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Archive for December, 2011

WEA Religious Liberty Prayer News

December 31st, 2011
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Christians fined for attending worship meetings in KAZAKHSTAN

December 13, A Christian Baptist leader, Nikolai Popov from the town of Balkhash in Karaganda was imprisoned for two days for refusing to pay fines imposed for leading worship meetings without compulsory state registration. Another Christian has been fined as well for attending a meeting for worship while another awaits trial for the same offence. The new Religion Law along with an Amending Law considerably broadened the range of “offences” for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief, as well as increasing punishments for this. In Kazakhstan all religious groups are required to register with the government. Under Administrative Code Articles 374-1 and 375, local authorities can penalize activities of unregistered organizations with fines or detention. Increased Islamist dissent has caused the government to adopt repressive religion laws. These laws subsequently have an effect on the newer and more active Christian denominations and have been used to limit, restrict and even persecute Christians.

Prayer points:

Pray that authorities will cease their harassment of unregistered church communities.

Pray that Christians in Kazakhstan will be able continue to minister the gospel despite harassment.

Pray that believers will stand firm in their faith in spite of persecution.

Christian baptized abroad imprisoned in IRAN

December 14, An Iranian Muslim convert to Christianity, Alireza Seyedin, 31, was sentenced to a six year jail term for holding his baptism in Turkey by branch 28 of the Revolutionary court of Iran. Seyedin’s lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadhkah, in an interview has stated that his client had been imprisoned owing to being convicted on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “acting against national security.” The judge who gave out the sentence had reportedly stated that by having his baptism in Turkey, Seyedin had propagated against the regime since there were sufficient priests in Iran to carry out the baptism. Furthermore Mr. Seyedin’s lawyer had said that “The judge’s interpretation was that by having his baptism in Turkey, my client’s intent was to express the lack of freedom in Iran.” Also Mr. Dadhkah stated that his client had been charged for posting videos of the baptism on the internet as well as holding interviews regarding it which the judge interpreted as “against national security.”  Alireza Seyedin who runs a house church in Iran was first arrested in 2010 but was released on $50,000 bail.

Prayer points:

Pray for Alireza Seyedin that he would stand firm in his faith during this difficult time.

Pray that he will be released and exonerated from all charges.

Pray for God’s comfort upon the family of Alireza Seyedin.

Pray for believers in Iran that they would grow stronger in their faith and continue to spread the gospel amid persecution.

Persecution of Christians expected to continue in NORTH KOREA

December 20, Following the announcement made by authorities of the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, many Christian organizations have expressed their concern over the nation’s persecuted Christians. It’s estimated that there are 50,000 to 70,000 Christian prisoners in North Korea, which has regularly being listed in the U.S. State Department’s “countries of particular concern” with regard to religious freedom. Due to the country’s political and cultural seclusion and state-controlled media, statistics on its religious breakdown vary. Self-reporting from the North Korean government to a United Nations Human Rights Commission in 2002 said there were 12,000 Protestants and 800 Catholics in the nation of 24 million people. However a report on global Christianity released by the Pew Forum estimates that there are 480,000 Christians in North Korea.

Christians in North Korea are routinely arrested for practicing their religion, according to human rights organizations.  Furthermore for eight years, North Korea has held the top spot on Open Doors’ list of nations with the worst treatment of Christians.

Prayer points:

Pray for God’s protection over all Christians in North Korea.

Pray for believers in North Korea that they will stand firm in their faith.

Pray for the release of imprisoned Christians in North Korea.

Pray for more freedom of religion and for the spreading of the gospel in North Korea.

Prayer Alert – Christmas carnage in Nigeria; 5 Churches bombed

Pray for believers in Nigeria after Christmas day church bombings left 45 people dead and 73 others injured.

Prayers

Journey to Jerusalem(Continued) (27)

December 31st, 2011
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Scripture of the Day:1 Corinthians 10: 1-10

1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. (NIV)

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians helps us to see how the early church applied the Lord’s prayer. There is an insight from the exodus tradition. We have been referring to the Lord’s prayer as a prayer of the new exodus.

One aspect of this understanding is that the “testing” is not God’s testing of his people but the people’s testing of God. One of the central charges against the wilderness generation was that they, in their unbelief, “put YHWH to the test” by challenging him to produce demonstrations of his presence with them (cf. Exod. 17:7). The particular issue, of course, was YHWH’s provision of water from the rock, which followed directly on the people’s grumbling about food and YHWH’s provision of manna.

This was, more specifically, one of the key failings of the wilderness generation, that Jesus specifically avoided during his initial temptations

For in 1 Corinthians 10 Paul draws a close parallel between the church and the wilderness generation, speaking of that earlier generation as having been “baptized” into Moses (v. 2) and as having all eaten “spiritual food” and drunk “spiritual drink” (w. 3-4). Their testing of the Lord — or, as the preferred reading has it, of “the Christ” — was one aspect of their many-sided failure.

Message for the Day

Journey to Jerusalem(Continued) (26)

December 30th, 2011
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Scripture of the Day: Luke 22:28-46

28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials.

So in this example Jesus sees his disciples as participants in his trials.

29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The inbreaking kingdom in Israel’s history.

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

This reflects what Elmer Colyer was saying.

It is Christ’s faithfulness that delivers Peter. Peter of himself cannot do it.

35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

Powerful lesson on dependency.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

There is almost something ironic in this purchase of swords –a mocking of the fact that they could deliver Jesus from temptation or harm from the evil one..

On this night—during Passover— Jesus himself uttered a prayer and a command in the Garden of Gethsemane which strikingly parallels the Lord’s Prayer.

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”

Lead us not into temptation” “Pray that you not enter into temptation”

41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Again compare the words of the Lord’s Prayer with Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane and his words to the disciples.

“Father” “Abba, Father”

“Your will be done” “Your will be done”

It was his particular task and vocation to go out ahead and take the full weight of this trial on himself, so that the people would not need to undergo them. He has entered the greatest tribulation any human has endured.

43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

This would explain the repetition in Gethsemane of his command to his disciples: “Watch and pray, that you may not enter the peirasmos”;— meaning by that command: “Pray that you may be spared this great moment of anguish; it is my task to enter it alone.”

This prayer acknowledges that our High priest has entered this great tribulation and anguish for us. That we are relying on his faithfulness in the trials and testings ahead.

Message for the Day