Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Where too now?

I'm back from Malta, and it's a fantastic new year. God is definitely good and gracious and full of love and kindness!

As it stands I'm planning to keep on blogging this year - its been helpful to me to help me process and think through different issues in the bible, and I hope it's been helpful to some others. But right now: I'm exhausted! I didn't realise just how bad Jet lag could be.

So I think I'm going to start posting again next week. That isn't a promise, but at the moment that's my plan - it'll hopefully give me some time to recover and get a few things done which need doing.

In the meantime...Happy New Year and God Bless! Rejoice in the LORD always, and praise him for all he has done: he has done marvellous things for his people!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Sites to See

I only Support Children's Charities: This is a challenge about who we help and why we help them. Adults need help too.

Nothing More to Need: A profile of Christian Courage: Tim Challies shares the story of a family friend who has seen a lot of suffering yet it is this suffering that has been used by God to build her into the woman she is.

Finding myself in the Song of Songs: In this article Sharon tells us one thing she has learned from the woman in Song of Songs - it's a good lesson for all of us alike.

Samuel Pearce And God’s “Heavenly, Glorious, Melting Power”: "It’s easy for our devotional lives to revert to plodding through scheduled chapters in the Bible, and mechanically praying through a list of requests. Don’t you hate that? So what can we do to keep this from happening?"

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Where to from here?

Over the next month I'm going to be travelling. Consequently I won't be blogging daily - in fact, I may not post again until January.

At this stage I'm planning to keep on posting - I find it helpful in thinking through topics, and I hope it's beneficial for others. Those plans may change, but I'll let you know if they do.

But in the meantime, if you've been reading my posts then let me know what you think! Am I sharing the gospel well? Am I forgetting important things? Am I relating well? Am I making it applicable to life? Is this worth doing?

Have a great Christmas! Don't forget that Jesus is the reason for the season, and he is far better than any gift we can receive or any amount of time we can spend with our families. Put him first in your life and look for chances to glorify him and tell others about what he has done for us over the next month! (I've gotta take that instruction on board too)

God Bless!
Nat.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Abort73 Prayer Requests

  • PRAISE: We sold 77 Abort73 shirts last Wednesday during the one-day sale on the new GUNS shirts.
  • Keep praying for an increase in web visits. Fall traffic remains significantly below last year.
  • Pray for continued influence through the Abort73 blog. Last week's post focuses on Planned Parenthood founder, Margaret Sanger.
  • November giving sits just north of $4,000 right now. Pray for another $3,000 to be given in the next week.
Michael Spielman
Loxafamosity Ministries

Monday, 25 November 2013

God's Awesome Mercy

Romans 5:6-8
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
It occurred to me once again just how much God has done for us and just how much we don't deserve it. I know these things in my head, but they often don't reach my heart as easily, and the depths of them are easily forgotten. But God just reminded me of how much he has done for me and how little I deserve it - so I thought I'd explore that a bit.

Romans 3:23 tells us that we are all sinners. Romans 5 says we are powerless and ungodly. We disobey God's law - which is the reflection of his character. God is good and holy and perfect, thus he demands us to be perfect. He is good, sin is evil - rebellion to his good standard. He is love, sin is about hate. He is just, sin is corrupt. Sin is a personal rejection of God and attack on his character.

But we can't hurt God. Our rejection of him doesn't hurt him. It doesn't make him depressed. No, God reigns over the universe. Our personal rebellion against him cannot hurt him and cannot undo his plan. He laughs at our puny attempts to defy him and he still works everything for his glory (Psalm 2). Because of our sin we deserve God's wrath. We have rejected our creator, the one who has blessed us with countless gifts: with life and everything good we have. Yet we rebel against him and try to live our own way.

Therefore God would be entirely just and right to send us all to hell. It would be good for him to do that - God isn't the bad guy. We're the bad guys, and we deserve the punishment.

Yet instead of just destroying us he decided to give us a second chance. He sent Jesus, his son, into the world. Jesus lived among us and did not sin even though he was surrounded by sin. He gave up the eternal glory that he had as part of the trinity from before time began so that he could become a man and save us. He gave up that glory and was willing even to die in our place: on the cross Jesus took God's wrath - the wrath we deserved for our sin. He was betrayed, forsaken and murdered so that he could save us. Jesus took the wrath that we would all personally suffer eternity in hell for. That was the plan from Genesis, and Jesus is the fulfilment of all those prophecies.

But that's not the end of the story. Jesus rose again. The wages of sin is death - death entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned the first time. Jesus took the punishment for sin in full, and as a result death could not hold him. He rose again, proving that he truly is God, proving that he really did and can save us, and calling us to put our faith in him. Jesus takes our sin when we repent of them and put our faith in him.

God/Jesus could have rightly just condemned us to hell. Instead the God of the universe, the one who directs everything that happens, the creator and sustainer of all life, gave up his life for us. It cost God a lot to save us.

So why did he do it?

There are two reasons intertwined:
  • The one we first think of is love. God loved us, and as a result he died for us.
  • The second seems more selfish, but isn't: to glorify himself.
God is glorified by loving us. God is glorified by showing us his mercy and grace (and he is glorified in justly judging all those who continue to reject him). God created the universe for his glory. Everything is about God - it's not about us, it's not about how good we are. It is all about him. It's about how awesome he is. He doesn't choose to save us because we are worth saving. We aren't worth saving. We aren't worth loving - we reject him daily, we sin and rebel against him, we are powerless. Yet he chose to save us and love us to show the depths of his grace and mercy which we did not deserve to see.

God truly is awesome, and he has done awesome things for us.

Have you given your life to him?

Soli Deo Gloria!
Nat.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Sites to See

God has been speaking to me: This post is a challenge to get back into reading the psalms and to encourage others to do it also. It's a good idea! The Psalms are great!

Presents! Adam Ford has another good cartoon with a good challenge for us to consider.

Greatness awaits: Challies explores why video games appeal so much to men - they offer greatness. But true greatness doesn't come from playing games. It comes from serving Jesus.

Being in the word every day: In this post Lisa Spence looks at some good ways to work at spending time with God. It's worth reading and thinking about for men and women alike.

The Hunger Games: Christianity today offers a comment on The Hunger Games and alludes to how it is a comment on our society.

Beetle: My sister's first EP album of piano music. "For me, sharing the music is enough - 100% of the funds raised through this EP will be given to support the work of a school for Blind children in Russia."

Saturday, 23 November 2013

God speaks.

Genesis 1:3 
"And God said..."
It occurred to me the other day just how much those three words mean. God speaks. That means a whole range of things.

God is intelligent.
I think it is easy for us to forget that God is intelligent. He is more than just intelligent - he is the creator of intelligence, he is all-knowing, all-wise. He invented language. He invented speaking.

