Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Roy from Indonesia

Last month I decided every so often to look at the story of a martyr who died for their faith. This gives us a glimpse of what is going on in the world around us to those that share our faith. It is a reminder of how Christians are persecuted around the world, and is to offer examples of faith from present day believers. This post is the story of a 15 year old boy named Roy who lived in Indonesia. These events happened in 1999. This story is taken from the book "Jesus Freaks" by DC TALK.

The teens could tell that the shouts and chanting were getting closer and closer. An older
teen looked nervously at his friend. “The Muslims are coming. We’d better hide the kids,”
he said. Others, following his lead, helped the smaller children find hiding places in the
buildings nearby. Then they hid themselves.
It was January and a crowd of mostly Christian children and teenagers had gathered for a
Bible camp at the Station Field Complex of Pattimura University on the island of Ambon,
Indonesia. When the camp was over, cars came to take the laughing, rejoicing children
back to their homes. But there were not enough cars to hold the young people.
Mecky Sainyakit and three other Christian men had gone to Wakal village to try to rent
additional transportation to take the rest home. But they had not yet come back.
What the kids waiting for rides home didn’t know was that on their way to the village, the
men were attacked by a Muslim mob, who pulled them from their car and out onto the
road. Mecky and one of the other men were stabbed to death, and later their bodies were
burned by the mob. The two other men escaped with their lives.
Before long, the mob reached the University. They found many of the teens and forced
them to come out of hiding.
Roy Pontoh was forced from his hiding place and made to stand before the mob.
“Renounce your Jesus, or we will kill you!” they threatened.
Roy was terribly frightened. Though trembling, he answered, “I am a soldier of Christ!”
At this, one of the Muslim attackers swung a sword at his stomach. The sword hit the
Bible Roy held, and ripped into it, knocking it out of his hand. The man’s next swing sliced
open Roy’s stomach. His last word was “Jesus.”
The mob dragged Roy’s body out and threw it in a ditch. Four days later, his family found
it. Even though they are wracked with grief, Roy’s parents stand proud of their son, who
stood strong in his faith to the end.

Luke 12:8
And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God

Thanks for reading, and God Bless You all this week!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dealing with Pride

You know, I never really thought about how much a foot injury can do for a man's heart. I know this phrase may sound weird to some of you. Biologically our foot is a long way from our heart. Sure it is connected by a series of arteries and veins that cycle blood to the foot and back, but this is not the connection that I am referring to. This past weekend, I was in the process of helping my sister move out of her house. Like always, we started with the big, heavy, and awkward items to get them packed and save the easy stuff for last. Well, on my way out the front door, I missed a step while carrying a couple of boxes in my hand. The popping sounds in my foot resonated to my ear as pain shot across my foot and up my leg. I hit the ground pretty hard, however I did not notice any pain from my landing. All I could think about was my foot. Was it broken? Was it sprained? What am I going to do if I cannot walk? I began to get angry at myself for being foolish. How could I have possibly missed that step. As many times as I went in or out of that house, why now? I also started lashing out on those around me. I would tell them that I could do things myself, and that I did not need any help. I began to understand that I couldn't and became even more upset. I was letting my pride get the best of me.

Proverbs 29:22-23
"An angry man stirs up strife,
And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.
A man’s pride will bring him low,
But a humble spirit will obtain honor."

Pride can be a dangerous thing to deal with. With pride comes anger. As was I when, I did not want others to help me when I was in need. As the scripture here in proverbs reads that anger causes strife. Strife being defined as vigorous or bitter conflict, discord, or antagonism. All of this conflict leads to being easily embittered. It causes our tempers to be enraged easily. In the scripture above, we see this causes us to fall into sin. All of this because of pride. Pride is not something that we come across from God.

1John 2:16
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world."

Pride is something that has to be dealt with. Proverbs 29:23 tells us that a humble spirit will obtain honor. Sometimes it is not the easiest thing to do. But we must make and effort to be humble. Because if we look at all the things in our life to try to make ourselves look worthy, it will never be good enough. We rely on the sacrifice of Christ. His death is the only thing that makes a way for us to God. Not the things that we do.

2 Corinthians 5:21
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

Will we ever experience times when our pride can get in our way? Of course we will. But what we need to do is control it. We need to work hard to keep ourselves humble. Humility is not feeling sorry for oneself, but a hidden power that we have. It gives us the ability to receive the blessing in our time of need. I don't know why I had to fall when I did. But I do know that God had a purpose for it. Everything that He does, He does to help me grow. Maybe it was for me to learn this lesson on pride. And if so, I think He got His point across to me.

