Showing posts with label Religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

God Mercies Will Never Cease

Matthew 5:44

I read through the book of Judges this past week and was freshly astonished by God's faithfulness to his ever-erring people.

Soon after Joshua's generation passed away, "there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord and the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers and they provoked the Lord to anger and he sold them into the hands of their surrounding enemies and they were in terrible distress" (Judges 2:10-15).

But things didn't end here. Though Israel betrayed their Redeemer and rightfully incurred his judgment, "the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them" (Judges 2:16).

Why did God rescue these undeserving people?

The text tells us: "For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them" (Judges 2:18).

He pitied them.

Though these thickheaded, treasonous rebels flat-out rejected his love and goodness, God was moved to compassion as he watched his covenant people suffer the afflictions that he had brought upon them. Yes, God was provoked to anger by their idolatry. But his anger did not endure forever (Psalm 103:9). As he looked upon these people and saw their miseries and sorrows, he, in his incomprehensible mercy, raised up judges to save them. And not just once or twice! This cycle of faithlessness, judgment, and salvation continues throughout the entire narrative of Judges. There even comes a point in chapter 10 at which it seems God's recurring mercies would finally come to a screeching halt.

"And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, 'We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals.' And the Lord said to the people of Israel, 'Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to me, and I saved you out of their hand. Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.'" – Judges 10:10-14

But merely two verses later, the tenderheartedness of God prevails:

"And the people of Israel said to the Lord, 'We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you. Only please deliver us this day.' So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord, and he became impatient over the misery of Israel." – Judges 10:15-16.

God repeatedly came to the rescue of these rebels. Sometimes he did so in response to their repentance. Sometimes he did so despite there being no evidence of repentance.

But he always did so with the knowledge that they would surely turn away from him again — "whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways" (Judges 2:19).

Though his people were perpetually faithless, God was perpetually merciful.

What strong encouragement this should be for us today!

Things are a bit different now. God's chosen people are not unregenerate slaves to sin like most of the Israelites were at that time. Those of us who are under the New Covenant in Christ's blood have received the promised Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:14), who writes God's laws on our hearts and leads us in paths of righteousness. Our lives are characterized by faith and growing obedience—not unbelief and rebellion. 

But even though we walk in an enabling power that God's Old Covenant people lacked, we still sin. We may not ultimately turn away from him and worship other gods as the Israelites did, but we struggle and stumble and fall in our redeemed-but-not-yet-perfect condition. And our struggling, stumbling, and falling can sometimes seem much bigger to us than God's patience and faithfulness, can't they?

I have often considered the presence of sin in my life to be a weightier reality than God's love, mercy, and grace over my life. I have at times convinced myself that I am too wicked, stubborn, and riddled with evil desires for God to continue bearing with me. What absurdity!

If God could stomach the ongoing treachery of Israel, how much more is he able to endure the remaining sin of those for whom his Son died? If God could find it in himself to be merciful toward unregenerate idolaters, how much more is he able to be gracious to those who are indwelled by his Spirit and truly desire (but seriously struggle) to love, trust, and obey him?

I'm not saying that God's patience and mercy give us a license to sin. Those who think in such terms probably do not know Christ. Nor am I saying that God does not ever chastise his children when they go astray, "for God disciplines the one he loves" (Hebrews 12:6). What I am saying is that struggling saints have great reason to believe that God will bear with them until the very end. He is not overwhelmed by our failures. He is not impatient with our frailties. He loves us. And because he loves us, his mercies toward us will never, ever cease.

"The Lord is merciful and gracious,
 slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
 He will not always chide,
 nor will he keep his anger forever.
 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
 nor repay us according to our iniquities.

 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
 so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
 as far as the east is from the west,
 so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
 As a father shows compassion to his children,
 so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
 For he knows our frame;
 he remembers that we are dust." – Psalm 103:8-14


Credit: Matt Moore (You can reach him on www.moorematt.org)
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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Nigeria's Forgotten Christians

Eric Metaxas is an Evangelical speaker and bestselling author

By Eric Metaxas

Almost nobody knows what's happening to the Christians of Nigeria — but even fewer care. Here's why we should.

In Nigeria, which is Africa's most populous country, Christians don't have time to worry about culture wars. They're too busy facing a real one instigated by their Muslim neighbors and by a government that has studiously decided to look the other way. The scope of the violence is so vast as to be almost beyond belief, so let me first give you a snapshot of what's happening on the ground.

