnt down and families taken into captivity.
His men blamed him. (David could have reacted to say I don’t want this job anyway, I prefer to herd sheep)
David decided to be his own cheerleader. He made up his mind, if God has delivered him before (the lion, the bear, the giant, the battles), He will do it again!  He is a covenant man.

Covenant man can be distressed but we don’t have to stay distressed. We don’t give up.  We get knocked down but not knocked out!  You were so bad before you got saved, when you served the devils; but now after you’re saved, you become a whim?  When you get over on God’s team, you become a whim?

David began to encourage himself in the Lord. He started to ask the Lord if he should pursue.  Lord told him that he will pursue, overtake them and take everything back.  And that is the marching order from Heaven to the people of Christ today.  It is time to get up in the power of the Holy Spirit, and it is time to fight back and get back everything Satan’d stolen.

2 Samuel 21:15
The Philistine was like Satan, keep giving trouble. (see V15, V18, V19, V20) ; King David always being prosecuted.
the Devil may be So persistent – But where covenant people are concerned, he is a persistent loser.

Q: Did the devil try to stop you from reading this message?  That is one way he is doing, keep attacking. But our weapon is not carnal; they are mighty through God to the pulling down of strong hold (2Co 10:4).

Are you desperate for victory?  Make an uncompromising stand, don’t give in.

2 Samuel 22:1, In the midst of battle, David sang. “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, ….”. Distress gone and Joy enters.

When you are under pressure, it is an indication that Satan has fired his best shot.  And if this one does not get you, he is finished!  Shout: I am never going under. V.29..by my God…I leap over the wall. David was joyous. He refused to give in to his emotion.  He expects God to give him the victory again. David knew it is not God’s will for his servants to be defeated.

Jesus said the words He spoke will give you JOY:
John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

But Satan always tries to steal the word of God:

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Why Satan wants to steal the Word?
As long as you have the Word in your heart, you will have the joy in your heart. The devil will not be able to defeat you.

When we read the Word and realize that it’s God’s will for us to prosper and be in health that produces JOY on the inside of us. The devil knows that the best time to take away the Word from your heart is immediately after you have received it. Because the Word has not taken root yet and to prove God is wrong.

How does the devil steal?
Through affliction, persecution, the cares of this world, the lust of other things, and the deceitfulness of riches.

Do you know that the devil can also steal things from you?  (John 10:10  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…) Do you know that it was the devil who stole your car, your money, boyfriend, or whatever it was that you have lost?

He can’t just reach in and get your joy out of your heart. He will try to steal from you physically to weaken you spiritually. Devils Start by Stealing things, is to get to your heart ultimately.  Satan also likes to use the “little things” to steal our joy, such as: your car won’t start, your hair isn’t looking right, a husband and wife start fussing…

Nehemiah 8:10 says, The JOY of the Lord is your STRENGTH.

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The devil knows that if he can get your joy, even over something “little,” he can steal your strength. No strength = can’t resist devil = devil won’t flee. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. If he can’t get your joy, HE CAN’T KEEP WHAT HE STOLE FROM YOU!

Do you want what the devils stole from you, back?  Simply this: The devil can’t defeat a joyful believer!

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The Hebrew word for Joy = “exhilaration”
The Hebrew word for strength = “stronghold.”
In other words, the exhilaration we have is a stronghold in our lives and keeps us able to face the enemy and withstand him when he is attacking us.

Jesus always tells us to be of good cheer: 677 times in the Bible, God said to take joy. In the Old Testament, God told His people “Be of good courage, be not dismay. Fear not.”  In the New Testament,Jesus said: In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Our New testament Bible, was originally written in Greek: The Greek word for “joy” is ‘Chara’, derived from the word ‘charis’, which is the Greek word for ‘GRACE

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Bible contains words that are all true, truly recorded by true people. But not all the words are the Truth (Satan also spoke in the Bible), the Truth that will set you free is the word of Grace, the Gospel of Grace. So, by knowing & believing in Grace, the Gospel of Grace that Jesus Christ died to give us, we will experience the Joy, that no man nor devils can take away from our heart. The Joy that Jesus promised to give us in John 15:11.  JOY is a spiritual powerful force!

Be of good cheer. Satan wants your joy. If he can make you joyless, then he has defeated you. When you get defeated, he will spoil your goods and steal them from you.

No One Can Take Your Joy (Word of God) : John 16:22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

The devil cannot take your joy….unless you allow it.

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Bible says Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour – so, unless you allow him, but if you resist him he will flee from you. And, the reason, he is roaring is that he ain’t got no teeth anymore! Jesus has defanged all his teeth. A roaring lion knows well that it has no teeth to kill its prey, so its only weapon is to roar the prey to death.

Just like the devil, he cannot take your joy from you, but he can create enough pressure roaring around you, until you are emotionally drained up and give up your joy.

