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Archive for September, 2009

What Is Islam?

1) Islam, which means “submission,” is a religion founded by a man named Mohammed who lived from 570 to 632 A.D. (thus, approximately 600 years after the beginning of Christianity) and who claimed to be a prophet of God (called Allah), and who was allegedly called by Allah to restore true religion throughout the world.

2) The Koran (also spelled Quran) is the Islamic equivalent of our Bible and consists of 114 “revelations” of Mohammed, which he claimed were given to him by Allah through his archangel.

3) Parts of these “revelations” were recorded by Mohammed to his disciples and the rest are based upon his oral teaching, which his disciples recorded from memory after his death.

4) It should be added that Mohammed struggled with some of these “revelations,” worrying that they could be demonic in origin. However, his wife Khadijah encouraged him to believe they had come from God.

5) Mohammed lived in a culture surrounded by Jews and Christians and early in his life was favorable toward them until they rejected him and his teachings as being false.

6) In addition to the Koran, a number of additional sayings reported to be from Mohammed were also compiled by his disciples — called the Hadith (tradition) — and these are used for the political and social structure of Islam (there is no such thing as separation of church and state in Islam; religion informs and rules the state). A Surah is equivalent to a chapter from the Bible.

7) Muslims do believe in much of the Old Testament and they believe Jesus was a prophet and good teacher, but they do not believe He is God (Surah 4:171).

8) There are three sects of Islam, the largest being Sunnis, who are widely considered religious and political “moderates.” It has been estimated that 90 percent of the Muslims in the Middle East are Sunnis.

9) The radical and militant sect of Islam is known as Shia’ite and these are the followers of Islam who are dedicated to eradicating Christianity and Judaism from the world, through Jihad, or “holy war.” The main reason for the split between the two main sects is over who the proper successor of Mohammed was to be.

10) The third sect of Islam — the Ahmdiyan sect — is much smaller than the previous two and founded in the 1800s, but which is also very zealous and evangelistic, particularly among American college students.

                          WHAT DOES ISLAM TEACH ABOUT JESUS?

1) First, while purporting to be a pure revelation from “Allah,” and while claiming that the Bible itself is corrupted (but offering no proof), it is important to know that Islam’s Koran actually makes extensive use of the Old and New Testaments and also of literature from extra-biblical writings from Jewish rabbis and heretical, alleged Christian writings during and after the New Testament era (writings the early church rejected as heretical). We will discuss this at length later.

2) The Koran has some quite amazing things to say about Jesus, but most importantly, it teaches that He is not God and that He did not die a literal death on the cross for the sins of the world.
3) On the other hand, and from a strategic witnessing standpoint, the Koran actually teaches that our Lord was sinless, but that Mohammed was a sinner (Surah 47:19; 48:1-2)!

4) Moreover, the Koran teaches that Christ was born of a Virgin and may imply that He was the word of God. Thus, from a witnessing standpoint, this question must be put to any Muslim: If the Koran has such an exalted view of Jesus – as the greatest prophet next to Mohammed – what do you do with His claim that salvation and eternal life come only through Him?

5) There is further contradiction between the New Testament and the Koran in that while the Koran teaches that Mohammed was Allah’s greatest prophet, it also holds that Jesus did miracles (Mohammed himself acknowledged doing no miracles), that He was the Messiah, that He was taken up into heaven by Allah, and that He will return!

6) Furthermore, the crucial question must also be asked of the Muslim: what do you do with His claims to be God, and to have prophesied His own crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and return?

7) Could a great prophet be a liar or could he be mistaken? And what about the vast proof for His crucifixion, and His bodily resurrection on behalf of the world? If the New Testament is true and Jesus Christ is telling the truth and says that you must entrust your life to Him, what will you do with Him?

8) On the other hand, depending upon what kind of teaching a particular Muslim has received, some Muslims are taught that one who believes in Jesus as God has committed “the one unforgivable sin,” called shirk, and that this sin will send him to hell forever.

