VIDEO Trouble In Town – Raising Awareness For Religious Freedom Of Christians

 

 

two men walking

No prophet is accepted in his own hometown (Luke 4:24).

A 2013 article in Unfinished magazine details the exciting growth of Christianity in the “new India.” With more than 71 million believers in Jesus, the country is now the 8th largest Christian nation in the world. But even though faith in Christ is spreading “at a rapid rate among middle and high caste Indians and young people,” there are challenges for the new believers. “With great receptivity to Christianity also comes alarming religious animosity, resulting in persecution and violent resistance.”

Jesus knew the bitter effects of persecution and resistance. As He returned to “his boyhood home” of Nazareth, He went to the local synagogue and selected a prophetic passage from Isaiah (Luke 4:16). His purpose was to announce that salvation had come through Him—not just for the Jews but also for Gentiles. By referencing Elijah and Elisha and their individual ministries to “foreigners” (non-Jews) as He described His mission, the locals got the message. And they didn’t like it.

“No prophet is accepted in his own hometown,” Jesus said (Luke 4:24). Unable to accept the fact that they weren’t the only ones to receive God’s grace and moved by a festering anger against Gentile overlords, the people turned against Jesus. In fact, they tried to push Him off a cliff on the hill where the town was built. But in a display of divine power, Christ simply “passed right through the crowd and went on his way” (Luke 4:30).

Opposition and persecution are challenges for many believers in Jesus today. Yet God’s kingdom continues to grow. Those who suffer for Him, He says, will be blessed (Matthew 5:11). And His presence and power are with us, even when we face trouble for believing in Him.


Raising Awareness For The Religious Freedom Of Christians

According to the 2020 World Watch Report published by Open Doors USA, 260 million Christians worldwide are experiencing religious persecution. One America’s Jenn Pellegrino was at the Museum of the Bible in Washington this week, where she spoke with some officials who are fighting on their behalf.

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Raise Praise

Your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.  Psalm 48:10

 

You can generally tell where a map was drawn by what lies in its middle. We tend to think our home is the center of the world, so we put a dot in the middle and sketch out from there. Nearby towns might be fifty miles to the north or half a day’s drive to the south, but all are described in relation to where we are. The Psalms draw their “map” from God’s earthly home in the Old Testament, so the center of biblical geography is Jerusalem.

Psalm 48 is one of many psalms that praise Jerusalem. This “city of our God, his holy mountain” is “beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth” (vv. 1–2). Because “God is in her citadels,” He “makes her secure forever” (vv. 3, 8). God’s fame begins in Jerusalem’s temple and spreads outward to “the ends of the earth” (vv. 9–10).

Unless you’re reading this in Jerusalem, your home is not in the center of the biblical world. Yet your region matters immensely, because God will not rest until His praise reaches “to the ends of the earth” (v. 10). Would you like to be part of the way God reaches His goal? Worship each week with God’s people, and openly live each day for His glory. God’s fame extends “to the ends of the earth” when we devote all that we are and have to Him.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How have you spread God’s fame this week? What else might you do?

Father, use me to spread Your fame to the ends of the earth.

To learn more about the Psalms, visit christianuniversity.org/OT222.

How to Use Our Time

Ephesians 5:6-21

The way we use our time reveals our values and priorities. Ephesians 5:16 encourages us to make the most of our time. Here are ways to do this:

Receive Christ as Savior. The only way you can live a life of truth, meaning, and abundance is by personally knowing Jesus Christ.

Pray. The greatest timesaver is prayer. Jesus recognized that His most valuable and productive use of time occurred when He was alone with the Father. As you seek God’s will, prayer acts as a compass in your life.

Discover God’s plan for you, and live accordingly. A believer who knowingly sins or walks outside of God’s will can expect to be unproductive and unfulfilled. You can’t maximize your effectiveness if you’re struggling against God or have become hardened to His voice.

Write a mission statement for your life. Ask the Lord about His desires for you, and think about how you can use the rest of your earthly life to bring Him glory. If you pray for God’s guidance and for ears to hear His voice, you’ll find He will make the most of your time.

It Is By Faith

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

This great verse, evidently a definition of faith, appears to be somewhat obtuse, but it can be properly understood. The word “substance” carries the sense of reality, or assurance. The same author uses the word to explain that the Son of God took on human “substance,” consisting of “the express image of his person [or ‘substance’]” (Hebrews 1:3). The word “evidence” is more properly translated “proof.” The passage teaches, then, that faith provides the reality and proof of things that we can’t see directly. They are as sure to us, through faith, as are things we can see directly.