Joy comes from the Word of God, reading your Bible on God’s promises, on Grace, on God’s goodness, God’s unconditional Love, God’s total forgiveness of sins; then you can rejoice to have Joy. And if you can rejoice, then your victory is near! For example: When you are in financial pressures, keep meditating this scripture promise word: But my God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)When it looks as if there is no way out, say the verse out loud. Learn to say the verse until it gets rooted in your heart and Satan cannot take away anymore. (Power of meditation)

Part two: Give Thanks in every situation, Not for every situation.

Many Christians are taught that they should praise God for every bad thing that happens in their lives. But, that is not what God said.  Evil things are not from God. Satan is the god of all problems. So if you give thanks for your problems then, you are actually praising Satan! Satan wants to deceive people to give him praises, to steal praises that belongs to God.

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God did not tell us to praise Him for the troubles. He said to give thanks “in everything, NOT “for everything”. In every situation, we should praise God in the midst of our troubles. We are not praising Him for the troubles; we are praising Him for the deliverance from the troubles.

Pay back time:
When Satan comes against a child of God, all he does is to create more troubles for himself. We are God’s Covenant people. God made provision for us both ways: if we give, we get a return on it; if Satan steals from us, we get a return on that too!

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God is not saying to lift your hands and praise the Lord because something was stolen from you. He is saying that you must maintain your joy.  If you’ll maintain joy no matter what the devil brings against you, God promise to return your goods 7 folds !” Praise God!

When would praise be a good sacrifice?
When you don’t feel like it! The more you don’t feel like praising God, but still if you do it, the bigger that sacrifice of Praise is to God . And, God is saying, “I’ll not only get it back to you, I’ll make him pay it back 7 times!”

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My friend, no matter what is going on in your life right now, the game is not over, stay in the game until you emerge victorious. Some people complain about how rough the game of life is. My friends, it does not matter how many times you miss the ball, God is in charge, He sets the rules of the game, He will make you win, for it is His will for you to win!

This is a story of how absurd or foolish way, even that, God can make you win:

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King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:14-25), called a solemn fast when Judah was surrounded by a huge army that outnumbered them. The spirit of the Lord come upon one of the men and he began to speak. He instructed the singers (musical worship team) to go ahead of the army. The singers are to shout “Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever! God did not choose the skilled swordsmen, the mighty men of battle to lead the forces. He chose the singers who normally will be the last in the line of battle fields, and put them out in the front-line, just to sing and praise the Lord for His goodness.

When the praises marched out with their head held high against the enemy, the enemy did not know how to react; they became confused and began to fight among themselves, killing each other. Then God’s people just walked in and gathered up the spoils that was left after the enemy had routed itself. There was so much spoils that it took 3 days to gather all of it. Wow that must be a huge lot of spoils to collect!

Judah in Hebrew also means praise. Jesus came from Judah tribe, and we are joint heirs with Jesus, so we are also tribe of Judah. We are Praisers, and Praisers cannot be defeated! There is power in praising, rejoicing and thanking God. The devil doesn’t know what to do when he has launched an attack against you, and you keep praising the Lord.

The Power of Laughter:
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Even Medical science has said that merry-laughter can prevent diseases, and heal the sick faster. Merry heart keeps diseases away. One of the ways to release joy is by laughing (India’s laughing Yoga – Forced laughter soon turns into real and contagious laughter)

As Christians, we are the children of light. Don’t pull a long face looking depressed. Being holy and spiritual is not to walk around with a stern face, so judgmental. This is the face of a person being baptized in Lemon juice.

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I was attracted to Christianity because I saw them as happy people. People beaming with confident hopes. I only began to enjoy life after becoming a Christian. Jesus said: “take no thought for your life” (Mat 6:25)

Christians should not have a pity party time, let me tell you: this kind of party will have no one coming, you will be the only one having such party alone. As Christians, we have Jesus who fills us with Love, Hope, Peace, and Joy. We fear no future, for we know Psalm 23:2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

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We are the covenant people and God has promised deliverance. The game was not over just because the way things looked at the moment. Look beyond the circumstances and see God’s salvation for you. Do not see yourself defeated; see yourself delivered.

God Also Laugh:
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What is God laughing at?
Satan is trying to fight a losing war. His day is coming, that is why God laughs. Rejoice for you are in Christ.

We are the Covenant People

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Seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33), Question: What is the kingdom of God?

Some people thinks kingdom of God is mission fields, missionary work, serving in the church, etc.

The kingdom of God was not something outside you flowing in — “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking”, but something inside you flowing out — “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”.

So to seek first God’s kingdom means to make it a priority every day to have your inner man flowing with righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Righteousness is not your own righteousness based on what you do. It is a gift from Jesus who is your righteousness. (Romans 5:17; 1 Cor 1:30) God wants you to know the truth that you are the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Cor 5:21)

Only when you realized that Righteousness has been given to you as a gift, apart from your performance, then only peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit will be flowing out like a river of Joy.

“Peace be with you” Jesus showed his disciples His nail pierced hands and side (John 20:19–20) God wants you to know that His Son’s finished work has given you peace. Your conscience can be at rest because your sin debt has been settled, paid in full on the Cross.

Joy will come into your heart when you see Jesus in the scriptures, worship songs or anointed preaching. So every day, make it a priority to see yourself righteous in Christ. Don’t be conscious of your sins. Instead, be conscious of your righteousness.