9) Thus, it is imperative to be discerning about what the Muslim knows about his or her faith; ask questions of the Muslim to determine what he or she knows about Islam’s view of Jesus.

10) Muslims are taught from the Koran that Jesus was the greatest prophet of all with the exception of Mohammed and the Koran clearly teaches that He was only a man: “Jesus was no more than a mortal whom [Allah] favored and made an example to the Israelites” (Surah 43:59).

11) The Koran asserts that Jesus denied His own divinity before God. In addition, Muslims do not believe Jesus died on a cross and that Allah would never permit one of his prophets to die in such a hideous manner: instead, God substituted someone else to die in His place.

12) Of course, the believer must explain the reason for our Lord’s crucifixion: to redeem man from his sin. Moreover, in order to redeem him from sin, Jesus had to be sinless, else His atonement would be imperfect and incomplete: only God Himself could provide such a sacrifice, done out of love for the world.

13) The Christian must be clear and bold in proclaiming our Lord’s promise of eternal life to those who embrace Him (John 3:16; 5:24; 11:25-26; 14:6), for Muslims are taught that anyone who converts to another religion other than Islam will be cursed for evermore.

14) But the Muslim’s own salvation is uncertain and indeed entirely problematic, for he will receive eternal life only if Allah has predestined him to receive it.

15) Furthermore, eternal life depends upon his works and upon his ability to please Allah, having his works placed on a scale: in the Day of Judgment, “they whose balances shall be heavy with good works shall be happy; but they whose balances shall be light are those who shall lose their souls, and shall remain in hell forever” (Surah 23:104-105).

16) The above is why some Muslims recite extra prayers, give extra to charity and make pilgrimages not only to Mecca but to other holy sites of their religion, hoping to earn favor with Allah. Contrast this with eternal assurance of forgiveness of sins and eternal security that Jesus Christ Himself all who will exchange their lives for His (Luke. 24:44-47).

17) With respect to Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers, there is great difficulty with Koranic teaching on sin, for while it acknowledges Muhammed’s sin, the Koran also believes that men are good by nature and it does not believe in original sin (cf. Rom. 5:12-14).

18) Both the Koran and the Bible agree that there was a fall from the original state of the world in Eden, but both mean something entirely different by the fall.

19) The Bible teaches that Adam’s sin was rebellion. Knowing perfectly well what was right, Adam chose to do wrong. As a result, Adam’s entire race shares a natural distaste for God and his ways.

20) Sin is always rebellion against God, the King whose authority we reject. By contrast, the Koran says Adam forgot to walk the right way. In Islam, sin can be defined as forgetfulness, heedlessness, or a failure to remember. Such forgetfulness is simply the result of inherent weakness, as opposed to active rebellion against God.

21) Muslims believe that non-Islamic societies and non-Muslim religions corrupt humans who, in the right environment (i.e. under Islam), are able to live a good life that is pleasing to Allah. That good life (coupled with fate—even good Muslims have no assurance of Allah’s favor) is required for entry into Paradise.

22) The best way to live a good life is to live in a good society defined as one governed by Shari’ah, the divine Islamic Law. This is an all-encompassing system that controls every aspect of everyday life and it applies to the economic, political, and legal structures of society as well as to everyone’s personal life.

23) It is appropriate—one could even say loving—to impose Shari’ah on a society for the temporal and eternal good of its citizens. This ideology is more obvious in radical expressions like the Taliban, but is inherent in all Islam.

                                            IS THE KORAN RELIABLE?

1) My intent here is not to speak disparagingly about Muslims or Islam, but rather in the “marketplace” of ideas to take a careful and critical look at the religion and its claim for an infallible “holy” book to see if its claims can be upheld.

2) As mentioned above, Islamic teaching holds that the Bible we have is corrupted, and yet the Koran itself contradicts such a view. In the Koran, Mohammed writes that Allah commands him to search the Bible if he has any doubts about what Allah is revealing to him.

