GOD WILL TURN GRIEF INTO JOY

Moffatt translates Romans 8:22,The entire creation sighs and throbs in pain.” There’s a radical difference between death pangs, which anticipate an ending and look backward, and birth pangs, which anticipate a beginning and look forward. The old, fallen, cursed Earth, convulsing and groaning in the final pains of childbearing, will birth a New Earth.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,Revelation 21:1

Prior to His return, Jesus tells us we will weep and lament as the world rejoices.

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joySo also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:20

God doesn’t only promise to replace our grief with joy, but to turn it into joy.

During the time of the Antichrist, we will experience great tribulation but Jesus will cut the time short for believers and will rapture His Saints before the wrath of God is poured out on an unrepentant world with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements.

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short. Matthew 24:21-22

DISTURBING BUT PROPHESIED STATISTICS

There has been an “unprecedented drop” in the number of Bible users in the United States since last year, according to a report released by the American Bible Society.

The estimated number of Scripture-engaged Americans dropped from 64 million in 2021 to 49 million in 2022. At the same time, the estimated number of Bible disengaged Americans rose from 100 million last year to 145 million this year.

Sadly, only thirty-three percent of baby boomers “strongly agreed” that Bible reading was important to a child’s character development,. Even less with Generation X at 28%, millennials at 19%, and Generation Z at 20%.

In his article “How the triumph of LGBTQ+ activism has negatively impacted the Church” in Christian Press Voices on June 20th, 2022, Michael Brown writes about the change in American culture from respecting the Church to instead condemning it in favor of promoting LGBT ideals. He notes there have been many reasons for this shift over the last 30 years, including Former President Obama’s endorsement of gay “marriage” in 2012 and the Supreme Court redefining marriage in 2015, but points out that true followers of Jesus still adhere to the Bible—which condemns homosexuality—and explains this has put believers at odds with today’s culture. In short, if gay is good, the Church is bad. This is another reason why many have left the Church, especially among the younger generation.

Today, you would be hard-pressed to find a major TV show that doesn’t have an LGBTQ+ character. Even cartoons and children’s shows feature LGBTQ+ characters and themes, while the number of gay or bi, or trans superheroes grows every year. Talk about a massive cultural shift. America has never seen anything like it before.

In the past, being pro-Christian and pro-natural marriage meant swimming with the tide. Today, it is the exact opposite.

And make no mistake about it: this is an intensely personal issue, not just a theoretical issue. After all, we’re talking about someone’s child. Or their best friend at school. Or their favorite media personality. “You’re telling me that they’re going to hell because of who they love? You’re telling me they can’t serve in your church? If so, I want nothing to do with your religion or your God.”

Writing on the MSNBC website on February 26, 2014, Jane Timm stated that “One-third of young people who left organized religion did so because of anti-gay teachings or treatment within their churches, according to a new study.” Yes, “A full 31% of young people (ages 18 to 33) who left organized religion said ‘negative teachings’ or ‘negative treatment of gay people was a ‘somewhat important or ‘very important’ factor in their departure, as surveyed by the Public Religion Research Institute.”

The problem for true followers of Jesus is that the Bible hasn’t changed, which means that God is still against homosexual practice and identity. And so, if we want to be in solidarity with the Lord, we will find ourselves at odds with the prevailing culture.

At the same time, we do not want to drive people away from the Lord by making opposition to LGBTQ+ activism our primary cause (as opposed to the Great Commission being our primary cause). Nor do we ever want to appear (or be) mean-spirited, judgmental, or hypocritical.

What, then, do we do?

First, we ask God to fill our hearts with His love for those who identify as LGBTQ+, then we seek to share that love with them, face to face.

Second, we make clear in our messages that all of us are fundamentally flawed, which is why all of us need a Redeemer.

Third, we make a distinction between an aggressive agenda and individual people.

Fourth, we hold to biblical standards regardless of public opinion (and regardless of how much these standards challenge our own lives).

Fifth, we give ourselves to prayer, also believing that those with anti-biblical values will continue to overplay their hand, further exposing the wrongness of their position.

Sixth, we share the testimonies of those who have been transformed through the Gospel, making clear that our message is filled with hope and life.

Seventh, we let the chips fall where they may. We need to remain determined to preach Jesus and live for Jesus no matter what, always remembering that this world is not our eternal home.

