Christian Missions Change Course: Reconverting the West

Aug 9, 2019 By John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris

(Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

In his book, “The Reason for God,” Tim Keller argues that Christianity is the only truly global religion. Indeed, within a few generations of Christ, the Christian faith had spread across much of the known world—from India to North Africa to furthest reaches of the Roman Empire and into the barbarian lands of Northern Europe. Yet up until a hundred years or so ago, for all kinds of historical and sociological reasons, Christianity became a predominantly Western religion.

The missionary efforts of the last hundred years began to change that, and now Pew Research predicts that Africa will be the most Christian continent within about 40 years.

The story behind this geographical relocation is overwhelmingly a story of missions. For centuries, the West sent evangelists to Africa, Asia, and South America to preach the Gospel, plant churches, and create Christian communities where none existed. Whereas the heroes of the faith in the ancient church were theologians and bishops, and those during the Reformation were, well, reformers, most of the names we recognize since the Reformation are the missionaries: William Carey, Hudson Taylor, Gladys Aylward, Eric Liddell, Jim Elliot, Amy Carmichael.

This move of the Gospel from the West to the South and the East could be one of the largest scale fulfillments of the Great Commission since Jesus first gave it.

Yet, as a fascinating piece in The Economist explains, the direction of the flow of Christian missions has now largely reversed. As it did, the geographic center of the faith also shifted. A century ago, as Pew reports, over ninety percent of the world’s Christians lived in Europe and the Americas, and less than six percent in Africa and Asia. Today, over a third of all Christians hail from those continents.

As this Christian population shift has taken place, something else interesting has also happened. Poor, developing countries that once benefited from Western missionaries coming into their cultures have started sending missionaries of their own back to the rich and increasingly irreligious West.

While the U.S. still leads the world in sending missionaries—something that has been true for a long time—our market share is dropping. The largest growth seen in global missions output is in non-Western countries. And it’s happening fast.

Between 2010 and 2015, the number of African missionaries jumped 32 percent to over 27,000. Korean missionaries jumped 50 percent to 30,000 in the same period. And the countries receiving the lion’s share of these missionaries are Brazil, Russia, and—wait for it—the United States.

As one whose church has been largely shaped by the missionary efforts of African Christians, I thank God for this new trend. At the same time, anyone trying to convert Westerners has their work cut out for them. As The Economist piece observed, “Saving the rich is difficult,” though Jesus said it wasn’t impossible. Among the compelling stories of Christian history we may read about one day will be whether missionaries from the Global South coaxed Western camels through the needle’s eye.

Those bringing the good news back to our shores—and even more so to Europe’s shores—often remark how jaded and difficult it can be to convert Westerners. Having once had the faith but having (at least partially) lost it, we’re like the bird-infested path or the thorny ground in Jesus’ parable.

Even so, to whatever scale the effort to reconvert the West succeeds or not, it ought to leave us in awe of God’s wisdom. Within just the span of a few centuries the Church went global, and it was precisely at the time the West began to lose its faith.

Both the work of the missionaries who planted those seeds abroad and the return of that fruit to our own shores are testaments to providence. We ought be reminded through them that God is no respecter of persons, nations, or even continents. I only wish those early global missionaries could see all of this unfold. Of course, as those who’ve now joined the great cloud of witnesses, they have a perspective on the whole story that’s better than our own. They obeyed Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations. I wonder if they had any idea that those nations would one day return the favor.

John Stonestreet is President of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and BreakPoint co-host.

G. Shane Morris is a senior writer at BreakPoint, a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He’s also written for Summit Ministries and The Christian Post, and blogs regularly at Patheos. Shane lives with his wife and three children.

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published by BreakPoint.

https://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/john-stonestreet/christian-missions-change-course-reconverting-west

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Christ Is The Counter-Culture

Aug 19, 2019 by Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Read Matthew 5:1-12.

Today’s society would like us to believe Jesus’ teachings were for another time. But Jesus’ teachings are as startlingly relevant today as they were when He first spoke them—and they are still turning cultural norms upside-down. We live in a world broken with the sin of self-worship, where society reveres self-realization. But Jesus’ teachings are of a heavenly nature, unmarred by sin. He calls us to live holy lives of Christlike character, full of goodness and humility to prepare us for the culture of His eternal Kingdom.

Jesus’ teachings are of a heavenly nature, unmarred by sin. He calls us to live holy lives of Christlike character.