3) In another portion of the Koran, after highly exalting the writings of Moses, the prophets (the Suhuf), the psalms of David (Zabur), the teaching of Jesus (the Injil) and His disciples, the Koran says, “We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered.”

4) In fact, the Koran states that the above books were inspired by Allah (Surah 35:27-31; 4:163-164; 5:43-47; 32:24; 46:11-12; 2:87) and that Allah’s revelations are incorruptible and can be changed by no one (Sura 6:115).

5) Indeed, as Josh McDowell points out in his book, The Islam Debate, Surah 7:157 holds that the Law of Moses (called Taurat) and the Injil were in the possession of Jews and Christians during the time of Mohammed.

6) How, then, could the Muslim charge of a corrupted gospel hold true? Was not Allah powerful enough to preserve both the OT and NT from corruption? And yet at no time in history has anyone been able to prove the existence of any other books claiming to be the same as those described above.

7) In addition, Muslims can offer no proof of corruption in the Protestant Bible, for there are well-over 25,000 hand-copied manuscripts of both the Hebrew OT and Greek NT found from all over the Middle East which are in complete agreement with each other and despite charges by critics for several centuries now, the Bible has proven to be inerrant and infallible.

8) On the other hand, the same cannot be said of the Koran; it has nowhere near the amount of available manuscripts for critical examination to see if its claims can be upheld.

9) McDowell shows that when the Koran was first collated by the Caliph Uthman into one standard text, there were numerous texts in existence which all contained many significant variant readings and that in various parts of Syria, Armenia, and Iraq, Muslims were reciting the Koran differently than in Arabia.

10) Uthman saw to it that his version was sent to every province holding variant texts and that those variant texts be burned. In stark contrast to this, many variant readings of the NT are in existence today and no attempt has ever been made to destroy them.

11) Why is that? Because in each of those variants, the differences between the text of the NT we have today and the variants are so minor (spelling mistakes, punctuation, marginal notes and single words left out of a sentence due to copyist error) that they do not affect one single doctrine.

12) Truly, the NT has marvelously withstood withering attacks over the centuries to continue to be the reliable word of God.

13) Equally damaging to the Koran as being reliable are the words of Umar in his reign as Caliph; he indicates that an entire passage from the Koran was left out; specifically, verses prescribing stoning for adultery which were recited by Mohammed:

      God sent Mohammed and sent down the Scripture to him. Part of what   he sent down was the passage on stoning; we read it, we were taught it and we heeded it. The apostle stoned and we stoned them after him. I fear that in time to come men will say that they find no mention of stoning in God’s book and thereby go astray in neglecting an ordinance which God has sent down. Verily stoning in the book of God is a penalty laid on married men and women who commit adultery.

14) In fact, the Koran, written several thousand years after the OT and several hundred years after the NT, contradicts the Bible, whether it be the story of Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:1-15; cf. Surah 5:27-32), or its assertion that the ark of Noah came to rest on Mt. Judi (Surah 11:44) as opposed to the biblical teaching of Mt. Ararat (Gen. 8:4).

15) In addition, the Koran teaches that Abraham’s father was Azar (6:74) and not Terah (Gen. 11:27) and that Abraham attempted to sacrifice Ishmael (37:100-112) and not Isaac (Gen. 22); the Koran holds that the flood occurred in Moses’ time (7:136; cf. 7:59ff) and not Noah’s (Gen. 6-8).

16) In a bizarre twist, it holds that Israel returned to Egypt after the Exodus (2:56-57, 61), which, of course was neither the case historically nor was it the case biblically. The Koran also contradicts the NT by saying Zechariah would be speechless for three days for his unbelief (3:41) rather than nine months (Luke. 1:18-20).

17) Far more importantly, the Koran plainly denies the crucifixion of Jesus, which even secular history – let alone the NT – upholds.