We like to think to ourselves that we are smart. That we know what we are doing and that we understand the world and how it works. We like to think that we know whats right. But in reality it is God who knows it all. We are nothing. He is intelligent and we would be better off if we humbles ourselves and listened to him. He who spoke first in the universe, who created the universe, who reigns over the universe is far wiser than we will ever be.

God is deeply involved in his creation
Creation didn't just happen by accident. God purposefully, directly created it. He controls his creation and he created it. Not only that, but since that point he has been constantly involved in it - saving a people for himself, ultimately bringing us who are Christians to him, and also in sustaining it every moment of every day.

Jesus was "before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:17).

God is real
There are many false gods and idols that people believe in, but God is real. He is the one, true God and he is real.

In contrast to God speaking in the beginning Psalm 135:15-18 says
"The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
 they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
 Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them."
Idols are fake and that is proved by the fact that they do not speak. They do not have any effect on creation. They do not have any power. But God does, and we know hat because he has been involved in his creation ever since he made it.

God speaks to us today
There are a number of views about how God speaks to us today. Some say there are still prophecies and revelations through dreams or God speaking directly to people - I think that's dangerous: Satan can dress as an angel of light to trick us (2 Corinthians 11:14). In reality we have all we need of God's word in the bible - it is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). We don't need more words from God - he has given us all we need.

Read the bible! Spend time getting to know God's revealed word to us, not chasing after dreams and visions that may or may not be from him. Now he speaks to us through his son - through Jesus, who's words are recorded in the bible. (Hebrews 1)

God does more than just speak
God doesn't just speak. He also acts. He isn't just full of words and promises - he keeps every one of them. He is faithful, he is merciful, he is gracious, he is holy, he is just, he is good, he is real.

God didn't just speak. He created. He didn't just call Moses to save Israel, he empowered him to do it. He didn't just tell us we were sinners with the law, he sent Jesus to take our condemnation and save us. He doesn't just call us to become christians, he sends the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and to draw us to him so we will respond in repentance and faith. Have you? He doesn't just tell us to obey him, he saves us by grace and works in us with the Holy Spirit to enable us to obey and to share his word. Are you doing that?

God is God. He reigns. He is mighty. He is holy. He is real.

Remember that. Remember that he speaks, he knows, and he acts.

Remember, turn to him and praise him for it.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Nat.

Friday, 22 November 2013

VOM Prayer watch

 

SOMALIA: Christian Community Leader Murdered by Extremists

A Christian community leader in Somalia was shot to death earlier this month by members of the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab while closing his pharmacy for the evening.
'Abdikhani Hassan' was shot seven times in the chest by two young men who approached him with handguns. The respected community leader was both a pharmacist and director of a community clinic.
Authorities have arrested several men in connection with the murder and continue to investigate. Abdikhani leaves behind a pregnant wife and five children.
Source: Voice of the Martyrs USA

Prayer Points

  • Please uphold Abdikhani's wife and children as they come to terms with the enormity of their loss. Pray the Lord will protect and provide for them.
  • Ask the Lord to bring the perpetrators to justice in this life and true repentance for the next.
  • Pray for our brothers and sisters in Somalia, who have counted the cost to follow Christ.


NORTH KOREA: Bible Owners among Dead in Mass Public Executions

In the first known large scale executions under the still new regime of Kim Jong-un, as many as 80 "criminals" were publicly killed by authorities across the country. Among those executed were individuals guilty of "possessing a Bible", said the South Korean newspaper which reported on the executions.
According to the newspaper, the executions took place in about eight different cities. In Wonsan, eight individuals were reportedly tied to stakes at a sports stadium and riddled with machine gun bullets as around 10,000 people, including children, were forced to watch.  Relatives or accomplices of the execution victims implicated in their alleged crimes were sent to prison camps.
Sources: International Christian Concern, Fox News

Prayer Points

  • Pray for Kim Jong-un and all those in authority in North Korea. Ask the Lord to send His Holy Spirit to the most restricted nation in the world to bring genuine change through the light of His Gospel.
  • Pray for those who have lost loved ones and for the many who are in North Korea's notorious labour camps.



TURKEY: Pastor Arrested on Human Trafficking Accusations

A Turkish Protestant pastor arrested by police in the Black Sea province of Samsun last week is accused of involvement in prostitution and the human trafficking of refugees.
Pastor Orhan Picaklar of the Samsun Agape Church was summoned to local police headquarters for questioning on Monday 11 November. The pastor was detained until Wednesday evening in a police investigation led by the Morals Bureau of the Public Order Division. The criminal case was reportedly based on a telephoned complaint from an unidentified person.
'It is obviously a deliberate plot,' a spokesperson from the Alliance of Protestant Churches in Turkey told World Watch Monitor, saying that Picaklar had been harassed for years by local media and city authorities who openly opposed the church's existence.
Picaklar and his congregation have been accused repeatedly of 'illegal missionary activities' by local TV channels and newspapers, claiming the church used bribery and prostitution to deceive young people and convert them to Christianity. The church building itself has been vandalised, stoned and its windows broken a number of times. The pastor continues to receive death threats over the telephone and internet, and was once kidnapped by men posing as plainclothes policemen.
Picaklar told Ihlas News Agency on the night of his release that he would not leave Samsun or stop his ministry in the church over this.
Source: World Watch Monitor

Prayer Points

  • Pray the Lord will bring the truth to light in this case; pray against any corruption or deception.
  • Pray the Lord will grant wisdom and strength to Pastor Picaklar and the members of his congregation.
  • Pray for all believers in Turkey, that they will rejoice in the opportunity to grow in Christlikeness through the ongoing opposition they face (James 1:2-4).


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Be still and know that God is God.


Psalm 46:10
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
God reigns. He is King over all of the universe and over all of our lives. He is in control of everything that happens. Therefore we don't need to worry. We don't need to freak out about life, about what happens next, about money or friends or family or anything else.

All we need to do is trust God. To be still and know that whatever happens, whatever goes on, God is the same as he always has been. He does not change and he is faithful to all his promises. That he is with us (his people, christians), he loves us, and he works everything for our good (Romans 8:28).

He will be exalted. He will work everything for his glory. That should be a comfort to us, because God is glorified in showing his love, mercy and grace to us if we have turned to him.

We don't need to worry about life. We don't need to get caught up in the countless tsunamis and hurricanes of woe that assail us. We don't need to freak out when the waters reach our necks. We need to be still and know that God is who he is. That he always saves his people - be it from or through death.

Be still. Trust Go
d. He is worthy of all praise. He is trustworthy. He is faithful.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A biblical mandate to be superficial?

