Prayer Makes The Difference

unknownSmith Wigglesworth was one of the most fruitful and effective preachers ever. But, he was not always a godly, righteous man. He was a ruffian. His Christian wife attended church regularly. Often Wigglesworth locked her out of the house and left her to sleep on the back porch. She committed her husband to prayer and the result, they say, is history. I often confess my salvation came through the persistent prayer and intercession of my wife, Yvonne.

Years ago we were overseas on the mission field when my wife had a dream. She had seen our son John in the surf but caught in a rip. His life was in danger. She woke and prayed for him. Later when we came home to be with the family she learned he had indeed been swept away. He called out to his brother-in-law to say goodbye to the family. As he prepared for the worst a wave picked him up and threw him to safety. When Yvonne and John compared notes his rescue came at the same time she had been praying. Maybe you also have a story of answered prayer.

Prayer

In ancient times prayer was not exclusive to the Israelites. Prayers to Yahweh, the God of Israel, were very different from those offered to the surrounding foreign deities. In Egypt Amon was acknowledged as the creator and giver of life. An ancient hymn Amon-Re described Amon as the god “who made mankind and created the beasts, lord of what is, who created the fruit tree, made herbage, and gave life to cattle.” (Hymn Amon-Re 1: 5) Amon was declared to be healer and magician.

Egyptians also praised Aton as ‘the beginning of life’ who ‘didst create the world….All men, cattle, and wild beasts, whatever is on earth.” (The Hymn of Aton). There was also a ‘Hymn to Ishtar’ which declared ‘life is in her mouth.’

“Akkadian Prayer to the Gods of the Night depicts the great gods of Old Babylon – Shamash, Sin, Adad and Ishtar – asleep in their chambers, indifferent to the concerns of their devotees.” (Prayer- The Lexham Bible Dictionary).

Through Old Testament study we learn Yahweh was the God who listens and responds to prayer. He gave attention to His people. An intimacy between Yahweh and His people was special. Foreign gods were distant and aloof needing to be cajoled. Prayer to them was often pleading, even grovelling.

Abba

As prayer in the Israelite family developed some structured formula also came. As usual Jesus broke through the religious approach and in His prayers displayed a close intimate relationship with the One He called Father. He spoke to His Father with humility and submission and He was always sensitive and relaxed with His language. The Apostle Paul emphasized the ‘Abba’ Father in prayer. He reminded believers they were now children of the Father. (Romans chapter 8 verse 15 and Galatians chapter 4 verse 6).

Is that your relationship with Him? Is He your Father or more like a distant Sovereign?

As our Father we know He is constantly watching and observing us and caring for our eternal well-being. He delights to give His children ‘good things.’

Prayers in the New Testament flowed from their ancient Jewish roots. We learned from what has been called The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew chapter 6, verses 9 to 13. It is more correctly the Disciples Prayer. Jesus taught the disciples how to pray with this basic formula. (Also Luke chapter 11, verses 2 to 4).

images-1Christianity brought a major innovation into the power of prayer. We learned to pray in Jesus name. Throughout history the names of individuals were linked with their names. The name Abram means ‘great father.’ He became Abraham meaning ‘father of multitudes.’ Jesus was named Yehoshua which means ‘Yahweh is salvation’ or ‘Yahweh saves.’ He was Yahweh in the Book of Exodus and described as ‘God who is loving and compassionate but does not leave sin unpunished.” (Exodus chapter 34, verses 6 to 7) The name Jesus (Yehoshua) came from His Old Testament identity.

Before Jesus departed to be with His Father He made a significant promise. “And whatever you ask in my name I will do this, in order that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” (John chapter 14, verses 13 to 14) Jesus was about to leave His disciples but His message was clear. Even though He will be physically absent He will be with them, always.

Life as a believing community is to continue with Jesus still effective and powerful as the Lord and Saviour. Bad things happened and Jesus knew about it. He knew what Judas was about to do even as He shared Passover with His disciples. He did not avoid the situation but with the love and support of the Father He moved forward and accomplished the salvation plan.

Pray

There are events in our world that signal all manner of events may unfold. The importance for all of us is to avoid fellowship with fear and take hold of the trust and assurance that has stood against adversity over and over again. This week analysts have warned of a possible world war, some have said Australia may be drawn into a war with China. Every day we hear of ‘wars and rumours of wars.’ If world events or your personal circumstances lead to stress or anxiety, your answer is found in prayer.

