Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Grave Matter

“And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless, and you are still under condemnation for your sins.” I Corinthians 15:17

Jamal just returned from a short visit to his country and came over to our home to deliver a gift to us. It was a beautiful expensive hard covered tourist type of book depicting pictures of what his country is famous for. As I turned page after page of the glossy photos I was shocked that at least 75% of the photos were of graves of famous people.  The impressive huge monuments of graves are beautifully kept up and visited by millions of tourists. The country takes good care of their historically famous dead poets, philosophers, rulers, and sages. It is obvious that Jamal’s people love the graves and cherished memories of the past.

I often ask my Muslim friends, “Where is your prophet Mohammed?” They reply with a surprised look that communicates 'don't you know?' “He died. He’s in his grave in Saudi Arabia.” "His bones are there?” I ask. “Of course. He died.” They dream of the opportunity to visit his grave. “Like you want to go to Israel and visit the grave of Isa,” Fatima said to me. (That surprised me since I thought she would have believed Isa never died but was taken off the cross and went to heaven). “Well, Isa did die, but He is not there. I don’t need to visit a grave,” I explain. They look puzzled. “You won’t find any grave there with His bones. He arose from the dead. He’s alive,” I try to explain. Now they look really puzzled. “Where is he now?” Amal questioned. “After He died and came back to life many people saw Him go up in the clouds to heaven but His Spirit lives within me because I’m His follower. What is your prophet Mohammed doing for you right now?” I ask them. They often don’t know how to answer that question. “Well, he died,” is the usual reply. And then I share with them what Isa is doing for me right now. "Because He is alive He is listening to me. He loves me. He is comforting me. He gives me power over sin and the assurance of going to heaven. He is giving me power to forgive people who hurt me – all kinds of things because He is alive – not dead. I have a living Savior, not a dead prophet."  It is a grave matter.

What an awesome, wonderful, victorious Savior we have! Our Jesus walked right through suffering and tasted death for all of mankind. We don’t have a fantasy Jesus who escaped death but willingly walked through it and conquered the power of death. He broke Satan’s power.  It’s really mind boggling to think that there is no grave on this earth containing His bones. No ziarat, shrine or monument. The resurrection of Jesus’ body is the very foundation of my faith. It is a grave matter – seriously.

Dear heavenly Father, I celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Hallelujah! Amen and Amen.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wider Impact

"He(Jabez)was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory!  Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!”  And God granted him his request."  I Chronicles 4:10

I just finished listening to the audio book, The Prayer of Jabez, by Bruce Wilkinson. Surely, this little book has brought encouragement and inspiration to many serving the Lord. If you are ministering among Muslims it might prove to be just what you need to give that extra boost to push through spiritually to enjoy wider influence and impact in your ministry.
It was a mid-afternoon, standing alone in my living room, when I felt like all the air from a balloon had been let out. Deflated. Nothing seemed to amount to anything in ministry. Just the same thing day in, day out, week after week, month after month, year after year. Visit, visit, visit....Is this all You want me to do? I forlornly asked the Lord. Will nothing go further? Is it just starting and ending here? I want so badly to pass on what You have taught me but I can’t envision how that can happen. Please do something, Lord.

In reality, I was crying and begging the same desperate prayer of Jabez, except in a spiritual sense: Enlarge my territory! There comes a time after years or decades of service with valuable experience and knowledge gained when we long to have a wider impact.  We want to coach others who feel called to reach out to Muslim women but don’t know how to go about it. We yearn to leave a legacy. We’re not concerned about gaining a reputation but to be an influence in God’s Kingdom work. For decades, I was involved in my little corner but finally the time arrived when I yearned to break out of the confines of that sphere and experience more spiritual territory. So, I begged God to do just that. Maybe He waits until He sees we are desperate. Have you ever begged God to widen your impact in ministry? He will do it in ways which will surprise you.  Perhaps the widening of impact will not primarily take place locally and it may largely remain unseen and to a degree unknown to you.

Today I prayed for key women, by name, who are seeing their spiritual territory being enlarged.  Some of you role models are in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. God desires to enlarge your spiritual territory(His Kingdom), give wider impact to your ministry, and make you influential as you equip women eager to learn how to engage in ministry among Muslim women. You are making a difference.  He validates you. Keep asking Him to expand your borders more– for there is much territory to be claimed for God! You are making an impact and influencing other women. God’s hand is on you. Transcending denominational borders you are a pioneer blazing new trails in God’s Kingdom.

Dear heavenly Father, please enlarge the impact of my Christian sisters around the world who are the modellers and influencers in ministry among Muslim women. Anoint them with Your power, blessing, and gifting. In Jesus’ name, Amen.