Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Trying to Fill my Father's Shoes

“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1. NKJV.)

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.” (1 Timothy 1:12-16. NKJV.)

Sometimes I wonder if I am trying to do things myself and am trying to do what only my Father can do. Is there a line that should not be crossed when giving God’s word to others and if so, where is the line drawn? When does my encouragement stop being supportive and start stepping on my Father’s toes? Or does that happen at all?

God does not need me to convert others, He can create followers from the rocks beneath my feet. “…For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” (Luke 3:8. NKJV.)

John Piper has prayed, “O Lord, grant us grace to see and understand and savor the freedom of your sovereign grace. Help us to feel our helplessness without it. Help us to see our sin and our bondage to sin - our sinful nature. Help us to realize in the depths of our soul that we are slaves to pride and that without grace we are hopeless and lost. So humble us before you and before each other. And grant us to trust in the fullness of what Christ purchased for us - the riches of your grace, the fellowship your suffering, and the everlasting joy of your presence. In Jesus' name, Amen.”

My heart aches so heavily for my loved ones who have not been filled by the Holy Spirit and have not had a change of heart due to God’s grace and Christ’s sacrifice that I focus more on them hearing the word and preaching to them (or maybe at them) that I lose site of the whole GRACE part of it!!!

John Piper has said, “In his letter, John gives eleven evidences of those who are born of God:
  1. They keep God’s commandments (2:3-4; 3:24).
  2. They walk as Christ walked (2:56).
  3. They don’t hate others but love them (2:9; 3:14; 4:7-8, 20).
  4. They don’t love the world (2:15).
  5. They confess the Son and receive (have) him (2:23; 4:15; 5:12).
  6. They practice righteousness (2:29).
  7. They don’t make a practice of sinning (3:6, 9-10; 5:18).
  8. They possess the Spirit of God (3:24; 4:13).
  9. They listen submissively to the apostolic Word (4:6).
  10. They believe that Jesus is the Christ (5:1).
  11. They overcome the world (5:4).

“These tests of the new birth are rigorous, but John does not mean for us to infer either that the born-again are perfect or that the born-again can loose their salvation. He affirms that ‘if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves’ (1:8) that those who go out from us ‘were not of us’ (2:19).” By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.

Thank you Father for your grace!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

One Dead, 60 Injured in Muslim Attacks on Christians

The Voice of the Martyrs
February 2, 2008

On February 2, one Christian was killed, 60 others injured, and churches, businesses and homes set on fire, in the latest Muslim attacks on Christians in Bauchi state, Nigeria.

According to The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) contacts in Nigeria, "One Christian man was killed, over 60 people were seriously injured and five churches were damaged." This latest attack took place after two friends, a Christian lady and a Muslim man, had a disagreement. VOM contacts report, "These two were said to be friends of some sort until they had a disagreement on February 1. The Muslim man claimed that the Christian lady made some blasphemous utterances against the Prophet Muhammad. They were said to have parted ways that day without much trouble, but with a threat from the man that he would deal with the lady in his own way." VOM contacts added that the following day the Muslim man ganged up with Muslim extremists and started searching for the lady. "The lady was alerted of the attack and ran to the police station. The gang traced her to the police station and insisted the police release her. When the police did not release her, the attackers set the police station on fire. After the lady and the police escaped, the Muslim extremists attacked Christian homes, churches and shops," VOM contacts said.

Believers who lived in the damaged and destroyed homes have not returned because of fear they might be attacked again.


Meditations on Traveling

While away from home my thoughts turn to our pilgrimage and walk with Christ. John Piper says the following regarding Jonathan Edwards's thoughts on the trekker's state of mind:

Jonathan Edwards on the Pilgrim Mindset By John Piper

"In September of 1733, [Jonathan Edwards] preached a sermon called 'The Christian Pilgrim, Or, The True Christian's Life a Journey Toward Heaven.' It was based on Hebrews 11:13-14:

"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.Let his vision shape yours.

"Pilgrims are not diverted from their aim.

"A traveler . . . is not enticed by fine appearances to put off the thought of proceeding. No, but his journey's end is in his mind. If he meets with comfortable accommodations at an inn, he entertains no thoughts of settling there. He considers that these things are not his own, that he is but a stranger, and when he has refreshed himself, or tarried for a night, he is for going forward. (Works, Banner of Truth, p. 243)

"Pilgrims are to hold the things of this world loosely.

"So should we desire heaven more than the comforts and enjoyments of this life. . . . Our hearts ought to be loose to these things, as that of a man on a journey, that we may as cheerfully part with them whenever God calls. (243)

"Pilgrims become like what they hope to attain.

"We should be endeavoring to come nearer to heaven, in being more heavenly, becoming more and more like the inhabitants of heaven in respect of holiness and conformity to God, the knowledge of God and Christ, in clear views of the glory of God, the beauty of Christ, and the excellency of divine things, as we come nearer to the beatific vision. - We should labor to be continually growing in divine love - that this may be an increasing flame in our hearts, till they ascend wholly in this flame. (244)

"Pilgrims will not be satisfied with anything less than God.

"God is the highest good of the reasonable creature, and the enjoyment of him is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. - To go to heaven fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows. But the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean. . . . Why should we labor for, or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end, and true happiness? (244)

"Pilgrims are not grieved by their arrival at the journey's end.