Try these words from knowingjesus.com -“Protect my mind I pray from the clamour and intrigue of this world system, that so often fills our hearts with fears and deflects our thoughts away from You – so that I may rest in Your arms of love and be filled with Your perfect peace that passes understanding. Help me to take every thought captive and when the difficulties of this complex world seek to manipulate my attention away from You, may I fix my mind on Jesus knowing that He is the Author and Finisher of my faith – and my Prince of Peace, in Whose name I pray.”

 Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.

His career started at WINTV (Email: ronandyvonne@mac.com)

 

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Confronting with Love.

Unknown-2God is love. We have heard it, said it, read it, sang it over and over, a thousand times but what does it mean? It’s easy to say whether we love coffee, or Vegemite, football or the beach. Churches, indeed Christians like you and me, are struggling to let ‘our little light shine.’ We manage OK until the topic is Moslems, homosexuals, refugees or any kind of ‘other.’

I was blessed. My dad was Roman Catholic and mum was a born again Anglican. When I sat in a Bible study and someone said I should hate Catholics, I reacted. Hate my dad?Ridiculous! What about my aunties, uncles and cousins? Hate them too? No way!

Jesus loved me and I knew He overlooked a lot of rubbish in my life. Despite my shortcomings, He came and He kept coming, so was I supposed to find reasons to unlove others? Not likely.

I confess I can be very frustrated when I hear Christians bypass the tragedy of terror with ‘God will take care of it’ comments. The day after six policemen were shot, someone suggested we should pray for God’s protection on the blue brigade. But why weren’t we praying for them before? Have we become so happy clappy, we’ve locked the world out and retreated into our own little cave?

Ambassadors

I prefer to observe world events. Our hearts should break over the human tragedy channeled into our homes night after night. Jesus commissioned His church to go into all the world. He anointed His people to be His ambassadors. We are called to be a city set on the hill, with the light of His love shining.

imagesStreet protests are very revealing. Look at the faces of the people as they confront one another. They show anger, even hatred. I wonder if the way we communicate shows that kind of attitude to the very people we are elected to reach. They may not see it on our faces but is it the spirit that speaks?

We are wrestling with major issues today. The early church had significant hurdles to overcome but they knew to find their wisdom and strength through fellowship and prayer. They were equipped to face life-threatening moments because they believed God was with them.

We can be overcome by the wickedness in the world, or we can rise up knowing we have the Lord on our side and He is the difference.

In a comment on homosexuality, Christian author Philip Yancey said; “After I wrote about my friendship with Mel White (homosexual and gay activist), I received a number of letters condemning me for continuing the friendship.  “How can you possibly remain friends with such a sinner!” the letter-writers demanded.  I’ve thought long and hard about that question, and come up with several answers which I believe to be biblical.  The most succinct answer, though, is another question: “How can Mel White possibly remain friends with a sinner like me?”  The only hope for any of us, regardless of our particular sins, lies in a ruthless trust in a God who inexplicably loves sinners, including those who sin differently than we do.” (Extract: Homosexuality by Philip Yancey)

Throughout my walk of faith I have drawn great wisdom from the writing and preaching of Dr. J. I Packer. In an article ‘What is Evangelism” he wrote: “In the Bible evangelism is not only the work of God it is also a work of man or rather a work through man. As God sent his Son to become man and so to explain him (John 1:18) so now, adhering to the incarnational principle, he sends men to be heralds, ambassadors and teachers in his name and on his behalf.” (Serving the People of God, J.I Packer, page 245)

Common Ground

He describes three main words to describe the evangelism activity and they mean (1) tell the good news, (2) utter an announcement, (3) bear witness.

In my own outreach experience I applied ‘common ground’ as a first priority. As a youth outreach we visited teenagers in prison. We played table tennis with them, we gave them comic books, we shared in some of their sports activities and genuinely touched base on their turf.

Overseas the same thing, we enjoyed locals showing us around, introducing new recipes to us and enjoying their family events. In America there is much said about community policing, meaning the importance of police being people on the beat rather than just ominous blue uniforms. The same principle applies for Christians. The world needs to know we are Christians by our love and as I study the news, there is no shortage of ready opportunities.