And whether you are reading your Bible or listening to anointed preaching, see Jesus with His pierced hands and side, which speak of His finished work. See all your sins forgiven, and you will flow with peace and joy. When you do this, you are seeking the kingdom of God!

The game is not over! Put up and uncompromising stand. Satan is persistent, a persistent loser. If you are under heavy distress, the devil just fired his best shot, if he can’t get you now, he can’t get you anymore.

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Is Salvation by Faith alone? Or also by work needed? Is there conflict between epistles of Apostle Paul & James?

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There is still confusion in the body of Christ, on Salvation between Apostle Paul and James, whether salvation is by Faith alone or by Faith + work; and whether Paul & James are contradicting each other?

Romans 3:28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

The apostle Paul teaches us that there is absolutely no way to earn merit, or favor with God or a place in Heaven. When we turn to God and believe, He forgives us solely based on what Jesus did on the cross. Trusting in Him we are given the gift of righteousness before God and power for living right on earth.

James 2:24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

What actually that apostle James was saying? We need to look deeper.

Take these two statements :
1) “Napoleon was a very big man” and
2) “Napoleon was not a big man; he was a small man.”

At first glance, these two sentences appear contradictory, but they are not! The word “big” is equivocal, though. It can mean two different things. Napoleon was a big man regarding his impact in history, but was small in physical size. Any dictionary will tell you that virtually every word has more than one meaning.

The word “justify” is no different. It has two meanings:
1) “absolve, declare free of blame,”
2) it can also mean “to demonstrate or prove to be just, right or valid; to show to be well founded.”

In the case of salvation, the first is the cause; the second is the effect. This second definition is what is usually in view when we use the word “justify” in English. “Justify your position,” we say. We’re asking for evidence; we want proof.

The Bible frequently uses this sense of the word, too. Jesus taught that a person’s true nature will be evident in his conduct:
Mat 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
Mat 12:36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
Mat 12:37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Jesus teaches here that the man with good treasure brings forth good fruit, which “justifies” him. This external display demonstrates the quality of the man within. This is not justification in the sense of salvation. One’s words don’t absolve him (first definition). Rather, they bear testimony of the inner man (second definition).

Now we face a key question. Which definition did James have in mind? How do we know when he uses the word “justify,” that James is not referring to salvation–as Paul clearly is–but rather is pointing to the proof of salvation?

This is simple to determine. The cause must come before the effect. Salvation must come first, before it can be evidenced in a changed life.

When Paul makes his case for justification by faith, he cites the beginning of Abraham’s walk with God in Genesis 15:5-6: “And He took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”   (Abraham was made righteous only when he believed God / merely by Faith)

The justification James has in mind comes much later in Abraham’s life, recorded in Gen 22:12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”   (This is the result of Abraham’s possessing righteousness)

Paul and James cite two different times in Abraham’s life, events separated by 25 years. They can’t be referring to the same thing. The works of Abraham that James mentions were a result of justification which came by faith 25 years earlier. Abraham was not being saved again. Rather, he was showing evidence of his salvation which he had 25 years earlier.

Abraham’s faith was no passive, but intellectual exercise. He proved his faith to God. The words of the text show this to be true: “Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” God witnessed Abraham’s faith first-hand, as it were. It was demonstrated. That’s why James concludes,  Jas 2:23 “And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.'”

James epistle was speaking to the audience who is all talk and no action. His simple message is that true salvation always proves itself. That’s why he asks, “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works?” The apostle John echoes the same sentiment: 1Jn 2:4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

One Coin, Two Sides
James and Paul go together. Like two sides of the same coin, they don’t conflict with each other; they complement each other. Both teach us something vital. Paul looks at what goes on internally (by Faith) when a man is saved, he talked about justification before God; while James talks about the external results (by works). James was saying that how we live eventually reveals whether we have received that saving faith in the first place. “A tree is judged by its fruits”. he talked about justification before men. Because, men cannot see your FAITH, men can only see your work.

Paul says, “We’re saved by faith.” and, James says, “To men, this is what saving faith looks like”

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The Indonesian Language Translation:

APAKAH KESELAMATAN HANYA OLEH IMAN SAJA?
ATAUKAH PERBUATAN DIPERLUKAN?
APAKAH ADA KONFLIK ANTARA AJARAN RASUL PAULUS DAN RASUL YAKOBUS?

Masih ada kebingungan di antara Tubuh Kristus mengenai keselamatan yang diajarkan oleh Paulus dan oleh Yakobus.
Apakah keselamatan hanya oleh iman saja?
Ataukah perbuatan diperlukan?
Apakah Paulus dan Yakobus tidak sepaham?

Roma 3:28 Maksud-Nya ialah untuk menunjukkan keadilan-Nya pada masa ini, supaya nyata, bahwa Ia benar dan juga membenarkan orang yang percaya kepada Yesus.

