Praying for our troubled world

In slightly over a month, so many things have happened yet again.  Just a few months ago, we were appalled by the sexual assault allegations levelled at once-popular actor Bill Cosby, and news of the subsequent mistrial (a retrial is set to take place in April 2018).  Then almost like an avalanche, Hollywood and the media world were rocked repeatedly by sexual assault allegations levelled at former icons and luminaries such as Roger Ailes (who has since died), Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, Bill O’Reilly and Kevin Spacey.  Accusations of sexual harassment have also taken centre stage with UK defence secretary Michael Fallon resigning from Theresa May’s already beleaguered cabinet.  Others who have recently joined the line of alleged predators include former US President George H.W. Bush, film producer-director Oliver Stone and actor Jeremy Piven.  Some critics are also resurfacing the sexual misconduct of former US President Bill Clinton.  And so the list keeps getting longer.  We would be naive to believe that all this only happens in Hollywood, the political arena and the media industry.  We will not dwell on why it has taken so long for so many of these criminal behaviours to surface.  We only thank God that this is finally happening.  The silenced will no longer be silent.  May God’s light of truth continue to shine into the darkness to expose all the devious deeds carried out in secret by evil and depraved men.  O LORD Jesus, we pray for truth and justice to prevail!

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As for terror attacks, these are happening around the world every month.  On 31 October 2017, New York experienced a vehicle-ramming terror attack similar to those that occurred in Nice, Berlin, London, Stockholm, Charlottesville, Barcelona and Edmonton.  Unfortunately, tragic as these might have been, they pale in comparison to other incidents in countries such as Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria.  Two cases in point are the truck bombing in Somalia on 14 October 2017 that killed and injured more than 358 and 400 people, respectively, as well as the suicide car bombing in Syria on 4 November 2017 that killed more than 100 and injured about 140.

Then there are also the equally disturbing non-terrorist-related shootings, such as the one that took place on church grounds in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 and injuring 20.  On 14 November 2017, another shooting took place in northern California, including at an elementary school.

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As for natural disasters, we know that Vietnam was struck by Typhoon Damrey on 4 November 2017, leaving at least 106 people dead.  It is reportedly the strongest typhoon in 16 years to make landfall in Vietnam.  On 12 & 13 November 2017, the deadliest earthquake in 2017 thus far (magnitude 7.3) struck the Iran-Iraq border, leaving at least 530 dead and more than 8,000 injured.

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Once again, we pray for the recently bereaved, the injured, the displaced and the traumatised.  We also pray for those in authority to have the wisdom to respond to these situations decisively and effectively, even as we pray for an extra measure of grace for those involved in homeland and cross-border security, as well as first responders and medical teams.  We pray in particular for the Church, i.e. the Body of Christ, to arise and respond in a way that would bring God’s comfort and truth to all those around.  May these tragic moments be a time for soul-searching, reconciliation and an earnest search for the one true God.  May those who are in despair be comforted and found by God Almighty, our Heavenly Father.

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Moreover, while the politics of the USA, UK, North Korea and even Spain and Zimbabwe have dominated the headlines recently, many are also watching closely the developments in the Middle East, especially following “the purge” executed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which has led to the arrest of an estimated 500 persons, including 11 Saudi princes as well as ministers and members of the Saudi business elite.  Adding to the suspense are the sudden resignation and alleged detention of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Saudi Arabia, with Lebanon caught up in the cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran (as well as the Iran-backed and Lebanon-based Hezbollah, whose military prowess has grown with its heavy involvement in the war in Syria).  The threat of another war with Hezbollah has significantly raised tensions in Israel, with the possibility of a Saudi-Iranian proxy war taking place through an Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, all in the midst of the recent convergence of Israeli, Saudi Arabian and US rhetoric against Iran.