Deborah holding a photo of her two young nieces who were abducted by
Boko Haram militants in 2012. (Photo courtesy of Ray and Denice )

Deborah, now 31 and living in a camp for the internally displaced, was captured by the Boko Haram terrorist group and held captive for a year and a half. The Islamists came to her village and slaughtered her husband and family before abducting her and "marrying" her off to a 20-year-old Muslim terrorist, who complained of her argumentativeness while raping and impregnating her. After Deborah was recaptured following an escape, she received 80 lashes as punishment. She told journalist Douglas Murray that she no longer fears death.

"What sort of death would I be running from?" Deborah asks. "I have already died once."

You could repeat Deborah's basic story countless times in Nigeria. Operation World estimates that Nigeria, which is an officially secular state with a Muslim president, is 51 percent Christian and 45 percent Muslim. Since 1999, the West African nation of about 158 million people then, (now about 191 million) has been convulsed by ongoing attempts at imposing Islamic law in eight northern, mostly Muslim states, as well as in four other states where Christians predominate or where the numbers are fairly even.

Things are particularly bad in the north right now. Unarmed Christian villages there are sitting ducks for Muslim Fulani tribesmen, who have been armed with weaponry provided by elements in the national military. According to The Spectator, it's religiously motivated genocide, although outside agencies dismiss the violence as tit-for-tat.

"The locals daren't collect the freshest bodies," the magazine reports. "Some who tried earlier have already been killed, spotted by the waiting militia and hacked down or shot. The Fulani are watching everything closely from the surrounding mountains. Every week, their progress across the northern states of Plateau and Kaduna continues. Every week, more massacres — another village burned, its church razed, its inhabitants slaughtered, raped or chased away."

Open Doors USA, as part of its annual World Watch List, says the killings have jumped by a whopping 62 percent in a year. And while Nigeria is No. 12 on the World Watch List of Christian persecution globally, it's in the top 10 in terms of overall violence.

And yet it's not all gloom and doom in Nigeria. As Tertullian reminded us, the blood of the martyrs is often the seed of the church. Operation World says the country now boasts a strong prayer movement, dynamic church growth, and a growing missionary movement, with more than 5,000 cross-cultural workers — many of them in Nigeria or in other African nations.

So while much of the world has forgotten about Nigeria's persecuted Christians, surely those of us in the West cannot. They are our brothers and sisters, and they're doing great things in the midst of severe trials. Let's hold them up in powerful, prevailing prayer.

Let's also speak up to the new administration in Washington, which says it will stand up for persecuted Christians around the world. Let's remind them of their promises and make sure they follow through.

The Christians of Nigeria need us, and since we are members of the same worldwide Body of Christ, we need them.

Come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary for organizations that assist the persecuted, and for information on contacting the White House and State Department.

First posted at breakpoint.org.
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Friday, December 9, 2016

Boko Haram Brainwashing Boys To Kill Their Christian Teachers

After missing years of schooling because of attacks by Nigerian Islamist extemists, Boko Haram, these teenagers in a Maiduguri refugee camp have returned to school.
After missing years of schooling because of attacks by Nigerian Islamist extemists, Boko Haram, these
teenagers in a Maiduguri refugee camp have returned to school. (Robyn Dixon / Los Angeles Times)
Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamic extremist group, has been training young boys to return to their schools and kill their former teachers and students, many of them Christians, according to a new report.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Boko Haram, whose name translates to "western education is sin," accuses Christians of guiding the nation's education system, which contradicts several of the radicals' beliefs, such as that the Earth is flat.

Persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern responded to the story on Wednesday by saying that it's "disconcerting that minors are being indoctrinated by Boko Haram to kill their teachers."

"Boko Haram targets attacks and forces the shutting down of schools, abducts students and kills teachers. The Chibok girls were abducted from their boarding school. Regions where Boko Haram is in control are forced to shut down their schools in fear of attacks," the group added, noting that it's in the process of opening a school in an IDP Camp for children of families displaced by Boko Haram, and linked to its Kids Care fund.

The LA Times report listed a number of attacks on Nigerian schools in recent years, with the terror group seeking to drive a wedge between the nation's Christians and Muslims, who each make up roughly half of the population.

As many as 611 teachers have been assassinated since Boko Haram's rise in 2009, the Nigerian teacher's union estimated, while 910 schools have been burned down and 1,500 others have been forced to close down.
Chemistry teacher Mohammed Yahaya Nige, 50, narrowly missed being killed by Boko Haram gunmen in this office at his school in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
Chemistry teacher Mohammed Yahaya Nige, 50, narrowly missed being killed by Boko Haram gunmen
in this office at his school in Maiduguri, Nigeria. (Robyn Dixon / Los Angeles Times)
Many of the attacks have reportedly come from former students who have been trained to return to their schools and kill their teachers and other students.

