Obedience is better than sacrifice

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Jonah 2-3

When we were small and not knowing many things, we were taught many things by our parents, some of them came in form of instructions. We were told to do many things that are beneficial for us and not to do things that are harmful. The tricky part was that many things that are beneficial for us are not fun / pleasant to do but those that are harmful are fun / pleasant to do. Thus, sometimes it was hard for us to follow those instructions until we face the consequences of not obeying them.

For instance, we were told to brush our teeth and to eat less of sweet things such as candy in order to not damage our teeth. Being a toddler, brushing our teeth surely didn’t count as fun thing to do but eating candy and chocolate is obviosly a hobby. A toddler will continue his/her childish behavior until he/she experiences bad consequences, in this case tooth ache.

Sometimes God put us in unpleasant condition not because He is an evil God nor He meant bad for us but mainly He doesn’t want us to continue our harmful behaviour and preventing us to experience worse consequence in the future. This was what happened to Jonah when he was swallowed by a large fish (presumably whale). Jonah was not obedient towards his calling and God knowing his disobedience will cause the judgment on Niniveh to proceed, thus He took this extreme measure upon Jonah.

Jonah finally realised his mistake and repented before God in the belly of the whale. Then, the whale throw out Jonah out of its belly. Jonah then embraced his mission and proclaimed God’s message to the people of Niniveh. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them (Jonah 3:5). They escaped the apocalypse and Jonah’s mission succeeded.

Obedience is probably one of the hardest character to develop in our life. Sometimes we need to go through several roadblocks and obstacles in order for us to obey God’s command. However if we understand the heart of our Father God, it become easier for us to trust in Him and obey all His instructions for we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and called according to His purpose.

Let us learn daily to develop more of our trust in Him for to obey is better than to sacrifice.

Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen!

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No Perfect People Allowed

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Jonah 1

This slogan is used by THE ROCKS, a church in Perth, Western Australia which pastored by Ps. Daniel Indradjaja, where I am priveleged to become its member during my stay in Perth. As written in their website:

Thus, it is clear that no one is perfect enough before God because we will always little cracks here and there, no matter how much spiritual or moral make-up we put upon ourselves. On the other hand, no one is too messed-up that they can’t be accepted before God and being used by Him.

We found many such example in the Bible where we see Moses, the reluctant leader who was told by God to free His people from the slavery in Egypt. Moses instead proposed Aaron his brother to God mainly due to his (assumed) inability to speak in the public. Moses end up to be one of the greatest leader Israel ever seen and managed to fulfil his duty as Israel’s deliverer from Egypt. Gideon also look down on himself whereby he questioned the decision of Angel of God who tasked him on the duty of freeing his people from the bondage of the Midianites. Gideon required few tests to be performed by God before he agreed to lead the army. Gideon and his 300 become the legend that people still speak of until now.

We can be really glad when we read the story of Jonah because he is the real example that God can use even the mostly unqualified leader to perform His mission. Jonah was asked to perform a simple mission, proclaim to the people of Niniveh that God’s judgment is coming upon them unless they repent. Jonah refused to comply and instead of arguing, he chose to run away from his calling. You know that you know that you can’t run away from God’s calling and the same thing happened to Jonah. God send a great wind into the sea and the ship that Jonah was in was almost destroyed. A great fish swallowed up Jonah and he was in the belly for 3 days and 3 nights. Jonah finally repent and agreed to do the task God given him and give the shortest and most effective sermon ever given and the people of Niniveh repented.

When we look at ourselves, we can make two mistakes, we saw ourselves as over-qualified or under-qualified. The truth is that we are qualified enough to do the mission that God requires us to do, He will enable us to complete his mission with enough skills/abilities, manpower and other resouces necessary for His goals to be accomplished. Always chose to be humble before God but at the same time never allow others or situations to make you feel incapable of performing God’s mission in your life. God never uses perfect people but He uses imperfect people like you and me that are willing to be perfected to do His will.

Blessed be the name of the Lord, Halelujah, Amin

Sources: https://www.therocks.church

Accountability

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Accountability
Obadiah 2-4

The Avengers team led by Captain America successfuly stop a terrorist group led by Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos, Nigeria. In the fight, a building is accidentally bombed, killing a number of Wakandan relief aid workers.

