THE VOICE IN THE NIGHT

(December 6, 2020) Honouring the memory of the late missionary statesman Dr George Forbes we rerun one of his previously posted Christmas blogs, the incident of the ‘voice in the night’ phenomenon…

In contrast to stories of apparitions and spirits these ‘mysterious voice’ speaking to Muslims reports have been extremely specific, constant and detailed.

There have been literally thousands of reported dreams and visions of devout Muslims, including many Imams, Mullahs and Sheiks who have seen ‘Isa’ and heard him speak to them.

(Note: Isa an Arabic translation of Jesus, itself having a Hebrew origin).

Phenomenon converts many Muslims
This phenomenon has led to the conversion of large numbers of Muslims. They have become convinced of the gospel by the appearance of Jesus and by his words of life. I and many others are convinced these reports are genuine.

God loves every Muslim – as indeed he loves every man, woman and child on earth. His love for all humanity was focused on Calvary when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was crucified as the sin-bearer and Saviour of the world (John 3:16).

The scriptures declare in Romans 5:6 that, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. The apostle Peter wrote that, ‘Christ also once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God ‘(1 Peter 3:18).

This gospel truth is transforming people right around the world, with a significant number of conversions occurring among former Muslims.

Mysterious encounters with Christ
Stories are being told of many such encounters, where the Lord Jesus Christ appears to individuals, even leaders in the Muslim world. These are days of amazing contrasts between light and darkness, hope and hopelessness. (more…)

PUTTING JOY BACK IN THE CHRISTMAS SEASON

(December 6, 2020) Carol Round shares an important biblical-based discipline…

If you ask any child what he or she likes about Christmas, you will probably hear the same answer. In their excitement, most would probably shout the word ‘presents’ or ‘toys.’

Ask any harried parent what he or she likes about Christmas and you’d get a different answer. You would get even another viewpoint if you asked retailers.

The holiday season is on us. Although the advertising blitz has been going on for a few months – or at least it feels that way – I find it hard to get excited. Am I alone? Where has the joy gone?

A season filled with joy
If you asked me to describe a season filled with joy, I would include the following: the company of loved ones, good food, fun, and relaxation, and maybe a few inches of snow. Although my wish list seems simple, for many, this ideal could not be farther from reality.

Too often, the holidays seem to exhaust us because we feel trapped by the shopping, spending, and frenzied preparations when we should be full of joy. A recent national survey revealed that 70 percent of Americans long for less emphasis on gift giving and spending. (more…)

A TIME OF CONFUSION AND UNCERTAINTY

(December 6, 2020) Dr Robert McQuillan, drawing on his current article in Counselling Australia journal, encourages taking windows of opportunity (Note: Although the article was aimed at encouraging professional counsellors, it’s full of Bible-based principles that every Christian should employ)…

Seems that newscasts share more bad news daily about the worldwide pandemic, increasing crime, rebellion against authorities, government opposition groanings instead of encouraging support… it’s rare to hear good news that makes you laugh, even smile.
So I’m urged to begin this article with a simple, good-news story…

Courtesy
Evidently a 93-year-old Italian wept when told his hospital ventilator one-day usage bill was 5,000Euro (approx. $8100AUD).
A doctor kindly advised him, ‘Don’t cry over it.’ To his surprise the old man responded, ‘I’m not crying because I have to pay. I cry because I’ve been breathing God’s air every day for 93 years and never had to pay anything. But for one day’s use of your ventilator, I must pay EU5000! I realise now how much I owe God… I’ve never courteously thanked him before for his free air!’
Doesn’t that makes you smile – and think? (more…)

THE INDESCRIBABLE WONDER  

(November 29, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, reflects on the full significance of next month’s spiritual highlight…

Christmas is quickly approaching.  Having grown up in in Ireland and then ministering in England, I was used to having Christmas as a mid-winter celebration and, I must admit, I miss that kind of Christmas atmosphere! But wherever we live, as Christians the most important thing we associate with Christmas is the birth of Jesus! Images readily spring to mind…

  • The newborn baby lying in a stable manger.
  • Mary and Joseph and the shepherds gazing in awe at the newborn child.
  • The visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus (although their timing was actually off by a couple of years)
  • Christmas carols playing a part in reinforcing this scenario.

