A GOOD NEWS STORY

A new report by the United Bible Societies (UBS) has shown the distribution of Bibles increased worldwide in 2021. At least 32.6 million complete Bible editions were distributed last year following the “pandemic-related slump in Bible distribution the previous year”, an increase of 5.5% in 2021 compared to 2020. Around 20% of all distributed Bibles were downloaded from the internet.

The distribution of digital editions is playing an increasingly important role, especially in crisis regions such as Mozambique. The Bible Society there was able to provide a digital Bible edition to a total of 51,000 people. However, the distribution containing only the New Testament was down, going from 5.7 million to 5.1 million in 2021. Horst Scheurenbrand, head of the German Bible Society said: “apart from Europe, more full Bibles were distributed on every continent than in the previous year. This is a good sign after the decline the year before”.

God is still at work making sure His Word, His Truth is reaching all those that are seeking truth.

REAPING A HARVEST OF DEATH AND MISERY

By turning our back on God and His Word we are reaping a harvest of death and misery. God is the creator. God is the source of life. Satan works to destroy life (murder/death).

Evidence is clear nations that once honoured God’s ways have abandoned/rejected God: unrestricted abortion, euthanasia, indoctrinating children with gender bending ideology, extremist deep green ideology that sees humans as a plague on the earth. The Bible that the world rejects reveals with startling accuracy exactly what is unfolding in our day. In both the O.T and N.T there are many prophecies of the years leading up to Jesus return to this earth first to take His Saints to heaven before pouring out His wrath upon an unrepentant world with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements of Revelation

Only God can reveal what is truly going on in His world. The discovery of DNA and the electron microscope has revealed that the earth is designed for life. Our planet has all the hallmarks of brilliant systems engineering. No thinking scientist can believe that life and the universe happened by random chance.

God has revealed that just as our original ancestors disobeyed God’s command knowing that death would be the outcome. The Bible reveals that another one of God’s created beings (an angelic being now called Satan) also rebelled against God and it was he that deceived Adam and Eve. Note well what Jesus told us about him and all who follow him. Jesus was speaking to the religious leaders of the day. Whom do you follow even if unwittingly?

If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but He sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.John 8:44

Note what Jesus said about Himself and what He said about Satan.

Jesus said to him (Thomas), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7

The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.John 10:10-11

GOD the Father, GOD the Son, and GOD the Holy Spirit

Read what Jesus promised His disciples and us that He will provide to enable us to live the Christian life. Our Heavenly Father will send the third person of the Trinity to indwell our spirit. Note also that He acknowledges Satan as ruler of this world.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.John 14:26-31

Article inspired by article in the latest Creation magazine “EXIT GOD, ENTER DEATH CULTURE.” http://www.creation.com

DO YOU WANT GREATER HOPE AND RESILIENCE?

American Bible Society today released the third chapter of the 12th annual State of the Bible report, which highlights cultural trends in the U.S. regarding spirituality and Scripture engagement. Today’s release shows that Americans who consistently read and apply the Bible report greater levels of hope and resilience.

American Bible Society is in its twelfth year of conducting State of the Bible, asking American people their opinions and practices relating to the Bible.

Our research continues to confirm that consistent Bible reading leads to hope and greater flourishing. Christians know that Jesus offers us full life; there’s no surprise here. But for those who are questioning their faith or even who need reassurance after a hard season, the data validates that applying the truths of Scripture leads to better health, better relationships, and a higher sense of purpose and meaning—all while bringing us closer to God,” said John Farquhar Plake, PhD and Director of Ministry Intelligence for American Bible Society“To put it simply: the Bible’s message is not only spiritually transformative; it also transforms how we experience life on earth. There is restoration and healing in the Word of God, and we urgently need to point our hurting neighbors toward that life-changing truth.”