It is true, that, for many reasons, people are leaving the Church. It is also true that many others are meeting Jesus powerfully. That’s because, what the world so desperately needs, we have in the fullness of the Gospel. Let us not be ashamed to live it and proclaim it. Time is short, we are in the “end times“.

The following Scriptures are Jesus’ answers to his disciple’s questions on the”end times“. He tells them that believers will be hated and persecuted for their Biblical faith. But then Jesus raptures the church to heaven before God pours out His wrath upon the unrepentant. Next, Jesus returns to earth with the glorified Saints to defeat the Antichrist and his army at the battle of Armageddon. He will then rule and reign with the Saints on this earth for 1000 years.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.Matthew 24:9-13

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.Revelation 24:30-31

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! ,,, Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9-10, 13-14

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness, he judges and makes war… And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron.Revelation 19:14-15

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS ESCALATES IN NIGERIA

The blood is still there. It’s still spread all over the floor.”

Joel Veldkamp, head of international communications at persecution watchdog Christian Solidarity International (CSI), shared these chilling words while discussing the vile attack on a Nigerian church Sunday that left at least 50 dead.

A police officer stands guard inside the St. Francis Catholic Church, a day after an attack that targeted worshipers in Owo, Nigeria, Monday, June 6, 2022. The gunmen who killed 50 people at a Catholic church in southwestern Nigeria opened fire on worshippers both inside and outside the building in a coordinated attack before escaping the scene

“It was Pentecost Sunday in Nigeria, so the church was full of people,” Veldkamp said. “According to one report, the gunmen snuck in disguised as worshippers. And then other gunmen arrived on motorcycles from the outside and started shooting from the outside, and then the ones who were already inside the congregation started shooting as well.”

The assailants then reportedly placed bombs on the altar and around the church before detonating them.

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, though some reports ponder whether radical Islamic terror groups could be culpable. The location of the attack — in a southwest region of Nigeria — is one of the factors that adds to the “distressing and disturbing” details, as that area is typically peaceful and unaffected by the terror that has gripped portions of northern Nigeria.

“There are a lot of fears that this is going to open up a new chapter in anti-Christian terrorism in Nigeria,” Veldkamp said.

Renewed critique emerged last month after a Muslim mob reportedly fatally stoned Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu, a 25-year-old Christian college student of Shehu Shagari College of Education was beaten and burned to death in Sokoto Nigeria, Friday, May 13, 2022, by fellow Muslim students after she was accused of making a blasphemous social media post.

END TIMES PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS INTENSIFIES

Christians in India fear that persecution of their communities will intensify after the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won elections in four states, which will be seen as an overwhelming endorsement of the party’s anti-minority stance.

For India’s Christians, 2021 was the “most violent year” in the country’s history, according to the report by the UCF, which recorded at least 486 violent incidents of Christian persecution in the year. Uttar Pradesh state alone witnessed at least 102 incidents of violence against Christians in 2021.

Days before the announcement of the results, Hindu nationalists had warned some Christians that the community in the state might face “extermination,” The Telegraph reported.

“A Hindu leader has already threatened us that they are waiting for the election results and after that, they will exterminate Christians from Uttar Pradesh,” a local Christian, Emmanuel Singh, from the state’s Jodhikapur village, was quoted as saying. The intensity of these threats is hard to comprehend apart from them being demonically inspired.

Ten states in India, including Uttar Pradesh, have passed “anti-conversion” laws, which presume that Christians “force” or give financial benefits to Hindus to convert them to Christianity.

While some of these laws have been in place for decades in some states, no Christian has been convicted of “forcibly” converting anyone to Christianity. These laws, however, allow Hindu nationalist groups to make false charges against Christians and launch attacks on them under the pretext of the alleged forced conversion.

Open Doors USA, which monitors Christian persecution in over 60 countries, has also reported that persecution against Christians and other religious minorities has increased since the BJP took power at the federal level in 2014.

Hindu extremists have demolished and burned churches in India, disrupted worship gatherings, vandalized crosses in graveyards, and confiscated Bibles and other Christian literature. In addition, they have beaten and jailed many pastors, some of whom are martyred each year.

The UCF attributed the high incidence of Christian persecution to “impunity,” due to which “such mobs criminally threaten, physically assault people in prayer, before handing them over to the police on allegations of forcible conversions.”

“Often communal sloganeering is witnessed outside police stations, where the police stand as mute spectators,” the UCF report states.