Thanks for reading, and God Bless You all this week!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How Do I Measure Up?

In my devotion entitled "What am I worth" last week, I expounded on what I felt my worth was as an individual in the sight of God. At the end of the devotion, I asked the question about how we are to look at ourselves and what kind of difference are we going to make. This week I want to continue on that train of thought to look at how I measure up to God's standards.

Amos 7:7-8
"Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. The LORD said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold I am about to put a plumb line In the midst of My people Israel. I will spare them no longer."

It may be hard for some people to remember what a plumb line is. Back in the day, (a little before my time) someone building a house would use a plumb line to make sure the wall is standing up straight, and not leaning. They would attach a weight to a string and lower it from the top of the wall at a certain distance from the top of the wall. They would then look at the distance from the weight to the wall and determine how much adjusting they would have to do to the wall to make it straight. Now a days, we have replaced the plumb line with the level, which uses bubbles in a tube to make sure something is standing up straight. In the analogy above, God tells to prophet Amos that he was going to measure His people, and not continue to spare those that did not measure up. He was going to deal with them for their disobedience to His commandments.

If God were to put a plumb line on us, would He find that we measure up to His standards? I am sure that we would not. For none of us are good enough on our own to present ourselves righteous before God. There are many people today that have the idea of what my pastor likes to call "easy believeism". This is where people think that all they have to do is say that they believe in God and that is enough. But, that is not accurate with what the bible teaches.

Romans 10:9-11
"that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

Jesus as Lord. Lord meaning your master. This means that you choose to follow Him and all that He teaches. If we truly believe He is who He says He is, we will obey what He teaches and commands. Satan believes in God. He knows for a fact that Christ rose from the grave. He knows the bible better than any of us. Does that mean he will get into heaven?

John 14:15
"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."

Luke 6:46
"“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?"

So what can we do to help us measure up? Be faithful to Him. On our own we are nothing. But, if we devote our lives to Him, if we strive daily to look for ways to serve Him, these are the things that God looks at for us. What have we done with the gift that His Son gave? If we look at ourselves on a daily basis on how we measure up, it will help us to grow. We would be forced to face our sins and short comings and deal with them. All of this will help us to grow closer to God. Can we ever be perfect? No, but that is no excuse for not trying.

Thanks, and God Bless You All this week!

Monday, October 3, 2011

What am I worth?

I have always felt self reflection necessary to Christian growth. To take time to examine ourselves, to see if we are being true to our Lord. If we find an area in which we struggle, then we can focus on changing that to something that we are strong in. 1 Corinthians 11:28 reads "But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup." Now this verse is found in the teaching of observing the Lord's Supper, and should be done before taking of the Lord's supper because of the warning given in the context of the verse. However, we should not limit ourselves to this practice around the time of Lord's Supper at church. It should be a daily process. If we only look at what needs fixing every once in a while, we might be missing something all together.

In my self reflections lately, I have been asking the question, 'Am I doing all that I am supposed to?' And 'How does God see me when He looks at me?' The answer that I come up with was not too good. Was I as a person worth the price that Christ had to pay on the cross. It is hard sometimes to view ourselves in this light, and honestly I found myself fighting back the tears. Am I as a person, worth anything to God? Does He need me? Of course He doesn't. There is nothing good enough about myself on my own that is good enough for God. However, the amazing part is that He loves me anyway. He gave His life for me. Not because I deserve it, or because I think I am entitled to it. But, just because He loves me.

We need to live life in the thought of how can we make His sacrifice pay back dividends. Christ invested a lot in us. How much do we return the favor. I can only imagine what it was like to hang on a cross and forgive me for all the times I was going to fail. He thought about me! So what am doing? Am I trying my best to serve Him? Let's be honest. It is easier to be a Christian in the US than it is elsewhere in this world. People are dying in other countries because of what they believe. They are paying the ultimate price for their beliefs, while we sit all comfortable and cozy here. So, what can I do different that will make a difference here? These are questions that I encourage you to asks yourselves on a daily basis. Imagine what a change we could see in our spiritual lives if the first thing on our minds when we get up, is how can I best serve my Savior today, or how can I do better in serving my Savior today. Because it is not about me anymore, it is about Him.

Thanks for reading, and God Bless You all this week!