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.

 

GOD AT WORK – CULTURE SHAPERS &/OR CATASTROPHES?

This report by Os Hillman on what God is doing in the seven cultural mountains in the U.S.A. He is president of Marketplace Leaders and author of 18 books focused on culture impact through a person’s work-life calling.

During the last five years, we have been hearing more and more stories of Christian leaders making a difference in the seven cultural mountains. There are many believers on the Fox Network representing Christ on the media mountain. There are many Christian voices in the mainstream media gaining greater influence. We are seeing more and more Christian-themed movies on the arts and entertainment mountain. There are many believers operating on the government mountain in Washington, DC. Our current president is very influenced by Christians who are in or close to his administration. There are new initiatives taking place on the education mountain.

Image result for picture of cultural mountains

One initiative being launched on the education mountain is a curriculum based on the seven cultural mountains for Christian high schools. Another initiative involved the creation of a textbook on how the Bible has influenced culture that is being used in many schools in America and other nations. Pastors are beginning to understand the importance of equipping marketplace leaders to see their work as a calling. There is an entire organisation that was birthed focused on this for pastors called Made to Flourish.

The reason this move of God is so important is that men and women who operate in places of influence have the greatest ability to impact culture through their influence in these six areas. They often have access to financial resources and places of power needed to make significant impact. We have learned that it only takes 3-5 percent of a leadership operating at the top of a culture mountain to shift that mountain.

The gay rights movement is our best case study of this fact. This group represents less than 2 percent of our population. Yet, through a strategy to influence culture through the seven cultural mountains they have shifted America’s mindset about this issue from being a moral issue to being a civil issue. Just imagine what Christians could do, given we represent more than 40% of the population in our nation, if we adopted an intentional strategy to impact culture.

There will be a major Culture Shapers Summit in Washington, DC in 2019 that is featuring over 40 top leaders who operate within the seven cultural mountains. This will be the most significant gathering of leaders focused on the seven cultural mountains in the last few years.

Is the army gathering to prepare for the next great move of God? I certainly hope so, but I am also currently working on a Power Point Sermon on The Mystery of Calamities which demonstrates that one of God’s major strategies to get people to the end of their own strength and resources is by catastrophes/disasters. Moreover, God’s Word shows that in the “end times” natural and man made disasters will escalate and are part of God’s plan to bring in the “end times” harvest.

 

DISCOVER THE GIDEON’S IN OUR DAY

I was reminded by this verse in Judges 6:1,  “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord: and the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years, just how often Israel was delivered by God into the hands of some foreign nation for judgement.
What about the church in our day? Is God delivering an apostate church into the hands of the enemy for judgement? God’s word reveals that there will be apostasy in the “last days” church  and that certainly is the case with many of the denominational churches compromising with the world’s values.
However, just as in the days Israel was delivered into the “hand of Midian”, God had his redemptive plan prepared and He chose Gideon a most unlikely candidate to achieve His purposes.
Who are the Gideon’s, God has chosen in our day?
When Gideon was called into action, Israel was in dire straits. Gideon had to winnow grain in secret just so the Midianites would not steal every little bit of food and sustenance from them. “Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. Judges 6:11(b)
Image result for picture of Gideon defeating the Midianites
Just as Gideon winnowed the wheat from the chaff, God winnowed Gideon’s army. God winnowed down a fighting force from 32,000 to three hundred. Those who were “afraid and trembling” were asked to leave first.  Cowards go first in Revelation also.  22,000 departed leaving Gideon with just 10,000 now to fight 120,000…outnumbered 12 to 1. God still said, The people are still too many; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there.” Judges 7:4. God then rejected another 9,700 men with only THREE HUNDRED remaining. What a crazy story but we are meant to learn from it.