“Since the fall of man the earth has been a disaster area and everyone lives with a critical emergency. Nothing is normal. Everything is wrong, and everyone is wrong until made right by the redeeming work of Christ and the effective work of the Holy Spirit,” wrote A. W. Tozer. (That Incredible Christian, A.W. Tozer, OM Publishing)

We know about the Cross and the Resurrection, the gracious work of Jesus Christ. The effective work of the Holy Spirit continues speaking to you and me, offering the get up and go empowering and equipping.

Tozer said, “The needs of the people, not our own convenience, decide how far we shall go and how much we shall do. Had there been no disaster there would have been no need for the Eternal Son to empty Himself and descend to Bethlehem’s manger.”

He paid the price. Tozer said ‘the divine goodness confronted the human emergency.’

 

Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.

His career started at WINTV (Email: ronandyvonne@mac.com)

Ron Ross previous articles may be viewed at

http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html

 

 

 

 

 

The Whole World in His Hands

imagesDonald Trump wants to ‘make America great again’ but what America does he mean? Is he thinking of the 50’s, 60’s when? Britain recently withdrew from the EU. The Brits chose to duck back into their island home and return to their roots. But what Britain are they looking for? What era? Can they go back to the way it was or must they face a new reality?

In our own Australian federal elections we voted with great uncertainty. Our nation is deeply split. Neither major party impressed and we showed our displeasure.

We may be living in the most tumultuous period in recent history. “The stakes are too high to tolerate business as usual,” said Jerome Glenn, CEO of the Millennium Project whose recent study refers to issues like future impacts of artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, organized crime, asymmetric warfare, and how to produce enough food, water, and energy for another 2.3 billion people in just 35 years. The Millennium Project undertakes ongoing research into population forecasts and lifestyle challenges. (www.millennium-project.org)

They are not thinking about going back but coping with the emerging future. Some of the questions they posed surprised me. Between the years 2025 to 2050 they asked: (a) “Do we have the right to genetically change ourselves and future generations into a new or several new species?”

(b) “Is it ethical for society to manage the creation of future elites who have augmented themselves with artificial intelligence and genetic engineering?”

(c) “Should elimination of aging be available to everyone or just to those who can afford it?”

images-1(d) “Should artificial life (life-mimicking software, sentient robots, etc.) or animals whose intelligence has been increased to near human levels, have rights?”

They also had two very interesting headings. (1) Principles related to Science, (2) Principles related to Religion and Spirituality. The science group proclaims their path to truth is more reliable than religious faith. The religionists say life is a divine unalterable gift, compassion is required for justice and the family in all its forms is the foundation of social values.

There is much detail in the 299 page report but it raises questions which will be have to be addressed very soon.

Albert Einstein said: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

We Christians are called to disciple nations so get ready for this. “In 1950, whites were 28 percent of world population and Africans 9 percent, a ratio of three-to-one. In 2060, the ratio will remain the same. But the colors will be reversed. People of African ancestry will be 25 percent of the world`s population. People of European descent will have fallen to 9.8 percent.

“More arresting is that the white population is shrinking not only in relative but in absolute terms. Two hundred million white people, one in every six on earth—a number equal to the entire population of France, Britain, Holland and Germany—will vanish by 2060.” (Whites down to 10% of World Population by 2060 – Does It Matter? Patrick J. Buchanan, May 2008)

Buchanan is a veteran journalist-commentator. His report is based on factual statistics. No indicators in his assessment of anything but change ahead. He added this sentence, “The Caucasian race is going the way of the Mohicans.” (The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, published in 1826, is a fictional story. It describes the fate of the Mohicans who disappeared as the early colonists moved in).

Paul Ehrlich was an American biologist who constantly warned of future population growth and limited resources. In 1966 after a taxi ride he wrote: “I have understood the population explosion intellectually for a long time. I came to understand it emotionally one stinking hot night in Delhi a couple of years ago… The temperature was well over 100, and the air was a haze of dust and smoke. The streets seemed alive with people. People eating, people washing, people sleeping. People visiting, arguing, and screaming. People thrusting their hands through the taxi window, begging. People clinging to buses. People herding animals. People, people, people, people.”

