He Wins the War: Hope for the Weary

Over a month ago– on February 5th, 2018—two people were burnt alive in Alau-Kofa village, which is in close proximity to Borno state’s capitol of Maiduguri. This horrific information has come just as the military has said that Boko Haram has been defeated1.

“Saying they have been completely defeated is pushing it too far,” Major General Nicholas Rogers has said concerning the fight against Boko Haram1.The government and military has said much, but things and events have said otherwise, to the anger of those fighting for the Chibok girls—and now, also for the Dapchi girls.

Just yesterday, March 13th, people at the center of the #BringBackOurGirls movement declared that the Nigerian government has 7 days to find and free the 110 “Dapchi” girls, or face “a lawsuit on the grounds of criminal negligence.”2 Obviously, the world is demanding the truth, and real action.

But what if those things never come? What if, for all our striving and demands, our actions and best laid plans, these girls are not freed in our time frame, and Boko Haram continues to at least look like they are definitely winning the war? These are hard, pressing times. Times where the Nigerian military does not want to perform aerial attacks, for fear of killing the very girls people are demanding they save. They are weary of trying to find and apprehend Abubukar Shekau, leader of one faction of Boko Haram, because he is using these precious people as human shields1.

Human. Shields.
Innocent young women and men, their lives put on the line so that these wicked people can live, and continue to do evil.

As I was thinking about this—about how horrific and unjust it all is—one thought came to mind: Jesus knows exactly what these people are going through.

You see, as far-fetched as it all sounds, Jesus was our human shield.

For sinful people who were indifferent or hateful towards Him, “…he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV). Jesus took the blow we, evil sinners, deserved. He took upon Himself the wrath of God, so that we—the ones who have brought it on in the first place—could live3.

Jesus did all of this—only, He didn’t do it because He was forced to, as these innocent people are being made to. He did it of His own free will, choosing to completely obey His Heavenly Father.

I might get hate because of this; I know how racy it made be to compare a normal, everyday person to the leader of such an evil terrorist organization as Boko Haram. But answer me this: Is there such a thing as “big sins” and “small sins,”—that is, is there sins that are more damning than others?

Not just according to us, and not according to society—not even to Christian culture. But biblically?

There is one sin that can never be forgiven, and that is to reject Jesus Christ as one’s Personal Lord and Savior. But other than that, while sins that vary and differ based upon their consequences and who they hurt, I believe James 2:10 says, “If you have committed one sin you are guilty of all.” All sins are equally heinous, as John Piper has said4.

Bottom line: Jesus knows exactly how these hostages feel.
He knows exactly how every outraged mother, father, brother, son, daughter, and sister feels. How the incredibly frustrated, discouraged, angered members of Bring Back Our Girls feels.
He knows my discouragement—and yours, too.

He sees the bloodshed, the tears, the dirt and sin. He hears the cries, the screams; the silence of brokenness.

He hears your sighs, listens to every prayer. Yet, nothing has seemed to change—for the better, at least.

Friend, as everything seems to be getting worse, I have one final question for you: Do you trust the God, who took on the wrath and anger of God the Father upon Himself, to save and free you? Do you trust that He is good, and has good for you, even in this pain?

Look to Calvary, and know two things: Jesus Loves you. And He is in control.

 

As sin abounds, hearts continue to break, and demands are made in this sometimes hellacious world, I encourage you to look to Calvary amidst your much-needed prayers, demands, and actions. I encourage you to remember, no matter how it all ends up: satan may be “winning battles,” but Jesus has won the war.

He wins. May that carry you through. ❤


Do you know Jesus?

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.”
(Isaiah 53:4, NIV)

On all accounts—from how people viewed Jesus, to the actual pain and suffering God put upon Him, Jesus suffered the worst pain of any person, ever. But why?

Isaiah 53 goes on to say, “By His wounds, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). “How?” You might ask?

These are two HUGE questions; and while I am only a human being, I would love to help you find and understand the answers. Read more about these questions, here.