Secular culture says, “Happy are the rich—those who die with the most toys, for that makes life worthwhile,” but Jesus says, “Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for righteousness because you will truly be satisfied.” Society’s pundits say, “Happy are you who get even, for this is a mean world,” but the Lord of all says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” While the cultural elite say, “Happy are you when you eliminate godly standards so that you can live your truth,” the Messiah says, “Blessed are you who are persecuted because of righteousness, for yours is the Kingdom of heaven.”Jesus’ counter-cultural, Kingdom-oriented teachings show us how to develop true character—character that even this broken world commends, though it struggles to understand it. This kind of character cannot be established in any life without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. For, a life lived beautifully, one that lasts eternally, is the life that follows the narrow road after Christ.

Prayer: Jesus, Your ways are matchless—fully satisfying and offering joy and peace that transcend understanding. Your ways are perfect; may I seek them whole-heartedly by the power of Your Spirit working in me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).

https://www.ltw.org/read/my-devotional/2019/08/christ-is-counter-cultural

Being the Church: Four Keys to Supporting Adoptive and Foster Families

Family talking

By Jenn Ranter Hook

 

As I finished up my counseling session with Marisa and her adoptive parents, Eric and Michelle, I felt sad and frustrated. Theirs was a story I had heard many times before: Eric and Michelle’s support system, including the church they had attended for years, was very excited about the couple’s plans to adopt. In fact, the church made a big deal about Adoption Sunday, exploring the global orphan crisis and encouraging congregants to prayerfully consider whether God might be calling them to adopt or foster.

Eric and Michelle’s family, friends and church community were all eager to help, and there were quite a few meals and visits during the first few weeks after they brought Marisa home. But after the initial “honeymoon period,” the excitement waned. And now, a year into their adoption journey, all that support was nowhere to be found.

Eric and Michelle loved Marisa deeply, and being her parents filled their life with much meaning and joy. Yet they were completely blindsided by the struggles she faced. Marisa had some serious challenges related to the abuse and neglect she experienced during the first year of her life. She had trouble bonding with Eric and Michelle, and many of the things people love about parenting – the hugs, kisses, cuddles and “I love yous” – were few and far between.

Marisa’s demeanor was often unpredictable. Sometimes she was kind and playful, other times she would lose control for long periods and struggle to calm down or be comforted. Play dates and babysitting options began to dry up once the extent of Marisa’s erratic behavior became apparent.

The folks in the church nursery were kind, but eventually they said either Eric or Michelle would have to stay with Marisa because they weren’t equipped to handle the girl’s behavior. The couple was thoroughly confused – their daughter was precious to them, but Marisa was struggling because of the trauma she had experienced early in life and they didn’t know how to help her.

Isolated and Alone

I’ve encountered similar scenarios time and time again in my work: first as a therapist in the foster care system and later through Replanted – a small group-centered ministry that provides hope, encouragement and support to adoptive and foster parents and their children. Friends, family and fellow church community members have an awesome opportunity to play a role in an issue we know is dear to the heart of God – the plight of children without families – but we often fail to understand the trials of the adoptive and foster journey. More importantly, we fail to recognize how those trials impact both parents and children, especially when we fail to support those adoptive and foster families for the long haul.

Simply put, Eric and Michelle were worn out. They were trying their best, but the challenges they were facing with Marisa were far greater than they had expected. It didn’t help that they felt isolated and alone – that no one understood what they were going through. On those rare occasions when they did open up about their struggles, they usually got a boatload of advice that they had already tried (and didn’t work). Eventually they stopped reaching out entirely.

My own sadness and frustration over their situation was related to the lack of support that Eric and Michelle received. I kept thinking, Where is the church in this? If we really care about serving the needs of vulnerable children and their families, we have to do more than just encourage people to adopt and foster. We have to keep doing the hard work of supporting those families – day in and day out.

Not everyone is called to adopt or foster. But everyone can play a role.

Four Ways to Help

How can we provide assistance in ways that help without hurting? Below are some important things to keep in mind when we reach out to support the adoptive and foster families in our church communities.

Offer grace and presence. Adoptive and foster families need grace-filled, safe relationships in which they can be vulnerable and share what’s really going on in their lives. One of the best ways to truly support adoptive and foster families is by offering them grace and unconditional acceptance right where they are, just like God offers grace to us. That means loving and accepting these families no matter how their kiddos are behaving. Many, if not most, of these kids are fighting battles that you might know little about. Be a source of safety: Don’t judge, criticize or offer advice. Instead, offer your presence and a listening ear.

Become “trauma informed.” Adoptive and foster children often have a history of abuse and neglect, which in turn impacts their future relationships and behavior. Some kids may have physical or developmental disabilities, or have been exposed to substance abuse in utero. These experiences impact their ability to connect with others and regulate their behavior.