The State of the Bible 2022 findings come from a survey in January 2022 conducted by the American Bible Society in collaboration with NORC at the University of Chicago, which produced 2,598 online or telephone responses from American adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

KNOWING GOD BY KNOWING HIS WORD

Knowing God, as He is presented in scripture, is a non-negotiable for Christians. Theology offers an eternal well of joy and a shield of protection from the enemy. Any Christian who thinks they can continue with a “no creed but Christ” is setting themselves up for failure. Anyone with this paradigm should truly self-evaluate if they really love the Lord at all. A denial of the need for theology is a denial of the Lord Jesus.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

It is impossible to know doctrine, love, or God without the scripture. This is where the oracles of God and His gospel are contained. It is this special means by which God has chosen to reveal Himself to us.

Psalm 119 is extraordinarily helpful here. I do not think it is a coincidence that the single longest chapter in scripture (176 verses) is dedicated to loving the law of God. The psalmist reminds us over and over how his true delight and protection are only found in knowing God, via His word. He writes:

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips, I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies, I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.Psalms 119:9-16

A pursuit of theology is fundamental and vital to our makeup as human beings. Because we bear the Imago Dei (made in the image of God), we’re designed with a natural inclination for the spiritual and divine. We are wired to pursue theology – if not formally, then certainly informally. Even atheists, by their own self-admission, are going out of the way to classify themselves by an a-theological position. The great efforts made to publicly deny God are, in and of themselves, admissions of the great importance God plays in our world. It’s for reasons like these that statements that deny the need for theology are so absurd.

In Australia, WordLive from Scripture Union is a free, online Bible reading guide, to help you meet with God devotionally through the Bible. It is just one of the many Bible reading guides available free online for your use.

DEFENDING THE INERRANCY OF SCRIPTURE

Defending the inerrancy of scripture can be a challenging task for the unprepared Christian. In the world today, there is no shortage of critical voices speaking out against the authority of scripture. Even within Christendom, some seem determined to undermine the bible’s inerrancy in every instance. Therefore, Christians need to be equipped to defend, not only their faith but also the scriptures upon which the only true religion is based upon.

I highly recommend Poythress’ book Inerrancy and The Gospels. to anyone desiring to understand the harmonization of the gospels better. The book is largely broken up into two sections. The first is centered on the basic principles for studying harmonization, and the second examines specific gospel problem texts. I found the principles section to be the most useful part of the book. It creates a brilliant groundwork for the reader to approach the gospels in a logical, practical, and faithful way.

The practical nature of the principles was a relief. I have read numerous works on textual criticism, commentaries, etc. They have their place and are useful. Yet, it is easy to get lost in them. However, the basic principles laid forth in Poythress’ book are accessible to almost any believer.

Poythress reminds us of the complete trustworthiness of scripture, and the importance of remembering historical, narrative context. As Christians, we are called to trust God and His written word. If we find what appears to be a contradiction, our first response should be to remember that the problem lies not with the text, but with us.

 As mentioned, the second half of the book focuses on logic and a handful of specific examples of gospel problem texts – such as The Rich Young Ruler and Blind Bartimaeus. This section is useful and interesting as a reference tool to study specific texts. However, for me, the deep value of the book is found in the principles.

I highly recommend Poythress’ book to all Christians. Defending the inerrancy of scripture is not a hard task when we have the right tools and worldview to accompany it. Poythress’ principles to study the harmonization of the gospels are fantastic and worth the price of the book.

A WORLD IN CRISIS

 The following article Russia’s Putin gambles that the West is weak by Australia’s Prime Minister (2013-2015) appeared in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL February 28, 2022

Tony Abbott as prime minister speaks during a national memorial service to honour victims of the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014. Picture: AAP

Ukraine’s fate was probably sealed when President Biden said last month that America might not respond to a “minor incursion” and definitively ruled out “boots on the ground”.

No consideration whatever appears to have been given to declaring a “no fly” zone for Russian military aircraft over Ukraine, even though that had been done to protect Iraqi Kurds against Saddam Hussein and would have given the Ukrainian army a much fairer fight against the Russians’ greater numbers.

America’s unwillingness to take risks to protect Ukraine, a democracy of more than 40 million people, is now fuelling doubts about the risks the US might run to help defend other countries that were once controlled by Russia — especially the Baltic states, which are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

It’s obvious that small countries are largely helpless in the absence of collective defence and that countries that won’t or can’t fight an aggressor are doomed to negotiate the best possible surrender.