Please pray for (you can get prayer sheets, here):

  • Wisdom for the Nigerian government, as they work on freeing the “Chibok” and “Dapchi” girls. President Buhari wants to negotiate with Boko Haram for the girls’ release; please pray that he would turn to Christ, and would be led of Him.
  • The “Chibok girls.” Pray that Christ brings them home soon.
  • The “Dapchi girls.” Pray that the government listens to activists, and works to bring them home, soon, too.
  • Those praying and protesting for these girls’ release; that they, we, would trust in Jesus alone, and would allow Him to strengthen us.
  • That Boko Haram would be crushed, and all “human shields” set free.

 

Thank you for your prayers!!!

1 https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/boko-haram-kills-two-as-military-says-group-defeated-20180205

2 http://www.africanews.com/2018/03/14/nigerian-gov-t-given-7-days-to-bring-back-chibok-dapchi-girls-or-face-charges//

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-cup-consumed-for-us

https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/are-all-sins-equal-before-god

 

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The Resurrection & The Life

Today, early this morning, Reverend Billy Graham passed away to be with Jesus, the One who he had preached about for forty plus years.
As we pray for his family, loved ones, and those who are grieving Him– and anyone else today– I just wanted to say this: Jesus is so good. Because, as I was reading in my devotional today, I read about how Jesus says of Himself, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life– the One who believes in Me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25-26, NIV). If you’d like, you can read this incredibly beautiful passage of scripture in John 11 here.

I read about how diagnoses, divorces, pain, and even death do not have the final word– only Jesus does.

About how, even if we don’t see any fruit from the anguished prayers we’ve been praying for days, months, and years on this side of heaven, that we can still trust Jesus to be faithful to His Promises. 

That idea is scary, and heart-wrenching. That everything we have labored for may never actually be seen by us; and that Jesus could answer those prayers in the way we desperately hope He wouldn’t of. 

It is hard to look at Jesus Christ and say, “Jesus, I trust that You are Good,” in times like these. It seems insane, even.

But in these incredibly hard moments, we can cling to Truth: Jesus IS the Resurrection, and the Life. And because of His sacrifice on the cross for our sins that put Him there, those who believe on Him and His sacrifice “will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in [Him] will never die.” Jesus will continue to be faithful to His Promises to you, even if nothing looks like it. You can trust Him, even with your eternal soul, just as the Reverend Billy Graham– and millions both before and after Him– have. Do so, today.

This post is in tribute to the God who saved, led, and used Billy Graham in such a powerful way, to bring others to Himself. May He continue to raise up people to bring others to Him!

 

Jesus, at the end of what He says in John 11:26, asks Martha, “Do you believe this?” I pose this question to you, today. Read more about this faithful God– this God who gives eternal life, and never breaks His Promises to us, and why He died on the cross for you– here.

 

Thankful For You

Friends,
When I started this blog, over 3 years ago, I never would have imagined the journey Jesus would take me on.

I also wouldn’t have imagined the beautiful people I have met along the way. You all know who you are. 🙂

I just wanted to say a quick, but honest “Thank You,” and I wanted to sit and really thank Jesus for each and every person He has blessed me with– including the 276 Chibok girls who were, and still are, the reason for this blog in the first place.

3 years ago, Jesus simply led me to all of this, through a community of women praying for each other (you can read more about that story, here). Jesus opened my eyes to a group of women in Northern Nigeria who were in the spotlight at that time, known as “the Chibok girls.” Though I have never met these young women, they have become an amazing part of my life; Jesus has given me a Love for them that I could not have ever gained on my own.

And you. Through your constant support, comments, and prayers, mountains have moved. Chains have been broken. Eyes and hearts have been opened, including mine. And I can honestly say that I am BEYOND blessed to know each and every one of the people who read this blog, and who pray for everything spoken of, as much as one can.

So, Jesus, Thank You.
And Friends, Thank you!