Most of those in support roles have little experience with the specific challenges facing adoptive and foster children, so they end up suggesting the same tips that worked with their biological kids. If you really want to help, begin by learning about abuse, neglect, trauma and attachment. The books Replanted: Faith-Based Support for Adoptive and Foster Families and The Connected Child provide a good base for understanding trauma and trauma-informed parenting. There are also conferences and events such as ReplantedEmpowered to Connect and Refresh that offer a wealth of information and resources. Another important step is to make sure all the childcare workers at your church are trauma trained and informed.

Support both parents and children. When I started Replanted, most of our efforts were geared toward adoptive and foster parents. This was important – those parents need support! But I soon realized that children who are adopted or are in foster care need attention, too. I remember counseling one child who was ashamed about living in a foster home. She didn’t want anyone to know about her situation. Kids need to be in loving, grace-filled communities with other children who understand the journey they’re on. When you offer support to foster and adoptive families, don’t forget about the kids.

Be consistent. Eric and Michelle’s story is a common one. Many folks offer help and support early on, but disappear after the excitement of the new placement wanes and the reality of daily life sets in. If you’re going to support adoptive and foster families, do your best to be in it for the long haul. Take stock of your capacity to help, and be realistic. If at all possible, try to make a long-term commitment (i.e., six months to a year).

So, how can you be a part of a family’s support system? Try starting small: Begin by thinking of just one way you could begin to provide help on a regular basis to the adoptive and foster families in your community. What is one way your church could begin to offer support?

People like Eric and Michelle – and Marisa, too – could really use the help.

https://origin.focusonthefamily.com/pro-life/orphan-care/being-the-church-four-keys-to-supporting-adoptive-and-foster-families


Narrow Path Ministries is in the process of opening an orphanage. An Endowment fund has been established  to fund the orphanage.



We Need Christian Nationalism Because Religious Neutrality Has Failed

Our religious liberty never proceeded from attempts at religious neutrality. It came precisely from the privileged position that Christianity has historically held in America and in the West.

We Need Christian Nationalism Because Religious Neutrality Has Failed

Aug 14, 2019 By Matthew Cochran

A gaggle of representatives from theologically liberal denominations recently issued a statement against Christian nationalism in America, claiming that it threatens both American democracy and the ability of our religious communities to live in peace.

To be sure, Christian nationalism is an extremely odd place to find the threat to religious freedom in a world that increasingly makes demands like “shut up and wax that woman’s b-lls.” But the irony goes deeper than that. It’s not some stroke of blind chance that lead to religious freedom in the Christian West—it was, in fact, due to our Christian faith.

To be sure, although I know self-described Christian nationalists, I’m aware of no organized political movement for this statement to oppose and so, no standard definition. Nevertheless, I have never found the label to apply to some of what the statement opposes—calls for theocracy, a conflation of American and Christian identities, and certainly not a “cover for white supremacy,” which the statement tosses in to poison the well. I’ve no interest in contending on behalf of such things.

Nevertheless, until “Christian nationalism” coalesces into something more definitive, in my experience the phrase best describes something much simpler:  a rejection of the religious neutrality of the late 20th century in favor of 1) a recognition that Christianity has had a unique and privileged influence on our American heritage that overshadows the influences of other faith traditions, 2) a conviction that a Christian understanding of the world should predominate over other worldviews in American civic life, and 3) an understanding that a nation that successfully excised or sufficiently diluted this influence could no longer be called “American” in the same sense as before. Although more general than what the statement condemns, this understanding would actually encompass many Americans, whether they accept the label or not.

Regardless of its other issues, the statement’s crosshairs certainly fall squarely on this simpler understanding as well. The statements condemns the preference for one religion over another, expresses the irrelevancy of religion for civic standing, and contends for all manner of religious neutrality in American civic life.

But our religious liberty never proceeded from attempts at religious neutrality. It came precisely from the privileged position that Christianity has historically held in America and in the West.

Early States Established Churches with Tax Support

The First Amendment forbids the establishment of a state church in the United States, but it in no way imposes the incoherent burden of religious neutrality on our civic institutions, nor demands that the right to free exercise of religion end when one crosses from private life into the public sphere. We are already experiencing the erosion of religious liberties that these erroneous presumptions have caused, with Christian business owners and officials forced to promulgate ideas they abhor and facilitate celebrations that are incompatible with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Today, when the American left speaks about religious freedom at all, it speaks in terms of “freedom of worship” rather than of free exercise. But freedom of worship is nothing more than the right to go into a private building and follow one’s preferred liturgy on any day of the week so long as it is out of the public view.

