Hope Amidst Tragedy

Feb 7, 2020

“Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them- do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13: 1-5 (NIV)

Just a cursory reading of the news today bombards you will disaster, tragedy, and pain with no respect to culture, religion, location, or political background. It is frustrating, sad, and hopeless to see such pain in the world if you do not have an eternal perspective on everything happening.

The common question from the world, and even Christians, is WHY GOD?? Why did you allow this to happen? Why did you take them too soon? Why is there so much pain and suffering of people who do not deserve it??
The other response to tragedy is to think that someone deserves it. Someone deserves to die because of sin or a disaster is a response of God’s judgment on the world.

God will judge the world and people’s sin do get them in to a lot of trouble sometimes! But we cannot randomly label a tragedy as the result of something for which we do not know all the details why. An earthquake, for example, is random and, if anything, it is a sign of creation groaning in a sin filled world for the revealing of its Creator to ultimately rule in a fully redeemed heaven and earth.

This is a multifaceted discussion that I will not be getting into all the nuances of. The bottom line is that we will never understand all the details of God’s plans and purposes on this earth. Sometimes we have to trust in Him when we cannot see clearly.

The part I want to address from our verse above is the example Jesus gave of the Tower of Siloam. I always was fascinated that Jesus chose to describe this event. This was a tower that fell and randomly killed 18 Israelites. It would have been common knowledge to the people at the time and would have made the headline news in “Jerusalem Today” or at least among the town gossip and word of mouth. Quite possibly it was a recent event that people were still grieving from their friends and family who died in it.

Read the opening verses again.

Pilate in his barbaric rule, would kill random (possibly) Galileans and use their blood to be mixed with sacrifices. People told Jesus about this to get His perspective. Jesus uses this example along with the Tower of Siloam to stress the importance of repentance among tragedy. The people themselves in these instances were not to blame, they were not any worse sinners than all the others in the city, Jesus said.

Jesus also did not explain why Pilate did this (other than he was evil) and Jesus did not explain WHY the tower fell. Why did God allow the Tower to fall and kill 18 people?

The truth is that all are sinners and need to repent (Rom 3:23). Jesus said that “unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Jesus is referring to the fact that “all will perish” meaning the final judgment, not that all will perish in the same way as the Tower of Siloam. Since all will perish and have to face God, repentance is needed. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Do not wait to repent. Do not say that “I will give my life to Jesus on my deathbed” because you may never get to that point.

This manner of death in these examples gave them no time to repent which is why Jesus repeats the emphasis two times, saying, “But unless you repent, you too will perish.”

When tragedy strikes, it doesn’t make grief any less real. This fallen world is under an umbrella of sin. Sin and death is just a normal process of this world until its final restoration in a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21).

After a traumatic event, we can get stuck in the spiral of “what if” questions. What if I was there? What if we left 30 minutes sooner? What if we cancelled our vacation like we wanted? What if we went to the doctor sooner? All of these questions can destroy us during the grieving process. We cannot change time, we have no power to change the past, questions of “what if” ultimately serve no purpose.

If we have given our life to Christ, it should make us even more passionate to spread the Good News of the Gospel to a lost and dying world. The person you talk to today may not be here tomorrow, you might be their last chance to hear of Jesus and repent.

You do not want to face the “what if” question of “what if I was bold and told them of Jesus before they died?” Be bold NOW! Don’t question God. Allow Him to use you during the DASH between your born-death years, however long that is.

We don’t get answers to questions of why, but we personally get to answer the question of what. What will we do with the time we have left??
We grieve but we do not need to succumb to tragedy like the rest of mankind who have no hope (1 Thess 4:13).

Give hope to a world that is suffering, “While we wait for the blessed hope- the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13 (NIV)

Discerning Reflection: What tragedy have I faced in my life and what was my response? How should it have been different if at all? How can I give hope to those around me during suffering? Am I longing for God to come back or am I stuck in the world’s cycle?

Prayer: Lord, give me hope today if I do not have an eternal perspective. Allow me to see tragedy with the lens of eternity. Give me boldness to witness about the hope we have in Jesus to a lost and dying world.

Tim Ferrara
Discerning Dad

For info on my new book click HERE

Hope Amidst Tragedy

Christian who escaped Muslim Pakistan warns of ‘sword of Damocles’

Sentenced to death for blasphemy under nation’s Islamic law

Asia Bibi, falsely accused of blasphemy

A Christian woman who escaped the “near-total enforcement of Shariah” in Islamic Pakistan warns that the Christians who remain face a constant “sword of Damocles.”

Asia Bibi, who spent eight years on death row in Pakistan on a false charge of blasphemy, issued the warning in an interview she gave to the Tribune India.

Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch said the “persecution of Asia Bibi was a particularly ugly chapter in the history of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its enforcement of Shariah blasphemy laws.