Let’s storm the heavens to see what Jesus wants to do next in freeing, healing, and restoring these young women, their families, and other victims back to life through a relationship with Himself!
Here’s to all Jesus is going to do– and has already done. ❤

 

Thank you, friends, for your continued support and prayer!!! It is moving mountains, and bringing me wonderful encouragement, joy, and comfort.

 

I love you all!

“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”
(Psalm 126:3, NIV)

With Love, in Christ,

Annalee Hoover
ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY


Do you know Jesus?

Let’s thank Jesus, most of all, for us even being able to actually know Him.
If you do not currently know Jesus personally, as Your Lord and Savior, I invite you to learn more about, and meet Him, here.

God is in Control: Going through Pain as a part of Christ’s Plan

Four men, arrested and held under the Nigerian military’s control, kneel under the hot, scorching heat of the Northern Nigerian sun. As Boko Haram commanders, caught by the Nigerian military, these four men seem relatively normal. Dressed in “civilian’s clothes,” these men are not touting black flags, rifles, or military wear. Shackled, and side to side, these men are seen for who they really are. Without their frightening front, they seem much less terrifying, and much more mortal. Running into shortages of food, ammo, and fuel, these seemingly horrific men have been reduced somewhat to their cowardly reality: going to such measures as to recruit young men to smuggle them fuel, Boko Haram has been lessening in power, though not without lashing out.

There have been a series of five attacks by Boko Haram on Maiduguri, and their effect has been nothing less than horrific. Killing at least 9 people total, these suicide attacks have happened close to refugee camps, with one holding approximately 16,000 refugees, filled with people who have ran away from their villages, in an attempt to be saved from Boko Haram. One cannot fathom the fear they must feel, knowing that Boko Haram has now “found” them out, and tried to come into their only earthly place of safety.

But, in the chaos of it all, one Truth remains. As described by Amos, one of the fathers of the 21 Chibok girls rescued, “‘”Those selected to be released were done so practically at random. They were called and asked to form a line, and after a number of them were counted, it was stopped, …Fortunately for her (his daughter, Comfort Amos), she was among those released. They were told that the total of girls to be released was 21 and that by the grace of God, the rest would be released later“‘” (source). In all of the “chance,” Christ was present.

In all of the unknown, “chance” things that might have happened, Christ was not only present– He was Sovereign. As Psalm 37 joyfully proclaims, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives” (Isaiah 37:23, NLT). If this is true, then does that mean that Christ cares about, and delights in, even the darkest details? And if God is Love, why do such horrible things, like the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping, happen in the first place?

 

While no human can have the full, complete answer to this question, this topic is very much one of the themes of the book of the Bible, Job. 42 chapters long, this epic, true account of one man’s life is centered on God’s Sovereignty, even in the face of suffering. While Christ, many times, does not directly cause something evil to happen, He does, sometimes, let bad things happen– even letting mankind make it’s own decisions–if those decisions are evil, or not.

The book of Job opens with a description of Job: “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil” (Job 1:1). Not only was Job “a man of complete integrity,” but verse 2 says, “He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area” (Job 1:3). The father of seven sons and three daughters, Job regularly interceded for, and purified, his children, “For Job said to himself, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts'” (Job 1:5, NLT).

This man– this righteous, holy man– loses everyone and everything. His livestock, his servants, and his children are all taken and/or killed, either by other people, or by natural disaster, and he loses his health, becoming covered from head to toe with painful blisters (Job 1:6-19; 2:7-8). If one person could be put on a billboard for seemingly suffering unjustly, it would be Job.

 

 

Ultimately, though, these trials could never compare to Christ’s suffering. More righteous than Job, Jesus Christ was completely sinless– yet was “…the Lamb who was slaughtered” (Revelation 13:8). Not only does Jesus grieve the loss of His loved ones, like John the Baptist (Matthew 14:13); He grieves temporarily losing His oneness with the Father, as He took on mankind’s sin (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46). Mocked, beaten, and bruised, Jesus Christ dies the most horrific, unjust death in the history of all mankind.