Romans 12:15
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Image source
We live in a superficial, dishonest and fake society. Well Australian's usually do at least - I don't know about anyone else. When someone meets someone they know the first question they ask is always "How are you?" and within moments our unconsidered answer pops out: "Good" or "alright". We don't usually delve into the lives of those around us, we don't usually share deeply and we don't usually trust each other that much.

Another aspect of our 'modern' world is that we are self-absorbed. Almost every TV add tells us overtly or subtly that it's all about us. They praise us constantly so we will appreciate their product and buy it - because "I'm worth it" or because "I need it" Or because "I've worked so hard that I deserve it".

The question is, does this bible verse support that idea, or is Paul talking about something else? Is this verse telling us to be fake, to mimic those around us so we can help them? No, I don't think he is.

Paul isn't telling us to be fake. He isn't telling us to pretend we are happy or sad depending on the context or those around us. But on the other hand, he is telling us we shouldn't be so self-absorbed that we miss what is going on in the lives of those around us.

Practically I think this is actually both genuineness and selflessness put together. We need to be selfless, looking at the lives of those around us and seeing how we can empathise with them, because through empathy we can help and encourage them. We can rejoice with them when they are rejoicing, and we can mourn with them when they suffer. But we don't rejoice or mourn by forgetting how we are feeling. We don't hide how we are feeling, but we also don't force others to see our feelings above all else. We see what they are going through and we help them with it selflessly, but genuinely.\

A example of how this is selflessness is more obvious in this scenario. Say you and another christian work at the same place, and he or she gets a promotion that you've been working hard to get. Instead of becoming bitter about it, acknowledge that it would have been nice to get it, but then rejoice that they got it. Genuinely be thankful to God that they got it, love them enough that it isn't all about you, but that you are glorifying God for how he has worked in their life.
Image source

But how do we develop this?

  • The best way to start to do that is to be honest with them ourselves. If we show fellow Christians around us that we trust them, then they will also trust us. From that point we can work together to encourage, challenge and help each other by empathising with them and by looking at God's word together in both good and bad times. 
  • We also develop close relationships by just being around each other. Go to church and spend time with fellow Christians around God's word and just in general life. Talk about both God and life - both are real, so be real and genuine in your conversations.
  • Another way to work on this is to just be aware of the needs of those around, whether they be physical, emotional, spiritual, financial or anything else. When we recognise the needs of others we can encourage and help them by supplying those needs. Maybe this looks like talking to the older person at Church who doesn't usually have someone to talk to. Maybe it's cooking a meal for a family who is sick. Use your imagination and pray a lot about how God would use you.
So in summary: we aren't called to be fake with those around us. Instead we need to be honest and real - but also aware of their needs, so that we can help them by rejoicing or mourning with them, regardless of how we feel.

God Bless,
Nat.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Relying on God

Image source
I just spent the day hiking in some of God's beautiful creation, and it occurred to me during the day that we need to rely on and trust God completely.

I knew that, but what occurred to me today that there's a subtle trap used by Satan in my life, and perhaps in others. I find that I rely on myself to make myself rely on God. In reality nothing we can do can bring us closer to God. It is only through Jesus that we are saved, and we put our faith in him when the Holy Spirit works in our lives to bring us to repentance and to trust in him.

The same applies here - We can't get 'closer' to God by relying on our own efforts. Once we are saved we are forgiven entirely and forever. We can't be any 'closer' to God than we are. Yet we can still sin and move in our walk with God - but we cannot draw ourselves back closer to God, only he can, and he has in Christ.

What I've found is that I forget in my heart that Jesus has paid it all and that I am entirely forgiven, and I start to worry about how I'm living and if I'm doing good enough, and so I focus on myself. Instead we need to focus on God, give him everything and remember that it is Jesus' sacrifice alone that saves us.

But at the same time, that doesn't mean we can live however we want. If we truly have repented of sin then we won't keep doing it. If we truly trust Jesus we won't disobey him. If we truly love God we will love to serve him. If we realise the depth of what he has done for us we will be thankful and obey out of that thanks.

Isaiah 26:4
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Blessing those who persecute us.

Romans 12:14
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
I find with a lot of commands in the bible that in my head I acknowledge that it is a good thing to do before superficially looking at myself and deciding that I am doing alright at it, then moving on. But when I spend some time mulling it over and thinking about the wider implications of God's commands I usually find that I'm not obeying him very well at all.

This is one of those commands. It's easy enough to say that I don't treat those who persecute me badly (aside from the fact that I'm not persecuted by many people at all). But how about those people who don't like me? How about those people who try to make life terrible? How about preparing for when I do face those people.

And maybe there's even a bigger question: Is the reason that I'm not persecuted much because I'm not standing firmly and unwaveringly on God's words?

The Basic Command.
The main command here is to not seek revenge on those who hurt us. When we are persecuted, especially for our faith, instead of trying to get back at those people we need to seek their good. We need to bless them, to care for them. We need to love them so much that we will want them to have true blessing: salvation in Jesus, and therefore we should share the gospel with them.

That's hard enough - when people hurt us we usually want to get back at them. At the very least we want to avoid them. We certainly don't want to help them out or bless them. And there's also the fact that if they are persecuting us for our beliefs, if we share those beliefs with them, we'll probably suffer even more.

What we need to remember is that it is God who judges. We don't have the need or the right to take revenge. God will judge justly. He will vindicate us. Trust in him!

But what about if we aren't persecuted?
There are many reasons that someone wouldn't be persecuted. It doesn't automatically mean we aren't living godly lives. It is a blessing from God to have peace with others - and it is a blessing to be persecuted, because by those sufferings God brings us closer to him.

If we aren't suffering at all for our faith though, then it might be a good idea to honestly evaluate how we're living. Am I following God's commands even if it means I don't fit in? Am I telling people about Jesus, even if they may think I'm an idiot and never talk to me? The second of those things is the one I struggle most with - sharing the gospel and trusting God instead of fearing man. But we need to do it. We are commanded to do it (Matthew 28:18-20). God is more than capable of looking after us. Trust him and tell people the good news!

But there's more...
If we should have that much love for those who hate us, how much more should we love other people. Those who don't hurt us, but are on the outside of our social circles. Those who most people don't like. Those who it will cost us socially to be around - the uncool people, the dirty, smelly people. The people we don't like.

So here are the questions to consider:

  • How do I treat those who hate me? Do I reflect the love and forgiveness I have received from Christ through my actions and attitude?
  • How do I go at loving those around me who are harder to love? Do I love them even though I might be persecuted for it?
  • Am I being persecuted? Am I living in a way that shows I am a Christian? Am I sharing the gospel, even if it costs me in this life?
They're hard questions, but good to consider honestly and act on.
God Bless,
Nat.




Saturday, 16 November 2013

What an Awesome God.