"To spend our lives so as to be only a journeying towards heaven, is the way to be free from bondage and to have the prospect and forethought of death comfortable. Does the traveler think of his journey's end with fear and terror? Is it terrible to him to think that he has almost got to his journey's end? Were the children of Israel sorry after forty years' travel in the wilderness, when they had almost got to Canaan? (246)

"Pilgrims ponder what they pursue.

"Labor to be much acquainted with heaven. - If you are not acquainted with it, you will not be likely to spend your life as a journey thither. You will not be sensible of its worth, nor will you long for it. Unless you are much conversant in your mind with a better good, it will be exceedingly difficult to you to have your hearts loose from these things, to use them only in subordination to something else, and be ready to part with them for the sake of that better good. - Labor therefore to obtain a realizing sense of a heavenly world, to get a firm belief of its reality, and to be very much conversant with it in your thoughts. (246)

"Pilgrims travel together (in small groups).

"Let Christians help one another in going this journey. . . . Company is very desirable in a journey, but in none so much as this. - Let them go united and not fall out by the way, which would be to hinder one another, but use all means they can to help each other up the hill. - This would ensure a more successful traveling and a more joyful meeting at their Father's house in glory. (246)" By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New Draft Law Proposing Death Penalty for Apostasy - Institute on Religion and Public Policy

Voice of the Martyrs
February 13, 2008

The Iranian parliament is reviewing a bill for the Islamic Penal Law (Penal Code) that legislates the death penalty for apostasy. According to the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, the draft law defines an apostate as "any Muslim who clearly announces that he/she has left Islam and declares blasphemy." This proposed law is aimed to deter conversion from Islam. Please pray for the body!!!


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jesus Did Not Pray for the World

While reading about worldliness I came across the following scripture which says, “‘I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.’” (John 17:9. NKJV.) This, of course, was Jesus talking and it got me thinking. I researched this passage and it led me to the following:

“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19. NKJV.)

“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” (John 12:31. NKJV.)

“Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’” (Matt 4:8-9. NKJV.)

“And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.’” (Luke 4:6-7. NKJV.)

“…whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Corinthians 4:4. NKJV.)

“…in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,… (Eph 2:2. NKJV.)

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12. NKJV.)

“And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” (Rom 16:20. NKJV.)

“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,…” (Heb 2:14. NKJV.)

“Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” (Matt 12:29. NKJV.)

“And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’” (Luke 10:18. NKJV.)

“…to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ (Acts 26:18. NKJV.)

“I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15. NKJV.)

“And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matt 6:13. NKJV.)

“I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.” (1 John 2:13-14. NKJV.)

“…not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:12. NKJV.)

“…who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,… (Gal 1:4. NKJV.)

“‘…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’” (Matt 20:28. NKJV.)

“For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.” (Hebrews 2:5. NKJV.)

This is not the conclusion to my searching but rather just the beginning as I still have quite a bit of scripture on which to follow up. Just thought I would share my findings with you.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Under Persecution

Voice of the Martyrs
February 11, 2008

In July 2007, 42-year-old Li Mei and nine house church leaders were arrested, when they were discovered having a Sunday worship service. They were charged with singing Christian hymns to villagers, showing the JESUS film in a nursing home and praying for healing for a disabled elderly man. The nine were sentenced to re-education through labor for 12 to 18 months. Li Mei served part of her one-year sentence in a hospital with both hands chained to her bed. Repeated beatings and torture caused her to require a hysterectomy. She is currently serving the remainder of her sentence at home under house arrest.

We invite you to write a letter of encouragement to Li Mei. We have experienced great results when readers write to believers who have been imprisoned for their faith. The letters make a difference, often resulting in shorter prison terms. Please send a letter of encouragement and let Li Mei know you are praying for her. Also, write to the Chinese government requesting that Li Mei be released. Let your friends know about suffering believers in China and encourage them to write.

Get involved and write today.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pakistani Pastor Martyred

Voice of the Martyrs
February 1, 2008

Pastor Sajid William was shot and killed by unidentified, masked gunmen on January 17. William, age 29, was on his way home in the city of Peshawar, in Pakistan’s violent Northwest Frontier Province.

VOM contacts report that Pastor Sajid was employed by a humanitarian relief agency and also involved in evangelistic work.

Unknown assailants were standing near a bend in the road along William’s route on January 17. Because of the sharp corner, the pastor had to reduce the speed of the car. When the car came close to the attackers, they ordered William to stop the car. When he saw the attackers’ weapons though, William tried to speed past them. The attackers open fired. Three shots were fired. Two bullets missed, but the third hit the pastor’s back and passed through his chest. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The world watched following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December. We hope the world will also remember the death of this pastor, killed simply for being a passionate follower of Jesus Christ,” said Todd Nettleton of The Voice of the Martyrs. “We pray for comfort for his wife and young daughter, and we pray that bold witnesses for Christ will be raised up in Peshawar and throughout Pakistan.”

Pastor Sajid had worked with the Assembly of God Church in Peshawar for the past 10 years. He is survived by his wife and an 18-month-old daughter. Pray for his grieving family and church. Ask God to comfort and encourage believers in Peshawar and for opportunities for them to witness to those around them.



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