Back at their headquarters, the Avengers are paid a visit by Secretary of State Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, who informs them that the United Nations is in the process of passing the “Sokovia Accords”, which will establish an international governing body to monitor and regulate all superhumans, including the Avengers. The team is divided over the act. Should the superhumans be regulated or should they operate without supervision as they used to?

The book of Obadiah is the shortest book in the Bible which mainly talking about prophecies of God’s wrath towards Edom’s leaders. These leaders have become quite successful and go towards the tendency of self centeredness. They thought that they alone were responsible for their own success rather than giving honour to God. Thus God was angry towards their pride and thru Obadiah prophecied to Edom that they will be brought down and become small among nations.

When we are in a position of leadership and successful in many of our endeavors, it is easy for pride to come in. We tend to overestimate our capabilities and underestimate our challenges/problems. Thus the higher we go up, the more we need to be kept checked. The next question is to whom should we answer to?

From my perspective there are few characteristic required for a person or entity to be deem fit to be our supervisor:
1. Broader point of view
2. Independency
3. Interest for greater population
4. Interest for us

The most important is to always let the Greatest Leader of All, God, to always check on us. As it is written in the book of Isaiah: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Also in the 2nd letter of Corinthians: But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

If we rely on our own strength, we can only do so much according to our own ability but if we have God on our side, the Unlimited and Omnipotent Father who will do magnificent things for our good, can you imagine the possibilities? Thus always be connected to Him, stay humble before Him and give all the glory and honour to Him.

Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang – Out of Darkness Comes Light

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Amos 9:11-15

Indonesian celebrates 21th of April as Kartini Day to remind women that they should participate in the hegemonic state discourse of development, so that women don’t just perform their duties as a housewife alone but also as a largert part of the societies as a whole. Kartini herself is a prominent Indonesian heronie from Java, mainly advocating for education for girls and women’s rights for Indonesian, which at her time female still regarded as second class gender compared to male.

After Kartini died, Mr J. H. Abendanon, the Minister for Culture, Religion and Industry in the East Indies, collected and published the letters that Kartini had sent to her friends in Europe. The book was titled Door Duisternis tot Licht (Out of Dark Comes Light) and was published in 1911. In her letters, Kartini wrote about her views of the social conditions prevailing at that time, particularly the condition of native Indonesian women. The majority of her letters protest the tendency of Javanese Culture to impose obstacles for the development of women. She wanted women to have the freedom to learn and study.

Most of her desires for Indonesian women come true in this days and age where we witness more and more girls in Indonesia having equal opportunity to education compared to boys. We can also see women taking more parts in the workforce, helping in building better Indonesia. Though in some rural areas these things are not so visible compared to urban areas but it is clear that Indonesia as a whole is moving towards Kartini’s dreams and visions.

In the book of Amos, we can almost see doom and gloom, judgment after judgment being passed on the Israelites. Period of darkness was coming to Israel and these prophecy would come with no delay. Luckily Amos didn’t conclude in chapter 9:10 because the last five verses are the key to the whe book of Amos. God promised that His purpose was not annihilation but restoration. God promised that: leadership will be restored, broken places would be repaired, lost land would be replaced, hope for prosperity would be renewed. The book of Amos finishes with a hopeful vision of the future, out of darkness into the light.

We can be in a position of darkness right now, doom and gloom are above our head but regardless of our current situation, we can always hope in God for a better future ahead of us. The goal of God is always restoration, not annihilation because if that’s not the case then Jesus wouldn’t came to Earth 2000 years ago as our Lord and Saviour. If God is an angry and sensitive God then He would just banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, the end of story. Luckily, God is a full of love and long-suffering God. He send His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross so that none should perish but have eternal life. He will restore us from our sickness, lack of wealth, family problem and also gives us breakthrough in our career, business, education even marriage if we believe in Him and depended our life on Him. Jesus came so that we might have life, and have it in abundance.

 Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord , thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Blessed be the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Halelujah, Amen!!