But, God the Father was not absent, or unfair, from the scene of these horrifically painful things. Rather, God the Father was completely in control; and, when the suffering was over, His will had been done: in Job’s suffering, both Job and his friends, who thought they knew how God operated,  experienced a deeper, more real understanding of God’s Sovereignty. At the end of the book of Job, Job stands before God, after God shows Himself to Job and humbles him. Job’s words, though few, are incredibly profound:

“‘I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?” Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 ‘You said, “Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”‘ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.'”
(Job 42:1-6, NIV)

 

Job, now clearly seeing the Unsearchable, Amazing Goodness of Christ, becomes blessed once again: He gains twice as many livestock as before, and he has 10 more children– “Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers” (Job 42:15).  Most of all, they learned that, though Christ’s ways are infinitely higher than mankind’s, He is eternally, and ultimately, good.

On a much grander scale, Christ’s suffering was also apart of God’s plan: “from the beginning of the world,”Christ died, and rose again, for the forgiveness of all sin to those who believe (Revelations 13:8b). From the beginning of the world, Christ was going to be the sacrifice to save us from our sin. While this is an amazing, and, if one confesses, confusing prospect, the one thing it obviously shows is that, while many people would say otherwise, suffering is, at times, the will of God– and He is ultimately good, above it all.

 

Surely, Job and those in his life– could not understand why these tragic events were taking place. Even Job’s wife, during the suffering, advised him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). All seemed out of control, cruel, senseless, and random.

Those who loved Jesus, as He hung on that cross, no doubt, were filled with extreme grief, frustration, and confusion. Their Messiah, their God, their Friend, was dying a death He never deserved, yet foretold many times (such as in Mark 8:31-33). In the middle of this pain, they could have never seen a Good, Loving God’s plan being laid out; but, as Christ says in John 12:24, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives.” Though death, suffering, and pain, came salvation and eternal life for billions of Believers.

So it is, with suffering, today. Though Boko Haram seems wild, they, just like the four men under the Nigerian military’s control, are under Christ’s control, whether they believe it or not.

No one can fathom the kind of pain that Nigerian refugees, the loved ones of the Chibok girls, and those hurt by suicide attacks are going through. One can’t see the redemption that is in store, when there is so much grief. While this redemption and insight may not “make everything okay,” knowing that Christ– the All-Knowing, All-Seeing God, who is everywhere at once, and who gave Himself up for us in Love—is Sovereign over all, gives us hope. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV). Through it all, Jesus’ Sovereign, Good Hands will make every broken thing beautiful. Stand on that promise.



Do you know Jesus?

And we know that God causes everything to work together  for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
(Romans 8:28-30, NIV)

Romans 8:28 is a passage of Scripture that has given hope and comfort to Believers in Christ for centuries. Through suffering, Christians have clung to this promise: that though it hurts now, Christ will turn “everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

But what about the next two verses? God knew His people in advance… that is a really complex, heavy, mind-blowing thing to read, much less believe.
But, when Christ died for the sins of mankind, as according to God’s plan before the beginning, He still chose to submit to the Father’s will, no matter how fatal, or painful, it might be, modeling how humanity also has a choice. And so, there is a Truth found: that while God knows His people in advanced, they still have the freewill to either refuse or accept Him, as Lord and Savior.

ALL people, Believers and Non-Believers alike, will stand before God one day, to be judged for what they do and do not do (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:6). Only Believers will enter into heaven– those who have accepted Christ’s payment for their sin, on their behalf. And no one, at the end of their lives, will be able to tell God that they did not receive an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, taking away their sin and granting them eternal life (Romans 1:20). It will all come down to if they knew and accepted Christ, or rejected Him.

If you have not yet received Christ as your Lord and Savior, “For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’ Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2, NLT).

Learn more about, and accept Jesus’ free gift today, here.



Please pray for…

– The 22 (now 23!) Chibok girls who have been freed from the clutches of Boko Haram. Please pray that they would seek and know Jesus, and that their loved ones would also reach out to Christ for the wisdom, understanding, and truly, all they need to love their newly freed loved ones.