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Despite all these developments, we remember Matthew 24 about the “signs of the End Times” and “wars and rumours of wars”, and therefore should not be surprised by all that is happening around us.  We can cling to the promise that God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8: 28).  We know God our Father is wise and faithful.  His thoughts and ways are higher (Isaiah 55: 8 & 9). He is also compassionate and gracious, and does not want to see anyone perish (2 Peter 3: 9).  Yet He is a God who is fair and He provides His created beings with choice – to choose or to reject Him.  These critical developments around the world provide ample opportunities for all sinners to acknowledge the fragility and brevity of human life, and their need for God in their lives.

With this in mind, let us not be disheartened.  Instead, let us press on and continue to pray for one another and to intercede for the nations.

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If the world hates you

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It is so very easy to be distracted by personal schedules, commitments and problems, not to mention the global challenges and uncertainties facing all of us today.  Hot on the heels of Hurricane Harvey came the ruthless onslaught and devastation of Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Katia in the Caribbean, the US and Mexico.  This was then followed by Hurricane Maria which has recently sent Dominica and Puerto Rico into a tailspin.  Of course, there is also the ongoing threat from North Korea as well as the disturbing Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, with 430,000 Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh. Marseille and Edmonton have just experienced terror attacks. But at the time of writing, the “deadliest mass shooting in US history” has just taken place on 1 October 2017, with about 60 dead and more than 500 injured at a country music festival in Las Vegas.  Let us remember in our prayers all those who have died or lost loved ones, as well as those who have been injured and/or traumatised by this recent tragedy.

All that has been happening around the world surely highlights the sobering fact that life is precious but uncertain.  We cannot assume that each of us has an indefinite amount of time with those around us.  It is obvious that many have departed and will depart this world without ever knowing the significance of repentance as well as the joy and peace of knowing a loving and holy God and receiving His amazing gift of eternal life.  This uncomfortable realisation should really make us more focused, intentional and purposeful in our lives.  It ought to increase our sense of priority and urgency too.  We really need to be honest with ourselves: Have we persevered in prayer for the lost? If not, why not? Do we really care?

And what about our brothers and sisters in Christ in the persecuted church around the world? How often do we stand in the gap for them? Again, do we really care? Or does thinking or talking about Christian persecution make us uncomfortable or scared? Let us pause for a moment, and reflect on and pray through these comforting and inspiring words of truth from our LORD Jesus…

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.  Remember the words I spoke to you.  No servant is greater than his master.  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…”

                                                                                                                                    – John 15: 18 – 20

“They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.  They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.  I have told you this, so that when the time comes, you will remember that I warned you…”

                                                                                                                                         – John 16: 2 – 4

“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.  You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.  A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come, but when her baby is born, she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.  So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.  In that day you will no longer ask me anything.  I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”

– John 16: 20 – 23

“…In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

– John 16: 33

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And should we feel tempted to give up or take matters into our own hands when the suffering and persecution seem unbearable, let us draw strength from our LORD Jesus’ prayer to Abba Father…

 

“My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.  As You sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”

– John 17: 15 – 19 

“My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent me.  I have given them the glory that You gave me that they may be one as we are one: I in them and You in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved me.”

– John 17: 20 – 23

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There is undoubtedly much suffering around the world, and followers of Jesus are also not spared from natural disasters, war, famine, drought, poverty, life-threatening diseases, crime, violence, bereavement, financial difficulties, homelessness, joblessness and other personal tragedies.  However, those suffering persecution for their faith in Christ are not only facing most – if not all – of the tragedies mentioned above, but also physical torture, psychological abuse, ostracism, isolation and/or imprisonment. Many have literally lost everything.  Yet most of them only covet our prayers and they still rejoice that nobody can ever take Jesus away from their hearts.  What an incredible testimony!

Every one of us is therefore called to be Christ’s ambassadors, whatever our circumstances.  We are called to pour out our lives, to be a living testimony, that others may see Jesus.  By God’s love, grace and power, may we offer our lives as a living sacrifice, as a sacrifice of praise, for His glory.

Only by His grace.  For.  His.  Glory.  Amen.