18) In fact, while Jesus forbids adultery and fornication and allows only one wife for a man, the Koran permits a man to have up to four wives and unlimited concubines (women for sex) and does indeed promise concubines for men in heaven (cf. Surat al-Nisa 4:24; Surat al-Naba 78:33), in stark contrast to the teaching of Jesus (Luke. 20:34-36).

19) When Muhammad began his religion the first of his “revelations” has him tolerating all religions: “There is no compulsion in religion” (Surat al-Baqarah 2:256).

20) However, at the end of his 114 “revelations” the slaughter of “idolaters” (non-Muslims) is allowed unless they repent and turn to Allah (Surat al-Taubah 9:5, 29). This is where radical Muslims find their justification for Jihad, or the killing of non-Muslims.

21) Here is an interesting side note An interesting side note: only a few weeks ago from this writing (approximately 2002), there was a major flap over the University of North Carolina requiring incoming freshmen to read the Koran as part of its annual book reading for incoming freshmen.

22) However, the students were required to read only the “earlier revelations” of the Koran – not its later “revelations,” which are much more controversial. Is that true academic scholarship?

23) In contrast to the above, when Jesus’ disciples grew frustrated that people were not converting to His message, they wanted His permission to destroy them, but Jesus rebuked them for such a desire (Luke 9:52-56).

24) Muslims (and even former President Bush) claim Islam is a “peaceful” religion, and yet the Koran allows for the enslavement of all peoples (including even fellow Muslims: Surat al-Nisa 4:36), and Muslims in Sudan are currently enslaving thousands of Sudanese Christians and forcing them to convert to Islam, or else they are maimed or murdered.

25) Moreover, the Koran also allows husbands to “scourge” their wives if they disobey them – certainly not a “peaceful” thing to do! This is something the Bible would never allow and Eph. 5:22-29 makes it clear men are to treat their wives with the utmost respect and nourishment.

26) Finally, Surat al-An’am 6:34 says “there is none that can alter the words (and decrees) of Allah.” However, Mohammed has Allah changing his mind three times about which direction Muslims were to direct their prayers, changing from Ka’bah to Jerusalem and finally to Mecca (present-day Saudi Arabia).

                              IS MOHAMMED FORETOLD IN THE BIBLE?

1) Some Muslims claim Deut. 18:18 – a prophecy Jews and Christians hold to be messianic – is a prophecy of Muhammad, reasoning that Muhammad was far more like Moses than Jesus: both Muhammad and Moses were lawgivers, military leaders and spiritual guides for those whom they led; both were at first rejected by their people, whereupon they fled into exile and then later returned to lead their followers as religious and secular leaders.

2) However, the passage in Deut. 18:18 says that this Messiah to come after Moses would be “From among their brethren” and only Moses and Jesus were Israelites, whereas Mohammed descended from Ishmael.

3) McDowell notes that both Moses and Jesus left Egypt to perform God’s work, but Muhammad never was in Egypt.

4) In addition, Moses and Jesus forsook great wealth to share the poverty of their people (Heb. 11:25-26; cf. 2 Cor. 8:9); this Muhammad did not do. Moses spoke with God “face-to-face” (a Hebrew term which is figurative for a direct encounter), and Jesus did the same (John 1:1).

5) Contrast the above with the Koran’s own assertion that Muhammad’s alleged revelations came to him through the mediation of the angel Gabriel. And while both Moses and Jesus performed many signs and wonders, Muhammad performed none at all (Surah 6:37, 57).

6) Muhammad never claimed that Moses wrote of him, as Jesus emphatically did (John 5:45) and Peter and Stephen reinforced (Acts 3:22; 7:37).

7) Some Muslims also attempt to see the “Comforter” of John 14-16 as Muhammad, but simple exegesis of these chapters shows such a view to be absurd, for these chapters make it quite clear that the “Comforter” is not a man but the Spirit of God.

8) Furthermore, He always glorifies and points people to Jesus Christ; He dwells with and within the followers of Jesus (who knew Him then), yet Muhammad was not even born until more than 500 years after the coming of the Comforter of John 14-16.