Yet the West’s bigger surrender has been economic and cultural. For at least 15 years, much of Western policy has been directed to reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. In Australia, former prime minister Kevin Rudd declared that climate change is the “great moral challenge” of our time.

The British parliament, along with many others, has officially declared a “climate emergency”. Last week, as the air raid sirens wailed over Kyiv, John Kerry worried that the Ukraine crisis would produce “massive emissions” and distract the world from climate change.

Reducing emissions is an important policy objective but should never be governments’ main task — especially when it entails risking significant economic damage and putting national security at risk. Europe has been busily closing down coal-fired power stations (and in Germany even emissions-free nuclear ones) only to become dependent on Russian gas that Mr Putin can turn off and on like a tap.

Here in Australia, we’re set on closing coal-fired power stations without any base-load substitute even while our thermal coal exports surge to record levels (including to China, an even more dangerous strategic competitor than Russia).

It’s the private sector that’s doing this, an unforgivable folly reminiscent of Lenin’s reported quip that the “capitalists will sell us the rope by which we hang them”.

Then there’s globalisation, which has undoubtedly made the world richer but at the cost (as we’ve only lately come to realise) of strengthening the West’s competitors and exporting its manufacturing base. Free trade should continue to be promoted but principally between countries with comparable standards of living and only between democracies that respect the rule of law.

The worst contemporary folly is the constant undermining of Western civilisation, history and national virtues.

Partly it is deliberate subversion by cultural Marxists, but mostly it’s the polite acquiescence of diffident and historically ignorant people conditioned not to give offence.

These days the rights of men who want to be women routinely trump those of women who don’t want to face unfair competition in sport. Religious free speech is still OK, as long it’s not the Bible you’re quoting.

Martin Luther King’s famous plea that his children be judged by the content of their character, not the colour of their skin, would be denounced on most Western campuses as an example of “colourblind racism”.

“Monty Python’s Life of Brian” couldn’t be made today due to politically correct wowserism. And I wonder how many students are still taught to take pride in Australia Day, which celebrates the founding of a country that’s as free, fair and prosperous as any on earth.

A Western world that has spent two years sacrificing freedom to preserve life is hardly going to sacrifice life to preserve freedom. Or at least that’s how it must look to the hard men in Moscow and Beijing.

As Churchill said of the Munich sellout in 1938, this is “the first foretaste of a bitter cup that will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time”.

Tony Abbott was prime minister of Australia, 2013-15.

Fortunately for Christians what is unfolding has been prophesied by God in His History book, the Bible. He told us how His world came into being and why.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. Genesis 1:26

It is the habitation for the people He made in His image to be sovereign over His creation but under His authority. He told our ancestor Adam what the consequences would be of disobedience but he and Eve chose to disobey God. SIN and death were the outcomes that we are dealing with today.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16

Fortunately, God provided a way out by Jesus’ substitutionary death for us and yet most reject God’s offer of eternal life. They foolishly want to control their own destiny for the short time they have on God’s earth and we have history to show us what sinful man has accomplished. For those of us that have realised our sinfulness, repented and submitted our lives to Jesus Lordship, we have received the Holy Spirit that God the Father has sent to indwell the Spirit of each believer. How blessed we are, without the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to live a Christian life. The unbeliever has no understanding of what they are missing out on.

KNOWING GOD’S WILL

Some things are crystal clear

When it comes to knowing God’s will, His Word makes many things clear. For example, we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we are to love others as we love ourselves. We are to repent of our sins and believe in Jesus Christ as our Saviour. 

We are to worship God and be holy and set apart for His glory. We are to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. We are to do good deeds, witness to others, and make disciples. 

However, there are many circumstances in life in which the Bible does not give specific instruction. For instance, the Bible doesn’t say who to marry or where to work. When there is no instruction regarding God’s will on a specific topic, the Bible provides principles that will always lead you in the right direction.

If you’re not in the Word, the Word won’t be in you

God directs us to make “wise” decisions that correspond with His Word. Disobedience leads to disappointment. Before making an important decision, ask, “Is God truly guiding me?” If you’re not sure, then wait. And always remember: If you’re not in the Word, the Word won’t be in you, and your spiritual vision will be very cloudy.

