Christians in the crosshairs

Some Muslims even expressed their sentiments to Christians in Baghdad at a Sunday service.

“You are the true original people here, and we are sorry for what has been done to you in the name of Islam,” whispered one Muslim woman to a Christian woman fighting away tears, according to The New York Times.

This was from an article on the forced evacuation of Mosul (Nineveh) in Iraq. For a so-called “religion of peace”, Islam is not being very peaceful at all, especially with the Christians who have inhabited this city for over one thousand years. Mosul has been a Christian dominated city for at least that long, according to the information that I have been able to find.

Here is another quote from the UK:

“What are the moderate Muslims saying?” the Lebanese Catholic Maronite Patriarch, Bechara Rai, asked acidly last week. “We do not hear the voices of those who denounce this.”

Indeed not. The Caliphate’s threat to the Christians – convert, be taxed or die – contradict, in the words of the Chaldean Patriarch, Archbishop Louis Sako,  “1,400 years of history and of the life of the Muslim world and of coexistence between different religions and different peoples”. Archbishop Sako spoke, too, this week of how Iraq itself had become a “humanitarian, cultural and historical catastrophe”. But he added that Christians in the region must remember that the Koran demands respect for minorities and that the Christian people must also remain respectful to Muslims and show “patience and endurance”. Which, I would have thought, might be turning the other saintly cheek a bit too far.

We, as Christians, should help those in need if we can. I am not sure if the help that we provide would reach the ones needing it though, so I am not sure what to do. All that I can do right now is to pray for them and I ask all of you who read this to do the same. It seems that the American government is not offering any sort of help for these, yet they are willing to help the oppressors of Israel. Of course in the media, Israel is the oppressor of the Palestinian people not the other way around. Israel has belonged to the Jewish people since at least four thousand years ago according to the covenant made with Abraham and God’s covenant cannot and will not be broken.

When you pray about the trouble in our world today, please include a prayer for those Christians being persecuted in Iraq and those in North Korea and China as well. Pray for Israel and for God’s protection for them too. We need Him and they do too.

 

What version of truth do you believe?

Today, many people claim to have their own version of truth, because many people say that “truth is relative”. Is it really?

How large is the Earth? Would you accept that its equatorial diameter is 12,756 km as the truth? Considering that we can all look this number up in the library or online, I would think that it would be accepted. All of the planets in the solar system have been mapped and measured and the Sun has too, so any statements made about them will be accepted as truth as long as I don’t change anything.

What about your beliefs? Do you have a faith in something that is accepted as fact and can be proven by other means rather than faith? Many people who are religious in any way, can’t prove their faith or belief scientifically because the major religions of the world were started hundreds or thousands of years ago. All that they have to base their belief on is a written account which was written many years ago. So, how do you know it is the truth? Can you prove it?

Most of the great scientists of the last few centuries like Newton, Bohr, Kepler and others were Christians who were trying to prove things which were found in the Scriptures. In the book, “Temple at the Center of Time”, it is written that Isaac Newton was searching for the knowledge that was given to those who lived before the flood. Original knowledge given by God. Could this be proven? By today’s scientific methods?

If you read this book and look at Newton’s work and the math that he used, then it is possible to prove many of the theories as well as much of the prophecies contained in Scripture. Considering this, the proof is in the Book itself and since it was inspired by God, Who cannot lie, then it must be the truth!

Of course, there are people who don’t believe anything that is in the Scriptures. It is supposedly a book that was dreamed up by the men who wrote it and very little of it is true. The Jewish scholars would have to disagree with you on that point because they were very meticulous about the written history of their people, which is what most, if not all, of the Old Testament is. Also, the prophecies written by those prophets hundreds of years before Jesus was born were fulfilled by Him and many other prophecies concerning the Jewish people have been fulfilled as well. Prophecies that have been fulfilled are not “dreamed up”, they were inspired by God.

He is the only One who could have given them the words of prophecy that would come true because He knew that it would come true. So, the truth about absolute truth is in the proof. Read it, ask questions, study it and find out the real truth, then look at the way the world is going and ask yourself: “Which truth will carry me to Heaven and which one will condemn me to hell?”

Following your own path and your own truth without Jesus will lead you to a place that you do not want to spend eternity. And, if you think that there is no eternity and that we just stop being alive when we die, you are right. Our body does die but our soul lives on in a glorified body, one that cannot die regardless of the final destination.

Racial divide

I had thought at one point that once we had an African-American President that Martin Luther King‘s dream would be realized. I am sorry to say that it has not happened. It actually seems to have become worse, from both sides. Blame is being thrown between people who don’t even know each other and yet it is always, or seems to be, the other guy’s fault.

