PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS IS INCREASING RAPIDLY

 As the nonpartisan Pew Centre records, Christians are the most persecuted religious minority in the world. And there is in the West an appalling reluctance to discuss this issue or take any action in connection with it.

The scale of the persecution is enormous. According to Mike Gore, chief executive of Open Doors, the leading Protestant non-governmental organisation working in this area, persecution of Christians is now worse than it has been at any period since biblical times. “I would say the persecution of Christians is increasing rapidly,” he says.

Bernard Toutounji, head of the equivalent Catholic body, Aid to the Church in Need, makes a similar judgement: “The situation is continuing to get worse, especially in Pakistan, China and across the Middle East. The Western world in general is asleep at the wheel.”

Open Doors estimates about 215 million Christians in different parts of the world face serious, ongoing persecution. The true figure, Gore thinks, is higher as this encompasses only the 100 biggest nations. Another widely held estimate is that about 250 Christians are killed for their beliefs every month. These estimates are naturally ­imprecise but no one really disputes them.

Pakistani hardliners call for Asai Bibi’s execution. Picture: AFP

The fate of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman condemned to death on a ludicrous charge of blasphemy, could be decided as early as this month.

In 2009 she made the awful mistake of drinking water from a well. For this she was abused and told that as a Christian she was unclean and could not therefore share anyone else’s drinking cup. There was an argument, and she and her family were badly beaten.

During the beating, she confessed to blasphemy. A long and tortuous legal process ensued and she was subsequently sentenced to death. After nine years in jail, Bibi was finally acquitted on appeal last October. Her confession under torture could not be relied on.

Her suffering didn’t end there. Huge mobs demonstrated against her in the streets, demanding her death. An Islamist group appealed against her acquittal, and this could be determined this month.

For a time after she was released, Bibi had to move from house to house in fear of her life. She is now, with her husband, in a protected situation at an undisclosed location.

Hers is one of very few cases of the persecution of Christians to pierce the determined Western indifference to Christian suffering in many parts of the world.

Yet Bibi’s plight has not produced the response from governments you might expect. Britain and the US have not offered her asylum. But all the leading Western nations are in active discussion about her fate. I am pleased to report that Australia is taking a strong stand against persecution of Christians

Canada has been the most forward, suggesting it will take Bibi and her family and offer them a safe life. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton of Australia has said: “If the discussions with Canada fall through, we will facilitate bringing Asia Bibi to Australia.”

Foreign Minister of Australia, Marise Payne tells The Weekend Australian: “Australia is deeply concerned about restrictions on Christian communities imposed by some governments and non-state actors around the world.

“Bringing attention to restrictions on religious freedom is a key priority of our current membership of the UN Human Rights Council. We will continue to use every possible avenue to express Australia’s opposition to the targeting of Christian communities internationally.

 

DISTRACTED FROM THE ONLY THING THAT REALLY MATTERS

The busyness of life distracts us from the source of all life. our Creator. Our focus is invariably on our goals, tasks, and demands.  But when we pause to consider David’s words in the Psalms, we can see where our focus truly needs to be – let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us a heart after God that David had.

“I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water,” David wrote in Psalm 63

We can see the world getting darker exactly as Jesus prophesied would happen in the time before His return, lawlessness is on the increase and His Commandments despised. We are, indeed, people living in a dry and parched land. We need God more than anything else; our ultimate longing should be for Him alone.

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. But certainly God has heard me; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me!” Psalm 66:16-29

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.” Psalm 28:7

Do you want God;s help? David did and He knew how to get it – “my heart trusted God”.

Want to get right with God? It starts with repentance and acknowledging Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, understanding that without His sacrifice on the Cross, we are all dead in our sins. ” I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father but by Me.” John 14:6

GOD AT WORK IN NORTH KOREA

Kim Jong-un met with Moon Jae-in for a Peace Summit on April 27 and announced that the 67-year-old Korean conflict is over. “I came here to put an end to the history of confrontation,” Kim Jung-un told Moon in a meeting on the border town of Panmunjom.

What was behind the Korean surprise? Most media outlets were unaware that Christians in South Korea had been fasting and praying for the peace summit. Pastors held an all-night vigil in the city of Paju, south of the North Korean border. And a group of Christian politicians held a fasting and prayer event in the National Assembly buildings in Seoul, according to Yonhap News.

“He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  Psalm 42:9-10

God has worked this miracle. It is not the work of any politician. He has heard the prayers of his people on both sides of this conflict—and the prayers of the faithful around the world who felt North Korea’s pain. Continue to pray God will engineer a lasting peace in this part of the world, and open the doors wide for the gospel to flourish in a thirsty land.