God, who is 'known by his justice' (Psalm 9:16a) allowed himself/his son to be treated unjustly so that he could forgive the sins of all who put their faith in him.

Wow.

Every knee will bow.

Romans 14:11 (Paul quotes from Isaiah 45:23)
It is written:“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
Here's a simple, but hard truth. Every knee will bow before Jesus. Every person will submit to him as the one true God who reigns over the whole universe.

Note: Jesus is God, along with God the father and God the Holy Spirit. They are all the same one true God, but in three persons with three different roles. That idea is hard to fathom and work through, but just keep in mind that God is immeasurably wiser than us and he can do what he wants (even if we can't quite grasp it)

The thing is, these people will come in two categories.

Those who bow the knee now and willingly.
Christians are the people who will submit to God here and now. We are the ones who (by the Holy Spirit working in our lives and God's grace) have recognised that we are sinful and that we deserve God's wrath. We realise that disobedience to God means that we fall short of his standard (perfection), and therefore we deserve his justice, which means hell eternally.

But, Christians also know that God is merciful and gracious. Instead of just allowing us to face his wrath he made a way for us to be forgiven. He sent Jesus into the world, his one and only son. Jesus came to earth and lived a perfect life. He did not disobey God at all. Therefore he alone did not deserve to face God's punishment (death and then hell). Yet Jesus came to earth to die in our place and take God's wrath for us.

On the cross Jesus took the punishment that we should have suffered for eternity in hell. He did not do it because of anything desirable in us, because where is nothing good or worthwhile in us (we are wretched, horrible sinners) - he did it entirely out of his awesome mercy, grace and love. It hurts to hear that. But that is what Christians believe.

As a result we repent of our sins - we say sorry for them and try to obey God, and we trust that Jesus has truly dealt with our sin and God's perfect just wrath against them. As a result we bow the knee willingly. We submit to God in our lives here and will rejoice when he (Jesus/God) returns to judge the living and the dead, because we will know that through Jesus alone we are completely forgiven and will go to be with him forever in heaven. We will rejoice and should rejoice now to submit to Jesus.

Those who will be forced to bow the knee at judgement.
But there is another category. Jesus has promised that he will return to judge all people. The thing is that all people deserve his punishment (hell) because all people have sinned.

When Jesus returns it will be awful for those who have not given there lives to him, for those who have tried to liv their best life now on tis earth. Jesus will return, and there will be no more time to repent and turn to him - there will only be his justice. And Justice means hell for all those who refused to give up their sins and be forgiven by Jesus.

On the last day these people will bow the knee to Jesus, but it won't be with rejoicing. It will be with much crying and wailing and terror. It will be terrible. They will stand before God's throne condemned, like we all should have been, because they don't stand there with Jesus interceding with God for them.

The challenge.

  • First up: Are you a Christian? Are you submitting to God now? Or are you continuing to reject him and live your own way? We are all sinners and we all deserve hell. It's only those who put their faith in Jesus who will be saved. If you aren't then talk to people about it! Ask the questions you have and keep asking until someone gives you and answer that makes sense. If you want then send me a message or an email - I'm more than happy to chat! Read the bible, look into what this is all about and be honest with yourself.

  • If you are a Christian then you should love those around you enough to tell them the gospel. If their continued rejection of God will lead them to his punishment in hell eternally and we love them, that should terrify us. I don't want my friends, my grandpa, or even my enemies to suffer that wrath. We need to tell people about God and Jesus! In saying that, this is one of the areas of my life that I fall short in all the time. I am constantly chickening out and not sharing the gospel with people who I should be telling it to. I am always making excuses. I fail at it miserably. Thankfully God is forgiving and merciful. But that's something I've got to change - maybe you do to.
  • Keep in mind that God is not the evil one in this scenario. We are the evil ones. He is the good one. He judges because he is just, god and right, and because we are evil, wretched and sinful. He shows his mercy entirely out of his grace and who he is - not based on anything in us. God isn't the bad guy. We're the bad guys.

Soli Deo Gloria!
God Bless!
Nat.


Philippians 2:5b-11
have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.


Friday, 15 November 2013

The Sites to See

One simple question: Adam Ford has one simple question for us to consider. This is very well done.

Five ways to Refresh the Saints: This post is from Jon Bloom on the Desiring God blog. He looks at Philemon and 5 ways that Paul mentions of how we can refresh our fellow Christians.

Adam 4d (Ford) has a number of great comics to think about. A few are below.

Nuke-316: This one's about John 3:16 and how much we undervalue it because we hear it so often.

Foggy is about why faith can't really exist without works. "We're saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves us is never alone" (Luther)

Simple is simply brilliant (did you see what I did there?). It's a good challenge posed extremely well I thought.

Take a read! Let me know of any other interesting things out there that are cool, biblical or just interesting!

God Bless,
Nat.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Chocolate, or Carrot and Stick?

Mark 8:34-38
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Image source
Here we see the comparison of two different lifestyles: Living for Christ, and living for ourselves. We can live for Christ, which will be harder in this life and often seem like we are missing out, or we can live for ourselves, reject God and his good plan and live how we want. What are the results? Those who follow Christ will be saved eternally, forgiven, redeemed and accepted as God's children, while those who reject him will be rejected by him and face his eternal wrath for their sin.

The Chocolate

I thought I'd sum these two lifestyles up with a comparison between Chocolate and being offered a carrot and a beating along with it. Living for God is more like the chocolate - he offers so many promises and the eternal benefits of following him are far better then anything Satan can offer us in this world.

Don't hear me wrong - we will be persecuted, and we will suffer on this earth for Christ. He calls us even in these verses to take up our cross daily, to suffer as he suffered and to be ready to die for him every day. 2 Timothy 3:12 tells us that we will be persecuted. But Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that even this is a blessing, and James 1:2-4 tells us that when we suffer God is using those things to make us more like him. If we are willing to lose our lives for God, we will save them eternally and be with him.

Yet as I said before, even though we suffer here, life is short. It comes to an end, and everyone will face God's judgement. The only way we can be saved is by putting our faith in Jesus and repenting of sin - he forgives completely. As a result, God also adopts us God's children, and we are made co-heirs with Jesus (Romans 8). We will go to heaven, where God will wipe away all our tears (Revelations 21) and we will be in his presence, glorifying him eternally. What an awesome blessing! That is the chocolate, and no matter what we go through here, it is definitely worth it.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
The Carrot and Stick
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it...What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
Living for ourselves is like a carrot when the gospel is fully understood. Yet it is still an appealing carrot. Having whatever we want, doing whatever we want to do is enjoyable. It does feel great and it is desirable. In fact, there are so many things that we long to do that God restricts us from doing - not because he is cruel, but because they don't fit within his law which is based on his character.

