He must increase

“And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed. Then many came to Him and said, ‘John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true’. And many believed in Him there.” (John 10:40-42, emphasis mine)

Have you ever wondered if your Christian life is making much of a difference? Do you find yourself doing only seemingly small, even insignificant, things to the Lord? Maybe you don’t see any fruit from your ministry even though you’ve been serving the Lord for a long time. Maybe you have a job that you don’t really like and you find it rather difficult to shine the light of Christ there. Maybe you’ve prayed for many years for something and the Lord still hasn’t answered to the cry of your heart. Maybe you are just leading a very quiet life and it seems that nothing is happening.

First I want to encourage you with the words of Paul the Apostle: “… your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Know that whatever you’re doing for the Lord it is not in vain. What may look small and insignificant for us is not small and insignificant for the Lord.

Then let me encourage you with a bit larger concept. I was reading the Gospel of John the other night and I came across these words about John the Baptist: “[He] performed no sign, but all the things that [he] spoke about this Man were true”. I think those words speak to all of us who can’t see what the Lord is doing in our lives right now. Maybe we’re just ordinary Christians living seemingly ordinary Christian lives. We’re being faithful to the Lord but He seems to be so quiet, maybe even distant. But what about if we should be focusing on something greater than our own Christian lives? John the Baptist was proclaiming Christ and bearing witness to Him. Maybe we can’t fully grasp what the Lord is doing in our lives but are the others seeing that we proclaim Christ? Are we living such a life and speaking in such a way that others can say that everything we are proclaiming of Christ is true?

Maybe you don’t have such a grand reputation as a Christian but are others saying that everything you say about Christ is true? Maybe you don’t have that “big” a role in the body of Christ and you can’t perform signs nor wonders but are others saying that everything you proclaim about Christ is true? In the end, our Christian life should be about Christ’s reputation and not of ours.

Are you glorifying Christ with your life? Maybe you don’t have all ducks in a row in your Christian life but are the others seeing that you live for Christ? John the Baptist said of himself and Christ that “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). John the Baptist was willing to take a backseat and let Christ shine. Are we? May we cry out with the Psalmist:

“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of your mercy, because of your truth” (Psalm 115:1).

Thoughts on boredom

I’ve been thinking lately about boredom and excitement. How do you approach these two things? I think many of us see boredom as a very negative thing. We get bored in a matter of minutes if we don’t have anything exciting waiting for us. We say life is boring if anything exciting isn’t happening at the moment. We crave for excitement and “high moments”. We desire those feelings when we feel “more alive”.

Why do we need so much of excitement and why do we fear boredom? I think that even in our Christian lives we may go wrong if we seek excitement. I’ve noticed that many Christians today say that our Christian life is an adventure with the Lord. I’ve some trouble with that statement. I don’t know about your life but my life is most of the time very… ordinary. And yes, let me say that word, sometimes it’s… boring. Let me be honest with you. My Christian life doesn’t offer me much excitement or any kind of adventure. Should I be worried about that? I think not. I think life isn’t bad if it’s boring sometimes. Let me ask you a question: what is wrong with ordinary, sometimes even boring, life?

I think nowadays many Christians speak about Christian life in an unhealthy way. We often talk about how God has amazing plans for our lives. Once again, I’ve little trouble with a statement like that. God does often give us things that are way better than what we would have imagined ourselves. But what about when suffering comes in our way? Cancer diagnosis. Mental health problems. Marriage problems. Unemployment. Physical illnesses and many visits to the doctor. Adult singleness. Infertility. Death of a loved one. Burned house. Financial struggles. When we suffer do we still speak about how amazingly wonderful plans God has for us? Do we speak of suffering and trying times as this great adventure with the Lord?

Don’t get me wrong. Christian life is wonderful. But I think we might often forget what the Gospel is really about. When we place our faith in Jesus’ finished work on the Cross and repent of our sins we will be saved. Our reason to come to Jesus should be to ask for forgiveness for our sins and not to ask for better life. In fact, John 16:33 says “in this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world“. Can Jesus be even more clear? He says that in this world we will have tribulation. But the great promise of Scripture for God’s children is that one day God will make everything new. Revelation 21:1-4 has these comforting words for the followers of Jesus:

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away’”.