Faith enters into the picture whenever we attempt to understand something outside the realm of empirical observation. This surely includes creation. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3). Creationist faith is certainly reasonable faith, in stark contrast to evolutionist faith, which believes in ordered complexity from disorder without any ordering mechanism or outside intelligence.

Faith is extremely important in God’s economy: “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6) in any area of life. “For by grace are ye saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Likewise, we live by faith: “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20). Furthermore, “by faith ye stand” (2 Corinthians 1:24) steadfast as a Christian, and “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are to “follow after . . . faith” and “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:11-12).

Since this list comprises only a sampling of things that must be done in, by, or through faith, it is no wonder that it “is the victory that overcometh the world” (1 John 5:4). JDM

It Is True, He Can Be Grieved

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

—Ephesians 4:30

 

Because He is loving and kind and friendly, the Holy Spirit may be grieved…. He can be grieved because He is loving, and there must be love present before there can be grief.

Suppose you had a seventeen-year-old son who began to go bad. He rejected your counsel and wanted to take things into his own hands. Suppose that he joined up with a young stranger from another part of the city and they got into trouble.

You were called down to the police station. Your boy—and another boy whom you had never seen—sat there in handcuffs.

You know how you would feel about it. You would be sorry for the other boy—but you don’t love him because you don’t know him. With your own son, your grief would penetrate to your heart like a sword. Only love can grieve. If those two boys were sent off to prison, you might pity the boy you didn’t know, but you would grieve over the boy you knew and loved. A mother can grieve because she loves. If you don’t love, you can’t grieve.   COU051-052

Lord, I think I take Your love for granted and consequently forget how grieved You are when I sin. Overwhelm me today with Your love, so that I might be more careful to not grieve You. Amen.

 

Religion, Yes—Holy Spirit, No

I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve…so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

—2 Corinthians 11:3

 

Evangelical Christianity is gasping for breath. We happen to have entered a period when it is popular to sing about tears and prayers and believing. You can get a religious phrase kicked around almost anywhere—even right in the middle of a worldly program dedicated to the flesh and the devil.

Old Mammon, with two silver dollars for eyes, sits at the top of it, lying about the quality of the products….In the middle of it, someone trained in a studio to sound religious will say with an unctuous voice, “Now, our hymn for the week!” So they break in, and the band goes twinkle, twankle, twinkle, twankle, and they sing something that the devil must blush to hear.

They call that religion, and I will concede that religion it is. It is not Christianity, and it is not the Holy Spirit. It is not New Testament and it is not redemption. It is simply making capital out of religion. FBR012

For any man to presume to represent the Son of God…without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, is the most daring presumption. HS074

 

God and Man

Psalm 8:4

Is there really a God out there? Is it reasonable to believe that, if He does exist, He could be interested in man—interested in a personal sense?

The great inventor Thomas Edison never thought of himself as a man of strong religious convictions, but he did believe in the existence of a Supreme Deity. Someone asked him, “Sir, do you believe in an intelligent creator, a personal God?” He answered, “I certainly do. If we but look at the natural laws of the universe, we would acknowledge the existence of the Great Engineer and His divine power.”

The Psalmist cried out, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1). The mind of man can hardly comprehend the vastness and complexity of the cosmos, or the grandeur of the heavens. Scientists say that there are billions of stars in our galaxy. If that were not enough to stagger the imagination, the cosmologists say that there are billions of galaxies, and many have their own planetary systems! We, with the Psalmist, are compelled to exclaim, “What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him? (Psalm 8:4).

The more we learn about the enormous size of the universe, the less significant we view man to be. As our explorations enhance our comprehension of the measureless expanse and wonder of the heavens above us, we stand in awe of a God who is mindful of us.

The Creator, this governor of the universe, has clearly shown His love for His rebellious, erring, selfish creation, into which He breathed the essence of life. He cared enough to send His only Son to make possible man’s salvation and his restoration. We have opportunity to respond to the love and beauty of the Creator. We may, if we choose, open our mind and heart to the living presence of the Spirit of God, as revealed by our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s resurrected Son.

Our God is the cosmic, creative Spirit who is ever at work throughout the vast universe and one whose presence can be experienced by faith. Repentance and faith in Christ as Savior and Lord can bring the God of outer space into the inner consciousness of the believer. The God of “out there” can truly become the God whose Spirit lives within us.

George Nelting, The War Cry