North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in shake hands at a historic summit. (YouTube/BBC News)

“There will be no more war on the Korean peninsula, and a new age of peace has begun,” the two leaders said in a joint statement. Kim Jong-un, who has built the fourth largest army in the world—with 1.19 million soldiers—says he will now focus on rebuilding his country’s shattered economy.

North Korea’s persecuted Christians have also been praying for this moment—for years. They have been horribly persecuted. They have been forced to meet secretly. They have been routinely rounded up and sent to labour camps—or just shot on sight—because they did not worship Kim Jong-un as their god. For such a turn around by Kim Jong-un, required a miracle. Our God is a miracle working God, this story should be inspiration to us all to get on our knees and pray.

PROPHETIC WORD FOR 2019

2018 the year God used Trump, as He did Darius and Cyrus, to confirm Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to restore Godly influence to the Supreme Court, to provide protection for the unborn. God has provided a window of opportunity. In Australia, similarly, God has given us Scott Morrison, a man who fears God as our new Prime Minister – a window of opportunity for God’s people. What about your country?

What about 2019it is a time to rebuild: could it be, Israel to rebuild the temple, certainly the church to rebuild as in the Book of Acts. Parable of the Talents – time to use the gifts God has entrusted to us to make disciplesTime to draw close to God, take the time each morning to spend time in His Word and in prayer. Use the discipline of a Holy Spirit Journal to make entries each day – His revelation of new truths, your unanswered prayers, Scriptures you don’t understand. The Holy Spirit is your counsellor, your teacher, He will provide answers if you persevere.

Listen to Jonathan Cahn – Prophetic Word for 2019

 

JESUS FULFILLED ALL PROPHECIES OF HIS FIRST COMING

There are hundreds of Messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures that foretell specific information about God’s promised Messiah. Mathematician Peter Stoner looked at the statistical probability of one man fulfilling even a handful of them.

In his book, Science Speaks, Stoner revealed that the chance any one man might fulfill just eight of those Messianic prophecies in the Old Covenant is one in one hundred quadrillion—one in 10 to the 17th power, or one in 100,000,000,000,000,000.

Stoner did the same calculations for the fulfilment of 48 prophetic passages about the Messiah. The odds of one man fulfilling all 48 are 1 in 10 to the 157th power. That’s the numeral one followed by 157 zeroes!

The Scriptures speak of two distinct appearances of the Messiah: One in which He comes as a humble servant destined to suffer and die for His people, and one in which He returns as the conquering king and judge. What are the chances that one man has fulfilled the hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah’s first appearing as a suffering servant? It’s beyond comprehension how narrow they are.

Yet one man has. His name is Yeshua (Jesus).

Perhaps a better question is: What is the probability that Yeshua of Nazareth is not the Messiah?

Below is a sampling of Messianic prophecies pertaining to the Messiah’s lineage and birth. They include New Covenant Scripture references showing how Yeshua fulfilled them. We’ll examine additional Messianic prophecies in future blog posts, including evidence from Messiah’s life, the rejection He was foretold to experience, His suffering and death.

Take a look, and consider the odds.

Messiah’s Lineage

Seed of Isaac

Prophecy: Genesis 17:19, Genesis 21:12

Fulfillment: Matthew 1:2–16, Luke 3:23–38

Seed of Judah

Prophecy: Genesis 49:10

Fulfillment: Luke 3:33

A rod/son out of Jesse

Prophecy: Isaiah 11:1

Fulfillment: Luke 3:23–32

Descendant of David

Prophecy: Ezekiel 34:23–24

Fulfilment: Matthew 1:1

The Messiah’s Birth

Messiah would be preceded by a forerunner who would turn many to righteousness.

Prophecy: Malachi 4:5-6, Isaiah 40:3–4

Fulfillment: Matthew 3:1–2, Luke 3:7-22, John 1:19–23

Messiah would be born of a young maiden who is a virgin.

Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14, Genesis 3:15

Fulfillment: Luke 1:35, Matthew 1:18–20

Messiah would be known as “God with us.”

Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14

Fulfillment: John 1:1–4, 14

Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

Prophecy: Micah 5:2

Fulfillment: Luke 2:1–7 

This article originally appeared at jewishvoice.org.

 

EVIDENCE FOR NOAH’S FLOOD

The Bible describes a global flood about 1600 years after creation. The most devastating catastrophe ever recorded would surely leave evidence, wouldn’t it? So what are consequences of Noah’s Flood? This video from Creation Ministries International does a great job of revealing that evidence. For me the evidence given on ancient history and when nations such as Greece, Germany, Ethiopia were first established was new.