You see, the always wonderful and exciting life is for us. But it will be perfect only when we’re in glory in Heaven. Jesus died for us so we wouldn’t need to suffer for eternity for our sins. He wants to spare us from eternal suffering. Unending wonderful adventure is waiting there for Christians. We might get foretastes of heavenly adventure while we’re still on this Earth but we will also have tribulation on this Earth.

The most important thing that Jesus has done for us is that He has forgiven our sins. By His work on the Cross we are able to enter Heaven in the first place. Do we come to Jesus to have our sins forgiven or to have some kind of adventure and high moments? Do we come to the Lord to know Him or to get our problems fixed? Jesus does give us high moments time to time and He does help us with our problems. But is the Lord dear to you even if you would “only” have ordinary day-to-day life which may be boring at times? Is Jesus more important to you than your desire to have exciting and adventurous life? More often than not we as Christian live a very basic life. We get up in the morning, go to school, go to work, go to church, have dinners, take care of children, have hobbies and so on. There is nothing wrong with boredom. Usually boring is very safe. When something extraordinary happens it’s not always good news, it might also be bad news.

Let us follow the Lord faithfully even with our ordinary, boring and uneventful daily lives. Our greatest adventures are ahead of us.

“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13)

 

 

 

The Bible – message of God

I’m worried how easily we speak nowadays about “messages from God”. We have people who have written books about how they visited Heaven and how God gave them a message to deliver. We have people who say they have seen angels and that angels gave them a message to deliver. I’m worried about these kind of “messages” because the Bible tells us that “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light”. Of course no one can be a judge over other peoples’ experiences, only God can. Paul the Apostle writes in 2 Corinthians 12 about revelations from the Lord:

“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows – how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).

So it seems that “Heaven experiences” might happen but why do we need to read about them? Do they edify us? Do they exalt Christ? I’ve watched some TV shows where people share about their “trips to Heaven”. It seems that many times they have nothing to do with Christ or biblical accord of Heaven.

But do you know what? God has already “delivered a message” and that is His Word, the Bible. It’s just that many people don’t want to read it because it tells us that we aren’t good. The Bible speaks about sin and need to repent and place your faith in Christ in order to be saved. The Bible has bad news: it tells us that we are sinners and that we need a Savior. But the glorious thing is that the Gospel message is Good News too, because it tells us that Jesus has died for our sins and paid the penalty we would have deserved and that by placing our faith in Him we will be saved.

The happiest message in the world was born in a graveyard. Disciples of Jesus found out that their Master had risen from the dead. The Bible is a revelation of God and the Gospel is the power of God: “for I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). The Bible is our safety. We can trust the Bible. We may have supernatural experiences but let’s remember that God already has revealed so much of Himself, Heaven and many other topics in His Word. God gave us His Word so that we would know what is True.

In a quiet place

It’s so quiet here, Lord. I find myself in an obscure place. I’m almost invisible.

Here you want to meet with me, O my God. Here you want to grow and mold me.

Hidden from the world so that my roots would grow deep in your Word.

Hidden from the public eye so that I would see Your Face and hear Your Voice.

You want me, all of me.

Do you want all of Me?

 

 

“Let it be the hidden person of the heart with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3:4)

“Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.” (Psalm 17:8)

“The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Trusting God without feelings or experiences

What is your basis to trust Jesus? Something I’ve learned this year about trusting in God is that I need to take God for His Word regardless of my feelings or experiences. In other words, I need to trust the Bible.

When I began following the Lord in 2009 I think I sensed His presence almost all the time. But now… I haven’t “felt” the Lord’s presence for a long time. What does that mean? Does that mean He has abandoned me? Does that mean I’m not saved after all? This is where the Bible comes in. Hebrews 13:5 tells us “… for He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’“. And now I need to make a choice. I can either trust my feelings or I can trust the Word of God. Romans 10:9 says “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you will be saved”. Again, I can trust my feelings or I can trust the Word of God.