Why are we so divided this way, by hate and anger over generations of abuse true enough but the understanding of the depth of hatred and bitterness escapes me. It is like the bitterness in the Middle East that has been going on for centuries, it is so deep until no amount of “peace negotiations” will ever work. It also seems that that is exactly what is happening in America.

We are allowing our racist pasts, on both sides, to cloud our judgement and our sense of morality. Where in the Scriptures does it say that we are to hate each other because of our skin color? It is not there, because I have read them many times and in no way or in any book from the Old Testament or the New is hatred for any reason encouraged!

We, as a nation not just certain groups of people, need to get back to God‘s Word and repent before things get completely out of control. Jesus is coming back and whether it is in ten years or in fifty it will happen. Yes, things are going to get worse economically before He returns but if we cling to Him and to following Him we will be the ones who triumph in the end.

God loves all of humanity, not just certain “races” of people. The Israelites were His chosen people, but with their rejection of Jesus they shunted their status aside. Not permanently, but God sent to us Gentiles the message and the blessings that they would’ve had in order to make them jealous enough to want Him back!

Jesus called the religious leaders in His day hypocrites because of their attitude toward the people that they were supposed to be leading. Hypocrisy is what we have shown to the world because we claim to be a Christian nation and yet we kill innocent children, unborn babies as a normal thing! Why is that happening? What purpose does killing an unborn child serve? We are going to be held accountable for this by God, so we should be considering this.

Many people in America as well as all over the world, don’t want to have much to do with Christians or church or God either. They want their own god, their own way of doing things, but He will hold you accountable, each of us! How can this be fixed in the religious climate that we live in today? Only by Christians doing what they are supposed to do by telling others about Christ and His love for them. Although, this would infuriate some people it would help in the end. Read God’s Word, pray about the problems at home and abroad, pray about your own problems since we all have them, God hears your prayers and will answer them in His own way and time.

The Bible, God’s Word

I watched the entire series on the History Channel this past month and I was impressed. They didn’t make fun of it or anything in it and it got some people interested in the Word of God, so it accomplished what it was supposed to.

Many people don’t think that the Word is viable today because of its age but no one questions college professors when they assign the Iliad and it is an ancient story too. There are fewer actual copies of it than there are of the Bible, yet there are many people who still don’t think that the Bible is true. The reason behind this is easy to find and it starts in the first book of the Bible, Genesis.

Satan tempted Adam and Eve and got them to rebel against a command that God had given them, ever since then there have been questions about the veracity of the words contained in it. Yet, the prophecies in the Old Testament have nearly all came true. The ones concerning Jesus were fulfilled when He came and through His teaching, and crucifixion and resurrection they were verified. Whether people choose to believe is totally under their own control.

For many people, I think it is their ability to choose that is the stumbling block in their ability to follow Jesus. We like having the freedom to choose but it is used against us because our nature chooses not to follow Christ until we have come to a point where we know that we can’t control our lives on our own anymore. Some people choose to use drugs or alcohol to numb their perception of life, but this is only a temporary, chemical induced feeling and it doesn’t last.

The Bible shows us that people tend to choose their own ways over the ways of God and following Him. All through the Old Testament, Israel would choose to follow God until things started going good, then they would turn to whatever the people surrounding them were worshiping. At which point, God would send someone like the Babylonians or Assyria to take them as slaves until they decided that they needed God again.

In our technological lives today, we don’t see the need for God and His Word until there is a real turning point in our life brought on by something in our life like a death in the family or cancer that comes suddenly to our attention. When these things happen, we realize that we need someone who can do something about this and for many people that someone is God. Doctors can’t cure everything and many times the treatment for cancer is worse than the disease since it poisons not only the cancer cells but the rest of the body as well.

Can we trust God’s Word? Absolutely! Because it has been proven by archaeology and history and by prophecy that has come true. The New Testament shows the beginnings of the church after Christ went back to the Father and yet He said that He would return one day. With few exceptions, most of the prophecies concerning the beginning of the “end times” have already come to pass. Israel being a country again and the language of the Jewish nation being spoken again after over one thousand years of being “lost” are but two of the prophecies that have been fulfilled in the past one hundred years.

The Bible is a great book of literature but it is also a collection of stories written at the prompting of God’s Holy Spirit. The reason that I say this is because of the way it is arranged and how many authors are involved in it. The Bible spans more than three thousand years, has sixty-six books written by over forty authors from all walks of life and yet they all point to Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection at one point or another in each book, and toward His second coming from the point of the prophetic books of which most were written at least four hundred or more years before He was born!