Three keys: Pray, stay, obey 

One of the best ways to know if God is truly guiding you is to pray, stay, and obey — pray for direction, stay in His Word, and obey His principles. J.I. Packer has said, “God is more likely to direct me through wise teaching than through inner voices.” Packer isn’t discounting the work of the Holy Spirit, but he is cautioning against “inner voice”

Satan, the world, and our flesh all work against us. God’s leading calms your heart, but the flesh wants to rush. God leads, but Satan pushes. God calms, but the flesh obsesses. God encourages, the world discourages. God reassures, but the world frightens. God enlightens, Satan confuses. God convicts, Satan condemns.

The need to pray, stay, and obey is absolutely vital when it comes to knowing God’s will — partial obedience is the same as disobedience. Obeying the Word leads us in the right direction. Truth conquers deception and exposes sin; it prevents danger instead of leading us into danger.

Hearing but not doing

Often, we follow the wrong voice because we live in deception. We hear but do not do. 

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

Worshiping God and applying the Word saturates our spiritual lives just like a slowly dripping water source renews a dying bush. A plant that was once dead, barren, and unfruitful can once again be alive, active, and fruitful as the result of being watered. You too can hear God’s voice and regain lost ground by allowing the Word of God to saturate your heart and mind. 

Satan’s ultimate plan is to distance us from God, and “to kill, steal, and destroy”

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

The NKJV Study Bible offers these five points regarding how the enemy plants thoughts in our minds: 

1. Doubt: Makes you question God and His goodness. 
2. Discouragement: Makes you look at your problems rather than God. 
3. Diversion: Makes the wrong things seem attractive so that we want them more than the right things. 
4. Defeat: Makes you feel like a failure so that you don’t even try. 
5. Delay: Makes you put off doing something God wants you to do so that it never gets done.

The slippery slope of sin 

As noted earlier, sin is deceptive — it blinds our spiritual eyes and leads us away from God. It deceives us into a false sense of security while justifying poor choices. Sin excuses wrong behavior and prevents us from fulfilling the will of God, but obedience redirects us and brings clarity and joy to our lives.

Imagine how encouraging it will be when you saturate your mind with God’s Word on a daily basis and remove many of the distractions and discouragements of life. Begin today.

Hearing a familiar voice 

If you’re searching for God, I encourage you to look to the One who has the answers and surrender your life to Him. No matter what you have done or have experienced you can turn to Christ and get on the right track:

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be savedRomans 10:9

Once you know the Good Shepherd, then you will hear His voice and know His will. Jesus said,

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” John 10:27

One famous quote captures it well: “A true measure of a person is not who they were, but who they will become.” It’s all about Who you know!

 adapted from Christian Post article Feb. 20th, 2022 “How to hear God’s voice to know His will” by Pastor Shane Idleman

BIBLE TRANSLATION WORK

Current projections estimate that in the next 15 years, all people groups will have at least some portion of Scripture available in their own language, while 95% will have a complete Bible, and 99.95% will have a New Testament. Poole continued: “Each new translation is exciting because it means more people are able to access the Scriptures in their own language. That accessibility is key to helping people truly comprehend the gospel message, and to seeing lives transformed by Jesus. “We are fast approaching a key milestone in world history. 

God is making sure that people will be without excuse when they say they did not know that God has provided an answer to all of the problems evident in this world including death.

Our Creator has revealed the true history of His world and He reveals how He will end this world and create a new heaven and new earth. It is all revealed in the Bible

COVID-19 RAISING THE BIG ISSUES OF LIFE

Researchers have found Australians say they have been praying more during the COVID-19 crisis, suggesting the pandemic has led many to reassess their priorities in life.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle surveyed 1002 people between July 24 and 28 and found more than a third (35 per cent) said they were praying more and 41 per cent were thinking about God more. A quarter said they were reading the Bible more.

Nearly a half (47 per cent) said they had thought more about their mortality and the meaning of life.

“The research is showing that this COVID situation has rattled Australians and got them thinking about the big purpose of life,” Mr McCrindle said. “It’s got them re-prioritising their life.”