Bibi was acquitted by the Pakistani Supreme Court, but mobs began rioting, calling for her blood as they hunted for her from house to house.

Spencer said that while Bibi made it out of the country, Christians still in Pakistan live “a precarious existence under near-total enforcement of Shariah.”

The Tribune report said Bibi’s trauma began when she intervened in a fight and was charged with blasphemy under a law criticized globally. A trial court in 2010 sentenced her to death on blasphemy charges. After eight years, she was acquitted by a higher court and allowed to leave for Canada.”

In a new book about her by French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet, she says she “became a prisoner of fanaticism and tears were the only companions in the cell.”

“My wrists are burning me, it is hard to breathe. My neck is encased in an iron collar that the guard can tighten with a huge nut. A long chain drags along on the filthy ground. This connects my neck to the handcuffed hand that pulls me like a dog on a lead. Deep within me, a dull fear takes me towards the depths of darkness. A lacerating fear that will never leave me,” she says.

And now?

“Even with my freedom, the climate does not seem to have changed and Christians can expect all kinds of reprisals. They live with this sword of Damocles over their head,” she says.

Last year, a video circulated in which a Muslim youth, claiming to be in Canada, vowed to kill Bibi even though she was cleared by Pakistani courts.

“This message is for all the enemies of Islam and to the Jew government who helped her get out of Pakistan,” the man declared, according to a translation provided by the British Pakistani Christian Association, reported Breitbart News.

“To give Asia Bibi a terrible death and to send her to hell I also reached Canada last night,” he said.

As WND reported, Bibi was held in protective custody after Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction and death sentence in October as members of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan political party and others vowed to kill her, her family, and the judges and lawyers who helped her.

 

Original here

Suffering Transformed

Tom Toya

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV

We live in an often hostile world. We all experience suffering and disappointment, but God is in the business of using our difficulties and setbacks for our ultimate good.

Joseph dreamed he would be a leader, but after sharing his dream with his brothers, they seized Joseph and sold him into slavery. He was chosen to serve an Egyptian leader named Potiphar. Everything Joseph touched prospered, because the Lord was with him. After serving faithfully in Potiphar’s house, Potiphar’s wife – who was enthralled with young Joseph — tried to entice him and desired to sleep with the Hebrew slave, but he refused. The woman then falsely accused Joseph of making sexual advances toward her, and he was sentenced to prison.

Joseph remained in prison for some time, but God’s hand was upon him even in that dark place. He was entrusted with the charge of the prisoners. The keeper of the prison committed them into his hands.

Thirteen years elapsed since his brothers betrayed him. Throughout this time, God silently worked in Joseph’s heart. The Lord used suffering to forge godly character within him. Joseph was then given the opportunity of a lifetime. He was asked to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. God gave Joseph the dream’s meaning. He explained to Pharaoh that Egypt would experience seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. He wisely communicated to the ruler that an individual should be put in charge who would save grain during the years of abundance to be used during the time of scarcity. Pharaoh appointed Joseph as second in command of Egypt, and his God-given insight saved multitudes from starvation.

His brothers came to Egypt in search of food. Joseph met them and chose to forgive them. He viewed his suffering as part of God’s overall plan. He said to his brothers,

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

God transformed Joseph’s suffering by his sovereign hand. And he works in our lives as well. When we place our pain and disappointments into the Father’s hand, he eventually brings healing, victory, and promotion into our lives. As we stay faithful to God, he weaves his goodness into our lives and causes the days of our darkness to be eclipsed by the sun.

We do experience pain in this life, but in the midst of our suffering, God is there. The Lord calls us to forgive our oppressors, and he eventually elevates us out of our hardships and causes us to shine for him. His plan is to use us for his kingdom and for his glory. Let’s choose faithfulness, let’s embrace forgiveness, and let’s offer all our emotional pain to Jesus. He loves us and he will transform our suffering into great glory. He will vindicate us and eventually cause us to prevail for his kingdom purposes.

Dear Sovereign Lord,
I worship you. I give you my sorrows – the hurtful things I don’t understand. I give you my pain and ask you to transform my suffering into victory. Lord, have your way in me. Help me to be faithful, and help me to forgive those who have harmed me. I entrust myself in your care. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.

Copyright © Tom Toya, used with permission.

Can God change your life?

God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life. Discover how you can find peace with God. You can also send us your prayer requests.

https://www1.cbn.com/devotions/suffering-transformed

A Profile in Faith

Pat Robertson

One Bible story that always touches my heart and challenges my faith is about the Roman centurion coming to Jesus on behalf of his sick servant.

Here is an officer in the conquering Roman army, that proud military power which crushed many nations to establish the greatest empire the world had ever known.