Read it, study it but don’t discount it. The Bible is and has been the most important book in the history of mankind and until Jesus comes to set up His kingdom on this earth it will remain so.

Do you know Jesus?

Many people today need to but there are also many who either by choice or by fear, they do not know their true Savior. He came into this world to die for your sins so that you can be redeemed, sanctified and clothed in His righteousness.

These concepts are foreign to many people and completely unknown to some. In our world today there are billions of people living, working and going about their lives without a clue regarding the fate which awaits them after they die. Many people don’t believe that there is an eternity, the just look at death as the end and nothing more.

We are made for eternity and our soul is the part of us that is bound for it. The time that we have here is microscopic compared to an eternity, so why don’t we investigate our options? Many people don’t think that they have an option, but you do!

Jesus is the answer for your life both now and into eternity! He is the Messiah that the Bible foretells in the prophecies of the Old Testament. He came to give His life for our sins so that we could come to the throne of God clothed in His righteousness because our own righteousness is as “filthy rags” before God’s holiness!

Can we truly know Him? Yes we can!! He stands before the door to your heart and knocks all you have to do is ask Him to come in. Your life will never be the same, it will be better! Because you will always have Him with you and you will never be alone again!

To many people the concept of having Jesus with them everywhere they go is just too much to handle. Think about this, He knows what you are doing and where you are anyway, whether you have asked Him into your life or not. Turn your life around and follow Jesus and let Him show you what you can really do with your life! He knows what you are capable of and the best part is yet to come.

The pain that you have experienced in your life can be healed by Him whether it is emotional, physical or spiritual. Jesus knows all about you and your life, all you have to do is let Him make it a better life than it is now!

Why do we go to church?

 

Matthew 21:12-13

21:12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, (13) and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

There are many reasons people come to church, some out of habit, and some to see and be seen.  Some come for the four reasons below. Whatever the reason that you come for, come expecting to meet the One who can truly change your life in more ways than one.

We come to worship

This was why God put the church here. We, each of us, make up a part of the body of Christ which is the church. It doesn’t matter what denomination you claim or have been all of your life because if you belong to Christ, you are part of His church, His bride and that is all that matters. There are many so-called “churches” which claim to be the “true church” but the only one that is true is the body of Christ and that is made up of believers! We don’t need a denomination or rules to govern by as long as we are faithful to Jesus and the calling that He came and died for. He rose from that grave so that He can come again to receive us unto Himself and to give us the hope of resurrection. No other religion in the world claims anything like this and not one of them can because Christ is the only One who could.

Christ said to assemble ourselves. We are to do this for encouragement, for support of each other, for many reasons but mostly to praise and honor God. We also come to lend our voices to God in prayer because God’s house is a house of prayer. Each church is a house of prayer. We offer up prayers for praise, for thanksgiving, for our infirmities, for exhortation, for forgiveness and for strength. All of these we need if…

We come to grow

There are people in churches that have never grown as Christians. Why is that? Could it be that we don’t know how? Is it possible that we wait for our preacher to give us all that we need to grow in God’s kingdom? Preachers, Sunday school teachers and other ministers can only give us a certain amount that we need; we have to dive into God’s Word in order to truly grow. Grow in grace toward God and be thankful for the grace given to us. Growing in grace is realizing who we are in Christ and being thankful for the position of grace that we have in Him.

Grow in love toward each other and our love for Christ because He loved us first. Not only that, but love Him because of the forgiveness that we have in Him. When we grow in that kind of love we will love others the way Christ does, not in our human hearts but with His heart and His power.

Grow in the word. We must grow in the knowledge of God’s Word so that we will know Christ more intimately. He is the Word made flesh so if you know God’s Word, you know Jesus even better than you did before. You may even, eventually know Him better than you know yourself. Many of the passages in the Word, in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, directly complement each other. To put it another way, the Old testifies of the New and the New fulfills the Old.

We come to serve

God has work we need to do. The work that He asks us to do is not hard work, most of the time and yet it is vital to His kingdom. God wants all men to come to know Him but if we don’t do the work that we have been called to do, how will they know? We perceive this as hard work, but it is only hard because our “old nature” is against it, we have to do it in love and by the power of Jesus because we can’t do it on our own strength and power.

By the way we are his servants. Jesus called the disciples to be servants to others and He calls us to do the same. Working as Christians for Him is a job that others look at and say that they want someone else to do it. That is the “old you” talking, not the new you that came alive when Jesus entered your heart.