God winnowed for two main reasons:

1. So we know, we can’t save ourselves. And the Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Judges 7:2

2. God wants us to develop our faith and trust in Him as did Gideon.  David is another great example. Listen to David, “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.” Proverbs 28:7  When your heart trusts in the Lord, you can expect help. God only needs 1 person to make 1,000 flee and 2 people to make 10,000 flee. It’s never been about “numbers” with God.

Who are the leaders in the church today who are bold and courageous, who understand that the battle is the Lords and numbers aren’t a problem? They are those who believe God’s inerrant Word,  know we are in the “end times”, know God’s call on their lives and get on with the job, trusting God for the outcome. We need to work with these anointed leaders, confident in our own role in God’s “end times” plan.
Let me name a few humble leaders that I have identified as Kingdom warriors who understand the times: Francis Chan, http://www.wearechurch.com; Torben Sondergaad, http://www.thelastreformation.com; Nelson Walters, http://www.gospelintheendtimes.com; Don Batten, http://www.creation.com; Joel Richardson, http://www.joelstrumpet.com; Alan Kurschner, http://www.alankurschner.com, Jeffrey Daly, http://www.dayofrepentance1.org

PROPHECY IN THE LAST DAYS

Listen to Messianic Jew Asher Intrater expound on prophecy in these last days. He is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries and oversees Ahavat Yeshua congregation in Jerusalem and Tiferet Yeshua congregation in Tel Aviv.

The concept of prophecy developed in stages throughout the Scriptures. The early patriarchs had many, direct prophetic encounters with God. Then Moses brought the prophetic experience to a higher level and became the “father” of the prophets. Moses prayed for all the people of God to be able to prophesy and receive the Holy Spirit (Num. 11:29), but this prayer was only answered at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost/Shavuot.

Moses’ prophecies reached a height at the end of his life in the last chapters of Deuteronomy–hinting at almost everything that we have in the rest of the Bible, even to the end of the book of Revelation. In fact, the idea that all the people of Israel would be saved in the end times, and that this would come about by the “fullness” of the gentile nations “provoking them to jealousy,” finds its first mention here, calling Israel “a people saved” (Deut. 32:20-2133:29Rom. 10:1911:1125-26).

When the children of Israel came into the Promised Land, the early prophets (Samuel through Elisha) spoke primarily concerning David’s kingdom. They believed that the kingdom of God was the kingdom of David. After several hundred years, the prophets realized there was something fundamentally wrong, because David’s sons kept falling into sin and idolatry. A turning point occurred when King Uzziah died, and Isaiah had a vision of a glorious divine king (Isa. 6:1-6John 12:40-41). From that time forward, the prophets then began to speak of the “Messiah” on a higher level.

Yeshua is revealed as that King-Messiah in the Gospels. After Yeshua was crucified, resurrected, and ascended, God began pouring out the Holy Spirit on all who would believe (Acts 2:1-4, 17), both Jew and Gentile Thus the prophetic gifts and revelations were made available to all in the New Covenant Church or “ecclesia” (1 Cor. 14:2631)

Now we are coming into the last stage of biblical prophecy, the prophecy of the end times. This new stage of prophecy is a consummation of both Israelite and church prophecy. If the prophecies of restoration for the nation of Israel are one “eye,” and the prophecies of the “fullness” of the worldwide ecclesia are the other “eye,” then it is time to open both eyes!! This could only happen after a 2,000-year history in which now the Messianic remnant in Israel and the international ecclesia are both coming into their “fullness” (Rom. 11:121525).

The prophet Isaiah said: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor” (Isa. 61:1).

Yeshua quoted this verse in the gospel of Luke. The second verse in Isaiah 61 states “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” In the gospels, the quote ends here. In Isaiah, the verse goes on to say, “(to proclaim) the day of vengeance of our God.”

The first part of the prophecy had to do with Yeshua’s message of grace and salvation, which began at that time, but the “day of vengeance” was to come much later in the end times. It will occur at the second coming of Yeshua during a time of judgment and war. Yeshua will lead an army from heaven to destroy the wicked, drive demons off the planet, raise the dead, and set up His kingdom. “The kingdoms of the world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever’ (Rev. 11:15).