Yet out of concern for a feverish and paralyzed servant, the centurion humbly approached Jesus — a young Jewish man living in Israel under Roman occupation — saying, “Lord, I am not worthy” (Mt. 8:8).

This officer truly understood humility — and authority! For when Jesus offered to come to his home and heal the servant, he answered: “Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed! I know, because I am under the authority of my superior officers and I have authority over my soldiers” (Mt. 8:8b-9).

The centurion knew his orders carried power and were instantly obeyed. And by a revelation of the Holy Spirit, he recognized that Jesus also commanded great power — in the spiritual realm. Therefore, he knew that Jesus’ orders would be completely obeyed!

Amazed that a non-Jew could have such faith, Jesus said, “Go on home. What you have believed has happened” (Mt. 8:13). And He promised, “Many Gentiles will come from all over the world and sit down … at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 8:11).

Today, let’s pray with that same humbleness of heart and boldness of faith — asking God to open doors for the Gospel to go out among all nations, drawing millions of lost souls into His glorious Kingdom!

All Scripture is quoted from The Book except as noted.

Can God change your life?

God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life. Discover how you can find peace with God. You can also send us your prayer requests.

https://www1.cbn.com/teaching/faith

VIDEO Trapped by Sin – Why Jesus Came Down

By Greg Laurie

 Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. —John 15:5

I love the story of David and Goliath. Goliath, nine-feet-six-inches of solid muscle, came down to the Valley of Elah to face off with young David.

He saw David with his slingshot and effectively said, “What am I, a dog that you come at with a stick?”

But David replied, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17:45 NLT).

Then David started running toward Goliath. I love that. David didn’t simply hold his ground; he gained ground. Then he whipped that sling around, building momentum, and let the stone fly like a guided missile.

That stone planted itself into Goliath’s forehead, and he collapsed to the ground with a tremendous thud. David walked over, pulled out Goliath’s sword, and cut off his head.

That is how you face the giant of sin in your life. You have to call it out, and you have to cut off its head. You were trapped by sin before you were a Christian. But then one day you came to Christ. You know what God can do and has done for you.

But then you walk back into your old, sinful patterns, and you’re miserable. That’s because you’re trying to live in two worlds. You have too much of the Lord to be happy in the world and too much of the world to be happy in the Lord.

So how do you get out of that place? Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NLT). You don’t have to be a slave of sin. No giant should be overpowering you or taunting you. You can live in the victory that Jesus purchased for you on the cross.

 

Original here


David Jeremiah Sermons Update_Why Jesus Came Down_Call Him Messiah

VIDEO Franklin Graham banned in Britain! – Raising Awareness For Religious Freedom Of Christians

‘Repulsive’ LGBT views in conflict with ‘the values we hold dear’

Franklin Graham (Wikimedia Commons)

All seven of the venues in the United Kingdom scheduled to host Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, have been canceled because of the evangelist’s biblically based views on human sexuality and marriage.

“Pastor Graham peddles controversial, repulsive views about LGBT people which are in direct conflict with the values we hold dear in Newcastle,” Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes told the local Chronicle Live after the city’s Utilita Arena became the latest venue to cancel.

Previously, Graham events were canceled in Birmingham, Newport, Glasgow, Milton Keynes, Sheffield and Liverpool, according to a Pink News report cited by Breitbart News.

Graham said he still intends to tour the U.K.

“I’m looking forward to preaching the Gospel across the UK in late May & June. Hundreds of churches are praying & planning to be a part of these evangelistic outreaches,” he wrote on Twitter. “People everywhere are searching for something to fill the void in their lives. Jesus Christ is the answer.”

‘Together, we can stop him’

Breitbart reported nearly 9,000 people signed a petition by the activist group All Out to bar Graham from appearing in London at the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena.

The petition states:

Anti LGBT+ preacher, Franklin Graham, wants to spread hatred and division at the massive O2 stadium in London. Together, we can stop him!

US preacher Franklin Graham travels around the world telling tens of thousands of people that Satan runs the LGBT+ movement.

He persuades audiences that LGBT+ people don’t deserve to have families.

He stands on stages in huge arenas warning people of the consequences of being gay, threatening impressionable young people with the “flames of hell”.

In short, he spends a lot of time and money telling the world that our love is a sin and encouraging those who want to hurt us.

AND NOW HE IS COMING TO THE UK.

Graham responded to the resistance by recalling the opposition to his father’s historic meetings in the London borough of Harringay in 1954.

He noted there was a petition at the time circulated by many churches demanding that his father not be allowed in the country.

“Throughout history, the Gospel has consistently faced opposition,” Franklin Graham said.

Legal action

CBN News reported the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, for which Franklin Graham serves as president and CEO, plans to take legal action.

“Since the original venues have broken our legal contract with them, we are pursuing appropriate actions based on grounds of religious discrimination and freedom of speech,” the organization said in a statement.

