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5 Ds of Hebrews Disbelief (16)

August 31st, 2012
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Scripture of the Day: Hebrews 4:12 -13

 12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.(NIV)

It is like a surgeon’s scalpel. Hebrews 4 goes on to show that we are in a very transparent situation before God.

13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

 We spoke recently about the Living Word of God.

 Chris Ketters said:

Most of all, Jesus Christ is the Word of God, the living Word of God, but Scripture is also the written word of God, dependent upon Jesus Christ.

 Kettler said further on the word of God:

And then third, proclamation—preaching—is the word of God, again dependent upon Scripture and ultimately upon the living Jesus Christ, but to be taken seriously as the word of God as well. It’s the way in which the message of Scripture about Jesus Christ is made real today with that congregation

 Carefulness implies honesty. It means the church can be real in its humanity. We are already fully known and accepted at the hidden deepest level of the inner person.

 The lesson of Israel should warn us that we of ourselves will fall short. Thus we should make every effort to enter the rest that Christ is for us in our salvation.

 This leads us to where our belief is focused.

 

Message for the Day

5 Ds of Hebrews Disbelief (15)

August 30th, 2012
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Scripture of the Day: Hebrews 4:4 -9

4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. 7 Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts.”

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.(NIV)

The writer says that God’s rest has existed from creation. He invited the Israelites to enter into his rest in the promised land. They disbelieved and fell short by their disobedience. After Joshua he has David again speaking about this rest.

People have not entered this rest as yet.

 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest (or Sabbath –keeping) for the people of God;

Now it is interesting how he introduces a new word here. The listeners are primarily Jewish Christians or Gentile proselytes who would have been Sabbath keepers and well versed in the OT.

They would have known that one of the meanings of the seventh day was described prophetically in

Isaiah 58: 13-14

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honourable,

and if you honour it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”

The mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Ultimately the rest of God is about his salvation. It is God with his people, each delighting in one another.

It is participating in the pleasures around his throne forever. Israel had God tabernacling with them, but they did not delight in him with thanksgiving. They complained and tested him.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling or tabernacled among us. He came to his own but they did not receive him.

Thus this joyful, mutual, unhindered dwelling together is still ahead for the people of God.

There is a description of it in the book of Revelation 7:15-17

15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God
    and serve him day and night in his temple;(At home with God)
and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.

16 Never again will they hunger;
    never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
    nor any scorching heat.

17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
    he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  

Message for the Day

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 174 | Wed 29 Aug 2012

August 29th, 2012
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By Elizabeth Kendal

AUGUST 2012 UPDATE – During August we prayed concerning . . .  

* SYRIA, SUDAN & BURMA (RLPB 170), where wars have displaced hundreds of thousands of Christians. In Syria they are fleeing Islamic jihadists;  in Sudan they are fleeing an Islamic, Arab-supremacist regime; and in  Burma they are fleeing a Buddhist Burman-supremacist regime.

  In each case, Western governments ignore the suffering of these ‘inconvenient Christians’ because addressing their plight would mean risking Western  economic and geo-strategic interests.

Though Western governments abandon them, God does not (2 Corinthians 4:9) and neither must we.

UPDATE BURMA: REFUGEES EXPELLED FROM CHINA  

China has been forcing Kachin Christian refugees back over the border into the war zone. At least  1500 refugees have been forced back in recent weeks and another 4000 were set to be deported last weekend (25-26 Aug).  Because it is the  monsoon season, travel is exceedingly difficult, leaving many Kachin
  stranded in the Burmese jungle amidst armed conflict.

According to Chinese authorities, the Kachin are returning ‘freely’ of their own  volition. A Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) spokesman told the Irrawaddy that returning refugees report that the Chinese are
demolishing the camps.

The KIO reports furthermore that the Burmese  military has been building up troop numbers in Kachin State in   preparation for an offensive. The Burmese junta, which despises the Christian Kachin on racial and religious grounds, covets Kachin lands.

Please pray.

