Friday, May 23, 2008

Saving Account in the Bank of Heaven

When a rich man asked Jesus what he should do to be saved, Jesus told him to sell all his belongings and give the money to the poor. Does this mean that we have to be poor to be saved?

When Jesus said ' give the money to the poor', He was talking about sharing what we have with the needy. He was talking about being generous. Generosity is one of the important characters that Jesus wants us to have. Being not generous is similar to being greed. We want to keep everything for ourselves.

Jesus mentioned about how hard will it be for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven in the Gospel in a few occasions. It is not because of them being rich but because of their riches being the top priority in their life. Keeping their wealth is more important than keeping Jesus' words. Jesus did not say that one could not be rich, but the desire to get rich is matter. If the desire to get rich takes control of one's life, he will do everything in order to fulfill his desire. That 's why 'the love for money is the root of all evil'. Having money (wealth) is kind of blessings but our attitude towards it must be in accordance with God's words.

We were told not to 'store our wealth on earth but store our wealth in heaven where no moths will harm it and no thieves will take it away'. Being wealthy in this world is find but it must not be the priority of our life. Our priority is to have close relationship with God, to obey God and to always be where He is. In doing so, we are 'storing' our wealth in heaven which is the rewards that God promises.

God provides everything that we need. He gives us foods to eat and clothes to wear. He reminded us not to worry about anything because He will take care of everything. But this does not mean that we do not need to do anything to get what we need. God will provide means and ways for us to get what we need but if we do not go according to His guidance, we will never get what He is intended to give.

Are we storing our wealth in heaven? How wealthy will us be in heaven?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Burden

This article was originally written by Louise M. Gouge.
(I ask for your permission to share this beautiful story with the readers)

I slammed my bedroom door and leaned against it. Was there no rest from this life? I stumbled to my bed and dropped onto it, pressing my pillow around my ears to shut out the noise of my existence. "Oh, God," I cried, "Let me sleep. Let me sleep forever and never wake up!" With a deep sob, I tried to will myself into oblivion, then welcomed the blackness that came over me.

Light surrounded me as I regained consciousness. I focused on its source: the figure of a man standing before a cross. "My child," the person asked, "why do you want to come to Me before I am ready to call you?" "Lord, I'm sorry. It's just that…that I can't go on. You see how hard it is for me. Look at this awful burden on my back. I simply can't carry it anymore." "But haven't I told you to cast all of your burdens on Me, because I care for you? My yoke is easy and My burden is light." "I knew You would say that. But why does mine have to be so heavy?" "My child, everyone in the world has a burden. Perhaps you would like to try a different one." "I can do that?"

He pointed to several burdens lying at His feet. "You may try any of these." All of them seemed to be of equal size, and each was labeled with a name. "There's Joan's," I said. Joan was married to a wealthy businessman. She lived in a sprawling estate and dressed her three daughters in the prettiest designer clothes. Sometimes she drove me to church in her Cadillac when my car was broken. "Let me try that one." How difficult could her burden be? I thought. The Lord removed my burden and placed Joan's on my shoulders. I sank to my knees beneath its weight. "Oh, take it off quickly! What makes it so heavy?"

"Look inside." I untied the straps and opened the top. Inside was the figure of her mother-in-law, and when I lifted it out, it began to speak. "Joan, you'll never be good enough for my son. He never should have married you. You're a terrible mother to my grandchildren…" I quickly placed the figure back in the pack and withdrew another. It was Donna, Joan's youngest daughter. Her head was bandaged from the surgery that had failed to cure her epilepsy. A third figure was Joan's brother. Addicted to drugs, he had been convicted of killing a police officer. "I see why her burden is so heavy, Lord. But she's always smiling and helping others. I didn't realize..." "Would you like to try another?" He asked quietly.

I tested several. Paula's felt heavy. She was raising four small boys without a father. Debra's did too: a childhood of sexual abuse and a marriage of emotional abuse. When I came to Ruth's burden, I didn't even try. I knew that inside were arthritis, old age, a demanding full-time job, and a beloved husband in a nursing home. "They're all too heavy, Lord. Give me back my own." As I lifted the familiar load once again, it seemed much lighter than the others. "Let's look inside," He said. I turned away, holding it close. "That's not a very good idea."

"Why?" "There's a lot of junk in there." "Let Me see." The gentle thunder of His voice compelled me. I opened my burden. He pulled out a brick. "Tell Me about this one." "Lord, You know. It's money. I know we don't suffer like people in some countries or even the homeless here in America. But we have no insurance, and when the kids get sick we can't always take them to the doctor. They've never been to a dentist. And I'm tired of dressing them in hand-me-downs." "My child, I will supply all of your needs…and your children's. I've given them healthy bodies. And I will teach them that expensive clothing doesn't make a person valuable in My sight." Then He lifted out the figure of a small boy. "And this?" "Andrew…" I hung my head, ashamed to call my son a burden. "But, Lord, he's hyperactive. He's not quiet like the other two. He makes me so tired. He's always getting hurt and someone is bound to think I abuse him. I yell at him all the time. Someday, I may really hurt him…" "My child, if you will trust Me, I will renew your strength. If you allow Me to fill you with My Spirit, I'll give you patience." Then He took some pebbles from my burden.