Biblical “prophecy” today includes sharing the gospel, encouraging the church, the restoration of Israel and also confronting the nations with the soon coming kingdom: “The king is returning to take back the kingdoms of this world.” This type of prophecy was not fully possible until our generation. I believe God is offering a “double” prophetic anointing to enable us to speak of God’s destiny for Israel, the church and the nations in these end times.

UK – A CESSPIT FOR ISLAMISTS?

“London is more Islamic than many Muslim countries put together”, according to Maulana Syed Raza Rizvi, one of the Islamic preachers who now lead “Londonistan“, as the journalist Melanie Phillips has called the English capital. No, Rizvi is not a right-wing extremist. Wole Soyinka, a Nobel Laureate for Literature, was less generous; he called the UK “a cesspit for Islamists”. “Terrorists can not stand London multiculturalism”, London’s Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan said after the recent deadly terror attack at Westminster. The opposite is true: British multiculturalists are feeding Islamic fundamentalism. Above all, Londonistan, with its new 423 mosques, is built on the sad ruins of English Christianity.

British multiculturalists are feeding Islamic fundamentalism. Muslims do not need to become the majority in the UK; they just need gradually to Islamize the most important cities. The change is already taking place.

British personalities keep opening the door to introducing Islamic sharia law. One of the leading British judges, Sir James Munby, said that Christianity no longer influences the courts and these must be multicultural, which means more Islamic. Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Chief Justice Lord Phillips, also suggested that the English law should “incorporate” elements of sharia law.

British universities are also advancing Islamic law. The academic guidelines, “External speakers in higher education institutions”, provide that “orthodox religious groups” may separate men and women during events. At the Queen Mary University of London, women have had to use a separate entrance and were forced to sit in a room without being able to ask questions or raise their hands, just as in Riyadh or Tehran.

In Birmingham, the second-largest British city, where many jihadists live and orchestrate their attacks, an Islamic minaret dominates the sky. There are petitions to allow British mosques to call the Islamic faithful to prayer on loudspeakers three times a day.

Thousands of Muslims participate in a public outdoor prayer service in Birmingham, England, on July 6, 2016. (Image source: Ruptly video screenshot)

The Hyatt United Church was bought by the Egyptian community to be converted to a mosque. St Peter’s Church has been converted into the Madina Mosque. The Brick Lane Mosque was built on a former Methodist church. Not only buildings are converted, but also people. The number of converts to Islam has doubled; often they embrace radical Islam, as with Khalid Masood, the terrorist who struck Westminster.

By 2020, estimates are that the number of Muslims attending prayers will reach at least 683,000, while the number of Christians attending weekly Mass will drop to 679,000. “The new cultural landscape of English cities has arrived; the homogenised, Christian landscape of state religion is in retreat”, said Ceri Peach of Oxford University. While nearly half of British Muslims are under the age of 25, a quarter of Christians are over 65. “In another 20 years there are going to be more active Muslims than there are churchgoers,” said Keith Porteous Wood, director of the National Secular Society.

When the charismatic, miracle working, Mahdi (Antichrist) appears on the scene leading a ten nation Islamic Caliphate, what support will he receive from Muslims in the UK, Europe and other countries with rapidly growing Muslim populations?

“LAST DAYS” BIBLE PROPHECY – SURROUNDING ARABIC NATIONS WILL ATTACK ISRAEL

Turkish newspaper’s illustration of “Army of Islam” attacking Israel. Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)

Turkish newspaper's illustration of "Army of Islam" attacking Israel. (MEMRI)

A Turkish newspaper with close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for the formation of a joint Islamic army to fight Israel. Is this a fulfilment of Biblical prophecy?

“For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.
They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”
For they have consulted together with one consent;
They form a confederacy against You.” Psalm 83:2-5

On Dec. 12, 2017, ahead of the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, the Turkish daily Yeni Şafak, which is close to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AKP party, published an article titled “A Call for Urgent Action,” which also appeared on the paper’s website under the title “What If an Army of Islam Was Formed Against Israel?”

