Posts Tagged With: Muslims

Pray for your Enemies to Make More Friends

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi needs to become a friend of Jesus.What I mean by the title is not merely that you pray that your enemies be winsome people who get more people on their side. Rather, that we must pray that our enemies would repent in order that they might become our friends. This is a risky way to pray.

It means you may have to leave the comfort of your home, your internet connection and go to meet someone you are scared of face to face. It may mean confronting your persecutors with the standards of the law so that they will be ashamed enough to repent … They may not necessarily repent, but if you pray, and pray faithfully, you may persuade God to persuade them to change their heart.

There is a risk you could lose a fortune on your new friends. You could lose the comfort of financial security. You could lose your health by going to people who are diseased or who intentionally infect you and seek to do you harm. You will at the very least have to spend time you could use making money and spending time with easy friends in order to represent the Kingdom of God in “hostile territory.” Indeed, you could die, without winning any new friends from among your enemies in your own lifetime.

Is it worth it?

Yes … if you do it on behalf of Jesus, completing the sufferings He suffered.

He promised that those who are persecuted for righteousness sake have the kingdom of Heaven which is peace, joy, and righteousness. You just can’t beat that deal. But first pray. Indeed, the beginning of the beatitudes is, “Blessed are those who are beggars in spirit, for theirs IS the Kingdom of Heaven.”

You have the treasures of heaven available, if only you will come before the Throne of God and beg, if only you will obey until you suffer. Wow!!

If you were to ask the Gazan Christians if this was easy, they would tell you that they count it all joy. If you were to ask the observers of the character of Christians who fled terror in Iraq, you would hear that the Christians did not respond in kind with violence, but with kindness. The saints violate the normal tit-for-tat way of doing things by forgiving enemies.

This sounds too hard, you say, too surreal. Let me ask you a question: Would you rather suffer a little in this life, or suffer for all eternity apart from the presence of God?

Take up the cross Jesus hands you, or suffer all loss because you do not understand Jesus.

I hope that as you count the costs, and consider the benefits in the long-term of following Jesus, you will follow Him with a glad heart.

Peace,
Mert Hershberger

Categories: Evangelism, Persecution | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving Isn’t Love until You Love Those who Hate You

I used to think that I was a good guy.

I got all A’s in school.

I was healthy.

I was voted most likely to succeed.

I excelled in all that I set my hands to.

Then, there came a point at which I really got to know Jesus.

Now I know what a wretched sinner I am!

Oh, I had already called on the Lord and was saved, but this was different. I committed to follow Jesus by identifying with his death, burial, and resurrection. He who knew no sin, became sin for us so that we might become the integrity & virtue of God.

I do not follow the traditional teaching of the church on this verse. The traditional teaching of the church is that Jesus became a sin offering, thus inserting the word offering. I go behind the traditional teaching to look at Jesus Himself. He did not come to offer sin. He offered His Holiness. The Father came close in Christ.

Let us take this at face value though. What is this verse actually saying:

1. Jesus knew no sin.

2. Jesus became sin for us.

3. 1 & 2 are so that we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus became what he did not know so we could become what we are not. Jesus allowed himself to be humiliated so that we might become honored. Jesus was shamed so that we would be saved.

Jesus was indeed a sin offering. But that is not necessarily what this says explicitly. It says he became sin.

Ask any Muslim what the greatest sin is and they will say it is “Shirk.” to ascribe partners to God. I.e. to identify Jesus as divine.

Jesus was sinless. All are agreed on that except for a few people who claim that there is no absolute morality, which is self contradictory, so we will kindly ignore those proud souls for now who exalt themselves over God in their own mind (particularly since their own morality often is less than that of Jesus.)

Jesus also asserted that he is God. When he claimed to be the Son of Man, he was claiming not merely to be human, but to be made in the exact image of God and to be exalted as the one like a Son of Man who reigns in glory before the Ancient of Days as described in Daniel.

For a man who appeared to have been born of an illicit union, though he was not, to have claimed what appeared impossible, that he is God, resulted in the predictable condemnation at the courts of the Jewish leaders and the Roman authorities. This was indeed a most preposterous claim for mere flesh to make.