– For the 196 Chibok Girls, who are still in captivity. Please pray that, even in captivity, they would seek Jesus, and would be freed spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically from their bondage to Boko Haram.

– The Refugees who have been terrified by recent suicide bombings. Please pray that they would seek Christ, as their true Refuge.

– The Nigerian military. Please pray that they would seek Christ, for the wisdom, guidance, and resources they need, both spiritually and physically, to defeat Boko Haram.

– Boko Haram. Please pray for it’s members– that those who are Christian captives in their midst would be used powerfully by Christ, to call these men, women, and children, to Himself.

Thank you for your prayers. “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture” (Psalm 37:3, NIV).

Radiant Faces: Trusting Jesus amidst Boko Haram Deception

On September 16th, 2016, it was reported, by the Nigerian Federal Government, that the Nigerian government has tried to negotiate for the release of the Chibok girls three times since July of 2015. While this development is encouraging, the reasons behind the failed negotiations shines light on a difficult problem. Although the terrorist group negotiated with the Nigerian Federal Government to secure the Chibok girls, at first, negotiations failed: either because of Boko Haram’s instability, or the fact that, in the process of negotiations, the terrorist sect’s demands were deemed too high. This reveals much about the group: one, that it is breaking apart (a definite answer to prayer!), and two, that they are missing prime leaders and expert bomb manufacturers– whom they demanded be released, in exchange, for the 218 girls still missing.

But, the problem is this: When one is dealing with a seriously evil organization, like Boko Haram, it is dealing with an organization built upon lies. Just as satan is called “the father of lies” (John 8:44), islam, and any other thing not set up upon Christ and His Word, is truly built upon the shaky ground of deceit, able to fall apart at any moment. Ultimately, because Boko Haram is built upon lies, it becomes extremely difficult to discern what is actually going on behind its closed doors.

News of three different negotiations occurring within one year, then, shows the public that there is more to this insurgency than one thought.

 

But this is not the only report that proves there is more than what meets the eye happening during the Boko Haram insurgency. Within the same time frame that the report of negotiations was published by News Agencies, news also came that the Nigerian Army released 566 men, women and children who were the families of Boko Haram members. Released to Governor Shettima, and into a UN rehabilitation program, 355 of the 566 people were young, breast-feeding children. With the hopes of rehabilitating, and de-radicalizing, this massive group of people, this unprecedented development is both encouraging, and concerning, in that while people are being freed, these people sadly have the risk of re-joining Boko Haram. To know that the Nigerian Army has been retaining such a huge number of men, women, and children (of which are the majority), for months, and even years, proves that the Boko Haram insurgency is much more complicated, and risky, than any person would ever initially think.
People– people with minds, and hearts, that cannot be easily, or truly, searched, by other human beings– always carry the weight and risk of being untrustworthy. This is precisely why the LORD, through the Psalmist, David, says this in Psalm 20:7: Some trust in chariots, others in horses, but we trust the Lord our God.” 

 

In this world of so many unknowns, it can seem hopeless, to be up against such seemingly formidable enemies. More than this, it can be endlessly troubling to realize that “Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NCV). But we do not need to live in fear, frustration, and dismay. Instead, Jesus calls us to live our lives, looking to Him.

Psalm 34:5, in context, is an incredibly comforting, affirming verse, for those who are having trouble living victoriously. “Those who look to him [the LORD] are radiant;” it says; “their faces are never covered with shame.” At the time it was written, David was not yet King, and was being chased down by King Saul, the then ruler of Israel (as found in 1 Samuel 21). David had put his hope in the LORD, but, feeling scared, famished, and desperate for help, David lied to Ahimelek, which was one of Israel’s priests. Stating that he was actually on an “urgent mission” for Saul, David took and ate the Bread of the Presence of the LORD that had been out the day before (1 Samuel 21:1-3, 6). Not only did he eat of this bread; he, terrified by one of Saul’s men who had been there, also asked Ahimelek if he had any weapons on hand (1 Samuel 21:7-8). Ironically taking the very sword Goliath had when David slayed him, David quickly ran for his life to Gath (1 Samuel 21:9-10).