"Yes, Lord, those are small. But they're important. I hate my hair. It's thin, and I can't make it look nice. I can't afford to go to the beauty shop. I'm overweight and can't stay on a diet. I hate all my clothes. I hate the way I look!" "My child, people look at your outward appearance, but I look at your heart. By My Spirit, you can gain self-control to lose weight. But your beauty should not come from outward appearance. Instead, it should come from your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in My sight." My burden seemed lighter than before. "I guess I can handle it now," I said. "There is more," He said. "Hand Me that last brick." "Oh, You don't have to take that. I can handle it." "My child, give it to Me." Again His voice compelled me. He reached out His hand, and for the first time I saw an ugly wound. "But, Lord, this brick is so awful, so nasty, so…Lord! What happened to Your hands? They're scarred!" No longer focused on my burden, I looked up for the first time into His face. On His brow were ragged scars - as though someone had pressed thorns into His flesh. "Lord," I whispered, "what happened to You?" His loving eyes reached into my soul.

"My child, you know. Hand Me the brick. It belongs to Me. I bought it." "How?" "With My blood." "But, why, Lord?" "Because I have loved you with an everlasting love. Give me the brick." I placed my filthy brick into His wounded palm. It contained all the dirt and evil of my life: my sins, my pride, my selfishness, the depression that constantly tormented me. He turned to the cross and hurled my brick into the pool of blood at its base. It hardly made a ripple. "Now, My child, you must go back. I will be with you always. When you are troubled, call to Me and I will help you and show you things you cannot even imagine now." "Yes, Lord. I will call on You." I reached down to pick up my burden.

"You may leave that here if you wish. You see all these burdens? They are the ones that others have left here at My feet. Joan's, Paula's, Debra's, and Ruth's, and many others. When you leave your burden here, I carry it with you. Remember, My yoke is easy and My burden is light." As I placed my burden with Him, the light began to fade. Yet I heard Him whisper, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." A peace that passed my understanding flooded my soul. I stood tall and walked back into life.

"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30.

Utamakan Tuhan

Membuat pilihan merupakan satu tugas yang tidak kurang beratnya. Ia memerlukan fikiran yang dalam dan luas apatah lagi sekiranya keputusan yang bakal dibuat itu melibatkan masa depan kita. Lazimnya kita akan memperuntukkan satu tempoh masa yang agak panjang untuk berfikir.

Sebagai seorang pelajar, apabila kita hendak melanjutkan pelajaran ke peringkat universiti, kita berdepan dengan pilihan tentang jurusan apa yang hendak diceburi, universiti mana yang hendak dipilih dan sebagainya. Selepas tamat pengajian, kita berdepan pula dengan pilihan tentang kerjaya mana yang hendak diceburi. Malah kita juga dihadapkan dengan pilihan apabila hendak memilih teman hidup!

Dalam menghadapi situasi tersebut, kepada siapakah kita meminta pertolongan?. Lazimnya kita akan berbincang dengan ahli keluarga, rakan-rakan malah mungkin guru-guru dan kalau di gereja, kita boleh mendapatkan pendapat para penatua. Namun yang terutama ialah memandang kepada Yesus sebagai Terang kehidupan kita. Hanya di dalam terangNya kita dapat melihat jalan (pilihan) yang harus kita ambil.

Seorang rakan pernah mengongsikan sajak yang antara kandungannya mengatakan 'If everything fail, try Jesus'. Ia merupakan sajak yang sangat mendorong namun kelihatannya Yesus menjadi pilihan terakhir kita. Hanya setelah segala jalan lain gagal, barulah kita memandang kepada Yesus. Yesus sepatutnya menjadi yang terutama di dalam kehidupan kita kerana kita diminta untuk 'mencari dahulu Kerajaan Allah dan kebenaranNya'. Jadi, dimanakah tempat Yesus di dalam kehidupan kita?.

Mengutamakan Yesus bermakna menyerahkan segala aspek kehidupan kita kepadaNya. Tidak kira sebesar mana keputusan yang hendak kita ambil, kita harus serahkan itu kepada Tuhan Yesus kerana Dialah yang menentukan segalanya. Saya belajar menyerahkan segala sesuatu kepada Tuhan semenjak zaman persekolahan lagi. Memandangkan saya bersekolah di sekolah berasrama dan agak jauh dari keluarga, maka saya selalu merindukan keluarga saya. Ketika itu, ada persekutuan pelajar-pelajar Kristian di sekolah tersebut. Melalui persekutuan itulah saya beroleh penghiburan dan saya diminta Tuhan untuk menyerahkan segala sesuatu kepadaNya.