But Jesus was no mere mortal. He was also immortal. He laid down His life freely (that is, he chose to make that claim, when he could have kept it to himself). He also took up his life again (that is, he happily and triumphantly rose from the grave and left the grave clothes behind. He was victorious over death. He submitted to what appeared to be the defilement of the grave that he might sanctify the grave yard as a rest area for the saints, a mere passing through place which leads to a much better place.) Jesus is fully alive and well today.

So what? What difference if Jesus rose? I haven’t seen him, the atheist will say.

Ah, but Jesus is alive and active in His Body. Wherever 2 or more gather in the name of Jesus, submitting to His authority as Lord, they experience and communicate the presence of Jesus. It is not merely in this ritual or ceremony. It is a moment by moment reality.

And so it comes to pass, that when the doubter, the bitter soul, the slanderer, the evil doer, or any other person with any bad intentions comes against a church (that is, such a gathering of saints who are submitted to Jesus) the presence of Jesus is assaulted. But so also, the power of the Messiah’s resurrection is present in His people. He comes back again and again to present the truth claims of God on man. Because Jesus demonstrated what it is to be 100% submitted to God, he can claim to be fully God without any duplicity. Not even the angels can claim to be God without lying. But Jesus not only claimed this power, he demonstrates it over and over again every time His people demonstrate patience with the wicked. Everytime the church witnesses to the truth in a world of falsehood. Everytime a believer confesses the deity of Jesus the Messiah to a Muslim or Jew or Hindu or Buddhist or atheist or tribal practitioner, he experiences the righteousness of God.

You say, then how come witnesses seem so care-free, so unworried of what the world says about them? Why is it that missionaries go about their mission as though ignorant of the plans and purposes of the world to destroy them and to undermine them?

We can laugh at adversity, not because adversity is inherently fun, but we know the One (the Father, the Son, and the Spirit), the Lord who is greater than all our troubles.

We know the provider. Even if we starve and are indebted, we know the One who will feed us daily bread and who will forgive all our debts. Even if we are slaughtered, as the Islamic State is trying to do in Mosul, we know the One who Saves from the grave through the power of the resurrection.

Jesus is Lord.

No government can stop Him.

No army can harm Him.

No bank can buy Him.

No store can sell Him.

No religion can restrain Him.

No human can exhume Him.

No hand can hurt Him.

No sickness can weaken Him.

No failure can flunk Him.

Jesus reigns supreme!

He took ALL our shame.

He took ALL our sin.

With His Holy Claim.

And He rose once again.

Categories: Good News, Suffering, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Saudi Weekend Honors Sabbath: Will Bless both Jews and Arabs.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia recently opened up the way for Saudi’s weekend to come more in line with Jewish and Christian interpretations of the weekend: Friday-Saturday rather than Thursday-Friday. Most markets around the weekend follow the Jewish or Jewish-Christian pattern of taking the Sabbath (i.e. commonly called Saturday) off.

Take a poll!

Bloomberg’s article on economic implications:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-23/saudi-arabia-changes-weekend-to-friday-saturday-spa-reports.html

More significant than the economic implications though are the implications for how this is a partial fulfillment that the earth is the Lord’s & everything in it. The Lord chose the Jews and revealed the Sabbath to them as a day to work and rest. I encourage everyone to take time to do that: to rest from all work. What is interesting about this, is that it is a sign that Arab peoples are reconciling with the culture of the Jews, even if the motive is temporal financial gain. What will this lead to, but Life from the dead … when they honor the Sabbath which remains: the finished work of Jesus on the cross!

Jesus, Isa-al Masih is the real establisher Sabbath. He is Lord of the Sabbath. He is the Sabbath, or rest of completion in that he enables us to relax in Him. We no longer need to worry about anything. We are now free to work productively and be happy because we are no longer slaves to sin. Maybe one day all Saudis will be liberated from all oppression of all sinful desires, but first it helps to have the law conform to the Law of the Lord.

