Archive for June, 2015|Monthly archive page

God cannot be stopped!I

There is no heart so hard that it cannot be melted by God.

That may seem wishful thinking rather than truth.  Perhaps you know someone who has walled himself off from the Lord and you have tried fruitlessly to convey the love of God to him.

But then you must consider the story of the apostle Paul.

As you know, Paul thought he was for God.  He was resolutely persecuting Christians and jailing them.  He assisted at the stoning death of Stephen, a Christian leader.  He did it because he felt the Christians were preaching heresy.

Then, in Acts 9, we read the story of his dramatic conversion.  He was on the road to Damascus with a letter to the synagogues there, asking for their help in arresting Christians so they could be brought back to Jerusalem in chains.

Then, a light from heaven shone down on him, he fell to his knees, and he heard a voice saying: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  Paul asked who was speaking and the reply was: “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.  Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what to do.”

With that, Paul crossed the threshold to salvation and faith in God.

Down through the ages, we have seen similar stories of people moving from darkness to the light of Jesus Christ – people others considered opposed to God.

When other means fail, God intervenes directly as he did with Paul.

Today, amazing things are happening in the Muslim world as many are now becoming believers in Jesus.  They are coming to faith in Christ in a variety of ways.  God’s supernatural intervention is one way.

I have been reading a bit about this in a book called A Wind in the House of Islam by David Garrison.  Garrison tells of how people throughout the Muslim world are coming to faith in Jesus in their tens, their hundreds, and their thousands.

Today, I came across the video story of a Muslim man in Spain whose wife became a believer.  The husband – Fernando – abused her verbally, refused to let their daughter go to church, and ultimately they separated.  His wife and her church still prayed for him fervently and invited him to church events – without success.

Then, one day Fernando turned up at the little Spanish church his wife attended. He sat in the audience, crying and then went up to the front at the end of the service to give his life to Jesus.

One of the church members went up to him at the end of the service and asked what brought him to the church.  Fernando replied that his questioner knew.  When he looked mystified, Fernando told a remarkable story.

He was returning home one day, opened the door, and saw a man inside – Jesus.  Jesus smiled, extending his arms to him, and told him he loved him and wanted him to come to him.

Fernando reacted by running from the house in terror.  He went to a supermarket, bought a Bible and read it for days, feeling Jesus’ presence throughout.

That led him to the church where he gave his life to Jesus.  Evidently, his life has completely changed.  His angry, aggressive demeanour has softened.  He is a different man.

Here is the link to the video story at 24-7 Prayer International: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBm4tIfTOSg

God cannot be stopped!

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Love conquers all

There is nothing so powerful as the love of God.

The young white man charged with killing nine black Christians in a Charleston, South Carolina church a couple of days ago reportedly said he wanted to start a race war. Several grieving family members of the dead people wielded a greater weapon – forgiveness.

I was deeply affected by one woman who spoke of her broken heart and yet said to the young man: “I forgive you.”

That was a demonstration of godly love that struck home with me. I am sure that millions more were touched by what she said.

It is significant that the young man reportedly told police after he was arrested that the people in the congregation treated him very nicely for the hour he sat with them in a church Bible study. They were kind to him because they were taught to show the love of Christ to others.

Like me, I am sure many believers are asking themselves how they would have reacted in a similar situation. As I sit in my peaceful home, I am not sure that forgiveness would jumped to my lips.

Yet those who forgave the killer were doing what Jesus told us to do. Indeed, it is what Jesus himself did when he was nailed to the cross.

But forgiveness always has a lasting impact – on earth and in heaven.

The apostle Paul was one of Stephen’s persecutors who stood and watched the young Christian die under a hail of stones. He heard Stephen cry out to God: “Lord, don’t charge them with their sin!”

There is no doubt in my mind that Paul himself described the scene later to Luke, the writer who recorded those words in the Book of Acts. The description mentions Paul standing there watching Stephen die. Not long after he became a believer miraculously on the road to Damascus and went on to face stonings himself. And, like Jesus and Stephen, he called on his fellow believers to forgive.

Some years ago, I read a story of a young Russian girl beaten to death by a Soviet policeman after she was caught worshiping with Christians in a forest. He became a believer himself because he was cut to the heart by the way she died, dedicated to Jesus and without rancour towards her tormentors.

God’ love conquers all.

You hurt me? I’ll bless you!

One of the toughest demands made of Christians is to bless those who hurt us.

As one little boy told Alan Wright’s son: “It’s stupid!”  At least it is stupid in any normal human being’s eyes.

But Jesus told us: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”  (Luke 6:27-28)

That’s virtually impossible to carry out on our own strength as Alan Wright, pastor of Reynolda Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, noted in a recent sermon. We need God’s help.

Blessing someone who curses you means taking a step beyond forgiveness.  It is the ultimate in forgiveness.

In essence, blessing means asking God to do good to someone else – in this case, the person who has attacked us.

As I have mentioned before, I realized some years ago that I had not forgiven some people who had hurt me many years before. I took the step of writing my forgiveness on a piece of paper and then destroying it to indicate I no longer held their actions against them.

But blessing them means I must ask God to forgive them. In other words, I cannot hold in the back of my mind the hope that God will give them their just deserts.

I have taken that step.

Yet, I admit it is easier for me to do that today than it would have been when the wounds were fresh.