UPDATE SUDAN: REFUGEE HEALTH ‘ALARMING’  

Around 170,000 predominantly Christian refugees from Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile States are  sheltering in camps in South Sudan’s Upper Nile and Unity states. In  February we prayed for the God who parted the Red Sea to open an escape route through the besieged Kauda Valley (RLPB 145) – and he did (RLPB 148)!

Consequently, the population of Yida camp in Upper Nile has more
  than doubled since then to some 60,000. Now we must pray for their
  provision. According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), at least half of
  the refugees in Upper Nile are under 11. The health situation is
  described as ‘alarming’, with rain, cold and lack of sanitation
  accounting for increases in malaria, diarrhoea and respiratory tract
  infections.

Acute malnutrition is contributing to the shocking
  mortality rate (double the emergency threshold) of children under 5.
  Pray for God’s provision for the camps and to displaced, imperilled
  believers still stranded north of the border. HE can do it!

UPDATE SYRIA: ‘REBELS’ BLOCKADE CHRISTIAN TOWNS

 On Friday 24 August, the Syrian Army liberated Rableh killing 60 rebels in the process. Armed opposition groups linked to the Free Syrian Army had isolated and surrounded Rableh, a Christian town west of Qusayr, near Homs in the south of Syria.

For two weeks, the 12,000 mostly Greek Catholi  residents were besieged, their supplies of food, water and medicines dwindling as rebels enforced a blockade. Snipers killed at least three  men: George Azar (20), an unnamed 21-year-old, and Elias Tahch Semaan  (35) who was married with four children.  

While Rableh has been  liberated, Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need is presently  trying to get aid to another Syrian village in a similar situation. As in Rableh, bridges have been blown up, power has been cut and rebels
  are enforcing a blockade. ‘We have organised ourselves so we could
  stand by each other and we are sharing everything so we could survive,’
  a local priest said. ‘We need every help we could get. Please help us.’
  Pray that the LORD of hosts will intervene for his people.

* EGYPT (RLPB 171), where some 120 Coptic Christian families had been
  driven from their homes in Dahshur by rioting Muslims. Continue to pray
  for Egyptian Christians in these days of insecurity.

* IVORY COAST (RLPB 172), where some 5,000 predominantly Christian ethnic  Guere had been driven from the Nahibly camp in Duekoue by rioting
  Muslims who killed 11, wounded dozens and burnt the camp to the ground.
  Pray for God’s intervention and provision.

* PAKISTAN (RLPB 173), where hundreds of Christians have been driven from  Islamabad’s Mehrabad slum by rioting Muslims, after an illiterate,
  mentally-impaired 11-year-old girl, Rimsha, was accused of burning
  paper with Qur’anic verses on it. Rimsha was arrested on 16 August.

UPDATE: THE SHAME OF PAKISTAN   Rimsha is being held in solitary
confinement in the high security Adiala Jail, the same jail housing Mumtaz
Qadri, the bodyguard who assassinated Punjab governor Salman Taseer in
revenge for his campaign against the blasphemy law. Rimsha’s legal team
has not been able to meet with her. Christian activist Xavier William
visited Rimsha during the week and confirmed that she had been severely
assaulted by the mob.

 He said she is in ‘very bad shape’ with ‘bruises on her face and on her hands’. She would not speak or make eye contact. ‘She was frightened and traumatised,’ he said. Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, a local imam in the Mehrabad slum, insists that his efforts to have Rimsha arrested actually saved the girl from a lynching.

It is to Pakistan’s shame that he is right. The whole family has been taken into ‘protective custody’ for their own safety and the Interior Ministry has asked the Islamabad police to oppose bail on the pretext that Rimsha’s release would put the lives of the whole family in danger.  

Imam Chishti maintains that the incident only arose because Muslims had
not stopped the ‘anti-Islam activities’ of local Christians who ’caused
antagonism by playing music in services at their makeshift church’. He
says that though he warned the Christians at Christmas, they did not stop
their ‘vulgarity’.