We don’t need feelings or experiences to have a relationship with God. We simply need to approach Him by faith. Hebrews 11:6 says: “…without faith it is impossible to please [God]“. You may or you may not have certain feelings or experiences when you have communion with God. I’m concerned of how this topic is addressed in some churches today. It’s as if all of our Christian life is about our feelings and our experiences. Where is the focus then? It’s in ourselves and not in God. We can either trust our feelings and circumstances which will surely fluctuate or we can trust the Bible which won’t change: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

What are you waiting for?

Waiting. Are you a great fan of waiting? Nope, me neither. Whether it’s waiting on the bus stop, in a traffic light or in the checkout line it always seems to take forever until it’s your turn. And these situations are of course smallest of our problems. What about if you’ve been waiting for a long time to get pregnant? Or to have a permanent job? Or to get married? Or that your loved one gets healed? Or that your loved one gets saved? Or something else? You wait and wait and wait and pray and pray and pray and nothing seems to be happening. It seems like it’s never going to happen.

I’ve been in a waiting season for some time now. At first I was puzzled about the whole thing. I was wondering why it seemed that God was so quiet. I wondered if He had left me and I almost had forgotten that He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). It really took me some time to realize what this new season in my life was all about. And of course I still don’t know all about it. I have to say that this year has been very different for me than the previous ones with the Lord.

I got saved in 2009. The four years that followed I suffered greatly with depression and anxiety. My life as a Christian began with several hospitalizations because of my mental illnesses. I needed to start medication that I’m still taking until this day. Man, looking back at those years I tremble. Depression is a horrible illness. There’s no way I would willingly go through something like that again. No way. The state where my mind is now is what I would never have expected. At the moment I’ve very stable mind. I’m actually surprised how my mind can be this stable after so many years of depression and anxiety. The Lord has done everything so well. He has been so good. I can’t tell you how much He has done in my life through my mental illnesses and how happy I am at the moment. It was a long wait for me to have a balanced life. Even now I’m waiting for many things but now I’m not waiting with depression.

What are you waiting for in your life? Are you waiting on the Lord to do something specific in your life? I am. Personally I’m waiting for to have a job and to get married. Waiting always seems to be such a long time. The Bible speaks a lot about waiting on the Lord. Waiting may seem hopeless. All I can do to encourage those of you who wait is to share some Scripture and let God speak directly throught His Word. Following verses are those I also need to recite to myself.

“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” (Lamentations 3:25)

Let’s pray for patience to keep on waiting on the Lord. He is good.

On being unemployed

I’ve gone through many seasons of unemployment in my life. Some seasons have been because of my mental illnesses and some seasons have been jobless for the plain reason of not finding a job. The economical state in many countries is very alarming and it’s no different in Finland. Almost every day we hear of new large-scale layoffs on the news. Companies need to lay off people because of monetary difficulties. It’s very sad. It seems to me that at least in Finland it means that you either have too much work or none. One employee does two or three times more work than he is supposed to or that people don’t have any work in the horizon. It certainly isn’t easy for me as a mentally ill person. I’m looking for more like a part-time job but even those seem to be hard to find. I’m very thankful that our government pays unemployment money for those who don’t have a job. It’s such a gift. The monthly income for us isn’t much but I’m able to live with it. Praise God!

Although there certainly are difficulties in unemployment it’s still has been a blessing, at least for me. I’ve counselors who help me in my difficult job hunt. I want to go to work at some point. But in the meantime I’m really enjoying of having all the time in my hands. I’ve so much time to spend with the Lord. I started this blog when I didn’t have a job. I’ve learned to cook and bake better. I’ve so much time to spend time with the people in my life. I’ve time to serve in my home church and go to church. I’ve time to decorate my lovely apartment. I’ve time to learn more of housekeeping. I’ve time to read Christian books. I’ve time to babysit. I’ve time to travel. I’m planning to go to evangelize with a friend.

God is working in the quiet hours of life. I’ve also had time to create routines that help me to cope with my mental illnesses. I’ve been able to rest. I would not have chosen to be unemployed for this long but I’m able to see how the Lord has been using these times in my life. Until He chooses to change my situation I will follow Him…