PRETERISM DEBUNKED

Preterist versus futurist. Preterism believes that most prophecies have been fulfilled, many about 70 AD.

Joel interviews Dr Brock David Hollett, the author of the new book Debunking Preterism. They tackle difficult Scriptures such as “The Day of the Lord is at hand”. In this case, for all of us at anytime, death can occur at any moment in time, so we need to be ready for Jesus return at anytime, this is an essential understanding to deal with the many times this Scripture appears in both the O.T. and N.T.

Another difficult Scripture is Matthew 24:34 “This generation (quality of the generation at hand) will not pass away until these things take place.” Brock does a good job of providing an explanation for these otherwise difficult passages. I hope the video is helpful as it was for me.

LAODICEAN CHURCH – LAST DAYS CHURCH

Many of us have read Jesus’ letter to the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:14-22 and have rightly understood it to describe the end-times church—the church as we see it in the West today.

We are rich and seemingly do not need a thing, when in fact, we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. As a result, we are under the discipline of the Lord but are unable to recognise it. Like the frog being cooked in the slowly heated kettle of water, many are unaware of God’s judgement and chastisement because we spend little time pursuing Him, listening to His voice and receiving discernment and wisdom from Him.

Instead we demand to be entertained and flock to superstar leaders who “tickle our ears” (2 Timothy 4:3-4) with false doctrine, unbelief and a grossly misplaced focus of worship. Because of our compromise and complacency, we have become powerless and are in darkness.

Materialism, an independent spirit, pride and gross immoralities are typical rather than atypical in a huge swath of those who consider themselves to be a part of the body of Christ.

There is considerably more than a hint of sexual immorality and impurity inside the church today. This should alarm us, considering Ephesians 5:5: “no sexually immoral or impure person, or one who is greedy, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” As Solomon said in Proverbs 8:13a: “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.”

The Holy Spirit exhorts believers in Ephesians 5:11-12: “And do not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; instead, expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.”

Today, homosexual behaviour, the sexual abuse of minors, adultery, promiscuity, the use of pornography and all forms of fornication are rampant among clergy and other so-called believers. Even among those who do not commit such detestable practices, a huge swath of the shepherds of the flock do little to nothing to call people to holiness or to equip the church to minister to sexually bound and broken people. And what is worse, many wink, nod and even encourage those who practice immorality. In truth, there is no fear of the Lord (Proverbs 8:13a, Romans 3:18). In truth, we have corrupted the biblical understanding of grace in order to excuse lawlessness.

“[Although they] know the righteous requirement of God, that those who commit such things are worthy of death. They not only do them, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).

It is important to understand that doing nothing in the face of gross immorality in the church is tantamount to tacit approval in the eyes of those who commit such sins. Yet so many ignore God’s command found in 1 Corinthians 5:13b: “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person” lest their blood be on your hands. (Ezekiel 3:18c, 33:7-9; Acts 20:26-31).

As Jesus warned the hypocritical shepherds of His day, ”

Woe to you, blind guides … Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! … You cleanse the outside … but inside [you] are full of extortion and greed” (Matthew 23:16a, 23a, 25b).

The most egregious example of this during the last 50 years is those who molest children and teens and those who protect such predators, even sending them out among the flock to practice their evil trade on more victims. This is indeed an unspeakable evil.

For example, recent scandals have uncovered child predators in the Catholic Church as well as prelates who protect them. This should be a wake-up call to us all! And yet, such predators are sometimes elevated to the highest ranks of the clergy by those who are aware of their crimes. And worse still, many of these known sex criminals are secretly moved to other parts of the country to perpetuate the human carnage by destroying the lives of even more children.

Image result for pictures of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick being charged

Silence is itself an appalling crime in this matter. When Pope Francis was recently exposed by the highly respected Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano (who had everything to lose and nothing to gain by this exposure), for covering up the sex crimes of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the pope’s response was to refuse comment—a response that lost him all credibility among the Catholic faithful and observers worldwide. Pope Benedict had previously imposed sanctions on McCarrick over the same charges but to date, Pope Francis has not scheduled a canonical trial in the matter.

Where is the concern for the victims whose lives have been forever scarred? Even the various dioceses that house records that could corroborate the accusations against McCarrick and other abusers have refused to open their archives for examination.

One impressive exception to the cover-up in the Catholic Church is the Catholic TV network, EWTN, especially the reporting of Raymond Arroyo on ThWorld Over Live. Considering the fact that EWTN has since its inception been the most faithful and supportive media voice for the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican, their honesty in exposing this corruption at the highest levels is most impressive.