Wars and rumours of wars

“You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.  Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains…”

– Matthew 24: 6 – 8

Yes, just a while ago, we praised God for answered prayers and rejoiced over the release of a pastor imprisoned in North Korea.  Yet this was soon overshadowed by the escalating nuclear crisis brought about by the launch of Kim Jong Un’s intermediate range Hwasong-12 missile over Japan, which North Korean media have reported as an overt threat directed at the American territory of Guam (and no doubt all the surrounding nations such as South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan), soon after American President Donald Trump’s much criticised bellicose threat of “fire and fury”.

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Elsewhere in the United Kingdom and Europe, there has been a deadlock over the UK’s Brexit divorce from the EU.  Even within the UK, the country is split many ways, with many Remainers and Britons experiencing “Regrexit” opposing die-hard Brexiteers, not to mention Brexiteers advocating a hard Brexit versus a soft Brexit.

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America is no better, with Democrats clashing with Republicans in the GOP, essentially liberals or progressives who are pro-government/abortion/LGBTQ/gun control/diversity versus conservatives who support less government interference and are pro-life or anti-abortion as well as against LGBTQ, gun control and immigration (there are of course many other permutations but these would suffice).  But it’s not that simple either.  It’s partly or largely a sign of the “global famine” experienced around the world, where people everywhere are feeling “left behind” and threatened, and want doors and borders closed to foreigners, giving rise to a dangerous form of nationalism.  Those who voted for Brexit say they want to “take their country back”, and blue-collar workers in America’s rust belt have also chanted the same slogan, along with white supremacists like the Ku Klux Klan demanding to “Make America Great Again”.

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Against such a disturbing and uncertain political backdrop, Texas and Louisiana have just been hit by Hurricane Harvey that has proven to be even more catastrophic than Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 and the infamous Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, which at that time was deemed the costliest natural disaster and one of five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States.  The death toll in Texas has climbed to 44 and this is likely to rise after the waters recede and the full scale of the devastation is assessed.

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Meanwhile, Monsoon rains and floods have killed over 1,000 people and affected 41 million others across Bangladesh, India and Nepal.  Before all this were the “2017 China Floods” – widespread flooding that struck China in early June, affecting about 15 million people and killing more than 200.

Recently, Hong Kong and Macau have been hit by the deadly Typhoon Hato.  Flights were cancelled, ferries suspended and schools closed as Typhoon Hato prompted the Hong Kong Observatory to hoist the first signal No. 10 since 2012 on 23 August.  After being battered by Typhoon Hato and severe tropical storm Pakhar, Hong Kong is presently on standby and bracing itself for tropical storm Mawar – a possible third typhoon to strike in only two weeks.

What about earthquakes? These have been common too, with 17 in August 2017 alone, the most recent one being on 31 August in Indonesia again.  In 2017, the countries with the highest death tolls are Italy and China, and the earthquakes with the highest magnitudes were those in Papua New Guinea (22 January), Russia (17 July) and the Philippines (10 January), in descending order.

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Apart from natural disasters, terrorism originating from Syria and Iraq and other parts of the Middle East (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Iran and Yemen) as well as Africa (e.g. Nigeria, Somalia, Libya and Tunisia), South Asia (e.g. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) and other parts of Asia (e.g. Afghanistan, Indonesia and the Philippines) have been wreaking havoc in Europe and around the world for some time now.  The most recent events covered by the media include Barcelona and Cambrils in Spain on 17 August as well as Turku in Finland on 18 August, not forgetting the more unusual Charlottesville terror attack on 12 August.  The attacks were carried out by homegrown terrorists and authorities have admitted in media reports that terror threats are much more significant and dangerous on home ground.  Contrary to popular opinion, most attacks were not executed by “lone wolves” trying to be “copycats” but by increasingly organised homegrown terror cells with support from an international network.

The words Jesus says in Matthew 24 are wise and relevant even today…

“You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.  Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of birth pains…”

– Matthew 24: 6 – 8

So as followers of our Saviour Jesus Christ, what can and must we do? Continue to stand firm and stay true to our faith, trusting in Him, seeking His wisdom and not human wisdom.  Let us not be swayed by the irresponsible rhetoric of politicians, false prophets and false teachers.