If you do what blesses the Jews, you will be blessed. Jews are being blessed as they follow a form, how much more will they be blessed when they follow the Lord with their whole heart!! Muslims in Saudi Arabia are prospering a little financially as they serve God with their lips and actions while their hearts are far from Him. Consider what would happen if they loved the Lord in both soul and spirit, with their heart and their whole life:

1. They would find salvation as they trusted the Word of God, as they became slaves of the Word of God (Kalimattullah).
2. They would spread the Good News of Jesus rather than the laws of the desert.
3. They would reconcile fully with Israel.
4. They would stop funding the spread of false teaching.
5. They would labor to free Muslims from honoring Muhammed as the Greatest and give that Honor to the Lord alone.
6. They would work harder and value hard work as befitting good fruit for good lives.
7. They would find happiness in life.
8. They would see the desert bloom.
9. They would cease calling down judgment and building Mosques for the LAW.
10. They give in ways that bless Jews and Christians around the world.

If you are a Christian or Jew, consider praying for the full salvation of Saudi Arabia.
If you are a Saudi, consider praying to God for a full revelation of the Sabbath.

Categories: Environmental Healing, Good News, Law & Government | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lost & Found: Lessons Learned from a Couple of Gloves

From WikiMedia.

From the Lost & Found

The other day, I visited some saints and shared the good news with some folks who were alienated from the message of Jesus. When I was with the Muslims, I spoke passionately, as did my friend, about the love of God in calling us to obey the truth. However, I myself was missing something, unbeknownst to me. I went to the next place and shared some more. But then as we were getting ready to leave, I realized that I did not have my gloves. I went back and looked, to no avail. I had an appointment to keep, so I had to leave. We prayed and I sang a little song, “I’m a loser, God’s a finder, I’m so glad He found me!”

After singing the second verse, my friend suggested we go to a different locale. So, with his wife in the car, off we went. We reached the place where I had been earlier, and there they were. My friend found the gloves in the very place where we had deduced I must have left them.

So what are some lessons?

You will remember the parable of the lost coin that was found by the married woman. It was the equivalent of a gem in a wedding ring. Here is the passage from Luke 15:8-10, “What woman who has 10 silver coins, if she loses one, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she finds it, she calls her women friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the silver coin I lost!’ I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.” (HCSB)

A. Finding requires a thorough search, so don’t give up when you don’t find the lost on the first try.

B. Cleaning house and sorting through what you have can often reveal the lost. We had to sort through the car and retrace our path, so too, you may have to clean house spiritually to find the lost.

C. It probably required consultation with neighbors to find that coin just as more than one person worked to find those gloves. While God is the Ultimate Finder, when we are looking as the church for the lost, it often requires a host of neighbors to find what we are looking for.

D. Rarely do you find lost things in the first place you look. Don’t get stuck in a rut: be creative, try looking in new places and with new graces. Usually we get so used to routines that we lose our way in the mundane. God reveals the lost when we step out of the routine and look intensely & deeply.

E. The search is worth it. My friend and his wife at one time suggested we just buy new gloves, but then they offered to take me to get the gloves in the last possible place. It was worth it. Less overall cost. It costs less to find the lost than to start all over again. Take the time to look. Looking for the lost is worth it. Finding the lost saves more than what was lost, it saves precious resources and brings peace.

F. When you find, celebrate as a group! They don’t call them search parties for nothing. It should be fun to find! Discovering the resources of giftedness and godliness yet to be revealed to and in the lost is worth going to tell them and telling them again until they come to their senses.

Incidentally, the place where we had the most fun sharing about Jesus was a clothing store. We were able to share about the Lost Son and how he risked everything to be restored. My friend rehearsed the story of redemption with passion. It engaged all of us to engage all of them in a search for the truth. They even received an Arabic-English Bible. God was at work.

Ultimately, we must remember and honor the Lord who reveals the lost and reveals Himself to the lost. He searches them out. He searches their hearts. He finds the treasure planted in the world. He gathers in every grain for His barns.

The Lord Jesus spares no expense to find the lost.

Can we do any less?

Categories: Evangelism, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prayer paved the way

From Kankan to Ypsilanti

At one point, the Mande Peoples ruled over much of West Africa in an empire that spanned centuries.