A festival!
The surprising thing is that in the early church Christmas was not celebrated as a festival. I don’t mean that the first Christians didn’t believe that Jesus, God’s Son, was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Of course, they did. But in the first couple of centuries Christmas, as a festival, did not exist. In the early writings of Christians, there are no references to celebrating of Jesus’ birth while there are many references to celebrating his atoning death and glorious resurrection.  For example, about 20 years after the ascension of Jesus, Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, ‘Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival’ (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

Why then was the birth of Jesus not also celebrated as a festival?  I’m sure that part of the reason was that no one was really sure of the exact date on which Jesus was born although after a few centuries the church, with some rather strange reasoning, settled on two possible dates – December 25 and January 6 – although both dates are probably wrong!

Eventually, almost 300 years after Jesus was born, people began actively to celebrate
his birth in mid-winter. (more…)

PRAYER CHANGES/CHARGES!

(November 11, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan challenge:

Recently we heard an outstanding declaration by CS Lewis (portrayed by Sir Anthony Hopkins) in that great, heart-touching 1993 movie Shadowlands

  • ‘Prayer doesn’t change God – it changes me!’

Prayer is so important in the Christian’s life, a daily must as far as we’re concerned, something we’re into each morning over breakfast before we’re into the ‘whatevers’ the day brings forth. We’ll also find ourselves praying at different times during the day… about something arising in our own circumstances or about a request from someone (either known or unknown Christian, or a non-Christian stranger)… or in response to a leading by the Holy Spirit.

Prayer is…
1) Vital
Wigram’s Englishman’s Greek Concordance of the New Testament lists over 100 scriptures on prayer and praying. Jesus’ own prayer life is mentioned around 30 times in scripture (Jesus-Praying).

  • One key scripture is Luke 18:1 – Jesus urging that his disciples ‘should always pray and not give up.

(more…)

SECURITY… UNDER GOD’S WINGS

(November 3, 2020) Erica Grace, ex-missionary to South America, reminds us of a great truth!

What comfort to know that only under his wings we are always safe. Such on that day when we were nearly halfway between two cities in Bolivia, Sucre and Cochabamba, and our worst nightmare came true.

Winding our way around the high Andes Mountains, on very narrow roads, we came face to face with a huge lumber truck, full beyond capacity. It was coming down the same narrow road at full speed!

It was as if Psalm 73:19 – ‘In the blink of an eye, disaster! A blind curve in the dark, and – nightmare!’ – had become a reality!

Security in Jesus’ all-powerful name!
Chris only had a few seconds to get as close as he could to the side of the road.  As I looked out my window, I couldn’t see the edge of the road, only hundreds of metres of drop. The raging river down below looked like a tiny thread, that’s how high we were.

At that moment all we managed to utter wasJesus– reverently, prayerfully and calling for his help! (more…)

DO YOU LISTEN WITH YOUR HEART?

(November 3, 2020) Carol Round shares an important biblical-based discipline…

‘Make your ear attentive to wisdom. Incline your heart to understanding’ Proverbs 2:2 (NASB) and a recent devotional in The Upper Room about listening with the heart led me to meditate on the writer’s words.

Her husband had retired early because of Parkinson’s disease. Because his voice had become soft and monotone, his wife often had trouble understanding his speech. However, she said, ‘Our adult son always understands what his dad is saying.’

One day she asked her husband the difference between their son’s approach and hers. Her husband replied, ‘Our son listens with his heart.’