Paulus mengajarkan bahwa sama sekali tak ada cara untuk mendapatkan perkenanan, kasih karunia atau tempat di surga; selain percaya pada Allah.
Saat kita percaya pd Allah, Dia mengampuni kita semata-mata karena apa yang telah Yesus lakukan di salib.
Dengan mempercayai Yesus, kita diberi anugerah kebenaran sehingga kita benar di mata Allah dan diberi kelimpahan kasih karunia untuk berkuasa dalam hidup di dunia (Rm 5:17).

Yakobus 2:24 Jadi kamu lihat, bahwa manusia dibenarkan karena perbuatan-perbuatannya dan bukan hanya karena iman.

Apa maksud Yakobus sebenarnya?
Yuk kita gali lebih dalam.

Perhatikan 2 kalimat ini :
1. Napoleon adalah pria yang sangat besar (a very big man)
2. Napoleon bukanlah pria besar, ia adalah pria kecil.

Sekilas, kedua kalimat tampak bertentangan. Tapi sebenarnya tidak!
Kata ‘besar’ adalah kata yang samar. Ia bisa bermakna 2 hal yg berbeda.
Napoleon adalah ‘a very big man’ (pria yg sangat hebat) mengingat dampak kehidupannya atas sejarah manusia. Tapi ia adalah pria yang kecil secara fisik.
Jika anda buka kamus, sesungguhnya setiap kata selalu punya lebih dari 1 arti.

Demikian pula kata ‘dibenarkan’ (justify). Bisa berarti dua hal :
1. absolve/membebaskan, menyatakan sesuatu bebas dari kesalahan
2. bisa juga berarti untuk menunjukkan/mendemonstrasikan atau membuktikan bahwa sesuatu benar, tepat atau valid; menunjukkan sesuatu dilakukan secara tepat.

Dalam hal keselamatan, arti yang pertama adalah sebab, yang kedua adalah akibat.
Definisi kedua adalah yang biasa dimaksudkan saat kita mengatakan ‘justify’.
Justify your position. Buktikan.

Alkitab sebenarnya cukup sering menggunakan arti kata ‘justify’ yang kedua.
Yesus mengajarkan bahwa sifat asli seseorang akan dibuktikan oleh perilakunya.

Matius 12:35-37
35Orang yang baik mengeluarkan hal-hal yang baik dari perbendaharaannya yang baik dan orang yang jahat mengeluarkan hal-hal yang jahat dari perbendaharaannya yang jahat.
36Tetapi Aku berkata kepadamu: Setiap kata sia-sia yang diucapkan orang harus dipertanggungjawabkannya pada hari penghakiman. 37Karena menurut ucapanmu engkau akan DIBENARKAN, dan menurut ucapanmu pula engkau akan dihukum.”

Yesus mengajarkan bahwa setiap orang dengan perbendaharaan yang baik akan menghasilkan ‘buah’ yang baik, yang membuktikan siapa dia.
Tampilan luar mendemonstrasikan kualitas dalamnya.

Ini bukan pembenaran dalam konteks keselamatan.

Perilaku seseorang tidak membuat dia jadi orang benar (definisi 1)
Perilaku seseorang, sebaliknya, menjadi bukti bahwa ia orang benar, menjadi saksi siapa dia ‘di dalam’ (definisi 2).

Sekarang, pertanyaan kunci.
Definisi mana yang ada dalam pikiran Yakobus?
Bagaimana kita tahu bahwa yang Yakobus maksudkan saat ia menggunakan kata ‘dibenarkan’ bukanlah dalam konteks keselamatan –seperti yang Paulus maksudkan– tapi merujuk kepada ‘bukti’ keselamatan?

Mudah sebenarnya untuk mengetahuinya.
‘Sebab’ harus muncul lebih dulu, diikuti ‘akibat’.
Keselamatan adalah sebab, sebelum ada perubahan hidup sebagai bukti/akibat.

Saat Paulus menjelaskan pembenaran karena iman, ia mengutip kisah awal perjalanan hidup Abraham bersama Allah di Kejadian 15:5-6.

Lalu Tuhan membawa Abram ke luar serta berfirman: 5“Coba lihat ke langit, hitunglah bintang-bintang, jika engkau dapat menghitungnya.” Maka firman-Nya kepadanya: “Demikianlah banyaknya nanti keturunanmu.”
6Lalu percayalah Abram kepada Tuhan , maka Tuhan memperhitungkan hal itu kepadanya sebagai kebenaran.

Abraham dibuat menjadi benar hanya saat ia percaya. Hanya karena iman.

‘Dibenarkan’ yang Yakobus maksud adalah peristiwa yang terjadi kemudian dalam hidup Abraham, yang dicatat di Kejadian 22:12.
Lalu Ia berfirman: “Jangan bunuh anak itu dan jangan kauapa-apakan dia, sebab telah Kuketahui sekarang, bahwa engkau takut akan Allah, dan engkau tidak segan-segan untuk menyerahkan anakmu yang tunggal kepada-Ku.”

Ini adalah ‘hasil’ atau ‘bukti’ Abraham sebagai orang benar.