The future certainly appears to be overwhelming unless we truly believe ‘He has the Whole World in His Hands.’ In a recent newsletter Dick Leggatt, President of the Derek Prince Ministries offered a prayer. In part he prayed…”Lord, I admit that I have been shaken by what I have seen taking place in the world around me. I repent for wondering whether You are in control of what is taking place in my nation. I ask You to forgive me now for those times when I have doubted You. With this prayer, I affirm the truth of Psalm 2. You, O God, are in control. You have installed Jesus, Your Son, as King forever on Your throne. He is in charge. You are in control. Rather than acting indifferent to that truth, I choose now to offer myself to You in intercession. I ask You now: please give me Your heart for my nation. Help me to see it as You see it. Allow me to be part of Your solution as You bring restoration and redemption to my land. You are in control, O Lord. You have all power and authority to bring the change and breakthroughs that are so desperately needed. Amen.

 

 

Revolution: Jesus loves Every Jihadist

Love your enemies! Has there ever been a more difficult edict? Every day we are confronted by bloodshed and violence inflicted by very unloving types. Graphic TV news portrays distressing vision depicting innocent victims mutilated by Islamic State or other brutal jihadists.

How can we love enemies who demonstrate such ruthless character? First we must accept Jesus came as a revolutionary. He came to confront the spiralling disaster of a fallen world.

015-jesus-diesThe Romans actually crucified Jesus as a traitor. He was charged with the crime of sedition. A sign saying ‘King of the Jews’ was nailed on his cross, to indicate his crime. He was seen to be a threat to the ruling Roman power of the day. He was a Jewish revolutionary, as far as they were concerned.

From the cross Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Love verbalised in the most brutal circumstances.

 Violence

Violence was not uncommon to Jesus or his followers. In fact Matthew, the gospel writer quotes Jesus saying to them: “But I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew chapter 5, verse 44) No hiding conflict and persecution there.

Before we think about modern terrorism and the brutality of jihadist groups let us confirm Jesus knew what he was saying.

He warned the disciples ‘I am sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves’ and ‘they will flog you in the synagogues.” (Matthew chapter 10, verse 16)

The Apostle John was the only disciple who did not die violently. Peter was martyred in Rome where he was crucified upside down, so that his death would not be seen as the equal of Jesus. James died by the sword. His unnamed accuser was so moved by his courage he embraced the Christian faith and asked to die with the disciple. The Romans obliged and both were beheaded. Jesus also chose to die violently.

The revolution in His teaching is found in three words: “God is love.” He is not about love. He does not have to choose love. He is love. If we know him and have united with him we are bathed in love. It’s amazing.

Molenbeek

UnknownSo how do we deal with jihadists? People are slaughtered week after week and we are deeply moved by so many bloody events.

Molenbeek is a neighbourhood in Brussels and it is described as the incubator for the recent Paris and Brussels terror attacks. It is home to a critical community battling poverty and unemployed youth. Out of this unhealthy environment jihadi foreign fighters emerge and many are active in Syria and Iraq. Belgium has the highest EU ratio of young men who have links with ISIS in Syria.

The hurt and pain is still evident in Molenbeek. There is a gathering of Muslim mothers today who are getting support from a group called ‘Les Parents Concernes’ (The Affected Parents). They are meeting with mothers who are grieving. These hurting women have watched their kin become radicalized and join ISIS. “Our children are buying one way tickets to their graves,” one mother said.

These mothers are trying to make a difference but they feel isolated and cope in the face of little or no support.

Christian Aid Mission (CAM) is on the frontline. They report Islamic State militants are disguising themselves as refugees at UN refugee camps in Jordan.

“The camps are dangerous because they have ISIS, Iraqi militants and Syrian militias. It’s a place for gangs,’ the spokesman said. Mission workers enter only with police protection.

An ISIS fighter came to faith in Jesus after watching the love of God demonstrated by the Christians.

Action

A man in the Middle East told me he came to faith after being taught to hate all his life. Love your enemies was an explosive shock to him.

The jihadists are made in the image of God. He grieves for them. Remember what Jesus told his disciples? “Pray for those who persecute you.”

While we want them restrained, contained and even detained, above all we pray for their salvation. We pray for outreaches like Christian Aid Mission and all the others courageously impacting the danger zones today.

Many Muslims are very distressed. Every day thousands are leaving Islam. According to a report by faithfreedom.org in Africa alone, 16,000 Muslims leave Islam everyday. This same report quoted an interview with an Islamic cleric Ahmad al Qataari on the internet site Aljazeera.net. He said, ‘in every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity.” (Islam in Fast Demise by Ali Sina, faithfreedom.org)

God is love. Visit the Christian Aid Mission website – http://www.christianaid.org. Pray for Christians ministering on the frontlines. Above all else, pray.