The writer realised her preoccupation with household duties meant she wasn’t listening intently enough to hear and understand her husband. She said, ‘His words fell on rocky ground. Our son listened intently with a joyful heart and was able to understand his father.’

Listening for God’s message
The writer began to wonder if she approached scripture in the same way as she did her husband. She wrote. ‘Sometimes, when I read the Bible, I become so preoccupied with my to-do list I don’t listen for God’s message.’ (more…)

THE POSITIVE OUTLOOK

(November 1, 2020) Brian Bell shares …

These are continuing uncertain and unstable days when people are naturally concerned about the outlook, as around the world we see Covid-19 infection rates rising and sadly more deaths, concern for their families and the repercussions of the economic impact brought about by the efforts of governments to deal with the pandemic.

Last month  I shared recently some thoughts on my time recovering from surgery (Link: God’s-Repair-Shop). Also, during that time I had been reading through the apostle Paul’s letters to the various churches.

I was drawn to Paul’s words as recorded in 2 Corinthians 7: 5-6 (NLT version) and I share here a few short thoughts by way of meditation and encouragement.

In verse 5 we read of Paul’s dilemma, ‘When we arrived in Macedonia there was no rest for us. Outside there was conflict from every direction, and inside there was fear’ and in verse 6, ‘But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.’

Paul’s outward look
‘Conflict from every direction’ – do we who are in the Lord’s service today expect to find it anything different? For brevity I suggest two main sources of conflict… (more…)

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY!

(October 28, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares a scriptural warning…

Have you heard any gossip lately? More to the point, have you passed on any gossip lately?

I am using the word ‘gossip’ in the commonly understood sense of making derogatory and slanderous comments about other people.  While gossiping is endemic and ‘highly contagious’, it should find no place among Christians – but sadly it does!

Speaking against others
In his letter James made some pointed comments to the Christians in his day. He wrote, ‘Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it’ (James 4:11).

The Greek verb which has here been translated here as ‘slander’ literally means ‘speak against’ and James used it three times in this verse.  The word can refer to slander, gossip, insult, or to talking in ways that are belittling or damaging to others, or even to hinting at something concerning another person.

The J B Phillips translation of these words incisively states, ‘Never pull each other to pieces, my brothers.Paul and Peter gave a similar warning to the Christians to whom they wrote (2 Corinthians 12:20 and 1 Peter 2:1). (more…)

A RESTRAINING HAND; A PROTECTIVE GOD

(October 20, 2020) David McGuire, missionary to Romania, shares a testimony about God’s protection…

‘We don’t want you to go down there and help them other people,’ a short, dark man stormed threateningly.

On that warm Monday afternoon in the spring of 2000, my construction crew and I had just finished work on homes in this poor Gypsy settlement called the Valley, at the edge of the village of Albesti, Romania. Now we were being threatened by this irate man. His wife, brothers and cousins were all echoing his words.

‘If you go and help them people at the far end of the Valley, like you’ve been helping us, we’re going to beat you up,’ the angry Gypsy man told me through my interpreter.

To Romania with love
I’m an Englishman, born in Manchester and raised in Glossop, a small town nearby.  Being a builder, when God called me to serve him in Romania, I responded with a desire to use my skills to help in every way I could and for over 20 joyous years I’ve been doing so. It was here that I had met and married Rodica. We have a lovely daughter, Sabrina.

House building for the poor has been since 1998 and spread over many villages. Dreams from the Lord about running a ‘feeding with Bible stories to kids’ program in several villages and linking with local churches became part of our outreach. We would buy Bible cartoon DVD stories DVDs for kids showing them as we would feed them in local buildings. Watching these cartoons was a first exposure to the Bible for kids from non-Christian families. And, we praise God, they responded well!

 

 

 

David, Rodica and Sabrina

Poor parents were also being touched by God and we would move on from village to village. But… well do I recall one dangerous day in the Albesti village when I was threatened by the man mentioned above! (more…)