Pray Until Something Happen

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Amos 7:1-6

King David was at the peak of his career successfully uniting Northern Tribe of Israel with Judah and Benjamin. David has proven himself to be a great leader, conquering many surrounding nations and making other nations tributary to his kingdom. The king also managed to ease internal coup repeatedly which almost toppled him from his leadership position. Satan then saw a loophole and took this opportunity.

Satan arouse the desire in the mighty king to order a census of his people, something that is considered sin in the Torah. Despite objection from his general Joab, David continued with his order and so the census began. The Lord was angered by David action and David realised this as his heart condemned him after he numbered the people. The Lord then asked David to choose between three curses and David chose to fall in the hand of the Lord. While the judgment was passed, David continued to pray for his people, admitting his guilt and foolishness to God and the Lord finally offered David His solution; David was to built an altar to the Lord on the thresing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David did so, and the plague was stopped.

How many times do we underestimate the power of prayers, even those who minister in the house of the Lord. Prayer has become an event or program for us that we have truly lost the essence of prayer. Prayer is simply communicating with God, putting our trust in Him on things that are beyond our control. Great leaders are great prayer. They realise they are very limited thus they invest their times in to connect to the unlimited being, which is God and put on all their burden before Him.

Amos obviously realised the power of prayer and he practised it in Amos 7:1-6 when he knew that judgment will soon be passed on Israel people for their sin. Amos also understand that real action still need to be taken, God don’t just answer prayers with magic wand, most of the time God do it through people’s action. Amos prayer was finally answered by God in the last chapter of Amos with the hopeful vision of Israel future.

What about us? Do we realise the power of prayer? Do we still connect with God in our daily ‘quiet time’ or do we think of it as a boring routine? When the goings the tough do we still hope in His deliverance or do we only depend on our own strength? Nevertheless real action still need to be taken, but it sure feel different when action is combined with prayer!!

Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you -St. Augustine-

Glory be unto the Lord Jesus Christ who deserve all the honour and worship!

Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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Amos 5

Suharto, the 2nd President of Indonesia, whom some people referred to as The Smiling General is a well-known figure in our country, holding the office for 31 years from the ousting of Sukarno in 1967 until his resignation in 1998. He is a controversial figure beginning from when he took power from Sukarno from 1967 till his death in 2008. Suharto managed to construct a strong, centralised and military-dominated government which enable him to maintain stability in diverse Indonesia. His anti-communist stance also won him the economic and diplomatic support from the West during the Cold War. For most of his presidency, Indonesia experienced significant economic growth and industrialisation, dramatically improving health, education and living standards.

In the downside, Suharto had encountered many human right issues. Indonesia’s invasion and
occupation of East Timor during Suharto’s presidency resulted in at least 100,000 deaths. By the 1990s, the New Order’s authoritarianism and widespread corruption were a source of discontent. According to Transparency International, Suharto is the most corrupt leader in modern history, having embezzled an alleged $15–35 billion during his rule

It is easy for us to point fingers at Suharto or other corrupt leaders that we know of. However as Lord Acton has stated, “Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Have we been in their positions, will we do better?

The same situation happens in Israel during Amos period. The angry prophet, the label people sometime put on Amos, condemn Israelite leaders who fail to provide justice for their people. Those leaders put their own welfare beyond their people: abandoned morality, confused values, corrupted, took bribes, taxed the poor, deprived people of social justice in court, etc. The sad part is that these leaders weren’t even aware for their corruption, which is why Amos warned them in Amos 5:18 that when the day of the Lord come, it will be a dreadful day of judgement, not a joyful celebration.

Let us not become a judge for others, but instead analyse our own situation lest we become a stumbling block. When we are given a position of leadership or influence, do we use it for our own merit or do we aim for the merit of the team? Have we always try avoid responsibility and blame others or situation for failure? Do we held ourselves accountable to higher leader(s)?

Do remember at the end of the days, what matters is not how much wealth have we accomplished or  how successful is our career, business, even ministry compared to others. What really matters is have we achieve God’s purpose in our lives? Have we been responsible to whatever God has entrusted in our lives which include our family, vocation and organization that we are leading? Let’s hope when one day we reach heaven, God greet us by saying: Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

Glory to our Lord Jesus Christ who deserves all the honour and worship.

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suharto