The right of free exercise of religion cannot end there, for no religion on earth ends there. Life is a series of choices in which we each decide what’s most important to us. As we order these priorities, every knee eventually bows to something more important than the rest—the “god” we consider to be the Most Important Thing. Whatever the specific details of one’s god, the very nature of a god is that it is supreme—it lays claim to one’s entire life rather than merely one’s private life.

This is true regardless of whether one follows a traditional religion or even refers to one’s highest value as a “god” at all. Even the hedonist, whose god is personal pleasure, does not leave his worship of pleasure behind when he enters the public sphere. If he refrains from certain pursuits in the public eye, it is only because such restraint will net him more pleasure in the long run. Pleasure therefore remains the god that dictates his public activities.

So it is also with the Christian, the Muslim, the secular humanist, and the utilitarian. So when the follower of a god enters into civic life—as anything from a simple voter all the way up to president—he does not and cannot cease following that god. He will instead look to what that god demands of someone who holds the positions he occupies.

Different gods make different demands. One of the reasons theological liberals are so blind on this issue is their ignorant presumption that, at their root, all religions are basically the same—that they all worship the same God, proclaim the same general values and ideals, and merely have different cultural trappings or modes of expression. In such a fantasy, a neutral pluralism is conceivable, but reality is a different matter.

Although there is only one God, there are many gods (i.e., idols) in this world. The extent to which a person will support or even accept things like secular democracy and religious pluralism depends on that person’s god.

Apply This to Today’s Public Life

What then does that mean for American democracy and religious freedom? It means neither can ever be religiously neutral. Some gods demand such things; some gods merely tolerate them; and other gods abhor them. To embrace these things as worthy of our support and protection and prioritize them over other concerns is to favor some gods and therefore some religions above others.

Rather than submitting to a fantasy of religious neutrality, Christian nationalism accepts and adapts to this reality. After all, the Christian faith is the root from which our form of religious freedom grew, and the American nation is the heritage in which it is enfleshed. The positive forms of secularism and religious liberty that had been enjoyed in America grew out of the specifics of Christianity.

Christians, for example, have always held that there is a fundamental distinction between worldly government and the kingdom of heaven. Even the statement acknowledges this. You can see it in the teachings of Jesus—that his kingdom was not of this world, and that we should render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.

You can see it in St. Augustine, when he wrote of the City of Man and the City of God. You can see it in Martin Luther’s Two Kingdoms theology. You can see it in the Church of Rome’s doctrine of the Two Swords. Different Christian traditions have certainly differed as to how these two realms relate to one another, and some have separated them far more than others. Nevertheless, the distinction has always been there. Civil government can be disentangled from the church precisely because of that Christian distinction.

Every Religion Doesn’t Do Separation of Church and State

But not every religion makes that distinction. Islam, for example, is both a religion and a political ideology. It makes no real distinction between the two. The idea of the Ummah that Muhammad left his followers—a united religious community that transcends tribe and would one day encompass the entire world—has nothing within it to encourage secularism.

Even the simple idea that church and state have distinct authorities and responsibilities is by no means religious neutral.

Political conquest is Muhammad’s legacy because he explicitly commanded it of his devotees, and he established a sharia to which everyone is supposed to submit. According to Muhammad, a pertinent distinction among religions in the world is between Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb (the House of Islam and the House of War).

So in the end, even the simple idea that church and state have distinct authorities and responsibilities is by no means religious neutral. It blatantly gives Christianity a seat of privilege in the way government is organized, and it does so at the expense of some other religions.

The same can be said of American religious freedom. Americans have deliberately refrained from establishing a state church, and we allow extremely broad freedoms for the exercise of religion and the expression of religious ideas. This was a natural outgrowth of Christian ideas, since in Christianity, salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ—a faith that cannot be compelled by force. Accordingly, from the Christian perspective, there is very little point in using the state to enforce religious adherence.

Now, I’m neither claiming that Christians have always respected this reality nor that we’re the only ones who have. But this is precisely where the nationalism comes into the mix.

Western Toleration Comes from Christianity’s Growth

The Western tendency to tolerate different creeds proceeded from the blood and chaos that different Christians inflicted on one another during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. It took considerable time and effort to accept this understanding and begin teaching our governments to loosen their grip on the religious habits of their citizens. This effort hinged on the experiences of many different groups of Christians who sought out places where they could freely adhere to their creeds.

So our religious freedom is not simply an abstract ideal floating in the ether, but a heritage—a specifically Christian one. It is precisely English Christians of that sort who learned this very Christian lesson and brought it with them to this land, where they eventually grew into their own Christian nation. It was also those Christians who decided to extend that Christian freedom to the believers on other creeds.

Our religious freedom is not simply an abstract ideal floating in the ether, but a heritage—a specifically Christian one.