Paulus dan Yakobus mengutip dua peristiwa berbeda dalam kehidupan Abraham, yang berjarak lebih dari 25 tahun.
Abraham tidak mungkin dibenarkan sekali lagi.
Perbuatan Abraham yang disebut Yakobus adalah HASIL pembenaran oleh iman yang dialami Abraham 25 tahun sebelumnya.

Iman Abraham bukanlah iman yang pasif, tapi iman yang dilatih dan diuji. Dia membuktikan imannya kepada Allah.
Kata-kata Allah sendiri menunjukkan hal itu.
“..sebab telah Kuketahui sekarang..”.
Allah menjadi saksi iman Abraham. Secara langsung.
Iman itu ditunjukkan, dibuktikan, didemonstrasikan.
Karena itu Yakobus menyimpulkan di ayat 23, “Dengan jalan demikian genaplah nas yang mengatakan: “Lalu percayalah Abraham kepada Allah, maka Allah memperhitungkan hal itu kepadanya sebagai kebenaran.” Karena itu Abraham disebut: “Sahabat Allah.”

Surat Yakobus ditujukan pada pembaca yang hanya bicara tanpa tindakan.
Pesan Yakobus sederhana : keselamatan sejati akan selalu membuktikan dirinya.

Itu sebabnya ia bertanya, “Apakah gunanya, saudara-saudaraku, jika seorang mengatakan, bahwa ia mempunyai iman, padahal ia tidak berbuat apa-apa?” (ayat 14).

Rasul Yohanes menyuarakan hal yang sama. Di 1 Yoh 2:4 ia berkata, “Barangsiapa berkata: Aku mengenal Dia, tetapi ia tidak menuruti perintah-Nya, ia adalah seorang pendusta dan di dalamnya tidak ada kebenaran.”

DUA SISI MATA UANG
Yakobus dan Paulus tidak berseberangan. Mereka di pihak yang sama. Saling melengkapi.
Keduanya mengajarkan hal yang sama-sama penting.

Paulus menyoroti apa yang terjadi secara internal saat seseorang menerima keselamatan oleh iman. Dia bicara tentang pembenaran seseorang di hadapan Allah.
Sementara Yakobus bicara tentang hasil yang keluar, yakni perbuatan.
Yakobus sedang mengatakan bahwa bagaimana kita hidup, pada saatnya akan menunjukkan/menyingkapkan apakah kita benar-benar menerima keselamatan pada mulanya.
Dari buahnya orang bisa menilai pohonnya.
Yakobus bicara tentang pembenaran (pembuktian) di depan manusia.
Manusia tidak bisa lihat iman kita. Manusia hanya bisa lihat perbuatan kita.

Paulus mengatakan, “Kita diselamatkan karena iman”.
Yakobus mengatakan, “Bagi mata manusia, seperti inilah keselamatan itu terlihat”.

 

(Translated by: Mona Yayaschka.)

Sheep and Shepherd, Psalm 23

Sheep and Shepherd, is a beautiful relationship that God want believers to possess. It is very comforting to know God is the Great Shepherd (Heb 13:20), because the Shepherd has the responsibility to look after the sheep, feed the sheep, protect the sheep, help the sheep out of troubles, cure the sheep when it is sick, find the sheep when it is lost, and bring home all to safely as every sheep is accounted for. And what is the part of the sheep? Nothing, but calling out “mbek” for the flock and follow the Shepherd.

Contrast to sheep which is associated to being dumb but humble animal, the bible also mentioned “Goat”, which is associated to being independent, smarter but proud animal, going their own way. It may be smarter, but when it went its own way and fell off the cliff, it would still die, although “die smart”. But I’d rather be dumb like the sheep, just follow my Shepherd, yet living a blessed life, taken care of by my good Shepherd. Do you agree?

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God wants you to see Him a Shepherd. In fact, when you see God as a Shepherd, automatically Faith springs out into action. Something happens to your body and soul when you know and believe God is your Shepherd. First of all, bodily healing happens. Healing is tied up with Jesus Christ being your Shepherd.

1Pe 2:24  who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed..

This verse is very often used as one of the healing verses, to cure diseases. But do you know that this verse is tied up to the relationship of sheep and Shepherd? See the next verse:

1Pe 2:25  For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

We were once like sheep who wandered away, and that is the reason we were bodily sick! But now you have turned to the Great Shepherd, the guardian of your soul, and therefore you are now eligible to receive the healing by the wounds that Jesus Christ had carried for you on the cross. By His stripes you were healed.

When we see God as our Shepherd, not just our body being in good health, but also you’d lack nothing in your life,

Psa 23:1  A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

The context is about sheep and Shepherd relationship, and what happens to the sheep being in such relationship? David who was a shepherd all his youth years before God anointed him a King, understood well what it takes to be a Shepherd. David was known in the Bible as the man after God’s heart. He knows the heart of God. Long before Jesus came to introduce God as a good Father, David described God as the Good Shepherd.

Jesus is not just your Savior, do you also know Him as your Shepherd? When you realize that God is your Shepherd, you shall not want (= lack – NIV), lack of what? No qualification at all, it covers just everything you can put. Like a blank cheque for you, to fill-up the blank, it can be your health, your marriage harmony, your life-partner, your salvation, your life provision, mental soundness, etc.