We are his witnesses to win souls. This is a subject that many new Christians, and some who have been in the church for years, never get around to doing. We are supposed to be Jesus’ witnesses just as those that He healed went away and told others about what He had done for them. We are to do the same in order for others to see that what Jesus has to offer, they need in their life. Our “old self” doesn’t want to do this, but we must and we will when we have given our life to Him. Christ is the answer to life’s problems, not drugs or alcohol or money or power.

We come to give of our:

Time, Service, Money, Talents

But most of all we are to give honor to God, with yourself and all that comes with you. A Christian must fulfill God’s will in their life. But, how can you know His will for your life if you don’t read and study His Word so you will know what that will is? Your time is valuable so God honors you when you give any amount to Him and you honor Him as well. When you give your time, you are also giving of a service to God in one way or another whether it is cooking or cleaning the church or anything that you do in His name and for the right reasons.

When we give our money to the church or to worthy causes, we are giving back to Him a part of the blessings that He has given us. When we use our talents, whatever they may be, in a church setting or in our daily lives we are using what God gave us. If we use those talents to praise and worship Him then He gets the glory and honor from it as long as we aren’t being prideful about what we are doing.

All of these things from our time and talents to our service and our money have come from God. They are only ours on loan from Him and yet if we give of them from our heart we are honoring Him and giving Him the glory. Doesn’t Christ deserve at least that much from each of us? We are given a world to live in and the air to breathe so as to learn from Him how we are to serve and be His witnesses to those who may not know Him. God has given us our children and grand-children and friends and all the other people that we know in our community and that we work with and they are blessings to each of us.

They are also the “field” that we are sent into to bring them into God’s family because if we don’t tell them about Him and what He has done for us and will do for them, who will?

Are you a child of God? Have you given your heart and your life to Jesus and asked Him to come into your life and truly make you whole? If you have not, do so today because we are not guaranteed even our next breath, let alone tonight or tomorrow. You may not have a chance at accepting Christ on your “death-bed” because your life could end unexpectedly. I am not saying this to scare you into accepting Jesus but truly we all need Him and if you don’t know Him, you need Him most of all!

 

Can you imagine a world without Jesus?

I know that today there are may who think they would enjoy a world in which Christianity didn’t exist and one in which Jesus had never been born. Could anyone truly want to live in a world like that?

There are some who would truly enjoy this because it would give them so much “freedom”, in quotes because they would not know what they were free from. The world would be a very ugly place, even more than it is today if Jesus had not been born.

Satan would have completely free reign over our world although God would not allow him to go too far. God’s plan was in place before Satan ever rebelled and convinced a third of the angels to follow him. There couldn’t be a world without Jesus, period!

He is the Word of God who came to ransom our souls from sin and He is the Creator along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. They are the triune God, the Trinity and without them the entire universe would not exist.

It is humbling to know that the Creator of the universe cares for each of us and craves a relationship with us!

My imagination can’t come up with a scenario to illustrate how different the world would be if Jesus had never been involved in it. Put bluntly, the world would not exist as it is today. He is the Word of God incarnate who became a man to die for our sins so that we can be covered by His sacrifice and forgiven of our sins.

To answer the question I will attempt to list some things which would be vastly different if Jesus had not come to die for us.

1. If Jesus had not come, there would be no church of any denomination, only other religions would exist.

2. The only knowledge of God we would have would be from the Jewish Torah (Old Testament) because there would be no New Testament.

3. We would all be looking for the Messiah since He was prophesied to come in the Old Testament. This is why we couldn’t have a world without Jesus, because if He had not come at the time that He did then God would be a liar and therefore He wouldn’t be God.

The promises and prophecies that the Old Testament prophets wrote down came to them through the Holy Spirit so if they weren’t true then the whole story of Creation would be suspect.

God has to keep His promises because He is God and cannot lie, so the Messiah had to come when He did and at the time that He did. He will come back at the appointed time as well so there is no question about His coming, we just don’t know when things will come about. The time will be accomplished in God’s time not our own, just as everything else is and has been from the beginning.

In this world and at this time, we have been pushing God out of every aspect of our lives. From public places and government and schools to television, there are people who cannot stand to hear any reference to the Bible or Jesus or salvation. God has always wanted a relationship with us but humanity, since the fall in Eden, has been on an ego trip. “I can do it myself” has been our mantra for many generations and it is not true! We cannot do it alone, just like toddlers who say “I can do it myself” we have to have help.

In spiritual matters we are dumb without God and His Word! The man-made religions of the world are just that, “man-made”! They didn’t do anything or create anything or anyone. Like a block of wood or stone or gold formed into an idol, man-made religions don’t have the ability to truly do anything! Just like those idols, our religions are static, stagnant, and dead.