These things look so appealing, but in reality they mean nothing. They promise, and even deliver to some extent, but we all die. We all grow old, and these things cannot save us after we die. Who would take their best life now and forfeit a far better eternity? Who would take a carrot when chocolate is offered to them? Who would forfeit their souls in exchange for the world?

So what's the stick? I mentioned it before: it's God's wrath against sin. We all sin, and therefore we all miss God's perfect standard (he demands absolute obedience to his perfect law). This has been the case since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden, and will be the case until Christ returns. Let me prove the point to you. The 1st commandment says "You shall have no other gods before me." Yet how many of us spend more time thinking about ourselves then God? Thinking about what will please us instead of thinking about how we can serve God. We all sin and that means we deserve God's wrath - his justice, eternally (i.e. hell). That's what we get if we choose the carrot - slavery in sin and then hell eternally.

Why would you choose the carrot? God made another way: he sent his son, Jesus, into the world as a man. Jesus came and he lived perfectly. He obeyed God's commands completely. Then he died in our place. The wages of sin is death, and Jesus alone had not sinned and did not deserve to die. Yet he not only died, he suffered. He took our sin if we put our faith in him - he took all of God's wrath for it (what we would suffer for eternity in hell). Then to prove that he had truly done it he rose again from the dead. Since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and he rose from the dead, sin must have been dealt with! And he tells us in Mark 1:15 to "Repent and believe for the Kingdom of God is at hand". Everyone who puts their faith in Jesus and who repents of their sins will be saved.

The conclusion

How could anyone accept a carrot after tasting Chocolate? Yet this is what we do constantly in our lives. We have the gospel, the rich truths of God's word, and we trade them for the lies of sin. We have the deep joy that comes from serving God, yet we take the carrot offered by Satan's temptation of pleasure in this world.

So what's the challenge out of this?

Keep an eternal perspective. Don't just weigh up the benefits in this life, compare them with eternity - salvation in Jesus, or eternal punishment if you serve yourself and reject God. Consider your life - have you put your faith in Jesus? Only he can save.

VOM Prayer Watch

IRAN: Update - Acquitted Believer Released From Evin Prison

Mostafa Bordbar, a Christian resident of Rasht (northern Iran), was unexpectedly released from Evin prison on 3 November, following 11 months in prison. All charges were dropped after a hearing by the appeals court on 30 October.
In an appearance before the appeals court, Mostafa was granted an opportunity to defend himself regarding the charges that were made against him. As a result of the hearing, all charges were dropped and he was granted release from prison.
In June of this year, an initial court had sentenced Mostafa to 10 years in prison for being part of a 'dissident group' and 'undermining national security'. However, his lawyer, Ms Shima Ghousheh, a member of the Human Rights Commission in Iran, appealed the decision in hopes that with the statements she prepared the charges would be dropped.
Mostafa was arrested along with 50 other Farsi-speaking Christians on 27 December 2012. These believers had gathered in northern Tehran to celebrate Christmas and worship the Lord in the home of a fellow believer.
Sources: Mohabat News, Fox News, American Center for Law and Justice

Prayer Points

  • Thank God for Mostafa's release.
  • Pray for God's protection over him and his family.
  • Pray that the appeals of other imprisoned believers in Iran will also result in their being released.

LAOS: Believers Blamed for Villagers’ Deaths

A group of new Christians in a Laotian village have been blamed for the unrelated deaths of three men. When the deaths occurred shortly after their conversion, the community concluded they had angered their ancestors.
In March 2013, two evangelists shared the gospel in three remote villages in Laos. As a result, 178 people received Christ and 18 were baptised. Shortly afterward, three men from one of the villages died from unrelated causes. One was given the wrong medicine, one died in his sleep and the third was accidentally electrocuted while trying to run a cable line.
The shaken community consulted with a witch doctor, who concluded that the strange new religion introduced to the community had angered their ancestors. 'Those Christians have to renounce their faith or they have to leave the village!' he warned. 'Otherwise, more people will die.' The community leader became angry with the new Christians and called a meeting for the whole village; army and police officials were also present. At the meeting, authorities ordered the believers to renounce their faith. They also forced the Christians to pay travel expenses for the army and police officials and to pay funeral costs of the three who had died.
Source: VOM Sources

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for the evangelists' work in Laos and the group of new believers.
  • Pray that the believers will be firm in their faith despite this opposition.
  • Pray that God's word will convict and transform those still worshipping their ancestors.

INDIA: Church Attacked, Assailants Arrested by Authorities

Members of Christian Faith Centre have been attacked by a fundamentalist Hindu group and the pastor has been severely beaten. As a result, security guards have been posted outside the church.
Members of Christian Faith Centre, an Assembly of God church, were attacked on 27 October by Bajrang Dal, a fundamentalist Hindu group. According to reports, the attackers disrupted a prayer service and severely beat the pastor leading the prayer. After beating the pastor, the radicals dragged him to a police station and attempted to file a case against the pastor for forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity. Because this church has been attacked in the past, the police recognised this as an incident of persecution and arrested the radicals. In the future, the police will keep several security guards outside the church during Sunday worship to avoid this incident happening again.
Source: International Christian Concern

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for the protection the police will provide to this church.
  • Ask the Lord to grant the pastor a full recovery from his beating.
  • Pray for the members of Bajrang Dal to come to repentance and faith.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

An apology

Hey I just thought I'd apologise if the blog is a bit confusing at the moment. Blogger is putting my posts all over the place (I've been updating some things on them) - so they aren't in order based on when I posted them. Hopefully it'll sort itself out, otherwise I'll stop editing and just leave things how they are.

Time out

Sometimes I think we need some time out to just think and pray and spend time with God. I'm not just talking about the time we spend in his word and in structured prayer (those things are good and essential in maintaining our relationship with God), I'm talking about some unstructured time just worshipping him and being honest with him. This comes to mind because I just spent 30 minutes sitting outside watching the sunset, and it's something I love doing, but nearly never just stop and do. I was taking photos, then my camera died, so I had to just sit and enjoy the glorious sunset for what it was. It was truly marvellous and a good time just to be honest with God about where I've been stuffing up lately and to come back to him in repentance (Another thing I fail to do often enough).

The question is, is there a biblical mandate for this? Sure, I might find it good and encourage people to do it, but I'm just a sinful human with extremely clouded and selfish motives.

Biblical mandate to read the bible and pray
Deuteronomy 6:6
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
How do we have God's word in our hearts? We need to know it ourselves. How do we do that? Read it.
Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Matthew 4:4
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
If God's word is the light by which we can see how to live (where to walk), then we need to read it and spend time in it. It is our spiritual food, and to be spiritually healthy we need to spend time in it.
Joshua 1:8
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
This is more of a direct command - "meditate on it day and night". We are meant to spend time with God, and we're meant to keep spending time with God even after we've ended our official time with God.