Nevertheless, extending that freedom to other faiths never made it religiously neutral. On the contrary, we embedded our religious understanding of such freedom into the way we governed—blatantly privileging Christianity over other religions.

After all, in most other religions, goodness—however it may be conceived—proceeds from a person’s works as much or more than from his faith. State requirements to make the right sacrifices, participate in the right ceremonies, or live in the proper manner make a great deal more sense in other religions. Likewise, religions that demand the infidels be slaughtered wherever they may be found tend to be far less willing to allow those infidels the same kind of freedoms.

So even when America decides to allow the free exercise of all religions, that very decision privileges religions like Christianity, which are more focused on faith than on following specific laws. This can be seen in the way that free exercise has been judged through our history. In a post-9/11 world, it’s become abundantly clear that even flying planes into buildings can be an exercise of religion.

Where Religious Neutrality Ends

Nevertheless, though we put no prohibition on free exercise per se, we always drew the line at publicly immoral behaviors even when those behaviors are also religious duties for some. Certain faiths, for example, have explicitly allowed or encouraged bigamy, but for most of our history, this was never seriously considered an allowable matter of free exercise.

Not every religion sees the matter the same way. Not every religion even has a natural law tradition.

In decisions like that, the state was not and cannot be morally neutral, any more than it was or can be religiously neutral. In every decision, it weighs one set of goods against another and decides which is of more value.

In America, the weight of those past decisions have always been rooted in the values of the Christians who founded and cultivated this nation. Their substance is indelibly colored by Christianity. Our Declaration of Independence hinges the entire matter of independence on the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” and ascribes our rights to endowment by the Creator.

These are by no means religiously neutral statements. They are not sectarian, grounded as they are in the language of natural law, but they are nevertheless grounded in a Christian understanding of that natural law. Not every religion sees the matter the same way. Not every religion even has a natural law tradition.

Common Objections Don’t Hold Water

Some would object to this line of thought, claiming that our nation really founded as much by deists rather than Christians. There were certainly a few prominent ones in the mix, but it doesn’t weaken my case in the slightest.

No nation is beholden to religious neutrality, no matter what freedoms it grants.

Deism itself was always an attempt to possess a Christian heritage without possessing a Christian faith. What’s more, the reason deism went defunct so quickly is that this attempt was almost immediately found to be a fool’s errand. The only remaining progeny of deism are those who returned to Christianity and those who proceeded down the road to atheism. Inasmuch as deists contributed to the founding of this nation, they were still operating under the inertia of the Christian heritage they had received.

Others would claim that our religious liberty is no longer Christian because many non-Christian nations have also provided measures of religious freedom. This is true, and I’m quite pleased that they’ve culturally appropriated religious liberty from the Christian West. I believe my heritage to be of value, so I think it’s great when others learn from it.

But that appropriation does not change where our own liberty came from. Neither does it change the fact that these other nations have modified religious liberty according to their own religious understandings. Israel, for example, allows for a great deal of religious liberty, but it is no more religiously neutral than America is. After all, simply believing that Jesus Christ is the messiah voids the right of return granted by Israel to other ethnic Jews. No nation is beholden to religious neutrality, no matter what freedoms it grants.

The Habit of Toleration Can Go Too Far

To be sure, our more recent history has seen a remarkable shift away from our Christian heritage and its moral wisdom. Under the guise of religious neutrality, too many Christians have been tricked into withholding their good judgment from matters of state. This has led to some profound changes, but there’s nothing religiously or morally neutral about them.

We have, for instance, allowed women to choose whether to murder their offspring, but this is not neutrality—in this, the state blatantly values personal autonomy and privacy more than it values love or the right to live. We have forced people to speak as though men are actually women or act as though two women can be married to one-another, but this is not neutral—it demands that Christians set aside their understanding of marriage and sex. Even something as simple as getting rid of blasphemy laws that respected the name of Jesus Christ was never “fair” or neutral—it only cleared the way for new blasphemy laws that respect sexual deviancy and other politically correct subjects du jour instead.

Christian nationalism is rising precisely because more and more Christians are realizing that we’ve been lied to on the matter. We were persuaded to set aside our heritage in public based on a faulty notion of neutrality and the expectation that everyone else would do the same. But everyone else has done no such thing, and we should never have expected or asked them to. We allowed our religious values to be replaced by others’ religious values and, unsurprisingly, have little to show for our foolishness.

If you Think Christianity Is Valuable, You’re a Nationalist

Christian nationalism is not an attempt to requisition the state to teach Christian theology—it would be even less competent at this than it is at all other types of education. Neither is it in any way an incitement to the largely hypothetical violence over which the statement’s authors wring their hands.