                       WHAT ABOUT THE GOSPEL OF BARNABAS?

1) Muslims will occasionally catch Christians off-guard by mentioning the Gospel of Barnabas as being the only authentic New Testament document. Most Christians have never even heard of this “gospel.”

2) Of course, the document, purportedly coming from the Apostle Paul’s fellow apostle Barnabas, contains prophecies of the coming of Muhammad, denounces Paul and his entire ministry and rejects the deity of Jesus and His Messiah ship (though the Koran counts Him as Messiah, while at the same time rejecting His deity).

3) While historical evidence exists for the veracity of all of the writers of the NT, there is no historical evidence for the apostle and companion of Paul writing a gospel. Thus, we must first examine who the real Barnabas was and then examine when such an alleged “gospel” came into being and by whom.

4) Barnabas appears in the NT as an apostle after the resurrection of Jesus, but until that time was known by his common name, Joseph (Acts 4:36). The name “Barnabas” (“son of encouragement”) was given to him because of his character and nature of encouragement to the Christians he ministered to.

5) In contrast to the above, the author of the Gospel of Barnabas has him as one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus and even more contradictory, alleges that he was always called Barnabas, even during Jesus’ earthly ministry.

6) The next time we see Barnabas is in Acts 9:27, during Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem to visit the apostles. It was Barnabas who defended Paul before the apostles, after Paul had publicly proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God (Acts 9:20). This, too, contradicts the claims of the Gospel of Barnabas.

7) It was Barnabas who sought out Paul to help him teach and ground the new believers in Antioch in the faith (Acts 11:26) and from this point on, the two traveled and ministered together (Acts 11:28-30; 12:25; 13:33; 15:1-2), both of them preaching Jesus as the Son of God!

8) Again, in contrast to the above, the author of the Gospel of Barnabas is diametrically opposed to Paul and all he stands for, especially in relation to his teaching on the person of Christ.

9) Yes, it is true that Paul and Barnabas did have a dispute about taking John Mark along with them on one of their missionary journeys (Acts 15:38-40). However, it is a testament to the character of both men that at a later period, they were reconciled (Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11).

10) The best manuscript evidence for the Gospel of Barnabas is that it was written perhaps 200 years after Muhammad, especially since it quotes the Koran, which itself was written after Muhammad’s death.

11) In addition, the only copy available of this book is written in Italian – not in Greek – and the book has many lines taken from Dante’s Divine Comedy, which was written in the 13th century. It is the Koran which says there are seven heavens (Surah 2:29), but the Gospel of Barnabas says – like Dante’s Empyrean – that there are nine heavens and that Paradise is the 10th heaven above all the others.

12) The Gospel of Barnabas repeatedly has Jesus say He is not the Messiah but that Mohammed would be the Messiah. Yet again, this even contradicts the Koran, which calls Jesus the Messiah (Surah 3:45).

            HOW TO REACH MUSLIMS: PRAY, LOVE AND WITNESS

1) What is the most powerful thing we can do in this epic spiritual battle we face? Pray with compassion for the salvation of Muslims, who are blinded to their need for the Savior just as with any other person apart from salvation through Jesus. Pray with authority for the destruction of the spiritual forces behind Islam.

2) Treat the Muslim just as you would anyone else that needs faith in Jesus. Ask the person if there is a need you can pray for. If it is physical, believe God for the miraculous on the spot!

3) There is a massive amount of documentation that vast multitudes of Muslims are coming to faith in Jesus through visions and dreams of Him. It may be that the Muslim you have been appointed to share your faith with has already had such a dream and God wants you to interpret or explain the dream, just as Ananias did to Paul (Acts 9)!

4) Ask Muslims if they have found forgiveness and eternal life through the Messiah, Jesus Christ! Another strategy in witnessing to them is to ask them how they hope to get to heaven, for Muslims believe that on the Day of Judgment, Allah will place their deeds on a scale; those who have sufficient personal merit will go to heaven and those who do not will go to hell.