Psa 23:2  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

Psa 23:3  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Note verse 2 & 3 of the Psalm, that the Shepherd does everything. He makes you to lie down in green pastures, where abundant healthy food is available, food that will empower you to be spiritually strong. What food is that? Green grass is the picture of the fresh new grass, the picture of the New Covenant of Grace. Furthermore, God want you to relax and rest by the quiet (still) waters, that you will find peace of mind. How can you find peace of mind? The answer is also in the New Covenant of Grace, that God had supplied you with His Righteousness by faith as a gift; you don’t have to work to earn it. God had done all things that man cannot do for himself, eternal forgiveness of all sins through the cross that give you eternal peace of mind. In short, when the sheep has food and rest, the sheep will not lack for anything in life.

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The number one need of the body of Christ today is food. Christians are hungry for the truth that will set them free. Feeding on the New Covenant of Grace will produce Christ love, peace and joy, which subsequently produce true holiness and obedience, motivated by love not fear. Next to being hungry, is rest (peace). How can Christians have peace if they are not even sure going heaven, whenever they die? Many teaching today is still focusing on sins, being sins-conscious, and continuous confessions of sins; while all sins, past, present & future sins, have been dealt with on the cross, all sins have been forgiven the moment you accepted Jesus as your Lord & Savior (the perfection of Jesus blood as compared to the blood of bulls and animals of the Old Covenant). New Covenant confession of sin is not to get forgiven, but you ask because you stand to know that all your sins have already been forgiven. You don’t come as “beaten dog” but as a child. It is a kind of sincere communication with the loving Father, out of gratefulness, and thankfulness for what Jesus had done for you on the cross. And this will lead you to love Him more, every time you fail. Jesus said in Luk 7:47  when you know your sins are forgiven much, you will love much. The same if you think your sins are forgiven little, you will also love a little. Apparently, many Christians are still being taught that Jesus only forgave them a little, as they are still responsible for their future sins. Likewise, many people feel they are not so sinful comparing to others, as such they do not need Savior. The truth is: every man is born a sinner because of Adam’s sin (not of their own sins). Everyman is equally sinful and needs savior desperately.

Psa 23:3  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Restoring soul is related to healing, in Hebrew “Nafes” = breathes back life into me. When God breathe life into you, He restore you from all illnesses, sound of mind, depressions, etc.

Path of Righteousness is the food path of the sheep. The sheep is being led on the same grassing path, from down the hill circling to the top of the hill (see picture). When the sheep has reached the top, the Shepherd will lead the same path all over again. The Righteousness in the New Covenant of Grace is not your own righteousness, but it is Righteousness by faith and a gift of God. No one is righteous but Jesus. God’s requirements of righteousness can only be satisfied by God’s own righteousness, and Jesus has died on the cross to give us His righteousness. As Pastors and Leaders, you need to lead the sheep over the same path every meeting, the path about Jesus Christ and Him crucified only. Just like Apostle Paul in his teaching & preaching (1Co 2:2)

sheep path of righteousness

The word “He leads me” twice mentioned. How difficult is it to follow Him? You may ask then, How He leads you and how to hear my Shepherd? The only qualification needed is just being a sheep. When the sheep believes he is loved and in peace, the sheep will hear His voice. Jesus said Joh 10:27  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  You don’t have to go for extra seminars on “how to hear God”, because Jesus said when you take your position as sheep, then you will hear His voice. Out of the rivers of peace in your belly, you will hear Him. He will speak to you from inside your heart, like you speak to yourself. And you will know His voice too.

Psa 23:4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Notice verse 4 is no longer “He” but “I”. When God do it, it is always good, when God lead, it is always good. But when I (no longer the Lord leads me), what happens? You may end up in the valley of the shadow of death. But, David knew that even though at times he was lost out of his own mistake, he did not want to be led and think he could do it on his own way, yet David knew that “You are with me”. How come? Because David knew God is always faithful, even though at times David was not faithful, and indeed, Jesus promised to leave the 99 just to find the 1 sheep that is missing. And, when Jesus found that 1 sheep He will rejoice and have a party, just like the prodigal son returning to the Father, the son was only expecting to be a hired servant. Yet, the Father ran to kiss him while he was still far away, brought him the best robe, put sandals for his feet, and ring of son-ship on his finger, then killed the fatted calf and lavishly was throwing a big party. Why? This is our lavish God who love us so much and do not want us to feel guilty over our mistakes. God want you to live victoriously, with a mindset of a victor and not a victim!

Note also on verse 4 is the word “shadow” of death. It is not real death, only a shadow. David had a revelation of Jesus having disarmed all principalities and power of darkness  (Col 2:15); and Jesus triumphing over death, was raised from death because we had been made right with God (Rom 4:25).

“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”. The rod of Shepherd is not to beat the sheep, but to whack any wolves which try to harm the sheep. The staff of Shepherd is not to beat the sheep but to help the sheep that falls into a pit. A staff will have a crooked end, able to hook out the sheep. God use the staff to hook you out of your troubles too. And, the word “comfort” is also very comforting picture of Holy Spirit being the comforter. The presence of our Shepherd alone will drive out all fears.