“Hindu extremists believe that all Indians should be Hindus and that the country should be rid of Christianity and Islam,” an Open Doors fact sheet explains. “They use extensive violence to achieve this goal, particularly targeting Christians from a Hindu background. Christians are accused of following a ‘foreign faith’ and blamed for bad luck in their communities.”

SEISMIC SHIFT IN CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION

Afghanistan is now the worst nation in the world for Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA, an organization that tracks global religious maltreatment. The shocking development is undoubtedly the “biggest seismic shift” in decades, as North Korea, the reclusive and oppressive East Asian country, was bumped from the top spot it had occupied for 20 years. “This year’s 2022 World Watch List, is the biggest seismic shift in over 20 years because Afghanistan is now the No. 1 country on the World Watch List, supplanting North Korea,” Open Doors USA CEO David Curry said. Afghanistan has long been embroiled in chaos, but the situation devolved further when the U.S. undertook a chaotic withdrawal last August, a retreat that carried with it serious consequences.

The education of young girls has changed dramatically

“Many people are aware of what’s happened since August in Afghanistan,” Curry said, citing the chaos and uncertainty. “It has emboldened Islamic extremists in other parts of the world. We believe it’s going to have a ripple effect.”  Christians in Afghanistan face intensifying persecution at the hands of the resurgent Taliban, with militants purportedly arresting and possibly seeking to kill believers. Christian women, in particular, are especially vulnerable and are seen as ideological enemies.

Looking at the diverse forms of persecution that exist, Curry noted that there is a “two-front war” against Christianity that can be observed on the “World Watch List.” On one side, there are the tribal-led government forces like the Taliban and on the other are centralized and tech-savvy governments like what is seen in China.

Curry explained why the Chinese government’s actions should be deeply concerning. “Their system and their technology is the greatest threat right now overall in the future of religious expression,” he said, likening the methodical restrictions to a “high tech noose around the neck of expression of faith.”

Curry said the Chinese government has hampered the efforts of almost every church, forcing houses of worship to break into groups and to shut down. Christians are at risk of losing jobs, having travel restricted, and “even worse.” “They have artificial intelligence. They monitor all the video, they monitor the online presence,” he said.

Fortunately, we know how the underground church at the time of Mao grew strong under intense persecution. Believers were totally dependent upon God and miracles abounded as testified by Chinese believers like Brother You in his book The Heavenly Man. As prophesied, persecution increases in these last days before Jesus returns, and those totally committed to God will walk in the power of the Holy Spirit with all the gifts of the Spirit being manifested in their ministry to others.

HEADING TOWARDS THE MARK OF THE BEAST

Globalists like the United Nations and the World Economic Forum which is controlled by billionaires like Bill Gates, are now openly proclaiming transhumanism as if it’s a good thing. Saying it will eliminate free will and the concept of human souls. This of course means such a person loses the ability to be saved by Jesus. Watch this episode of Last Days Breaking News with Nelson Walters to see actual video footage of a leading expert and advisor of the World Economic Forum and Klaus Schwab freely describe how AI and brain to computer implants will forever change the world – and how this matches up with Bible Prophecy.

So much of end times, Bible prophecy is lining up in our day whether it be floods, droughts, famine, pestilence, apostasy. wars and rumours of wars. The Apostle, John must have wondered about what the mark of the Beast would be and it is only in our day that the technology is available to make it a reality.

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS INTENSIFIES

March 6th, 2022 China (International Christian Concern) – A Christian woman in China, named Zhou Jinxia was detained for her repeated attempt to share the good news of Jesus Christ with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan.

Using placards filled with Gospel messages, Zhou regularly stands outside a gated area in Beijing where top Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials reside. Last month, she did so to greet President Xi when he returned from the Winter Olympics, leading to her arrest for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Authorities ordered Zhou to return to her hometown of Dalian, where her beef with the government began.

In 2009, local authorities seized and demolished Zhou’s house in Dalian without her consent, later turning it into a city square. According to the group China Aid, Zhou and her family members have spent years seeking justice, only to be detained and lose their jobs.

Religious liberty magazine Bitter Winter explains that Zhou “took seriously [President] Xi’s statements he would fight corruption.” So after his 2013 inauguration, she repeatedly wrote to him about her unjust eviction. Because Xi never replied, Zhou “concluded that no solution to China’s problem would be possible unless [the president and his wife] would receive Jesus in their hearts.”