5) Muslims have very little assurance of their prayers being answered, for Allah is distant, capricious, and difficult to please. Of the 99 “beautiful names” for Allah, not one is “love” and Allah does not love the sinner (compare this with John 3:16; 1 John 4:6; Rom. 5:8-10; 2 Cor. 13:14).

6) Allah cannot ultimately be known and he is not relational, for that would make him dependent upon his creation. This stands in dramatic contrast to John 17:3; Is. 30:18, the book of Psalms and the vast majority of the entire Bible! Indeed, the God of the Bible is intensely personal, intimate and loving!

7) Moreover, He has revealed Himself through Jesus Christ and through His Word, whereas Allah has revealed his will only through the Koran, as interpreted by Muslim clerics (recall how this was the case in the Roman Catholic church for centuries and how corrupt that church became, with unbiblical teachings and wicked practices among popes and priests).

8) Know ahead of time that most Muslims you witness to are very open and respectful, but if they argue, do not respond in the same way: just present what the Bible says and remember that God’s Word does not return void without accomplishing what it was sent forth to accomplish (Is. 55:11).

9) Therefore, another excellent strategy in reaching out to Muslims with the gospel of Jesus Christ is to invite them to do a Bible study; if they agree, pray earnestly that God would reveal Himself to them through His Word and before actually beginning the Bible study, open up in prayer, asking God to speak to you both through His Word.

10) I recommend studying John and reading through the particular passage ahead of time, anticipating any questions that might come up in the study. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions about the passage.

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Not far from my house in Willow Glen (part of San Jose, CA) is a very large billboard advertising Islam and offering a free copy of the Koran.

I also saw two similar signs on a recent drive up to Sacramento (and back) on 680.

What an incredible irony, I thought, when I considered that the proponents of Islam who paid for these signs (and presumably all Muslims) believe that their religion is the only true religion.

They take advantage of a free society to put up the advertisement, but I wonder: how many Muslim nations would allow Christians to put up a similar ad on a billboard in one of their cities or towns?

I mean, if Islam is indeed such a great religion — if it is indeed the “true” religion — then it would certainly not feel threatened by such a sign, would it?

Of course, it is highly doubtful that a Muslim nation would ever allow Christians to erect such a billboard: we cannot even openly share our faith with another Muslim in Muslim countries.

But the plain truth is that Islam has one especially severe weakness: one of the greatest untold stories in the history of Christianity is the widespread turning to faith in Jesus Christ of millions of Muslims worldwide.

Despite the enormous efforts of Islamic governments to stop their people from converting to Islam, it is happening every day.

One ministry alone has led between 5-7 million Muslims to faith in Christ each year for the past three years.  There are hundreds of ministries to Muslims worldwide who are also having similar success!

This particular ministry commissioned an independent polling group to sample the amount of calls and emails to its television studio from Muslims that contacted the ministry to declare that they had just received Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

The result of its accurate, scientific analysis was nothing short of astounding back in 2006: 5-7 million salvations!

Meanwhile, there are virtually no conversions of Christians to Islam and the amount of westerners who convert to Islam is a tiny fraction of the approximately one billion Muslims throughout the earth.

Why is this religion so large? It is through enforcement, coercion, large families and, in places like Somalia, Muslims forcing Christians into slavery and then into Islam.

The good news is that there are thousands of Muslims here in the Silicon Valley and from personal experience I can testify that some of the easiest people that I’ve ever witnessed to are Muslims.

They don’t carry the baggage that so many westerners carry: claims to atheism, claims to be agnostic, claims that they themselves are gods.

Muslims believe in God and they respect Jesus as a Prophet, so a natural, built-in opportunity exists to befriend them and lead them to freedom in Christ — a freedom they know nothing about in worshiping a capricious, distant “Allah.”

We have nothing to fear in reaching out to and witnessing to Muslims!  If you need help in understanding Islam and in how to share your faith with Muslims, please see my teaching on What Is Islam.