Psa 23:5  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

We normally want to eat in the absence of our enemies. Enemies here can be our sickness, the negative medical report against us. But God want us to rejoice despite the negative report and proclaim well being even at the presence of the bad symptoms. Because Jesus had defeated the enemies. Imagine the sheep was eating at a table, while the captured wolves being tied up to watch the sheep eating. The wolves could only snare and growl at the sheep, only a “shadow of death”, enemies could not harm the sheep any longer.

“anoint the head of sheep with oil”: during those days, the sheep’s head was poured with olive oil, to ward off flies, because flies laying eggs inside the ears of sheep could kill the sheep with the maggots from the hatched eggs. In the bible: flies typify evil spirit (Beelzebub = ruler of Devils).  The oil irritates the flies, and wards them away. Oil in the bible also typifies Holy Spirit.

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“my cup runs over”, because God always give exceedingly, abundantly, and above all we can ask or think (Eph 3:20). God always over answer our prayer, because He is a big God.

The last verse is probably the most important of all verses, Psa 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

It started with “surely”, not perhaps, not may be, not probably, but definitely; goodness and mercy (Hebrew “Hasset” = Grace) shall follow you. The word follow in Hebrew is stronger than merely follow, but “pursue & hunt you down”. Remember this Psalm is in the context of sheep and Shepherd. When goodness and mercy follow you as the sheep, it means they are behind, following the sheep. And, what was the sheep doing? The sheep is following the Shepherd. Therefore, as long as the sheep is following the Shepherd, then goodness and mercy shall follow the sheep. If the sheep stops following the Shepherd, so do the goodness and mercy. Therefore, my friends don’t stop following your Shepherd, what is so difficult being a sheep? And what is the cost of following your Shepherd? Nothing. What is the benefit? Everything good in life will come your way

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We love because He first Loved us

The greatest challenge of a preacher is “can you make the congregation fall in love with Jesus?” Because, when they fall in love with Jesus, everything comes easy. They will love their neighbors + God + Obedience to the Law comes easy. Just like this quote: “the only reason I don’t want to commit adultery is because I love my wife and I love my Lord”.

We are merely human being and we need reasons to love, in everything and in anything. We are not capable of loving anyone or loving anything without a single reason. “Can we love unconditionally?” Sadly the answer is NO!, only God can love unconditionally. The bible confirmed this in John 5:42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.

Think about this: we love our children also with condition, one clear reason is because they are ours, if we can love unconditionally, then we should have loved all neighbors’ children like ours. We love our spouse also for conditions and reasons, and as long as our spouse loves us. Ask this question: “would we still love our spouse if he/she does not love us anymore?” This shows how bankrupt of love we human being has been. How can we even love our neighbors then?

But God know us well, because He created us. He knows we need love before we can love others and love Him. That is why God showed His love first, His greatest goodness and grace, to us who were still sinners then when He went to the cross to die for us, even before anyone then repented. There was no Christians available when Jesus went to the cross. But still, He gave His life first without any conditions attached. He gave us His love first. 1John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

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When we believe and receive Christ Jesus, the love of God has been poured out in our heart by the Holy spirit. Rom 5:5 …, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The New Covenant of Grace’s definition of love is no longer our love for God, but His love for us. 1John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

So that when we know and believe and receive this greatest love of all time, and be deposited in our heart, that we may disburse out some of that love, to others and also possibly to God back. John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. The emphasis here is “as I have loved you”.

As Jesus has loved you my friend, believe this in your heart, and now you possess the love of Christ, that you may be able to love one another too. God love you so much, that He came as a man like you and me, to save us through Him.

And rejoice! nothing and no-one in this whole universe can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Rom 8:39  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)

Is there any Good News in the Church ? or merely Good Advice ?

Gospel

Gospel, the word is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word, “Godspel”, or “Good News” and is substituted for the original Greek word “Euaggelion” which originally signified ‘a present given to one who brought good news”.  And that is exactly what God is offering us with the Gospel, “good news’ about what he did for us through Jesus Christ!

However, do we really hear the right “Good News” being preached in Church ? or more often than not we just hear “Good Advice” ? No wonder the church has failed to connect with so many people out there! The hurting masses of the world are seeking a cure for their ills and solutions for their problems. And too often, the church has promised them everything but given them next to nothing in the name of the “Gospel”.  Just more expectations to fulfill, more rules to keep, more activities to maintain, more work to do.  The result has been a trail of discouragement and disillusionment.  It’s caused a lot of people to reject the church entirely.