He regards it all as a ‘conspiracy’ and maintains that
Rimsha knew exactly what she was doing. During his Friday sermon (24
August) he declared that it was ‘time for Muslims to wake up’ and defend
their Qur’an. On the day of Rimsha’s arrest he threatened to have all the
Christians burnt alive.

However, he will not face justice and neither will
those who violently assaulted the family or burnt and looted Christian
homes. That is because the Interior Ministry has asked the Islamabad
police not to arrest anybody involved in the anti-Christian violence that
swept over the slum at the time of Rimsha’s arrest.  

On 20 August, while the controversy over Rimsha’s arrest raged, an 11-year-
old Christian boy named Samuel Yaqoob disappeared from the Christian
colony in Faisalabad, Punjab Province, on his way to the market. On 22
August his body was found dumped in a drain.

 He had been so severely tortured, mutilated and burnt that his family could only recognise him from a mark on his forehead. There had not been any ransom demand and detectives in Faisalabad are investigating whether accusations of blasphemy had been made against the boy.  

‘Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour
out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands
to him for the lives of your children . . . ‘ (Lamentations 2:19 ESV)

AUGUST 2012 ROUND-UP – also this month . . .

* SOMALIA: AL-SHABAAB SQUEEZED; CHRISTIANS ABDUCTED

On 27 August US-backed Somali, Kenyan and African Union forces liberated
the port of Marka, 70km south of Mogadishu, from al-Shabaab. Despite
gains, Christian aid workers remain at risk in Somalia. On 11 July three
Kenyan nationals (including one woman) serving with International Aid
Services were kidnapped by Islamic militants, possibly with the backing of
al-Shabaab, in Somalia’s Puntland region. The militants are reportedly
seeking a prisoner swap for alleged pirates being held in Kenya. Please
pray.

* KENYA: MUSLIMS RETALIATE AGAINST CHRISTIANS

On Monday 27 August Sheikh Aboud Rogo Mohammed, an al-Qaeda-linked radical cleric recently designated by the US as a Specially Designated Global
Terrorist, was assassinated in Mombasa. He had been responsible for
raising funds and recruiting Kenyans for al-Shabaab. Francis Auma, from
the local organisation Muslims for Human Rights, subsequently heard the
imam of a local mosque shouting through the speaker: ‘blood for blood’.

Muslims retaliated against Christians, whom they doubtless view as
supportive of the US-driven anti-terror laws that Muslims complain
discriminate against them. Two churches were burnt and looted while at
least four other churches were vandalised. Riots continued on Tuesday. One
policeman was killed and 16 wounded when a grenade was thrown at police
racing to save a burning church. Islamic leaders are calling the
assassination an attack on Islam.

Al-Shabaab has called on Kenyan Muslims
to ‘take the matter into their own hands, stand united against the kuffar
(unbelievers) and take all necessary measures to protect their religion,
their honour, their property and their lives from the enemies of Islam’.
In particular they are calling for Muslims to boycott Kenya’s presidential
elections on 4 March 2013. Tensions are escalating.

* LAOS: PERSECUTION FOLLOWS REVIVAL

On 6 August Mr Tongkoun Keohavong was summoned before the village chief of Nahoukou village to explain why around 30 locals had embraced Christianity since February. He explained that the Lord had been healing diseases and liberating the people from evil spirits in response to prayer: ‘We cannot deny the reality of God’s power,’ he said.

The believers have been ordered to renounce their faith or face expulsion from the village. Similarly, Mr Bountheung, who had been living as a Christian in Nongpong village for 10 years, is also being persecuted. In May of this year, around 300 residents of Nongpong village decided they would embrace the Christian faith and worship the Lord  as did Mr Bountheung.

As leader of the village church, Mr Bountheung was summoned three times to explain to the authorities why people in his village were embracing a banned ‘foreign religion’. On 3 August the believers were given until 10 August to recant their faith or be expelled from the village.

After refusing to recant on 10 August, Mr Bountheung was told he had a week to sell his possessions. On 20 August he was arrested and taken to prison. Conditions in Lao prisons are severe and torture is routine. Please pray for the Church in Laos.

Prayers