Let us remain prayerful as we number our days aright. We are called to be salt and light in this dark, dark world – our temporary home – until the day we meet our Maker face to face in our true and eternal home.

Editor’s Note: Hong Kong was spared from a third tropical storm – Typhoon Mawar – on the weekend of 2 & 3 September 2017.   As of 7 September 2017, Hurricane Harvey’s death toll has risen to at least 70.  However, Hurricane Irma has since superseded Category 3 Hurricane Harvey, with its highest classification of Category 5.  So strong that it even appeared on earthquake seismometers, Hurricane Irma is now described as “the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history”, pummelling the Caribbean Islands such as Barbuda, Antigua, St. Barts, St. Martin, Anguilla, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and beating an angry path towards Florida.  

In other news, in the early hours of 7 September 2017, an earthquake of magnitude 8.2 has struck in the Pacific, killing at least six people.  Described by Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto as the country’s strongest in a century, the death toll is expected to rise.

Let us rejoice!

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Wonderful news from Open Doors UK & Ireland:

IMPRISONED CANADIAN CHURCH LEADER FREED

Amid escalating rhetoric between leaders in North Korea and the United States, there is good news for imprisoned Canadian-Korean church leader Heyun Soo Lim, who was released ‘on sick bail’ according to a North Korean state news agency yesterday.

As head pastor at the Light Presbyterian Church in Toronto, Lim had visited North Korea more than 100 times to distribute humanitarian aid. His church lost contact with him in January 2015. In February that same year, it transpired that he’d been detained. In December 2015, he was convicted of numerous charges, including an attempt to overthrow the government.

His release this week came on 9 August, one day after a special envoy of the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, had arrived in Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, three Korean-Americans are detained in North Korea, two of whom taught at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology: Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song. A third, Kim Dong Chul, a South Korean-born businessman and naturalised US citizen, is serving a sentence of 10 years’ hard labour for ‘espionage’.

PLEASE PRAY:

  • Give thanks that Pastor Lim is now free; pray that he will make a full recovery
  • For God’s courage to strengthen the remaining prisoners, and for a swift release for them
  • For justice and mercy from the North Korean government to the tens of thousands of Christians in labour camps.

For more details about Pastor Lim’s release announced on 9 August 2017, click here.

To view news reports on the pastor’s sentencing in December 2015, click here and here.

Comfort and assurance from our LORD

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How are you feeling today, my friends? Know with certainty in your heart that you are precious in God’s sight.  There might be a variety of challenges and troubles in our lives but let us be comforted by the words of our LORD Jesus:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.” – John 14: 1 – 4

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14: 6

Should we doubt whether we can ask God for help, whatever the situation, here’s a wonderful reminder…

“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” – John 14: 14

Wow.  It’s good to revisit such a promise from our LORD Jesus every now and then.  Of course it goes without saying that we should submit to His wisdom, will and timing, even as we ask for help.

The LORD Jesus also assures all believers that He will never leave us as orphans, and that at all times, we will not only have Abba Father in Heaven not also the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, Counselor, Encourager and the Spirit of Truth…

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.  But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.  He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will give him and show myself to him.” – John 14: 15 – 18 & 21

So at this point, let us pray for God’s wisdom and grace to continue to shine for Him, wherever He has planted us around the world.

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Let us especially remember our brothers and sisters in the Persecuted Church. May the Holy Spirit lead you so you will know which specific country or countries to pray for. It doesn’t have to be a country in the news right now.  As the Holy Spirit leads, simply obey and spend some time praying for persecuted Christians in the land revealed to you.  Let us stand in the gap for God’s love, comfort, peace and grace to envelop our fellow believers around the world – to strengthen them so that they can continue to be powerful witnesses and give Him all the glory.  Let’s also pray for their persecutors.  Pray that the scales will be removed from their eyes, that they will no longer wander in spiritual blindness but will finally see the Truth.  Pray for barriers to be removed from their hearts, that their hearts will be softened to be fertile soil that is ready to receive seeds of the Good News.  May the Holy Spirit pierce each heart and cause powerful personal encounters so that all these “Sauls” will become “Pauls” soon.  In Jesus’ mighty name, we pray.  Amen.