In Gath, David ran into more problems; and, driven to a last resort, pretended to be insane before the King of Gath, King Achish (2 Samuel 22:10-15). This, no doubt, was a major valley in King David’s life. Yet, Psalm 34 is not a Psalm filled with focus on David’s pain, turmoil, or even lack of faith in God, replaced by fear.

But, let one be clear. David’s lack of faith, and deceitfulness, came with tremendous consequences: the innocent priests, and townspeople, of Nob, were slaughtered by King Saul, because of David, which he took full blame for (1 Samuel  22:6-23). But, even in light of such horrible, self-induced circumstances, Psalm 34 it is filled with praise to the LORD. This, in and of itself, speaks volumes: That, even when we are overcome by fear, or use deceit to get what we need, Christ is bigger than even the worst sin, circumstances, news, or consequences– and is willing and able to forgive those who humbly repent.

 

Not only is Psalm 34 filled with praises of Christ’s mercy, despite dire circumstances. It is also filled with promises of Justice.

Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The Lord will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned
(Psalm 34:21-22).

One must admit: this is a difficult passage to accept, when so many innocent people were murdered by King Saul. But, seen in the light of eternity, the wicked and the foes of the righteous, those like King Saul, will be the ones truly condemned. Those who were, and have been, innocently murdered, both then and now, have the promise of verse 22: that “those who take refuge in Him [Christ] will not be condemned”– even though those who trust in Christ were condemned to physical death by evil, corrupt men, they will never suffer spiritual death.

Ultimately, Christ promises to bring true, final Justice, when He comes back to the earth (Revelation 22:12-13). This, above all, is the Hope of those who look to Jesus, now– that, in the end, Believers will “Behold: he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him,” and everything up to that point, even the worst of the pain, will forever be a thing of the past.

 

In such frustrating, heartbreaking times, Christ’s Power, Protection, Justice, and Mercy are sure. This is the Hope found, even when so little is known about the Boko Haram insurgency. While deception– a lack of knowing the Truth– are things that abound on this earth, Believers have a Savior, in Jesus Christ, who does not lie. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5, NIV). No wonder those who look to Him are so radiant. ❤



Do you know Jesus?

“‘Look, he is coming with the clouds,’
    and ‘every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him’;
    and all peoples on earth ‘will mourn because of him.’
So shall it be! Amen.”
(Revelation 1:7, NIV)

Psalm 34 states that those who look to, and put their trust in, Jesus Christ, will never be ashamed. Nothing points to this more, than those who believed on Him, who saw Him suffer and die, on the cross.

Over 2,000 years ago, God stepped onto the scene of earth. Filled with sin, God entered the world, and suffered at the hands of those He lovingly created– so that “And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV).

Nailed to a cross, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, physically died of a broken heart, yelling out, “It is finished!” as those who crucified Him, looked on.

Learn more, and meet, the God-man who was rejected and killed, so that Believers might be forever accepted, and saved, by God, here.


Please pray with me…

“Dear Father God,
I thank You, and I praise You, for coming to this earth, in the form of a man, so that we could look to You, for the Love, Joy, Peace, Protection, and Salvation mankind so desperately needs.

Father God,

I pray for those who still have yet to meet You– who see You as a far-off God, or a guru, or a prophet, or simply don’t believe in You, at all. Dear Jesus, I pray, in Your Name, that these men and women, who are hurting so much, would find relief in You as they submit to You, as their Lord and Savior.

Father God,

I pray for Your children, in Nigeria, and in every surrounding country, who have been harmed, wounded, or are grieving the loss of their Loved Ones, but who have not seen any Justice done on their behalf, yet. Father God,

Please help these people to continue to trust You; help them to trust that You will provide them the Justice that they so deserve.

Father God,

Wherever injustice, and deception abounds, as definitely as in Boko Haram, I pray that You would bring these evil acts to light– and would bring those who have done such things to dust, so that they might be humbled, and come to truly know You.