Charles Sturt University Associate Professor Ruth Powell, who studies Australian spirituality said she was not surprised by the survey results. Her own research as director of the National Church Life Survey has shown a third of Australians pray or meditate “in normal times”.

“In this context when a proportion say I think I am praying more …. it’s not surprising if it has been heightened at this time,” she said. “What we know from our own research is that Australians are already moderately religious or spiritual. “It’s often in times of crisis that you do go to the big spiritual questions.”

Macquarie University Professor Marion Maddox, an authority on the intersection of religion and politics, said it was not surprising many people would be thinking more about their spirituality and mortality during an existential crisis.

“The bushfires would have had similar effects of making people think about the meaning and purpose of life or …. questions about environmental concerns and our relationship to the human world,” she said.

“It’s at the same time that churches and places of collective worship are closing, so people aren’t able to gather and do their spiritual reflection as easily together. They can do it online, but it’s not quite the same.”

Anglican Bishop of South Sydney Michael Stead said he has received anecdotal feedback that parishioners were reading the Bible and praying more.

“The enforced slow down and isolation of the COVID restrictions have meant that people have been forced to step off the treadmill and realise there is more to life than the endless grind of work and pursuit of material ends,” he said. “It has given people an opportunity to reflect more deeply on what is the ultimate meaning of life and hence to dig into spiritual resources to help answer those kind of questions.

“There is a degree where we are all thinking about our own mortality now and that is forcing a reconnection back to God.”

The Stringer family is no exception, their story is encouraging.

The Stringer family have been praying more during the coronavirus pandemic. Andrew, Lucy, William, Katie and EleanorCREDIT: STEVEN SIEWERT.
.

Katie Stringer from Leichhardt in Sydney Australia, a teacher and mother of three children aged from 6 to 13, said she and her family had been praying more at home together during the pandemic. They read passages from the Bible during family meals and in the car during school drop-off.
Mrs Stringer said the closure of their local Anglican church forced them to “assess their spiritual connection”. “It reminded us our faith is also our responsibility and not just the responsibility of the minister in our church,” she said. “We needed to be proactive in talking to God.”

Catastrophes: Bring them on Lord; if it means people turn back to you.

“DARKNESS IS DESCENDING ON OUR REGION”, NETANYAHU WARNS

Speaking before the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a clear and present danger facing the world: the threat of a nuclear Iran. It was good to hear him quote Scripture  – the Book of Esther.

“Darkness is descending on our region,” Netanyahu warned, naming “radical tyranny” as the force behind Tehran’s quest to build an “aggressive empire” that includes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen and more—all in a quest to seek Israel’s destruction.

He condemned President Obama’s 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and said Iran its proxies are looking for ways to attack Israel.

“Last week, we read in the Book of Esther about an earlier Persian attempt to exterminate our people. They failed then. They’ll fail now.”

“In addition to moving its army, its air force, its navy to Syria to be able to attack Israel from closer hand—it’s also seeking to develop, to build precision-guided missile factories in Syria, Lebanon against Israel. I will not let that happen,” he vowed, before praising President Donald Trump for his firm stance against a nuclear Iran.

“President Trump has made it clear that his administration will not accept Iran’s aggression in the region. He has made clear that he too will never accept a nuclear-armed Iran. That is the right policy. I salute President Trump on this,” Netanyahu said.

“And the president has also made it clear that if the fatal flaws of the nuclear deal are not fixed, he will walk away from the deal and restore sanctions,” he added. “Israel will be right there by America’s side, and let me tell you, so will a hundred countries in the region.

Netanyahu concluded by reminding those present that the “wellspring” of the U.S. and Israel’s enduring friendship was their shared values, under girded by a strong faith in God.

“They come from a certain book—a great book, a good book. It’s called the Bible,” Netanyahu told the audience. “It says that all of us are created in the image of God.”

“These values are an inseparable part of America’s story,” he continued. “They’re an inseparable part of Israel’s story. And today we’re writing a new chapter of our common story—a story of freedom, of justice, of peace, of hope.”

“And it’s because we’re inspired by the same ideas because we’re animated by the same values that America and Israel have forged, an eternal bond that can never ever be broken,” he said.