Sadly, however, a recent request by Robert Bennett, former head of the highly experienced lay panel, (the bishop’s National Review Board), that investigated the last Catholic sex abuse scandal in 2002, asking for the board to be reinstated so that this latest clergy sex abuse crisis can be investigated, has been ignored by this silent pope.

Bennett requested permission from the pope (through Cardinal DiNardo) to create a “lay independent inquiry board” in light of the bishop’s refusal to open up their diocesan records and considering the inability of church clerics to properly respond to any sex abuse crisis. Understandably, there is outrage by Catholic laypeople to the way things have been mishandled by the church, as well as a great sense of betrayal by those who have been sexually abused by clergy.

In a move that shocked and surprised everyone, Pope Francis was recently charged by Archbishop Vigano of defending practising homosexual clergy who have committed the bulk of the serious sex crimes against minors and adults. It is well-known that Pope Francis reinstated Rev. Julio Grassi in Buenos Aires (after Pope Benedict had removed him from ministry) until Grassi had finally been sent to prison for his sex crimes against minors. The pope also stopped the investigation of sex abuse allegations against Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, which “World Over” host Raymond Arroyo pointed out was tantamount to undercutting mercy and justice for the victims of the abuse.

Cardinal Muller recently pointed out that despite the Vatican’s refusal to do so, “the only justice for the victims is that the perpetrator must be dismissed from the clerical state. If you are a good shepherd, you cannot ruin the sheep,” he added.

According to numerous reports, the former prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of faith, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, was removed from office in 2017 by the current pope because he was not merciful enough to sexual abusers. Cardinal Muller’s response to that charge on a recent broadcast of The World Over Live was that such as claim is a misunderstanding of the priorities of biblical mercy, which should first and foremost be extended to the victims.

State attorneys general that have begun investigations into clerical abuses in the Catholic Church have uncovered tens of thousands of instances of sexual abuse of minors in each state that they have examined. Not surprisingly, tens of thousands of abuse cases have also been discovered in Europe and other continents. And yet the church continues to stonewall those same authorities who are trying to put a stop to these unspeakable crimes and bring justice to the victims.

The focus of the Roman Catholic Church, (as well as Protestant churches found to protect child abusers and to cover up clerical crimes), has been to defend the “machine” at all costs. Empty public spectacles of sorrow and declarations of concern for the victims have been a sham in light of the cover-ups and in light of the priority given to protecting the coffers, the leaders and the business of the church.

Where is the mercy? Where is the justice? Where is the ministry of healing for the victims? Where is the genuine sorrow for them? It is an atrocity that victims have been forced by the church to battle against lawyers for the slightest hint of admission of guilt, and for compensation for the lifetime of pain and therapeutic help produced by the predator priests and cover-up prelates.

The Protestant church is also filled with denials by abusers, cover-ups by churches, resistance by church lawyers to admit guilt and to appropriately compensate victims. They are, in effect, tying millstones around the necks of the victims and throwing them into the sea (see Luke 17:1-2).

Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino recently wrote that one of the problems faced by the church today is that we have lost our hatred of sin. He points out that Proverbs 8:13 says that the fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil, or sin. Morlino added, “Things are seriously wrong, and the church needs to respond and do our part.” He then called for a systematic investigation of the files of every Catholic diocese.

The Bible is clear regarding the commission of sexual sin and those who encourage it. The apostle Peter called such people false prophets and false teachers whose condemnation and destruction has been long hanging over them. He writes:

They shall receive the wages of unrighteousness. They count it a pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes who revel in their own deception while they carouse together with you. They have eyes full of adultery that cannot cease from sin. They entice unstable souls. … These men are wells without water and clouds that are carried by a storm, for whom the gloom of darkness has been reserved forever. . … for … they entice by the lusts of the flesh and by depravity those who barely escaped from those who live in error. Although they promise them freedom, they themselves are slaves of corruption … if after they have escaped the defilement of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and then turn back from the holy commandment that was delivered to them (2 Peter 2:13-14, 17b, 18b, 19a, 20-21).

And to those in the church who tolerate such immorality, Jesus declares,

Look! I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will put her children to death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the hearts and minds. I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. … To him who overcomes and keeps My works to the end, I will give authority over the nations— (Revelation. 2:22-23, 26).

Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).

Truly, our modern “Laodicean” church has lost its fear of God and its hatred of evil.

But what of grace, you may ask? Let’s let the apostle Paul answer that question:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may increase? God forbid! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? … For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. … For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if through the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Romans 6:1-2, 23; 8:13-14).

So again I say, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:14b)

This abbreviated article by David Kyle Foster was in Charisma News  . He is the CEO of Pure Passion Media.