Father God,

I pray for those stuck in IDP camps, suffering from hunger. Dear Father God, please let these people be found by aid groups; please help us to know how to spiritually help, through prayer, and practically, through giving.

Dear Father God,

I pray over the 218 young girls who have still not been found, and who are the subject of so many negotiations. Father God, dear Jesus, whether it would be by negotiation, or divine, miraculous intervention, please bring these precious young women, home, soon.

While they are in captivity, Father God, I pray, in Jesus’ Name, that You would help them to look to You. Even in such a place as captivity, I pray that the Holy Spirit would comfort those who believe in You, there; I pray that they would trust in You, and that their faces would be so radiant, that it would bring others to You, as well.

I thank You for this, Father God. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

He Will Fight For You

 

The reports came pouring in. During what seemed to be a great time of victory, with Boko Haram losing major ground, and captives being freed, the shocking news that Boko Haram had been appointed a new leader– one who has threatened to no longer target Muslims, but directly target Christians, instead— has sent fear into the hearts, and minds, of many Christians, and their pastors, in Northeastern Nigeria. On high alert, these people are panicking. Some have started to leave their homes, running for their lives from the terrorist group.

One cannot imagine the terror, discouragement, and hopelessness these pastors, along with every Believer they pastor, are feeling and experiencing. More than ever, these Christ-followers must have some sort of Hope, of Comfort, of Courage, to steady and strengthen them, in such a time of terror and apparent instability.

The God who Provides

King David, in Psalm 18, quotes his own song, found in 2 Samuel 22:34: “He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high places.” In the midst of the battle, King David trusted Christ, and his feet were made “like the feet of a deer.” Though God did not take King David out of every war, or trial, He was all King David needed: Christ was his Sustenance, his Protection, his Strength, and his Courage to go out and fight. Was King David ever scared, to go out and fight his countless enemies– or, in some cases, to run from them? One can think so, based on Psalm 56.

Psalm 56 enforces a seemingly simple, yet poignant Truth.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
(Psalm 56:3, NIV)

Psalm 18 expounds upon this Truth, even more; all throughout, David trusts and praises Christ, for saving him, and making him victorious in the day of battle. This concept of Fear vs. Faith is very prevalent in the Bible. All throughout history, Christ has been seen as truly saving, helping, and being in relationship with those who humbly seek, trust, and obey Him. As Believers in Christ, Christ promises to save, love, comfort, and hold those who humbly trust in His Name, today, no matter what they “fight” or walk through.

 

The God who Fights

But, this is not the only thing Christ desires to do. Not only does Jesus want to walk with us, strengthen us, and comfort us through our struggles; He wants to fight for us.

In Exodus 14, one can see this in a very powerful way. The Israelites were being led out of Egypt, and Moses followed God’s commands to “encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon” (Exodus 14:2, NIV). As they encamped by the sea, what Christ said would happen, did: Christ hardened Pharoah’s heart. This hardening of Pharoah’s heart resulted in him pursuing Moses, and the Israelites, wanting to capture them, and bring them back to Egypt again, as their slaves (Exodus 14:5-9).

Encamped by the sea, and being surrounded by Pharoah and his army, the Israelites started to panic, crying out to Moses, “‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, “Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians”? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!'” (Exodus 14:11-12, NIV).

The Israelites were terrified.
They saw no way out, and all they could seem to focus on was that their enemy had surrounded them. They were disappointed, confused, and desperate (for good reason). They were angry with Moses– and, quite possibly, angry with God (YHWH).

But Moses’ reply, as YHWH’s mouthpiece, was profound, and is something Christ Followers can put their faith in, as well:

Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.‘”
(Exodus 14:13-14, NIV)

In their panic, the Israelites probably wanted to run to the right or to the left, or to escape somehow, some way. Christ’s Words to “be still” required a huge amount of trust in Him. To trust that somehow, Christ was going to move on their behalf, took a huge amount of trust in who Christ was– and is. It meant life or death, for them.