The Dalian native was sent back to Liaoning province by the police after her action in Beijing. She was subsequently detained. On Feb. 20, Zhou went to Zhongnanhai in Beijing, the central headquarters for the Communist Party of China and the State Council of China, holding up a sign asking Xi Jinping to believe in Jesus.

The police in charge arrested her before Dalian police brought her back to Dalian. She was criminally detained and charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on February 21. Her family received the notice of her criminal detention from Dalian’s Public Security Bureau’s Xigang Branch on March 1.

According to China Aid, in recent years, Zhou has attempted to share the good news with her Chinese leader more than 50 times. As early as March 2015, Zhou was detained for ten days for her evangelism activities. In March 2016 and March 2018, she was detained again for the same charge.

Beginning October 2020, Zhou has resided in Fengtai district’s Xiaobailou village in Beijing. She actively shares the gospel and is involved in her church. On June 27, 2021, she was driven away by local leaders and police, while her amenities of daily life were confiscated. As someone whose house was forcibly demolished by the government, Zhou is not unfamiliar with the injustice in China.

We need to pray for Zhou Jinxia and the many like her in China and other countries where Christians are persecuted. Moreover, we should ask God to give us the courage to be like her in the face of intense persecution that we will see intensify across the globe in these prophesied “last days” before Jesus returns.

Be Prepared to Handle Persecution Like Päivi Räsänen

Christian MP says prosecution for tweeting Bible verse on homosexuality is a ‘privilege’

Finland, Päivi Räsänen

Finnish Parliament Member Päivi Räsänen authored a 2004 booklet on sexual ethics describing marriage as between one man and one woman. She also expressed her views on a 2019 radio show and tweeted church leadership on the matter.

Päivi Räsänen, who was interrogated by police for over 13 hours and questioned on how she interprets the Apostle Paul’s letters in the Bible, will appear in court next Monday over criminal charges for voicing her belief on marriage and sexuality. She faces the possibility of six years in prison for sharing her deeply held biblical beliefs on sexuality and marriage. Räsänen shows amazing courage in saying that it’s “quite a privilege” to be interrogated for her religious beliefs.

“I could never have imagined when I worked as the minister of the interior and was in charge of the police that I would be interrogated and asked that kind of questions in a police station,” the lawmaker who led the Christian Democrats party from 2004 to 2015 said.

She said police also asked her if she was ready to “renounce” her writings. “But I answered that I will stand on what I believe and I will speak about these things and write about these things also in the future because they are a matter of conviction, not only an opinion,” she said. 

“I thought it was quite a privilege to have these kinds of discussions with the police,” Räsänen said in an interview with Alliance Defending Freedom International, a legal nonprofit that specializes in religious freedom cases and is supporting the 62-year-old former interior minister.

“I had many times during these hours the possibility to tell to the police the message of the Gospel, what the Bible teaches about the value of human beings, that all people are created in the image of God and that is why they all are valuable.”

It was like “giving Bible studies to the police,” she remarked.

Persecution of Christians is only going to escalate as the final prophesied tribulation that precedes the rapture of the Saints (trumpet blast at the opening of the seventh seal) and God’s wrath being poured out (Trumpet and Bowl judgements) on the unrepentant, unfold. We need to be prepared to be part of God’s disciples like Päivi Räsänen who will proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to all the world.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.Matthew 24:9-14

YOU’RE NOT LIVING IF YOU ARE NOT LIVING FOR THIS

Pastor and author David Platt warned young Christians this week that taking a “casual, comfortable, cultural” approach to their faith, neglecting God’s command to proactively share the Gospel, and instead pursuing material successes, will lead to a wasted life.

“Be finished and done with a form of Christianity that says, ‘Pray a prayer, go to church, live it up in the world, go to some conferences and coast your way to Heaven,’” the Virginia-based pastor said during the annual Passion conference in Atlanta this week. “That’s not Christianity, because it’s not following Christ.”

David Platt says 'very skewed' version of Bible 'being sold across our culture,' blasts 'superficial Christianity'
Evangelical Baptist pastor David Platt pleads with an audience of thousands of adults and teens for them to spread the Gospel to unreached people at the annual Passion 2022 Conference in Georgia.