There are so any other applicable verses. If you want some more, check out this site.

Biblical reasons to just have unstructured, extra time out with God, but more reflectively?

As it stands I haven't been able to find any direct passages that say we should have unstructured time with God. What I mean by unstructured time is something like going for a walk and just having time to think about life and living for God and how I've been going at that.

Regardless of the lack of verses that directly seem to mention this, it is obviously a good thing to do. We are called to repent of our sins (Mark 1:15, 1 John 1:8-9), and I find these times are good for me to be able to compare myself and my life to God's standard again and see the bigger picture.

Colossians 3:17 says "whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." I find I'm most able to praise God for his creation when I'm in it and just appreciating it. I find that its easier to give thanks to God when I take time aside to think about what I have to be thankful for, and spending our free time with God is a good way to glorify him too.

I'd imagine that everyone has a different method for spending time in God's word and in prayer - I find if I want to be consistent in it, then I have to set structured time to read and pray daily. But there's an honesty and praise that comes more easily when I'm just spending my free time with God.

Here's one blog on the subject.

I hope those thoughts were helpful.
God Bless,
Nat.

Treasure in Heaven

Image source
Luke 18:18-25
 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”
 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!  Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
This passage again brings us back to the question of what we love. What is most important in your life? What would you give up anything else for? What do you run t for comfort? for meaning in life? What do you spend most of your time and effort in?

There is no point having God second in your life. He demands and deserves first place, and we need to put him in his rightful place as Lord of our lives. When we put God second, we are really just being proud and selfish, saying we know better then him, but holding onto the hope that he will still save us and give us the benefits without us taking any of the responsibility.

The rich man in the passage claimed that he had obeyed God all his life - I don't know who that man was, perhaps he did physically obey all of God's commands. But regardless of that, Jesus wasn't first in his life. He wanted eternal life, but he also wanted wealth and luxury in this life. The question came down to if he was wiling to give up his good life here and trust Jesus that there was a better life eternally with God.

That question still resounds in the world for us today. Am I willing to be hated, to be persecuted, to lose friends, to give away what I have? Am I willing even just to be laughed at for Christ? Do I trust him that he will save, and that his salvation is far better than anything in this world? Do you trust him in that?

It's a hard question to answer, because if we've grown up as Christians it's easy to just know intellectually the right answer and give a yes to all those questions. It's easy to say "I am not ashamed of the gospel", but is that really the truth? Have you ever had to prove those words?

Perhaps what we need to do is think deeply, decide on our answers and then act. Decide to put God first and then live it - telling people the gospel, loving those who it is socially unacceptable to love, giving up wealth, health and prosperity for Christ. Maybe instead of just saying "yes Jesus, you are first in my life" we should go and show it.

In saying all this, I want to point out once more that our actions do not save us.

The only thing our actions can do is condemn us because we are all sinful. Jesus told this man to give up all his wealth to show him how sinful he was and to smash his facade of righteousness. Our problem is one of the heart, and we cannot change that. Only Jesus can.

It isn't about what we do, it's about what Jesus did. He, who is God, came to earth and lived perfectly. He suffered and died on the cross, taking the sin of his people and God's wrath for it. He paid the price in full that we would spend eternity in hell for because we can never pay it. He then rose again, proving that he had paid entirely for sin, since death is the result of sin (No sin = death cannot contain him. Rose again = proof that he has defeated sin.)

It isn't about what we do. But we are called to repent and believe, putting our faith in Jesus as the only one who can save. The consequence of that for our lives is that we will also give up sin - you can't be genuinely sorry for sin and then keep doing it. But we aren't condemned when we stuff up after that point - Jesus paid it all.

Yet the question remains: if you are a Christian, if Jesus has died for your sins and paid the ultimate sacrifice for you, how will you respond? Will you be willing to give your life as a living sacrifice for him (Romans 12)?

Are you willing to give up every benefit you have for the sake of knowing Jesus?


What idols take from us.

Exodus 32:2-4
Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf,fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
Image source
Note: you might want some more context on this passage before you read the rest. Click here for the full chapter.

It occurred to me on Sunday that this passage tells us something about idols. They promise the world, but they steal our blessings. Let me show it to you.

In Exodus 12:35-36 we read that:
The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord had made the Egyptians favourably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.
In other words, God gave them wealth when they left Egypt, as he had promised. When they get to the foot of Sinai they call on Aaron to create for them an idol to lead them into the promised land. The first thing that this idol takes is one of the blessings they had received from God which had proved his faithfulness and grace toward them.

The idol was created out of their wealth, and as a result it was the elevation of that wealth - it showed off the gold they had received, boasting in the blessing, not the blesser. Our idols so often do the same. We worship our money or our friends or our family or our relationships, and in doing so we sacrifice the true benefit of those things. They become our gods and we forget the true God who gave us those blessings.

What was the result for Israel? God's and Moses' anger resulting in the smashing of the two tablets of the law that God had just given Moses and the death of 3000 people for their sin. God doesn't take idolatry lightly, and we shouldn't either. As Paul said in Romans 6:23a: "the wages of sin is death". But through Jesus there is forgiveness - he took the punishment that we deserved on the cross so that anyone who puts their faith in him will be forgiven. "The gift of God is eternal life." (Romans 6:23b)

What is the result for us? If we persist in our idolatry and refuse to turn to Jesus for salvation then we are under God's wrath. Consequently when we die we will face God's judgement, and because you (like everyone else) are sinful, you will go to hell (assuming you are not a Christian).

If we are Christians then we don't have to fear that because we know that through Jesus there is complete salvation. But when we replace God with idols in our lives we lose a number of blessings temporarily. We lose our love for God. We lose our hope and peace that is in him, and we lose our fellowship with him. We are also more easily drawn into other sins when we take our eyes of Christ. Satan uses our idols to draw us away from God and keep us from serving him as we should.

What are the idols of your heart? What are the things that get between you and your worship of the one true God? How are they affecting your walk with him?

I hope that was helpful.
God Bless.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Abort73 Prayer Requests.

  • My annual web traffic analysis is complete, but it didn't yield any obvious answers in regard to Abort73's recent traffic loss. Pray for wisdom and creativity in reversing this trend.
  • Shirt sales are still sluggish. New GUNS shirts, in new colors, will be arriving soon. Pray they can breathe new life into year-end sales.
  • The website overhaul I hoped to have completed this summer still isn't. Pray I can get it done by this January. Much hinges on it—I believe.
Michael Spielman
Loxafamosity Ministries

“I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” (Ronald Reagan)

Monday, 11 November 2013

Light.