It is simply American Christians who believe that their religion is true and their nation valuable contending for their own convictions about goodness, truth, and beauty rather than for others’. We are not “merging” our two identities, as the statement alleges, but holding onto both of them in everything that we do.

Far from destroying American democracy and religious liberty, Christian nationalism embodies the very same spirit that built that heritage of ours in the first place.

Matthew’s writing may be found at The 96th Thesis. You can also follow him on Twitter @matt_e_cochran or subscribe to his YouTube Channel, Lutheran in a Strange Land.
Photo
“Memorial”by happyfunpaul is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

https://thefederalist.com/2019/08/13/need-christian-nationalism-religious-neutrality-failed/

Jesus: The Truth Who Sets Us Free

Aug 9, 2019  by Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Read John 4:4-42

In our culture today, people mistakenly reason: “If Jesus is truly loving, then He will accept my sinful lifestyle.” But this false Jesus can’t set anyone free. Few people know this better than one woman whose encounter with the real Jesus left her forever changed.

Jesus did not come to excuse our sin but to save us from it that we might have fullness of life.

On the way from Judea to Galilee, Jesus stopped in Samaria, encountered a woman at the well, and asked her for a drink of water. She was astonished—for her gender and Samaritan background rendered her inferior. But Jesus knew her desperation. He knew her deepest secrets—the failed marriages, the promiscuous living. He knew that He alone could set her free—so He called her out.

“Go, call your husband,” He said. “I have no husband,” she replied. “You’re right about that,” Jesus said. “In fact, you’ve had five, and the man you’re currently living with is not your husband.”

Jesus didn’t say, “No worries—just keep living your truth!” No; He is God in human flesh—holy and righteous! And because He loved her, He couldn’t just sweep her sin under the rug. Instead, He exposed it so that He could set her free.

Despite what culture says, God does not wink at sin. He is not your yes-man. No; He sees everything—all the sin, guilt, and shame inside each one of us—and He knows our deepest need: Living Water. He did not come to excuse our sin but to save us from it that we might have fullness of life. Will you not drink of Him? For only He can quench your thirst, give you peace, and set you free eternally.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You that I am truly free from the shame and wages of sin because You have atoned for it all on the cross. Knowing what my sin cost You, may I live righteously for You, pursuing goodness for Your name’s sake. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst” (John 4:13). 

https://www.ltw.org/read/my-devotional/2019/08/jesus-the-truth-who-sets-us-free

The Servant of the LORD, Israel, the Messiah; Old Testament Parables and Miracles

The Servant of the LORD, Israel and the Messiah

Isaiah 42:1 – “Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.”

Comparison List of Israel and the Messiah
The Servant Israel The Servant Messiah
Similarities Similarities
Israel was Chosen by the LORD. Isaiah 41:8-9; Isaiah 45:4; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:1; Isaiah 49:7 The Messiah Was Chosen by the LORD. Isaiah 42:1
Israel was Formed by the LORD in the Womb. Isaiah 44:2; Isaiah 44:21; Isaiah 44:24 The Messiah Was Formed by the LORD in the Womb. Isaiah 49:1, 5
Israel was Strengthened and Comforted by the LORD. Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 42:6 The Messiah Was Strengthened and Comforted by the LORD. Isaiah 42:1
Israel was Hidden in the shadow of the LORD’S hand. Isaiah 51:6 The Messiah Was Hidden in the shadow of the LORD’S hand. Isaiah 49:2
Israel was Endowed with the Spirit of the LORD. Isaiah 44:3 The Messiah Was Endowed with the Spirit of the LORD. Isaiah 42:1
Israel was Honored by that LORD. Isaiah 43:4 The Messiah Was Honored by that LORD. Isaiah 49:5
Israel was A Light to the Nations. Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 51:4 A Light to the Nations. Isaiah 49:6
Israel Will give the Word of God and Justice to the Nations. Isaiah 51:4-8; Isaiah 42:21; Isaiah 42:24 The Messiah Will give the Word of God and Justice to the Nations. Isaiah 42:4
The LORD Is Glorified in Israel. Isaiah 44:23 The LORD Is Glorified in the Messiah. Isaiah 53:10; Isaiah 49:3
The Servant Israel The Servant Messiah
Differences Differences
Israel Despairs. Isaiah 40:27; Isaiah 41:8-10; Isaiah 49:14, etc. The Messiah is Not Discouraged. Isaiah 42:4; Isaiah 50:7-9 (also see Isaiah 49:4)
Israel is Rebellious and Sinful. Isaiah 48:4; Isaiah 43:27 The Messiah is Obedient And Sinless. Isaiah 50:5; Isaiah 53:4-6; Isaiah 53:12
Israel is Blind and Deaf. Isaiah 42:18-25 The Messiah Hears God’s Words and Obeys. Isaiah 50:4-5
Israel Suffers Gods Wrath Unwillingly. Isaiah 51:21-23, etc. Messiah Willingly Receives God’s Wrath. Isaiah 50:6; Isaiah 53:4-9; (also see Isaiah 50:7-9)
Israel Suffers for Her Own Sins. Isaiah 42:24-25; Isaiah 43:22-28; Isaiah 47:6; Isaiah 50:1 The Messiah Bears the Sins of Others Although He Did Not Deserve It. Isaiah 53
Israel Will Be Redeemed. Isaiah 43:1-7, etc. The Messiah’s Mission Is to Redeem. Isaiah 49:5