A BGEA spokesman told CBN  the “planned Graham Tour is going ahead and is certainly not canceled in any of the cities as some press reports have indicated.”

“The momentum for the Tour is growing throughout the UK by the day. We are continuing to finalize sites for the Tour to determine where the events will take place. In the meantime, all of the preparation events and training programs are continuing as planned,” the spokesman said.

‘We are all sinners’

Graham issued an open letter to Britain’s LGBTQ community on his Facebook page, denying accusations of hate speech:

It is said by some that I am coming to the UK to bring hateful speech to your community. This is just not true. I am coming to share the Gospel, which is the Good News that God loves the people of the UK, and that Jesus Christ came to this earth to save us from our sins.

The rub, I think, comes in whether God defines homosexuality as sin. The answer is yes. But God goes even further than that, to say that we are all sinners—myself included. The Bible says that every human being is guilty of sin and in need of forgiveness and cleansing. The penalty of sin is spiritual death—separation from God for eternity.

I invite everyone in the LGBTQ community to come and hear for yourselves the Gospel messages that I will be bringing from God’s Word, the Bible. You are absolutely welcome.

 

Original here


Raising Awareness For The Religious Freedom Of Christians

OAN Newsroom — Saturday, February 8, 2020

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.

Original here


VIDEO Three Ways to Move from Fearful to Faithful

 

Kelly Balarie

Do you remember those old briefcases? I always liked them. There was a number combination on them. Flip the numbers just right and the case would open. Turn them endlessly, with the wrong sequence, and pull open, no luck.

Many of us are turning numbers endlessly in life: trying to be liked, worrying about finances, fretting about our future, running from the past, hurrying to avoid our present, anticipating terrorism, harboring bitterness, wallowing in rejection and writhing in jealousy.

We try to unlock God’s treasure but the combination of worldly pursuits blocks us. We can’t get in. Frustrated, we seek more numbers: Maybe we try to be number one. Maybe we try to push ahead at work with selfish ambition or a prideful attitude. Maybe look to a number of numbing pleasures – wine, perfectionism or denial – to protect ourselves. Whatever it is, a number of fear-laden issues hold us back from opening the fullness God has in store.

What is holding you back? What is the number that keeps you stuck?

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people… Eph. 1:8

Many Christians, sadly, walk through life, unable to open the treasure of God’s goodness. It eludes them. They never discover hope for today. The eyes of the world blind the eyes of their heart. Rather than feeling called, they feel condemned and rather than riches, they walk around in the spiritual poverty of doubt.

I should know, I did this for the large majority of life. What I failed to realize is God had already given me the number to his treasure. He’d given me his promises. I didn’t know how to leverage them, though. I looked at them like, “It’s nice to meet you” rather than “It’s nice to know and love you.”

The gap between these two approaches is miles. Miles upon miles upon miles upon miles….

How do you live? Do you live unlocking the power of God’s promises or do you living doubting the probability He’s got good for you?

Friends, there is not an iota of condemnation in your answer. Can I first lay that out on the table? Getting past that issue, is often the first step towards opening new courage that brings you to new faith.

The truth of the matter is there is always – hope for your future. Let that sink in. See a lost child? Hope. Have no money left? Hope. Struggling in your marriage? Hope. Wishing that family member would come to Christ? Hope. Feeling lost to sadness and despair? Hope.

Hope. Hope. Hope.

All you have to do is walk forward and just grab hands with them – with faith and hope; they walk together. They always want to walk with you.

3 Ways to Move from Fearful to Faithful:

  1. Ask God for faith.
    “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (Jo. 14:3)
    ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’ (Mk. 9:24)
  2. Draw Near to God. In the presence of God, there is no room for fear.
    You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Ps. 16:11
    But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. (1 Jo. 4:18)
  3. Dwell on God’s Promises. What God has given you, is enough to empower you.
    Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Pet. 1:4)

If you can’t see your way of escape, it’s right before you. It doesn’t look like you, endlessly trying, striving or punching in perfect numbers. Hardly!

Stop going after that. It’s not worth it.  For, what you pursue determines your breakthrough.

Instead, it looks like you walking up to what’s locked and believing God, in full. It looks like you standing on God’s Word. It looks like you holding on to the truths he declares about you. It looks like you finding out what was impossible to open, flies wide-open, in his perfect timing, by faith. Boom!

And maybe it looks different than you expect. But, in the end, it always looks better.

Believe and open the fullness of God’s spiritual riches. They are waiting for you.

About the book, Fear Fighting, Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears:

Author and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers, anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day. www.fearfightingbook.com.

Kelly Balarie shares an important message for those struggling with fear:

https://www1.cbn.com/health/three-ways-move-fearful-faithful