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This is awesome!

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/video/video.php?v=155315264765

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Confidence in Prayer

Friend, do you want to have greater confidence in prayer — a growing confidence that when you pray, God is actively and very gladly listening — and actively responding?

And do you know that our heavenly Father wants this for us even more than we do?

Indeed, He desires to build a sense of security in us in our relationship with Him — just as any father or mother would with a son or daughter.

For the last week I’ve been meditating (to “meditate” biblically means to chew on something; to ponder; to say it aloud to one’s self) in Ps. 116:1-2 and as a result, my confidence in prayer has been strenghtened.

Here is what the Psalmist says: “I love the LORD, because He hears my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.”

Our confidence can grow from verses like these first of all because we’re praying to “the LORD.”  “LORD” here is Yahweh, or God as the personal, active, covenant-keeping God (whenever you see LORD in your Bible as it appears here — capitalized — it is Yahweh).

So when I meditate on these simple, yet profound two verses, I thank Him that He is actively involved in my praying; that He is personal, and that He keeps His covenant with me.

Secondly, the Psalmist says that the LORD has “inclined” His ear “to me.”

The Hebrew word translated in the New American Standard Bible translation “inclined,” means to “extend, stretch out.”

And, the word is intensive in Hebrew, which means that God is really, really listening, intently!

Note the remainder of this psalm and how often the writer makes note of how God has answered him.

One of the exciting adventures of the Christian life is for us to also make note of the seemingly thousands of ways God answers our prayers.

This takes special attention on our part to “see” or to “make the connection” in our lives in observing God at work on our behalf.

I believe one of the best ways to do this is to keep a daily “spiritual” journal, in which we record what we’re asking of Him and what He does for us.

I’ve done this since 1984 and it has been faith-building!

May our LORD strengthen you every day, believer in Jesus Christ, to daily draw near to Him in prayer in the confidence that He desires for you, His son or daughter!

And if you have not completely surrendered your life to Jesus, today is the day: you’ve waited long enough, haven’t you?  Is there any good reason that you cannot give your life to Him today?

If you say to Him, “Lord Jesus, take my life; take my sin, shame and guilt.  I have not lived my life for you; I’ve lived it for me.  But I want to live the rest of my life for You and I want to know, this day, that I have eternal life.

“Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and help me to live for you for eternity.  Help me to find a healthy, solid church to be a part of and mature Christian friends who can help me to understand You, grow in You and thrive in You in this Christian life.

“Thank You, Jesus, that You have heard my prayer, and that You have come into my life.  Father, I belong to You now, through Jesus Christ my Lord, amen.”

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I’m currently writing commentary/study notes to teach through Genesis 1-11. In my notes, I occasionally point out the extraordinarily important implications that the Creation account of Gen. 1-2 has for the ongoing debate between Creation and Evolution.

Having just finished my notes on Gen. 1, I included a vital insight from a scholar that is merely one more dagger in the belly of one of the greatest hoaxes ever foisted upon humanity: Evolution.

Here is the excerpt from Henry M. Morris, who wrote The Genesis Record (pp.80-81):

The present processes of the universe are, without exception, processes of conservation and disintegration, as formulated in the two universal Laws of Thermodynamics. The processes of the creation period, on the other hand, were processes of innovation and integration (or “creating” and “making”), which are exactly the opposite. Science can deal only with the present processes, to which alone it has access. It should be completely clear to all who are not willfully ignorant that universal processes of conservation and disintegration could never produce a universe requiring almost infinite processes of innovation and integration for its production.

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Friend, what are you going through right now? Are you enduring some difficulty; a trial or tribulation?  If you are, this spiritual blog is for you!

And even if you’re not going through some hardship, this is also for you, because you will go through many hardships throughout your life: Acts 14:22 promises this for the believer: “Through many tribulations we must inherit the kingdom of God.”