The world is full of bad news, from the moment we wake up in the morning, we hear news on TV reporting about “a man being murdered” while the news of “millions of other man living happily” are not reported.  We switch another news channel, also reporting “an airplane crashed” while there are hundreds of thousands of airplanes landed safely daily were not reported. Why? Because it seems “Bad News” sells, and thus, the tendency of people to sell bad news is apparent.  When the tragedy of Twin Tower World Trade Center New York, USA being attacked by the Terrorist-group under Osama bin Laden, we heard many churches leaders used the tragedy to instill fear in the heart of people by announcing the event as “God is judging America” because of the sins of Americans.  People in fear flooding churches in search of safe haven from the “curse of God”, but not for long, a year later, everything came back normal, people again were leaving churches, life as normal.  Fear could not sustain faith nor could it hold people in church for long, for if God is to be slavishly feared, then one would rather hide from Him as much as possible.

Furthermore, It is a blasphemy towards God for saying “God is judging America”, God did not and will not judge America nor any other countries / persons!, How could it be! When Jesus Christ had been judged on the cross, and God could not judge the same sins twice. That will make God as unholy, injustice and “double-jeopardy” in the law terms.  Churches who proclaim “God is judging America” was indirectly agreeing to partner with Osama bin Laden, because Osama would certainly say “Amen to that, God used me to judge America”.  It is somehow absurd what churches were doing sometimes.

More often than not, what is proclaimed as Gospel is just another challenge to “do better”, “Try harder !, Pray Longer !, Be more committed !, Love God deeper !, Stop sinning !,”. This kind of “news” is already widely available in the world, in our work-place, Monday to Friday a man going to work, and his boss telling him “You should try harder, do better, work longer, be more committed !” Some accusation also happens in the office like “it is your fault !”, while precisely in the church is also accusing likewise: “it is your sins !”.

So where is the true good news? Why would you go to church then? Do you want to hear the same bad news you have been hearing in the world daily? or Do you want to find Christ’s Love, Peace and Joy in the church?

God does have a good news for the world, and for the believers, it is just the opposite of “do better” news of the world: The good news God sends us is He came as a man of Jesus Christ, His own Son, to do what human cannot do for themselves, i.e. overcoming sins, by bearing upon Himself, giving His life on the cross, for all the judgment, punishment and penalty of sins, that were due to all mankind now fell on Jesus Christ instead, once and for all.  And because Christ bore all our sins on the cross, now the Favor of God, Peace, the Goodness and mercy come all over mankind when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  Jesus took our place so that we may take His place.  He died for all our sins and He was raised for our justification (= because we had been justified before God and therefore Jesus was raised again).  This is the good news! This truth is the truth that will set us free with Love, peace & Joy.  It is the gift of “Eternal life” with the eternal quality of God in it, and it has the ability to transcend human limitations and explore the vastness of the spiritual world.  And, it comes through a personal relationship with God Himself.

Think if a joyous father who brings home a new car for his sixteen year old daughter. She jumps up and down in excitement, but inside her still feels a sense of uncertainty, for she has never seen a car like this.  It has so many buttons, switches, and levers.  How will she ever make it work? But her father lovingly and willingly demonstrates the car for her. He drives it around the block, putting it through its paces as she watches.  She can’t believe all the things the car can do! But, the father does not just stop there; he then gives her the keys and the title to the car.  It’s her car now.  And the father still doesn’t leave her just there; but he gets in besides her and patiently shows her to carry out every aspect of its operation.  He stays with her, continuing to reveal new and exciting capabilities she never imagined possible. That is the Gospel and the way it should be preached, like the role of a good Father nurturing his daughter with Love, Freedom, and excitement contained in the authentic Gospel, The Gospel of Grace.

God wants us to rejoice over the good news of what Jesus did for us on the cross.  God wants us to recognize that our sin deserves death, but Jesus already paid the price and even defeated death so that we too can live forever with God.  Paul received this Gospel directly from Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

God wants us to know that it is absolutely pointless to think that we could ever contribute to our salvation in even the smallest way with our own efforts or our own good works. The Gospel is good news, although it may sound foolish to some, for it sounds too good to be true, but Paul claimed he is not ashamed of preaching it; because it tells us that God will do what it takes to apply HIS Righteousness to US if we will only place our faith in Jesus. It is faith alone, “from first to last” that saves us:

Romans 1:16-17
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Finally, God wants us to recognize that it is in human nature to slowly drift from the good news of GRACE and slip back into thinking that our own good works are actually saving us, for man’s flesh requires “self-recognition”, as what happened to the Galatian church (Gal 1:6-9).  But He wants us to know that a ‘works based’ Salvation is NOT good news, because we actually offend God (and will be under a double curse) when we try to act like our righteousness is ANYTHING compared to his.  It is hopeless to depend on our own GOODNESS when trying to reach a PERFECT God.  We are simply never going to be ‘good’ enough!

God’s Grace is “good news” because it solves a foundation problem that all of us have as human beings.  We are fallen. We are rebellious. We are far less than perfect.  Beings like us simply CAN’T enter into a perfect realm without God’s complete and total work in our lives.  It is our faith alone that saves us, and that is good news, because ANY belief system (all religions in the world) which argues that you can contribute to your own salvation is offensive to God, who is the only source of that salvation.  And God doesn’t want to merely CONTRIBUTE here.  He wants to do it all, because he knows how incapable we truly are in this area.  His gift of grace is truly “good news”. That’s why it’s called the “Gospel”.