Isaiah 49:6 – “And he said, It is a small thing that thou should be My Servant… I will also give thee as a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”

https://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/types-servant.html


Parables in the Old Testament

Habakkuk 2:6 – Won’t all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases that which is not his, and who enriches himself by extortion! How long?’

There were many parables spoken in ancient times and especially in the Bible. The Hebrew word “mashal” referred to a comparison of a familiar earthly thing with a heavenly or spiritual truth that was to be understood.

Parables pointed to the fact that man is made in God’s image, he is of the earth but also of the divine. The power of a parable lies in its ability to use a simple every day experience to help the hearer to understand a truth set forth about God’s kingdom. Parables help man to perceive the difference between man’s kingdom and God’s kingdom. The parable leads the listener to a choice, to choose this day whom to serve.

Jesus confirmed all of the parables mentioned in the Old Testament (Luke 11:49-51).

Below is a list of several Old Testament parables.

List of Parables in the Old Testament
The Parables The Speakers The Bible Verses
The Poor Man’s Lamb Nathan to King David 2 Samuel 12:1-4
The 2 Fighting Brothers and the Avengers of Blood The Wise Widow from Tekoa 2 Samuel 14:1-11
The Escaped Prisoner A Prophet to King Ahab 1 Kings 20:35-40
The Fruitless Vineyard Isaiah to the house of Israel and the men of Judah Isaiah 5:1-7
The 2 Eagles and the Vine Ezekiel to the house of Israel Ezekiel 17:3-10
The Lioness and her Cubs Ezekiel to the house of Israel Ezekiel 19:2-9
The Boiling Cauldron Ezekiel to the house of Israel Ezekiel 24:3-5

2 Samuel 12:7 – “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says…”

https://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/parables.html


Miracles in the Old Testament

Mark 6:52 – For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.

God did many miracles throughout the Bible, and in the Old Testament there were many miracles surrounding the nation of Israel that the entire world heard about. Below is a list of several Old Testament miracles. A Miracle is when God intervenes in a situation or event that cannot be explained in scientific terms or by human reasoning.

Jesus confirmed all of the miracles mentioned in the Old Testament (Luke 11:49-51).