Will He find faith on the earth?

While major incidents in the west make it to the news, such as the heart-wrenching Grenfell Tower fire in London (reminiscent of the 1970s film “The Towering Inferno”), causing global awareness and concern, a host of other disasters (some equally or even more severe) are also happening all over the world.  These other incidents don’t receive the same media coverage.  Sometimes it’s censorship but most times it’s just due to a lack of media and public interest.

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Whatever the reality, while some people and incidents mean almost nothing to us, they mean the whole world to Abba Father.  He sees everything.  He sees the suffering.  He sees the pain.  One life lost is just as precious as the next.  And He is a God of justice and His ears are attentive to our cries for mercy.  Like the persistent widow in Luke 18, we should never stop asking, petitioning and praying, for God is watching over us…

“And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly.  However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18: 7 & 8)

May our faith never waver.  And may we be found faithful when our LORD Jesus returns.

Peace I leave with you

I am not a war correspondent. Neither am I a journalist covering terror attacks or disasters. Whether it is the loss of lives in floods across Sri Lanka or terror attacks in Manchester, Minya, Kabul or London, every one of them is tragic.  What shouldn’t have happened, happened. Amidst all the pain, loss, grief, fear, confusion and trauma, wherever we are in the world, we know the first thing we can and must do – run to Abba Father and His word.

Once again, let us be comforted, strengthened and led by the Holy Spirit and the scriptures, as we continue to pray and intercede:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14: 27

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41: 10

The wisdom, love and truth that Jesus presents to the world are hard-to-stomach, unique and radical…

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone…” – Psalm 118: 22

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5: 44

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” – Luke 6: 27 & 28

The Holy Spirit and scripture keep us on track…

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” – Romans 15: 4

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” – John 14: 26

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” – Luke 8: 15

Where there is violence, Jesus offers peace. Where there is pain and suffering, Jesus offers comfort. Where there is hatred, Jesus offers unconditional love and reconciliation. Jesus is the answer.  For God is love.

 

 

God is still in control

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Yes, it has happened again.  This time to families, especially young people and children.

The powerful home-made bomb that went off at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, on 22 May 2017 killed 22 people and injured about 60 others.  All this even while the terror attack in London on 22 March 2017 remains fresh in one’s memory.

Then two days later, on 24 May 2017, two bombs went off in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing five people, including three policemen.  And on 25 May 2017, a letter bomb went off in Athens, injuring former prime minister of Greece, Lucas Papademos. Then on 26 May 2017, gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in Minya, Egypt, with children among the at least 28 people massacred and dozens injured.  It just doesn’t stop.

Our world is moving and changing at an incredible speed.  It is getting more and more dangerous by the day, by the minute, by the second.  Many lives have been lost.  Many lives have been changed forever.

We ask ourselves: how could anyone so cold-bloodedly mastermind and execute such heinous crimes, causing injury and the loss of so many innocent lives? Then we remember all the conflicts and wars occurring around the world.  We also remember the persecuted church – Christians across the globe who are persecuted for being faithful followers of our LORD Jesus.

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“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…” (Matthew 24: 12)

