THE WEEK AFTER
It is a week and a half after the one year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the world trade towers. The civilized world has mourned the loss of so many people. I listened to a lot of the shows about it, some on fireman, some on those who died, some on the children, some on the widows, etc. So many lives affected by the act of a few fanatics.
It is said that Islam is a peaceful religion and that its people are peaceful. From what I understand, the majority of Muslims are peaceful people. However, a quick look at the Koran reveals some quotes that can raise concern. Please consider the following. "Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure," (Surah 61:4). "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress limits...191And slay them wherever ye catch them. and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for persecution is worse than slaughter; But fight them not at the sacred Mosque unless they (first) fight you there; But if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who reject faith. 192 But if they cease, Allah is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. 193And fight them on until there is no more persecution. And the religion becomes Allah's. But if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression" (Surah 2:190-193). "O ye who believe! what is the matter with you, that, when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter. Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place; but Him ye would not harm in the least. For Allah hath power over all things. Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place; but Him ye would not harm in the least. For Allah hath power over all things," (Surah 9:38-39). Such verses in the minds of fanatics can lead to danger for those whom they categorize as outsiders. This is the problem and it has been manifested in terrible ways. Who are the outsiders to Islam?
A newsletter is not the place for exhaustive comparisons, but short ones can be just as insightful. The character of the founder of a religion is often reflected in the religion's teachings. For example, Muhammad, the founder of Islam, spread his message by the sword, but Jesus spread His message by love. Muhammad shed the blood of many but Jesus shed His own blood to save us from our sins. Muhammad taught that heaven is a place where men will have sex with perpetual virgins, but Jesus taught that heaven is a place of the presence of the holiness of God. Muhammad taught that salvation is attained largely by your own works but Jesus taught salvation was the work of God. There is much more and the difference between Muhammed and Jesus is obvious especially when we see that Muhammed died and stayed in his grave. Jesus died and rose from the dead. I know who I choose to follow.
Please realize that it is not my intention to cause hatred towards the Muslims. If anything, they need our love because they do not serve the true God. They need Jesus the same as anyone else; they need the gospel of Jesus to free them from their sins and from their religion. The Muslims are under the bondage of a falsehood. We must pray for them, love them, and teach them the truth about Jesus. It isn't easy, but we must do it. We must break with our comfort level and do that which is uncomfortable: reach out to the lost wherever we might find them.
Please pray that the Lord would be merciful to this country and to the Muslims. Pray and ask the Lord for protection from evil and the salvation of the lost. The Muslims need Jesus desperately.
SHORT BIBLE LESSON - INTIMACY WITH GOD
Intimacy with God is a hard thing to attain. The word "intimacy" carries with it the aspects of a relationship with someone where you are vulnerable, loving, trusting, etc. To have an intimate relationship with God means that the deepest part of you is having a relationship with a deep part of God. Of course, we cannot fathom the deepest part of God, but He condescends to our level and reveals a part of Himself that only the Christian (through the cross of Christ) can enjoy. In addition, n heaven, this intimacy will not be hindered by sin.
The model of true intimacy is the Trinity. God is a Trinity of persons:Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Therefore, our intimacy with God (and with each other) is ultimately a reflection of God’s intimacy within the members of the Godhead. This means that intimacy is an essential part of the very nature of God and because we are made in His image, it is natural to us as well. This is why we are capable of intimacy with others and with God. It is in our nature.
Our intimacy with God first began in the Garden of Adam and Eve when God walked with man (Gen. 2 –3). It was something that God desired. As we know, Adam sinned and the intimacy with God was lost. But, God had a plan and He covered Adam and Eve with animal skins and shedding blood in the process (typifying the sacrifice of Christ in the future) so that the fellowship with mankind could be restored. This was realized at the cross where Jesus became sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:17) and bore our sins in His body (1 Pet. 2:24). Therefore, we are able to come to God through Jesus our mediator (1 Tim. 2:5).
Since Jesus is God in flesh, our mediator, this means that the intimacy we have with God is with Christ. In fact, we are "called into fellowship with His Son, Christ Jesus" in 1 Cor. 1:9. The word "fellowship" in the Greek is "koinonia" which is translated in the KJV as "communion" in 1 Cor. 11 in reference to the communion supper. It is interesting that communion is the place where we accept the ultimate vulnerability of God in Christ who humbled Himself by becoming susceptible to death. In this, I think, is a clue to true intimacy with God: humility. As Christ was humble to the point of death, so we too must be humble to the point of death; that is, death to ourselves, our selfish desires, our personal wants. When compared to God, our purpose should not be to see what we can get from Him. It should be to glorify Him and to love Him. Pride seeks its own. Humility seeks others. Isn't that what intimacy is, the seeking of another in the deepest sense? How can we do this if we are proud?
Intimacy with God is a privilege freely given to us by Christ in His sacrifice on the cross. He removed our sins so that we might dwell with God. Therefore, if there is sin in your life it will hinder your fellowship, your intimacy with God. Ask Jesus to reveal your sins to you so that you might repent of them and not hinder the fellowship of intimacy that God so lovingly desires with you.