Platt, the lead pastor of McLean Bible Church, told the 65,000 young adults gathered inside the Mercedes Benz Stadium that to follow Jesus means allowing the Gospel message and mission to “dictate everything you think, desire and do, dictate your plans, dreams, how you’re going to live, what degree you’re going to get and how you’re going to make and spend money for the spread of God’s great love in Jesus among the nations.”

“You will waste your life if you get caught up in this American dream,” he continued. “Don’t do it. Lift your eyes above the distractions. Look at the destiny of this world. The train of history is headed towards people of every nation, tribe, and tongue, enjoying and praising Jesus. Jump on that train.”

Platt spoke directly about the U.S., noting it is “quite possibly” the one place in the world with the greatest access to the Gospel, set apart from the many countries whose citizens “don’t have access to someone who can tell them about Jesus” and “don’t have followers of Jesus or churches proclaiming the Good News of God’s great love.”

Displaying the Radical Stratus map, showing the myriad places around the globe where the Gospel is not accessible, the pastor explained the importance of international missions work.

“This is why we don’t say, ‘Well, I don’t know why we talk about unreached people around the world when there are unreached people on my campus, there are unreached people in my neighborhood,’” Platt said. “You say, ‘How do you know?’ Because they’re on your campus. They’re in your neighborhood. They have access to the Gospel. You’re it.”

“We’re talking about people who don’t have anyone near them to tell them about Jesus,” he added.

In light of that information, Platt closed his message by urging the Passion conference attendees to use their platforms, access, careers, finances, etc., to share the Gospel with people who have never heard it.

“Based on this picture of God’s Word and this picture in the world, I want to plead with you tonight to refuse to settle for a casual, comfortable, cultural Christianity,” he said. “I want to plead with you to refuse to do what millions of Christians and leaders of churches are doing in our country — to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to 3.2 billion people and thousands of people groups who have never heard the Gospel.”

Platt told the crowd their purpose, as believers, is to tell others about Jesus. “You are not living if you’re not living for this,” he said.

“As a result of His ultimate rescue, God’s glory shines in this broken world not only through strengths but also through scars, ” he concluded.

Live for this. If necessary, die for this — for people from all nations to hear and receive the Good News of God’s great love in Jesus.

INDIA CLOSING THE DOOR TO CHRISTIANITY

The latest move to block funds to Mother Teresa’s Christian charity by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs will ensure that it like many other Christian organisations will be forced to shut down. Whilst this is not new, Compassion International, which helped 147,000 children in India, ceased operations in 2017 after it was blocked from receiving foreign funding. In response, more than 100 members of U.S. Congress wrote a letter to India’s interior minister calling on him to allow Compassion International to receive foreign funds to no avail. Also, in 2017, India cut off Believers Church, a network founded by Gospel for Asia’s K.P. Yohannan, and three other associated groups from receiving foreign funds.

Mother Teresa
A nun, belonging to the global Missionaries of Charity, carries a relic of Mother Teresa of Calcutta before a mass celebrated by Pope Francis for her canonisation in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

On Monday, Bishop M. Jagjivan, the moderator of the National Christian Council, an organization representing India’s Christian community, told The Wall Street Journal that India’s government has increasingly rejected foreign-funding approvals for Christian groups, forcing many faith-run organizations to shut.

In 2020, the Indian government banned six other Christian groups from receiving foreign funds: New Life Fellowship Association, Evangelical Churches Association of Manipur, Ecreosoculis North Western Gossner Evangelical, and Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Earlier this month, police in India’s western state of Gujarat filed a case against the Missionaries of Charity under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act of 2003 for allegedly “hurting Hindu religious sentiments” and “luring” young girls “toward Christianity” in a shelter home it runs in Vadodara city.

A spokesperson for the Missionaries of Charity rejected the allegations of forced conversions as unfounded. “We have not converted anyone or forced anyone to marry into the Christian faith,” the spokesperson said.

Anti-conversion laws penalize only those who leave Hinduism, their birth religion. Thus, India’s anti-conversion laws are discriminatory by selectively hitting hard ONLY those who convert out of Hinduism.

Last week, a mob of 200 to 300 people stormed a Christian school in Madhya Pradesh while students were taking their exams and threw stones at the building, the school’s principal said.

Earlier in December, the Christian community in India’s northern state of Haryana found a life-size statue of Jesus Christ at the entrance to their historic church desecrated and the lighting inside the premises damaged.

Once again this warning given by Jesus to Christians living in these last days is appropriate.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”