As I was reading through John 3 yesterday afternoon I spent a bit of time considering the significance of the themes of light and dark in the bible. These are just a few connections that I've made - I'm certain there are many more cool, interesting and helpful ones that could be made, but it was good to think through a little.

When is light first mentioned in the bible?
At creation in Genesis 1:3-5
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
Light was the first thing God created. It was the start of his glorious creation, the first step in his plan to bring us to life and eventually to show forth his glory through saving us. It was his first blessing for us and the first thing he created to glorify himself.

And it was also good. The first thing that God spoke into existence (as far as it is recorded).

In John 3:19-21, Jesus says:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. 
So when we hate the light because of our sin, we are actually hating God's plan, his blessings and his glory. We are hating his first words, and therefore we hate his whole word and Jesus who is the word (John 1).

God created everything and it was good. When we rejected him through sin we began to hate what is good and love what is evil. Instead of loving the light, which God made to symbolise his good creation, we loved the dark - the absence of God and his plan. We wanted to be in control and we rejected him. Instead of his eternal blessing we chose his wrath - hell - the absence of his blessing.

But if we turn to God in repentance there is salvation - we can live by the truth and rejoice in being part of God's plan, bringing glory to him - "so that it may be seen plainly that what [we] have done has been done in the sight of God."

How do we turn back to God's blessings and his plan?
We need to follow and trust in the light of the world.
'When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."' (John 8:12)
So the question for you is this: Have you put your faith in Jesus? Have you given up your sin and repented of it? Or are you still living in darkness, treasuring your sin instead of God's measureless grace and mercy and blessing? Are you rejecting God's good gifts and clinging to worthless things that will lead only to his wrath?

Are you a Christian?

God Bless
Nat.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Listening, not just hearing.

It's come to my attention lately that over the past few weeks, with the business of finishing school and exams, I've slipped a bit in my walk with God. I've still been reading the bible and praying, but it had become more of a chore than a joy.

Part of the problem, I've realised was that I was hearing and reading God's word but not really listening to it. Because I've been considering it more of a chore and because I've been more stressed about study and the other complexities of life, when I've been reading the word my mind has been elsewhere. As a result I've been reading it, but not truly listening to it. I haven't been taking notice of what God is teaching me, I haven't been applying it to my life, I haven't been rejoicing in the lessons God has for me and the depths of his mercy and grace.

As I started to realise that I had been slipping I began trying to fix it myself. Again not listening to God or just turning to him in prayer. We try so hard to fix things ourselves, but we are sinful and we cannot. Only God can bring us back to him. Only God can reveal to us where we have stuffed up and bring us back to a right standing before him through Christ. In pride it's so often easy to lose sight of that again.

I thought it would be worth posting this because perhaps you're facing the same problem. I didn't really recognise it until the last few days. I thought I was doing a good job when in reality I was legalistically doing chores that I thought would impress God. The truth is nothing we can ever do can impress God. That's why we need Jesus. That's why God is so gracious and merciful in saving us. We deserve none of it.

If this is you, then pray. Ask God for help. Be honest with him and yourself (Your not going to scare him with your honesty - he knows it all anyway). Read his word and take note of it - don't just do it as a chore, apply it to your life and rejoice in it (regardless of if it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside or not).

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Helping those in need.

Romans 12:13
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
The next part of living as sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1) involves how we show our love for fellow Christians: We need to share with those who are in need and be hospitable.

They're commands that we hear all the time, and we know we should do them, but it's easy to just shrug them off, or to think to ourselves that we're doing a good job at them already and there's no need to improve. Instead, our attitude should be that we be giving everything to God as living sacrifices. That means we should be considering these commands and not be content with where we are at - we should be striving to do better and to honour God more through them.

Paul commands us here to share with God's people - fellow Christians. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't help non-christians (There are plenty of verses about providing for the poor regardless of who they are), but we should specifically be looking to help fellow Christians who are in need. By doing that we make the gospel attractive to non-christians - they see our love for each other and that we are different from other groups, and that can cause them to ask questions and seek answers.

So what does sharing with God's people look like?

The more obvious examples are things like helping those who don't have enough money who are Christians, or giving food to those who maybe can't afford it. These are good things, and I don't think we do them enough. But the truth is that we aren't always in contact with these people. We don't alway know who they are and so we can't always help them. So what other things can we do? We should be looking around us at the needs of others and be thinking about how we can help. Maybe it's giving up some time to help out a family who is really busy at that time - maybe cooking them a meal or offering to baby sit their kids. Maybe it's as simple (and hard) as talking to someone who isn't in our social circle, or spending time with someone that others leave out. As Christians we are called to associate with the poor, the weak, those who we would usually try to stay away from to protect our own social rank. We need to love those people and care for them as much as we love our friends or family. We need to treat them as brothers or sisters in Christ.

How are we meant to know the needs of those around us? We have to love them and be involved in their lives. We need to be honest with them and seek honest answers from them. We need to be trustworthy and make those deep friendships in our churches so that we are in a position to help those people who need it and to know their needs. That takes time and effort. And it has to be selfless - with the sole purpose of trying to help them, not trying to help ourselves.

There are also the bigger applications of this: giving money or volunteering time to charities who help Christians (or non-christians) in the third world who don't have enough food to survive. Praying for persecuted Christians and writing letters to them (you can do that through Voice of the Martyrs).

There are countless applications of this command. What we need to do is be praying about how God wants to use us, and to be keeping our eyes open for when he presents opportunities.

What about being hospitable?

Being hospitable basically means opening your house to others, or providing for the needs of others. Are we willing to let people into our houses in order to help them? Are we willing to give all we have as a sacrifice to God and in service of him?

I hope they were some helpful thoughts!
God Bless,
Nat.



Friday, 8 November 2013

Putting others first

Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.
Do you know a Christian who you just find so difficult to get along with? Someone who always just rubs you up the wrong way, who either intentionally or unintentionally annoys the life out of you? It probably wouldn't be hard to name a few if you've been around Christians for any length of time. But what's God's command here?
"Be devoted to one another in love"
It's such a simple instruction, yet it's so hard to do isn't it? To love others so much that you put their wellbeing above your own. To love people you find annoying that much. To be devoted not to ourselves, or to our PS3's, but to each other - to faulty, sinful, selfish humans.

Yet that's what Christ calls us to do. In fact, it's what he first demonstrated or us. The Creator of the universe, the one who deserves all glory, the perfect, holy God who reigns eternally sent his son, Jesus, int the world to live with sinners. And not only to live with us and put up with us, but to share the good news and to be the good news: He came and died on the cross in our place, taking our sin. We don't deserve that. Yet God did it for us. Not because we are good, but because he is awesome.

Yet when God tells us to do it we don't? Or we give a half-hearted attempt and try to lay the blame on someone else?