Akan tetapi, saya hanya memandang kepada Tuhan apabila beban atau pilihan yang perlu dibuat itu tidak mampu saya tangani. Sebagai contoh, apabila musim peperikasaan, saya akan berdoa dengan lebih tekun tetapi tidak ketika bukan musim peperiksaan. Apabila menghadapi masalah kewangan, saya berseru kepada Tuhan tetapi tidak ketika keadaan sebaliknya. Tuhan menegur saya dengan caranya sendiri. Suatu ketika, saya hendak membeli sehelai baju kemeja. lalu saya menjelajah dari satu pusat membeli-belah ke pusat membeli-belah yang lain. Selepas kepenatan, saya berjaya membeli baju yang saya rasa sesuai. Apabila sampai di asrama, saya mencuba semula baju tersebut. Alangkah terkejutnya saya kerana saya dapati baju tersebut sangat tidak sesuai. Saya merasa sangat menyesal tetapi tidak dapat berbuat apa-apa lagi kerana duit yang ada sudah dibelanjakan. Dalam keadaan sedih dan penuh kesalan itu, saya datang kepada Tuhan dan Tuhan menegur saya kerana tidak terlebih dahulu memandang kepadaNya. Tuhan menegur saya agar sentiasa mengutamakan Dia walaupun dalam perkara yang kecil seperti membeli pakaian.

Selepas beberapa tahun, apabila sudah bekerja, saya dihadapkan dengan situasi yang serupa. Tanpa berdoa kepada Tuhan, saya membeli pakaian yang diperlukan untuk pekerjaan saya. Mulanya terlalu sukar untuk saya membuat pilihan kerana ternyata pakaian tersebut terdapat dalam pelbagai warna, corak dan jenama. Selepas menghabiskan hampir sejam dalam keadaan bingung (untuk memilih!) saya membeli juga pakaian tersebut. Sebaik sampai di rumah, hal yang pernah saya alami terjadi lagi. Pakaian tersebut kelihatan sangat janggal! Saya ditegur Tuhan lagi kerana tidak meminta Dia membantu saya. Dengan kesalan saya berdoa dan meminta Tuhan mengampuni saya. Saya meminta Tuhan menolong saya agar saya dapat mencari pakaian yang sesuai. Keesokan harinya, saya mencari lagi pakaian tersebut dan dengan pimpinan Tuhan saya ditunjukkan pakaian yang sesuai.

Situasi sebegini mungkin merupakan suatu yang sangat biasa namun dalm keadaan biasa sebeginilah kita sering lali dan lupa untuk meminta pertolongan Tuhan. Kita beranggapan yang kita miliki kekuatan untuk menanganinya sedangkan tanpa 'Tuhan segala sesuatu adalah sia-sia'. Berat atau ringan, kecil atau besar perkara yang kita hadapi, 'kita tahu bahawa Tuhan turut sama bekerja dalam semuanya itu untuk kebaikan kita' tetapi kita harus berjalan di jalan Tuhan dan mengizinkan Tuhan bekerja. Bekas presiden Amerika Syarikat, Abraham Lincoln, semasa Perang Dingin di Amerika Syarikat pernah berkata yang bermaksud 'Saya tahu Tuhan sentiasa berada di pihak yang benar, tetapi apa yang saya risau ialah adakah kita sentiasa berada di pihak Tuhan'...Adakah kita di pihak Tuhan?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Walking in the light

Have we ever experienced walking in complete darkness? I could imagine how hard it was. Walking in darkness often make us stumble even though the route that we are following is the one that is familiar to us. Sometimes we need to crawl instead of walking on two feet. We are most of the time guessing on what lies in front of us or in great doubt on which way to go.

In John 8:12 Jesus described himself as the ‘light for the world’. Why the world needs light? Because the world is blanketed with darkness. People of the world are walking without direction. People of the world are in dark of what is ahead of them. That is the reason why there are doubts in our life. We cannot see for we are living in a dark.

Jesus is the light that came from heaven. He will be the light not only to guide us in darkness but also to make the darkness disappear! In Him there is no dark because darkness cannot stand the brightness of this light. In Him everything is exposed. Nothing will remain hidden but shown because the light have won against darkness. But the world rejects the light so therefore remains in darkness.

The light is for everyone. We need that light to be able to overcome the darkness in our life. With that light we may see which way to go. We may see what lies ahead of us and how to avoid it. The light will make everything visible. It will helps us to see good and bad things in life. But this is the reason why people reject the light for it will show the bad things that they do. Besides making our bad behavior visible, the light will also show us ways to overcome our bad behavior. It will guide us through the path to salvation.

So how could we receive the light?.We must have Jesus in our life and continue to follow Him all the time. Every day, we should obey him and we should learn from him. As long as we are in the light, darkness have no power against us. The light will shine on us....
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