O Father in heaven, we live in troubled times.  With each day, there is an increase of wickedness and godlessness, and the love of many is growing cold.  But we know that “he who stands firm to the end will be saved”.  We know You, O LORD, lift up those who are bowed down, and You, O LORD, love the righteous.  You, O LORD, watch over the alien and sustain the fatherless and the widow.  And You, O LORD, frustrate the ways of the wicked. We know that our LORD Jesus has already conquered sin, death and Satan on the cross.  So even if things don’t seem to make sense right now, we will continue to trust in You.  Our faith shall not waver.  O Holy Spirit, strengthen us.  Despite these confusing and uncertain times, we know that You, O God, are still in control.  We know that nothing is impossible with You.  We know that You, O LORD, are able to use even all the ugly bits to turn things around for good.  We know that in all things, You, O God, work for the good of those who love You, who have been called according to Your purpose.  May we also sense the times we are currently living in, and with great urgency share the Good News to all those around us, for we do not know who will be taken away from us tomorrow.  O LORD Jesus, lead and guide us.  We pray for Your grace to live purposeful lives during our own time here on earth.  Let us also stand with our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church around the world and always remember them in our prayers.  O Sovereign LORD, Your ways and thoughts are higher.  We believe that everything remains part of Your Big Divine Plan to reveal Your glory to all the nations, so that You may in turn receive all the glory You alone deserve from all the nations.  Amen.

Note:

Nun, Nuun (Arabic letter)

Untitled-3The fourteenth letter of the Arabic alphabet, nun (nuun), equivalent to the Hebrew  or Phoenician nun. The letter in all three alphabets is derived from a pictogram of a fish or serpent.

Of some significance of late because of its use by the militant Jihadist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)  in Iraq.  The nun stands in for “Nasara,” or “Nazarene”, and is at the time of this writing being used to mark the homes of Christians in Mosul, Iraq.  In a mimicry of  the relatively tolerant practices of the Ottoman Caliphate, Christians whose homes have been marked have been given an ultimatum to convert, pay a steep ‘tax’ or flee.

The symbol has been taken up by Western Christians in solidarity with fellow Iraqi Christians.

Taize: Nothing Can Trouble

Try this first thing in the morning…

Find a quiet spot.  Sit upright.  Be still.  Inhale deeply.  Exhale.  Repeat several times.  Quieten your heart before the LORD.  Then listen to this simple yet powerful song from the Taize community in France:

 

Sing along with it.  Sing it acapella.

Here is an instrumental version of the song:

 

Whether you sing it or simply listen to it being sung, you will sense the comforting presence of the LORD in the silence.  Sing and be blessed.

 

 Taize: Nothing Can Trouble

Nothing can trouble

Nothing can frighten

Those who seek God

Shall never go wanting

Nothing can trouble

Nothing can frighten

God alone fills us

God is watching over His lambs and sheep

“Praise the LORD.  How good it is to sing praises to our God,

how pleasant and fitting to praise Him!”

(Psalm 147: 1)

And how wonderful it is to hear from our brothers and sisters in Christ who are persevering in the faith in the midst of trials, still encouraging and spurring one another on in the Christian journey every moment, every day.  We remind ourselves that our Abba Father in heaven sees and knows everything.  He is watching over all His precious lambs and sheep around the world…

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him…” (2 Chronicles 15: 4)

Nature, Spring, Animal, Sheep, Wool

“For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1: 6)

“He upholds the cause of the oppressed

and gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets prisoners free,

the LORD gives sight to the blind,

the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,

the LORD loves the righteous.

The LORD watches over the alien

and sustains the fatherless and the widow,

but He frustrates the ways of the wicked.”

(Psalm 146: 7 – 9)

“Though the LORD is on high, He looks upon the lowly,

but the proud He knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,

You preserve my life;

You stretch out Your hand against the anger of my foes,

with Your right hand You save me.”

(Psalm 138: 6 & 7)

Yes, we have the LORD Jesus Christ as our great high priest, and we can press on because we know He fully understands human suffering…

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4: 14 & 15)

Therefore, fear not.  We can run to our LORD God: “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth”. (Psalm 145: 18)

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4: 16)

God is faithful.  He always keeps His promises.  He will help us and sustain us as we persevere in the faith…

“…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10: 22 – 24)

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” (Hebrews 10: 35 & 36)

Therefore, we shall not be men and women with feet of clay.  Let us be bold and courageous…

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (Hebrews 10: 39)

May the LORD our God Almighty make us stand firm, strong and steadfast.  Amen.