How do we show this love? Through actions. We need to honour them above ourselves. Humbly, truly and honestly put them before ourselves - even if they don't appreciate it or don't do the same for us. We need to love them and show that love not in an attempt to live well or to get attention. We need to do it for Christ, for God's glory, knowing that he sees everything and our reward is eternity with him.

Take a minute to consider honestly how your going at this. Compare your love for those people with God's love for us - there is no comparison between what he has done for us and what we do for those people. Even if we gave our lives for those people who annoy us (or even those who don't) it is still nothing compared to Christ's love for us.

We have no excuse.

Voice of the Martyrs Prayer Watch

6 Nov 2013

IRAN: Update - Pastor Saeed Abedini Transferred to Brutal Prison

Pastor Saeed Abedini, a US citizen imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith, has been transferred from Evin Prison to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj. It is an even more dangerous prison, where he faces life-threatening conditions and treatment.
According to a release from Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Abedini's family members in Iran say he has been moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj. It is an even more dangerous prison, where he faces life-threatening conditions and treatment.
A member of Abedini's family in Iran arriving at Evin Prison for a regular weekly visit was told that Abedini has been moved to this prison outside of Tehran - about an hour-and-a-half drive away.
The family member traveled to Rajai Shahr Prison and was told that Abedini is imprisoned there and not allowed any visitors.
Source: Assist News Service

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to protect Saeed in Rajai Shahr Prison and to keep his mind fixed on Christ.
  • Pray that the Lord will be with Saeed's family and comfort them as they are not allowed to visit him.
  • Pray that the Gospel will continue to spread in Iran and that the Lord will use Saeed's imprisonment to strengthen the church.

6 Nov 2013

ERITREA: Christian Woman Dies in Jail

An Eritrean Christian woman has become the latest known prisoner of conscience to have died in Eritrea. She was denied access to medical treatment because she refused to denounce her Christian beliefs.
Wehazit Berhane Debesai, who was in her thirties, died during the week of 14 October, of pneumonia following a year of imprisonment in harsh conditions, where she was denied access to medical treatment because she refused to denounce her Christian beliefs.
Debesai had been taking part in national service when she was arrested last year for her involvement in Christian activities outside of the government-sanctioned Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran church groups.
Debesai, who was engaged to be married, was then kept incommunicado in Adi Quala, near the Ethiopian border. Her death coincided with the arrest of around 70 Christians at a prayer gathering in Asmara, the capital.
Source: World Watch Monitor

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for Debesai's faithfulness; ask the Lord to use her witness to draw people to himself.
  • Pray that the Lord will comfort Debesai's family and fiancĂ© in their grief.
  • Pray for the 70 Christians recently arrested to remain strong.

6 Nov 2013

PAKISTAN: Punjab Christian Accused of Blasphemy Presently in Hiding

Another blasphemy row has broken out in a Lahore township where Christians fear they may become targets of violence. Adnan Masih, a 25-year-old Christian teacher, has been in hiding since 8 October after being accused of writing blasphemous comments in a book about Islam.
According to an employee of a glass and aluminium business, the book was left in the shop where Adnan's brother also happens to work. Consequently, the shop owner, Mushtaq Masih, was immediately taken into custody in Adnan's place. In addition, the brother and uncle of the accused are being held illegally for the same reason.
Christians residing in this area of Lahore, known as Bahadar Pura Bahar colony, say they fear a repeat of the devastating riot that took place in Joseph Colony during March of this year. Local police have been urged by Release partners to implement security measures in order to protect Christians and avoid any further outbreak of unnecessary violence
Source: Release Partners

Prayer Points

  • Pray for God's peace and protection over the Christian families in Lahore.
  • Ask Him to intervene on behalf of those who are being unjustly detained.
  • Pray that the accusers discover the truth of the Gospel for themselves.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Abort 73 Prayer Points

  • PRAISE: A $5,000 donation last week helped bring October giving to $13,881. That's our highest monthly total in three years! Also, the new promo booklets have arrived, and they look fantastic!
  • Pray the new booklets do what they're supposed to do—motivate people towards the active embrace of Abort73 in defense of abortion-vulnerable children.
  • I'm doing my annual web traffic analysis this week. Pray for insights into why Abort73 is losing traffic and what can be done to reverse this recent trend.
  • Keep praying for shirt sales. We ended up selling 133 shirts in October. That was up from September, but is still well below our average.
Michael Spielman
Loxafamosity Ministries

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Hope, Patience and Trust (Part 3).

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
In the previous two posts (Here and Here) we looked at the reason we have to rejoice in our hope, and what it means to be patient in tribulations. Both of those things involve trusting God - we need to trust that his word is true, that Jesus has saved everyone who puts their faith in him and that he will keep his promises.

Image source
Be constant in prayer.

This command follows the similar thread: to pray to God is an expression of our trust in him. If we don't trust God then we won't pray for his help, we won't praise him for his grace and we won't be constantly turning to him with every need, fear and joy.

Why should we pray? We pray because it is us talking to God. When we read his word we are hearing God's words to us, and when we pray we are speaking to him. In doing so we are glorifying him by showing him we trust him. We are also (hopefully) being humble - realising that we cannot save ourselves and that we need his help for everything we do.

We also pray because it is God alone who can change things. James 1:5 says
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
The fact is that we cannot change our situation. We need God to change us, and we ask him for that help through prayer. As Christians it isn't our effort that changes us, it is God using our effort and working in us through the Holy Spirit to make us more like him. It's God through the Holy Spirit who initially saves us and convicts of sin (John 16:8-9, 2 Thessalonians 2:13), and it's him who changes us to make us more like him (Romans 5:5, Galatians 5:22-23). Therefore, since God is the only one who can save us and change us, we need to trust him and pray for his help.

Praying to God also shows that we have faith in him - we wouldn't pray to him if we didn't think he existed or if we didn't think he ever does anything for us. Therefore by constantly praying we would be constantly trusting in God. Constant prayer is also about praying to God about everything - everything we face, everything we enjoy, everything we fear and struggle with. God wants to hear us praying to him about these things because he loves seeing us trust in him.

But we shouldn't just pray about ourselves. God isn't our personal genie who will give us three wishes if we have enough faith. We need to pray out of trust in him, but we should also pray as a way of praising God. We should pray to thank him for all he has done and for who he is. We should pray in tribulations to help us be patient, and we should pray as part of our rejoicing in hope.

The question for us is this: how much do we pray? Does that reflect our trust in God?

I find it easy to sit down and go through a prayer list, and that is useful, although I struggle to make it genuine and it sort of becomes routine after awhile. But how much do we pray at other times? It shouldn't be a chore to pray - it should be a joy and a privilege that we use constantly.

I hope they were some helpful thoughts!
Soli deo gloria!
Nat.