PROPHECY WATCH: 57 Muslim nations urged to besiege Israel

The article called on the 57 member states of the OIC to form a joint “Army of Islam” to besiege and attack the state of Israel. It notes that such a joint army will greatly exceed the Israeli army in manpower, equipment and budget, and presents statistics to prove this.

It also advocates establishing joint bases for the army’s ground, air and naval forces that will arrive from all over the Muslim world to besiege Israel, while noting that Pakistan, as the only nuclear country, has “a special status” among the OIC countries. An interactive map provides information on military forces stationed in various locations and the role they can play in the potential joint Muslim attack on Israel.

The following are excerpts from the Yeni Şafak article:

“If the OIC member states unite and form a joint military force, it will be the largest army in the world. These countries’ total population is 1,674,526,931. The number of soldiers in active service in these countries is at least 5,206,100. Their [overall] military defence budget, of $174,728,420, is also worthy of emphasis.

“As for Israel, it is significantly inferior. The population of this country, which attempted to occupy Jerusalem while surrounded by Muslim states, is 8,049,314. Note that the population of Istanbul alone exceeds 14 million. The number of soldiers in active service in the [Israeli] occupation forces is 160,000, and [Israel’s] defense budget is approximately $15,600,000,000.

“Defence Budget: OIC: $174,728,420,000; Israel: $15,600,000,000. Population: OIC: 1,674,526,931; Israel: 8,049,314. Soldiers: OIC: 5,206,100; Israel: 160,000″

“In a possible military operation, the first step is expected to involve 250,000 soldiers, and the establishment of joint land, air and naval bases for use in the short term. 500 tanks and armored vehicles, 100 war planes, 500 attack helicopters and 50 warships and submarines can be mobilized.”

“The war planes that will be dispatched to the region from greater distances will be stationed in airbases [closer to Israel]. Israel will most likely to be besieged by the naval fleets that will be sent to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

“Turkey will serve as an important headquarters during the operation, due to its land, air and naval infrastructures. The Turkish army, which carried out ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’ [in Syria in 2017] with great success, is now ranked the world’s seventh strongest army, and the second largest army among the NATO powers. Turkey has approximately 4,000 tanks and 1,000 war planes and other aircraft. Its navy made significant progress during the last years, with 194 vessels at its disposal.

“As the only country which possesses nuclear weapons, Pakistan has an important status among the 57 Muslim [OIC] countries… Those who believe that they are the owners of Jerusalem today will not find a single tree to hide behind tomorrow.

“In a statement, Malaysian Defence Minister [Hishammuddin] Hussein described Trump’s recognition [of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital] as a blow to Muslims, and added: ‘The Malaysian armed forces are ready to fulfil their duty regarding Jerusalem.’

God has brought Trump in to support Israel at a critical time in its history. Also, Biblical prophecy tells us that we will see a Shia/Sunni battle for dominance play out before an attack on Israel and this already seems underway, as presented in recent posts.

 

GOD WILL RESTORE ISRAEL: HE IS FAITHFUL

Will God restore Israel? No question, the wayward child will be restored. He is faithful. His promises are not dependent on Israel being faithful just as His promises to the church don’t depend upon our faithfulness.

He will return to save them, restore them, and rule and reign from a restored Jerusalem for one thousand years (Millennial reign). Good to hear Joel Richardson devastate the Preterist view (a perverted and evil view) of end times.

The primary focus and prophetic burden of all the O.T. prophets is the return of the Messiah and the events that surround His coming. God was gracious to show each one of them the end of the story – the “Day of the Lord” when he comes to defeat Israel’s enemies and He rules and reigns from Jerusalem in the Millennium.

Joel does a great job of unpacking the different positions held on the identity of  Mystery Babylon.