"Boko Haram believes Earth is flat, and that Muslims are permitted to take slaves and duty-bound to kill infidels. Culture and history also play a role in the group's fixation with secular education, according to analysts," the report noted. "British colonialists brought education and Christianity to the region at the beginning of the 20th century, triggering long-held resentment which lingers to this day."

Mausi Segun, a researcher with the group Human Rights Watch, noted that Islamic hardliners often place their distrust of foreign education specifically on the shoulders of Christians.

"There's a perception among Muslims that the content of education is Christian-led. They saw it as a ploy to Christianize their children, so to be a good Muslim was to keep them away from those kind of schools," Segun said.
Men walk amid rubble after Boko Haram militants raided the town of Benisheik in northeast Nigeria, on Sept. 19. 

Many of the kidnapped schoolgirls, on the other hand, have been sold into marriage and forced to convert to Islam. Yet there have also been a number of reports that some of the girls, such as those kidnapped from Chibok, have been trained to carry out suicide bombing missions.

The terror group has reportedly used the kidnapped girls in some of its cross-border attacks, bombing villages also in Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.


Source: CP
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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Apocalypse to begin with battle at Dabiq between Muslims and infidel forces - ISIS theology

The front of propaganda magazine
By Mark Ellis

A battle is currently being fought over a relatively obscure town in Syria near the Turkish border that ISIS and many Muslims believe will usher in the apocalypse and return of their messiah.

The battle began October 3rd, when the Free Syrian Army – Syrian rebel forces supported by America and Turkey – captured a small town four miles east of Dabiq.

“If matters proceed as planned, within 48 hours we will be in Dabiq,” Ahmed Osman, commander of the Sultan Murad Free Syrian Army (FSA) group, told Reuters on October 3rd. At least 15 Turkish and US-backed Syrian rebels were killed in the initial fighting.

However, the advance on Dabiq slowed due to extensive mines, mortars, and explosive devices in their path. Also, ISIS reinforcements have poured into the region, knowing its “end times” significance.

ISIS believes their 12th Mahdi will arrive after the final apocalyptic battle between “Rome” (or Western forces including the U.S.) and Islam is fought in Dabiq, Syria. While the town has little strategic military significance, the Koran prophesies that this battle, whether won or lost, will initiate their apocalyptic “end times” events.

“ISIS believes quite strongly that the primary eschatological battle between the Muslims and the Christian forces will be fought there,” Dr. Timothy Furnish, an expert on radical Islam told Breaking Israel News (BIN).

“They have been trying to goad the West, primarily the US, into inserting ground forces at that locale.”

Dr. Furnish cited an Islamic teaching of Mohammed which states that the “Last Hour would not come” until a vastly superior Roman army composed of “the best soldiers of the people of the earth at that time” came to battle Islam in Dabiq.

Islam’s vision of Messiah is the resurrection of a Muslim Jesus, who will convert all Christians to Islam. Those who do not convert will be killed, Dr. Furnish told BIN.

Dabiq is a town of only 3,000 people, about 10 miles from the border with Turkey. Rebel troops, including 300 US Special Forces, are involved in the current fight to take the town back from ISIS.
To highlight the town’s importance, ISIS even named its online propaganda magazine after the town of Muslim Armageddon.

“The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify – by Allah’s permission – until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq,” The magazine’s front cover proclaimed, quoting Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The small town was featured in a video with “Jihadi John“, the British Muslim who joined ISIS and murdered five Western hostages in 2014. He mocked Americans by displaying the severed head of American aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, a former US Army Ranger, at his feet.

“Here we are, burying the first American Crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive,” he said in the video.

The 300 US Special Forces fighting for Dabiq may represent some of “the best soldiers of the people of the earth,” a partial fulfillment of the prophecy.

Bucking conventional wisdom, Dr. Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli scholar, believes an ISIS defeat in Dabiq will be even more disastrous for the West than an ISIS victory.

“They will claim that the war on Dabiq can be carried out in the streets of Paris, London, Berlin, Washington DC and Jerusalem,” Dr. Kedar told BIN. “Meanwhile we can see a war between Russia and the US on Syria. Put simply, Gog and Magog.”

Source: Godreports.com
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