God is everlasting and the Creator of all. To worship Him is to worship the True God not something that was brought on by a drug or lack of sleep or lack of water! Dreams, visions, and feelings can’t form a seed or a fish with a word or put stars in their places by thinking of where they should be, but God can and He did! Trust Him, follow Him and ask for His forgiveness because He loves you!

Four words that are hard to say….

In our society today, we don’t speak much anymore. We text each other, we send e-mails, occasionally we talk to each other but we never write a letter to one another or at least it seems that way. Why is that do you suppose? Is it because of technology or our hurried lives? We just don’t have time anymore to talk to someone?

What about your prayer life, do you have one? Many people don’t think about prayer, at least not until they have some trouble in their lives. Then they may pray to God or Jesus about it, but once the problem is taken care of in one way or another they stop. They may even be angry with God if the outcome wasn’t what they asked for, at which point they may never pray again. They just determine that God hates them and decide not to reach out to Him again.

It is sad when people choose to do something like this, but it seems to happen more often than it should because there are so many people who have given up on God. He hasn’t given up on us and never will for the most part. I say that because at some point you can harden your heart toward God to the point that you won’t come to Him, period.

If you haven’t come to that point, there is still hope but you must say four words that some people find hard to say, “I am a sinner”. Once you can admit that to yourself and to God, you are nearly there! At that point, just ask Him to come into your life and free you from the sinful life that you have led in the past. Then you are a new creature in Christ and your life in Him and through Him starts fresh and new!

Many people say things like “I’ve been too bad for Him to want me” but if He is knocking on your heart and you can feel His presence wanting you to come to Him, He wants you! He can use your talents because He knows what you can do, probably better than you do.

This reminds me of a story in the Old Testament about Naaman, the commander of Syria‘s army. There were four words that he didn’t want to say either, mainly because of pride and shame. He didn’t want to admit that “I am a leper” because of his high position and because of the disgrace it would bring to him. Yet a little child , one of the captives who was a servant girl in his household, knew of a prophet in her homeland who could ask God to heal him and she told him about it.

To make a long story shorter, Naaman went with many gifts and asked the king of Israel about this prophet and found him, but Elisha sent his servant to him and told him to wash seven times in the Jordan river and he would be healed. He was furious. That river is full of mud, he said and he stormed out and started on the way home. His servant told him that if the prophet had said to do some great thing he would’ve done it, so why not do what the prophet said?

When Naaman humbled himself and decided to dip himself into the Jordan river like the prophet had told him to do (seven times), he found that the disease that he had for so long was healed and his skin was like that of a child. That is what happens to our hearts when Christ comes in. Our heart and our life becomes like a child of God, new-born and cleansed from our sins. At this point, we can do anything through Christ and others will truly see Him through our example and our character as we mature in our faith.

Jesus does love us all and has paid the price for our sins, all we have to do is come to Him and humbly say “I am a sinner, please forgive me”. Six words that will change your life and the lives of those around you forever.

Many ways, which do I follow?

The world and many of its religions tell us that there are many ways to Heaven but which one is the right one and which one do I need to follow? Too many people try to follow the crowd, the problem with this is that the crowd may not know which way to go either and are just following the widest path with the least amount of resistance.

God’s adversary, Satan, can make his way look like the way to everlasting life and happiness. He has had a long time to practice this so that anything that he or his followers do will look correct to many people, until it is too late. Satan was created as an angel, the Archangel of God at one time but he got greedy and wanted to be like the Most High and ascend to His throne. That is when he was thrown out of Heaven along with a third of the angels who had decided to follow him. In the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah there is a description of the reason for his fall:

“How are thou fallen from heaven. O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.”  Is. 14: 12-14

Many of the world’s religions that do not follow God and Jesus were brought about by Satan and his angels so he is “religious” but he wants us to worship him not the Truth.

It is apparent in the news and in our world that he is at work trying to discredit Christians because of the misinformation that is being turned loose on the world about the” end of the world”! The end will come when God says so and not a moment sooner, regardless of some so-called “code” that someone believes that has been found in the Bible. The advertisements this past weekend were claiming that “the Bible guarantees it” and they are making a mockery of God’s Word!

Our Lord will come back, but there is no code or secret book that tells us when! We live by faith in Him and in what He said and that is that He will come back and receive us to Himself when it is time according to the Father’s time. Jesus said only the Father, God Himself, knows the day or the hour of the end. No one else! Don’t be deceived by these claims. Read, study and pray while reading God’s Word. He will reveal what you need to know to you.