Sunday, October 2, 2016

Devotion 10.3.16

What is your greatest fear?  I'll go ahead and give you the answer:  death.  We know the day is coming, and yet we don't talk about it.  As one speaker I heard noted when he asked, "How many here look forward to heaven?" Every hand raised.  "And how many want to go now?"  People in the audience were truthful and lowered their hands.

As Christians, we know the promise of our faith in Christ, and yet we, too, dread that actual hour.  It makes sense, then, that perhaps our greatest fear of the terrorist, the Muslim terrorist to be specific, is the harm and damage his or her act creates when they take lives in a brash attack, killing people going about daily life whose only concern is going to the next activity that day.  That fear creates anger and resentment within us.

As Pastor Baidaoui from Dallas, Texas, a Moroccan who was once Muslim and now is a Lutheran pastor noted on Sunday, that fear is the work of the enemy (Satan) acting through non-believers, Muslims being one group in that sphere.  This plays out in the fall of man, when Adam tells God, "I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid." (Genesis 3:19)  Afraid?  Satan again says as much to God when he enters a debate about Job, "Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?  You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  But stretch out your had and touch all tht he has, and he will curse you to your face." (Job 1:9 - 11 Job has nothing to fear, so I want to strike him to create that fear.)

Satan plays to our fears.  It causes us to retreat.  Yet Christ tells us as much in John 16, when he says, "I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.  They will put you out of the synagogues.  Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.* And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.  But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you." (1 - 4)

Christ tells us to have courage, and he also instructs us to remember they do not know the Father nor Christ.  Consequently, it is up to us to take the message of Christ to the non-believer, Muslim or other, and to share the Good News. Paul, once an enemy of Christ's and his followers, tells us this:  "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God." (2 Timothy 1:6 - 9)

We have the opportunity, in this life, to bring the good news of Christ's suffering and death to a world hostile to that good news, including our own sinful nature.  Christ instructs us not to fear that world, and Paul reminds us to fan the flames of that faith of the gift of God.

Pray that we have the courage to take the message to our neighbor, to our community, and to those hostile to the good news.  Pray that we remain sober and alert for those opportunities and to know the world will continue to be hostile to the message, but that as disciples, we are taking the message to the lost for their own salvation.

*Pastor Baidaoui noted that the verse in John 16 (v 2) was the single best definition of jihad he read which ironically comes out of Christ's mouth, "Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God."

Hope Men's Ministry

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