Every church bulletin includes a prayer list: names of the sick, those without jobs, friends and family who are traveling, church staff, and, oh yes, the missionaries. Some remember to pray for those on the list. Some even pray for a blessing on all the missionaries.

Others take the time to pray specifically for the individuals, the sick and those away from their homeland for the express purpose of telling others about Jesus Christ, and the difference following Him and His teachings can make in anyone’s life.

In 1997, through the church he attended at the time in Indiana, my son, Mert, learned of the Mande, a people group in West Africa. He included them when he prayed for individual missionaries in their specific country. He not only prayed, he researched the needs of the people and followed events and missionaries in the area.

In 2000, he left Indiana, but he kept the Mande mission outreach in his prayers – even when he heard little about them.

In 2005, he moved to Michigan where he rides the city buses and prays for opportunities to meet new people on the bus. Sometimes, he shares Bible verses that catch his attention.

One day’s reading touched on Paul’s visit to Rome as a prisoner and his greeting to the Jews, “You will be ever seeing, but never perceiving. Ever hearing, but never understanding. Lest you turn from your sin and be healed. …” That evening, Mert shared those words with the man sitting beside him.

“That is so true for me,” the man said. “I have trouble seeing, trouble hearing, and trouble thinking.”

“Go to the elders of your church and ask for healing,” my son said.

“I am a Muslim.”

“Oh, where are you from?”

It turned out that the man, Reggie, came from West Africa – from the Mande people group for whom Mert continued to pray.

After briefly sharing the Good News with him, Mert noted his contact information and, a couple of weeks later, he visited Reggie.

Reggie expressed his belief in Jesus as the Son of God, asked prayer for his family and began reading the Bible.

After visiting him a couple of times, Mert and a friend arrived one day to discover that the entire apartment complex was empty. No one knew where anyone had moved.

Turning to leave, they spotted a business card for Reggie’s mother’s hair-braiding salon. It took a bit of hunting to find the place, but they did. It was hidden behind a simple glass door at the end of a narrow hallway.

Reggie’s mother, Sarah, talked about her family and accepted prayers of blessings for her in Jesus name. Over time, she introduced them to other Mande people in the area. Sometimes Mert brought Bible story books he had received which were in her language, Gospel recordings or copies of the “Jesus” film in Sarah’s native language to give to her and her friends.

For Reggie, a boxer, Mert found an autobiography of George Foreman that included his testimony of faith in Jesus.

This year in March, Ahmed, a religious leader, moved into the area, and Sarah introduced him. They began talking about the Word of God. Ahmed introduced Mert to a professor of the Mande people’s language whose father had created an alphabet for the people and written numerous books in their language.

In August, searching his Internet resources for a Bible in his friend’s native language, Mert found a linguist who had been living in the West African country and was working on translating the Bible for this people group. The linguist accepted an invitation to visit the transplanted folks from his adopted country over the Labor Day weekend.

From the translator and a website, Mert learned simple greetings in the Mande people’s language to use at the local ethnic grocery store, where he met more folks who spoke the language.

Preparations and prayers for the translator’s visit included printing 20 copies of the portions of the Bible he had translated, scheduling as many visits with various Mande folks as possible and distributing copies of the translation.

But, God had bigger plans.

The folks at the beauty salon, the grocery and around the neighborhood invited the translator and Mert to the annual gathering of immigrant Mandes. This fall that gathering just happened to be in the area.

The number of people at the convention was 150-200. By invitation, the translator gave a short speech and blessings of peace.

“The atmosphere was electric,” Mert said. The translator became the unexpected star of the convention as conventioneers asked to have their pictures taken with him. Learning that he was a Bible translator, the host said, “We are Muslims.”

“I know, but doesn’t the Koran say that you are supposed to read the Law and the Gospel?” the translator politely acknowledged.

Before he left, the translator received an invitation to speak on the international radio broadcast in the West African dialect. He plans to revisit the folks in Michigan before he returns to his work in the West African country.

For Mert, the weekend gave testimony to him that God is answering prayers for this people group.

(Written with Mert Hershberger)

This blog first appeared in Joan Hershberger’s Wednesday Column in the El Dorado News-Times in Union County, Arkansas.

Categories: Evangelism, Islam, Missions, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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