List of Miracles in the Old Testament
The Miracles The Bible Verses
Egypt
Aaron’s Rod Is Turned into a Serpent Exodus 7:10-12
The 10 Plagues
1. Water Is Turned into Blood Exodus 7:20-25
2. Frogs Exodus 8:5-14
3. Lice Exodus 8:16-18
4. Flies Exodus 8:20-24
5. Murrain (Anthrax) Exodus 9:3-6
6. Boils Exodus 9:8-11
7. Thunder and Hail Exodus 9:22-26
8. Locusts Exodus 10:12-19
9. Darkness Exodus 10:21-23
10. The Firstborn Are Slain Exodus 12:29, 30
The Parting of the Red Sea Exodus 14:6, 21-31
The Wilderness
Healing the Bitter Waters of Marah Exodus 15:23-25
The Manna from Heaven Exodus 16:14-35
Water from the Rock at Rephidim Exodus 17:5-7
The Death of Nadab and Abihu Leviticus 10:1, 2
The Burning of the Congregation at Taberah Numbers 11:1-3
The Deaths of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram Numbers 16:31-35
Aaron’s Rod That Budded at Kadesh Numbers 17:8
Water from the Rock at Meribah Numbers 20:7-11
Lifting up The Brazen Serpent Numbers 21:8, 9
The Parting of the Jordan River Joshua 3:14-17
The Land of Canaan – Joshua
The Fall of Jericho Joshua 6:6-25
The Sun and the Moon Standing Still Joshua 10:12-14
The Land of the Philistines
Dagon Fell and Philistines were Cursed 1 Samuel 5:4-6
The Land of Israel –  The Kings
The Death of Uzzah for Touching the Ark 2 Samuel 6:7
The Withering Of Jeroboam’s Hand 1 Kings 13:4
The Destruction of the Altar at Bethel 1 Kings 13:5-6
Uzziah is Smitten with Leprosy 2 Chronicles 26:16-21
The Land of Israel – Elijah
Replenishing the Oil and Meal at Zarephath 1 Kings 17:14-16
Raising the Widow’s Son at Zarephath 1 Kings 17:17-24
The Sacrifice and Prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel 1 Kings 18:30-38
The Burning of the Captains and their Host 2 Kings 1:10-12
The Parting of the Jordan River 2 Kings 2:7, 8
The Land of Israel – Elisha
The Parting of the Jordan River 2 Kings 2:14
The Healing of the Waters of Jericho 2 Kings 2:21, 22
The Destruction of the Mocking Children at Bethel 2 Kings 2:24
Water Is Supplied to the Armies in Moab 2 Kings 3:16-20
The  Multiplication of the Widows Oil 2 Kings 4:2-7
The Raising of the Shunammite’s Son 2 Kings 4:32-37
Curing the Deadly Pottage 2 Kings 4:38-41
The Feeding of the 100 with 20 Loaves 2 Kings 4:42-44
Naaman the Syrian General is Cured of Leprosy 2 Kings 5:10-14
Naaman’s  Leprosy Clings to Gehazi 2 Kings 5:20-27
The Iron Axe Did Float 2 Kings 6:5-7
The Syrian Army Was Smitten 2 Kings 6:18-20
The Dead Man Was Raised by Touching Elisha’s Bones 2 Kings 13:21
The Mediterranean Sea – Jonah
Jonah is Released from the Great Fish Jonah 2:1-10
The Land of Israel – Isaiah
Destruction of Sennacherib’s Army 2 Kings 19:35
The Sun Dial Returned 10 Degrees 2 Kings 20:9-11
Babylon During the Captivity of Judah
3 Jews in the Fiery Furnace Daniel 3:19-27
Daniel is Delivered from the Den of Lions Daniel 6:16-23
The Writing on the Wall Daniel 5:22-31

John 6:14 – Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

https://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/miracles.html


She Was an Abortion Clinic Nurse, Until God Changed Her Life in a Miraculous Way

MICAIAH BILGER AUG 6, 2019

María Martínez Gómez spent years working at an abortion facility, denying the realities of what she saw.

A nurse in Spain, she said she was baptized Catholic, but when she grew up, she began to despise the faith and all it stood for, according to the Catholic News Agency.

During a Catholic conference in May in San Sebastian, Spain, Gómez explained why she quit her abortion work and how God changed her life in a miraculous way.

She said her work at the abortion clinic stressed her out; she spent her days getting women ready for surgical abortions and then trying to comfort them afterward. Gómez said she lied to herself and the women about the unborn babies who were being aborted there.

Once, she remembered, she thought she saw the foot of an aborted baby, but she said she convinced herself that it was just a blood clot, according to the report.

Here’s more:

Gomez said the abortion clinic purposely took steps to ensure that women would not change their minds prior to their abortions. Women would be isolated from their partners, to “remove them from reality,” before their surgeries, and it would be Gomez’s job to hold their hands and keep them calm while the abortion was happening.

Afterwards, she said that sometimes the women were so traumatized by what they had experienced, they thought they had not yet undergone an abortion and begged her to stop it from happening. It was Gomez’s job to inform them that they had in fact already had an abortion.

Eventually, she said she quit because of the stress of the job. She went back to school and earned a degree in physiotherapy.

About that same time, there was a devastating earthquake in Nepal. Gómez decided to move to Kathmandu to help with the relief efforts, the report states.

It was there in that Hindu country that Jesus touched her heart and brought her to the Catholic faith.

One day, she said she was walking in the street when a sister with the Missionaries of Charity grabbed her and urged her to follow. Gómez said she thought about going along just to mock the sisters during Mass, but things turned out very differently.

Gómez spoke Spanish, and the Mass was in English, so she said she did not understand it very well. Then, suddenly, she said she heard a voice in Spanish telling her, “Welcome home.” Confused, she said she heard the voice again, saying: “Welcome home. How long it took you to love me.”

“It was the cross of Christ talking to me,” she said.

Gómez said she laid on the floor and wept, asking for forgiveness.

Later, the sisters told her that they had been praying for someone exactly like her, a physiotherapist, to come to their convent, according to the report.

Gómez said she spent four months with the sisters, teaching them physical therapy and rehabilitation until her visa ran out. Then, she returned to Spain where she has been sharing her conversion story.

“I was a dry bone in that valley, that He decided to revive,” Gomez said. “That is the Mercy of God.”

 

Original here