But, an amazing thing happened: Christ did come through. After commanding Moses to “Raise your [his] staff and stretch out your [his] hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground,” YHWH makes His plan clear to Moses: He will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, so that they go into the sea after them, and He will be glorified through the very chariots that were being used to hunt the Israelites down (Exodus 14:17-18).

Jesus was faithful. The angel of God, as well as the pillar of cloud, moved from the front, to behind the Israelites, separating the two armies for an entire night. The waters of the Red Sea rose, as they were separated in two, down to the very sea bed; and “the Israelites went through the season dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left” (Exodus 14:22). Just as YHWH had said, the Egyptians pursued the Israelites through the Red Sea, and the walls of water came crashing down on top of them, killing each Egyptian, from the least to Pharoah himself.

The Israelites waited upon Christ, and He made a way, where there was none, so that He might be glorified. The Israelites did not need to fight their battle, alone– instead, they only needed to trust that YHWH would do the unimaginable on their behalf, rest in that fact, and simply obey Him, even amidst the terror of it all.

Today, for Christians in Northern Nigeria, the story is very similar. Hunted by Boko Haram, they too face a battle. But, Christ wants to do the unimaginable on behalf of His People, fighting for them, and providing them with all they need to obey Him.

The days ahead of them may be precarious, frightening, and seemingly insurmountable. But, just as Christ split the sea, when there seemed to be no other way, Christ will fight and provide for those who humbly call out His Name– using what the enemy meant for evil, to produce good (Genesis 50:20).

May these Truths be the promises all Christians– especially those struggling in persecution– cling to.


Do you know Jesus?

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. 11 Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done. 12 For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.”
(Psalm 9:10-12, NIV)

As the Israelites encamped by the Red Sea, and looked out over its vastness, the news that the Egyptians were coming filled them with unimaginable, overwhelming, horror. Stricken by fear, they knew that there was nothing they could do, to escape the certain death that seemed to await them.

The same can be said about mankind’s problem of sin. Inescapable, there is no amount of “good works” that can save a person from their sin, just as there was no amount of running, or swimming, the Israelites could do, to save them. But, as Psalm 9 promises, God heard the cries of those who cried out to Him. He made a way, where there wasn’t one, by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world.

Learn more about the God who Saves, and how He saved us, here.



Please pray with me…

“Dear Father God,

I thank You, Father God, and I praise You, Father, that You “hear the cries of the afflicted,” and come to their aid (Psalm 9:12). You have never failed those who trust in You, Father God, and I praise You, that You never will.

Father God, right now I just lift up our brothers and sisters, in Christ, in Northern Nigeria. Father God, I thank You that You have protected so many of them, and have given them ways to get out of this horrible situation. Father God, I pray, in Jesus’ Name, that just as You led the Israelites through the desert and out of Egypt, providing for all of their needs, You would protect them on the way, and fight this battle, for them. Please hide them under the shadow of Your Wings (Psalm 17:18), and lead them to safety.

Father God, I also pray for and over pastoralists in Northern Nigeria, who are having to “migrate,” or flee, from their homes and lands, because of the threat to their lives, and their livestock. Father God, please bring these men and women to You, and protect them, as they flee, as well.

Father God, I also lift up those Christian Nigerians, that cannot flee, or have decided not to flee from Boko Haram. Father God, please lead and guide them in Your Way; and give them Your Wisdom, Protection, and Guidance. As Your Word in Matthew 10:23 states, please help those who can flee, flee from their homes and towns, so that they might be protected.

Father God, I thank You for the Nigerian Army, and for the Joint Civilian Task Force, that is currently fighting Boko Haram. Please bring these people to You, and be their Strength, Wisdom, and Guidance, as they fight this battle against Boko Haram.

Please, Father God, in all, use this horrible news for the good of Your People, and for the Glory of Your Name. Please save many through this, just as in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

May Your Word Spread, Father, Your People be helped, and Your Name always be praised, no matter what. For You are good! In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

Please continue to pray for all those fleeing. Jesus will make a way! Praise Him for that. ❤