Let these words from Isaiah 26:3-4 grab hold of your heart and mind to give you the strength, the life and the power you need:

“The steadfast of find You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in God the LORD we have an everlasting rock.”

The Hebrew word translated “steadfast” meant to lean upon; to take hold of; to rest or stand fast; to stay.

When we do these things, we’re truly trusting God! That’s a lot to meditate on and meditate on it we must!

But there’s more here for you as well: in Hebrew, the English words we have (“perfect peace”) are shalom, shalom.

This Hebrew word is quite rich and applies significantly to what you need at this moment or for when you find yourself in a time of difficulty.

Shalom can mean safety; wellness; happiness; peace, prosperity; welfare and wholeness.

It can mean the absence of strife and it’s the state of fulfillment which is the result of God’s presence.

Friend, draw near to God right now; declare this verse out loud and “chew” on it, for in doing so, you are doing biblical meditation that the book of Psalms calls us to do repeatedly.

Finally, remember who it is that you’re trusting: the “LORD.”  This is Yahweh, the covenant-keeping, personal, active One.

You must do your part now and as you do, He will most certainly do His part: it is His nature to fulfill His Word!

May His grace and peace be multiplied to you today, through Jesus Christ the Lord.

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The following is an excerpt from an in-depth study I’m preparing to teach from Gen. 1-11.

We now come to a major theme of Genesis and indeed the entire OT, extending into the NT. In Gen. 1:28 the very first thing that is said of Adam and Eve after God created them is that He “blessed them.”

When we understand how important this word really is (to us in the western world, the word means something good, but we usually don’t understand its import when we use the word), we will come to greatly appreciate – in a greater way — the God who blesses us.

Indeed, it is of no small significance and insight into God’s nature that His first act in speaking to Adam and Eve was to bless them!

“To bless” appears in the OT 214 times and its root or derivatives occur 415 times. Its basic meaning is to endow with power for success, prosperity, reproduction, longevity, etc. Since blessing in the OT in general comes from the greater to the lesser, the OT sees God as its only source.

Old Testament scholar John N. Oswalt notes that the major function of “blessing” “seems to have been to confer abundant and effective life upon something (Gen. 2:3; 1 Sam. 9:13; Is. 66:3) or someone (Gen. 27:27f.; Gen. 49).

From Gen. 12:3 we can see that it is God’s desire to bless all who will trust Him, but He alone has this power to bless and He can either bless or curse, depending upon the response of people.

This speaks to the balance between His love, grace and mercy and His holiness, righteousness and justice. The saddest and most common misconception in modern-day life about God’s nature and character in the OT is that He is a “God of wrath.”

On the contrary, He is first and foremost a God who desire to bless and that characteristic of His nature has not changed in the NT either.

The above can be seen supremely in a study of Num. 22f.; Deut. 28. “His presence confers blessing (2 Sam. 6:11-20), and it is only in his name that others can confer blessing (Deut. 10:8, etc.).”

Oswalt adds that “The transposition of blessing and cursing with life and death in Deut. 30:19 and elsewhere reaches the heart of the OT concept of blessing.”

Finally, we frequently see the Psalmists – especially David – “blessing” God. For example, in Ps. 34:1 he sings, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

The definition of man “blessing” God lies in that very verse and the word “praise” that follows “bless”: it is an expression of thanksgiving and praise to God for who He is and for all He means to the believer.

This is no doubt the foundation and basis for our Lord’s Prayer in Mt. 6:9 and the words, “Hallowed be Thy Name.” In making such a declaration, we are in effect “blessing” God.

Thus, it is good for us to frequently declare, “I bless You, Lord” or “I bless You, Father,” for in so doing, we are declaring God’s steadfast love, His devotion to us; His covenant loyalty, faithfulness and mercy.

In effect, we are recognizing Him for being our covenant-keeping God, for all of these words are definitions of what in my opinion is the most important and significant word in the entire Bible: hesed (usually translated “loving-kindness” or simply “love” in the OT).

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