EVENTS THAT WILL TAKE PLACE BEFORE JESUS RETURNS

“Now when they are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction comes on them, like labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness for the day to overtake you like a thief would.” 1 Thess 5:3–4

Paul’s reassurance to the Thessalonians implies that they were anxious that they might not escape the day of the Lord and therefore endure God’s wrath. Paul confirms Christians will be raptured before God’s wrath is poured out on an unbelieving world. It is at the end of the sixth seal being opened that His wrath commences: “For the great day of His wrath has come who can stand.” (Rev. 6:17) The seven trumpet and seven bowl judgements are the wrath of God.

Note, Paul contrasts the ungodly, who will not escape because Christ is coming back as a thief for them (as in the days of Noah) , with believers who are obedient-vigilant and “not in the darkness for the day to overtake you like a thief would.” Incidentally, this reassuring promise undermines the pretribulational notion that Jesus is secretly coming back as a thief for his church.

During the Antichrist’s great tribulation, the world will experience peace and security for those who are loyal to him. Hence, Paul prophesies that the world will be saying, “There is peace and security” before Jesus returns to mete out His day of the Lord’s wrath upon the wicked.

The church will be here to witness the ungodly exclaiming that they are experiencing peace and safety. This prophecy that Paul mentions undermines imminence because it will happen before, not after, the rapture.

This is just another prophesied event in a long series of intervening events that will happen before the rapture—rendering the pretribulation teaching of imminence contradictory in light of this biblical evidence. [1]

The peace and safety will be illusory, a false security for unbelievers, because eventually unforeseen calamity will come upon them just as unexpected labour pains come upon a pregnant woman.

We should be careful not to confuse Paul’s use of the birth pangs analogy with Jesus’ purpose in using the same phrasing in the Olivet Discourse (“All these things are the beginning of birth pains,” Matt 24:8). Paul uses the phrase in a completely different application. Jesus applies the birth pangs metaphor to particular events before the .Antichrist’s great tribulation, while Paul applies it to the situation of the onset of the day of the Lord’s wrath  after the great tribulation.

For a more in depth coverage go to alankurschner.com – The Prophecy – “There is peace and security” contradicts Pretribulation Theology.

PRIORITISE YOUR LIFE WITH JESUS SECOND COMING IN VIEW

But the end of all things is at hand. 1 Peter 4:7

When D. L. Moody preached in Brooklyn in 1875, thousands were converted. Pastor Henry Ward Beecher struggled to understand this phenomenon until he met Moody personally. “I saw the secret of his working and plans,” wrote Beecher. “He is a believer in the second advent of Christ, and in our own time…. He thinks that Christ may come even to-morrow.”

Beecher added, “I should be a burning fire all the time if I believed like that.”

Peter expected Christ to soon come again too, writing, “The end of all things is at hand…. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies.”

We have even more reason to believe Jesus return is not too far off, as we see the events that Jesus prophesied must happen beforehand are unfolding in our time. Make sure you are about your Heavenly Father’s business in 2018.  Prioritise your life with the Second Coming in view. Let’s speak and serve as those who are longing for our Lord’s swift appearing. Let’s be on fire all the time.

He thinks (the world is) a wreck bound to sink—and the only thing that is worth doing is to get as many of the crew off as you can.

Henry Ward Beecher, about Moody

PREPARE FOR PERSECUTION AS YOU STAND ON THE AUTHORITY OF GOD’S WORD

Paul provides the model of how to behave in the dark days ahead and how to finish strongly. Jesus told us that in the “last days” the love of many will grow cold. There will be a great falling away in the church (Apostasy), even the elect deceived.

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Note many friends will leave you as they did Paul, “Demas in love with this present world has deserted me.” If you are doing God’s will, many will harm you as they did Paul “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm”. In fact, Paul says, “no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me.” BUT Paul also says, “the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the (GOSPEL) message might be fully proclaimed and all the gentiles might hear it. 

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defence no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:6-18