Need for Revival: Know Jesus, Know Peace

Especially at this time of the year, the world promotes “Peace on Earth.” From hearing “Silent Night” in commercials to viewing the warm, bright Christmas lights being hung up– usually in the days following Thanksgiving– all over the streets and buildings, the whole world advocates for a time of restoration, reconciliation, and peace.

But, if you have been on this earth for any amount of time, you realize that this is not the case. Actually, it is quite the opposite.

We want Peace so much because we know how chaos feels. And though the Nigerian public has put up a front, saying that there is more Peace than ever in Northern Nigeria, the truth is that Boko Haram perpetrated at least two more attacks in the past couple of weeks, causing the deaths of 50 and 60 people, respectively (source).

Not only are the attacks from Boko Haram resurgent; according to this report, approximately 235 people in Nigeria have been killed by Boko Haram in 2017, by the Bachama ethnic group, and by militias and indigenous groups causing wars between one another.

Simply put, in Nigeria– especially in Northern Nigeria– there is little to no “Peace on Earth.”

 

Over and over again, human beings have tried their best to be as righteous as they can be; aiming for true World Peace, but gravely missing the mark. We want reconciliation, wholeness, and healing. We don’t only want it; we need it. Desperately. But, age after age, we cannot do it ourselves.

Friend, this is the exact reason for why Jesus came.

A World at War

2,000 years ago, Jesus came into this world on what has been described by much of today’s culture as a perfect, silent, holy night. While this is somewhat true– in that it was definitely Holy, a day foretold by the prophets– I do not believe Jesus was born into a wonderful, peace-filled environment. In fact, the Bible describes it as something much different.

  • For one, Jesus’ birth happened in a stable, and there was no room for Mary, Joseph, or Jesus in an inn (Luke 2). He was not born into a world of luxury or possessions; immediately, he faced the elements.
  • Although this part of Christ’s birth is not usually told, and definitely not celebrated, Jesus’ birth caused a genocide of all male babies his age in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:13-18). Jesus’ earliest years were ones spent on the run, avoiding being murdered by the earthly king Herod, who felt threatened by the prophecy of “a King of the Jews.”

From the start, Jesus was not brought into a world of ease; he was brought into the world very much like those suffering horrific circumstances: on the run, amidst much despair, murder, and human war-mongering.

Think of it: Jesus’ whole life was to be spent as the ultimate sacrifice for humanity’s sin (1 John 2:2). He was ultimately born to save us from our sins. His entire earthly life and ministry was to end in a bloody, unbelievably and indescribably painful death. Because of this, Jesus knows– more than any other human– of the depth of sin, and the depth of the war that naturally ensues because of it.

But Jesus’ sacrifice is also apart of the reason He is known as the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Prophets, like Isaiah, foretold that the Messiah would cause there to be “Peace on Earth,” where “the lion [would] lay down with the lamb” (Isaiah 11:6).

Many cite this as the reason for why Jesus is not the Messiah. “If Jesus is the Messiah,” people ask, “then why is there still war?” What people fail to understand is that the Messiah was prophesied as coming two times, one time to save all of humanity and provide a way for them to know God the Father, and another to judge humanity and usher in His Kingdom of Peace (for more on this concept, I encourage you to watch this video).

The True Path to Peace

Though it has become somewhat of a cliche, it is still true: Know Jesus, Know Peace, no Jesus, no Peace. Jesus came to save those who believe on Him from God’s wrath, by being the sacrifice needed; without Him, peoples will be judged according to their own actions– and will always come up short (Romans 3:23).

 

The Peace the world needs can only come from knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (John 14:6). One cannot expect Peace and Reconciliation any other way than God’s way.

So, with this in mind, please pray for revival in Nigeria. Not just one of intense spiritual experiences, but one of coming back to adherence to the Bible, and of coming to know Jesus for the first time– or coming back to Him as their First Love, as Revelation 2:4 states.

And as we focus on praying for Peace, please ask Jesus to search your own heart, and for Him to show you where there is a lack of relational Peace, be it with Him or with others.
Ultimately, let us praise Jesus for granting us His Grace and Peace, through the Cross, the Ultimate Act of Reconciliation– and for the Peace He will one day bring.



Do you know Jesus?

A common greeting in the New Testament is “Grace and Peace to You.” It expresses that only by Grace, through Faith, are we able to receive salvation– and the Peace beyond understanding it brings. Are you resting in Jesus’ Grace and Peace, today?

Meet the God who– in perfect Love for you– came down to Earth, to bring you His free gift of Salvation and Peace, here.


Please pray for…

  • The salvation of those in Nigeria– especially those in Northern Nigeria, which is mostly muslim and indigenous in their religion.
  • For Peace. With Jesus as their King, please pray that Peace would begin to form and shape whole communities, as Christ calls all to reconciliation with Himself, and with others.
  • For Peace in your life and mine, personally. That we and others would know Jesus– and that we would live out bringing His Peace to others in every part of our lives.
  • For last, but not least, the Chibok girls– those found in the very midst of the warfare. Please pray for breakthrough for the 113 still missing– and the 163 who are still healing from their trauma. Please pray that Jesus would save, help, and protect them all, this holiday season.

 

Thank You for your prayers– Grace & Peace to you!

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The Army with the Afterlife in Mind

I read this news report, heralding the news from Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, that “the fight against Boko Haram insurgents is coming to an end.” In the report, Abubukar states “the outcome of our offensive operations showed that the fight against Boko Haram is gradually coming to an end; this, however does not mean that we should rest on our oars.” Such an amazing report can only enlighten the soul; whether or not it is completely true, the fact that significant progress is made is something to celebrate.

This celebration comes amidst recounting the horrors of Boko Haram, and all that the citizens of Northern Nigeria have been through. The New York Times did an article focusing on 18 girls who were kidnapped, and subsequently made to go on suicide missions.

As each of these young women shared their stories, it became real: the heaviness of the suicide belts on their hips; the false promises of heaven for pushing a detonator; and the IMMENSE amounts of courage– and honestly, grace from God– that it took to turn themselves in instead of following Boko Haram’s orders.

For one girl, her little brother was also made to go on a suicide mission. He was too young at the time to understand what really was going on. He was driven away on a motorbike with Boko Haram’s members; she said he never came back. Instead, the men who drove off with him came back cheering at their “success” (source).

Whether or not Sadique Abubakar’s statement is true only time and events will tell; many are already going against his words, citing many suicide bombings in the last several months including three that made headlines. But amidst this immense loss, the chief of Air Staff’s words come like a refreshing breeze in a hot, hot desert. It is a Hope for weary soldiers, continually fighting the good fight against evil and oppression.

In the same vein of thinking, Christians, especially those continuing to experience hard trials, have the Hope that one day, the pain they are going through will be over with, either upon passing away, or upon the time of Jesus’ return. Think about it: whatever you, as a Believer and Follower of Jesus Christ, are going through, right now; whatever is the content of your pain, your sighs, and your suffering; you not only have the promise that Jesus will be with you, in and through it. You also have the sure promise that one day, “every tear will be wiped away” (Revelation 21:2-4).

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'”
(Revelation 21:3-4, NIV)

 

All Christians know that their time in heaven will be like paradise; and the day His Kingdom comes is closer now, more than ever (2 Timothy 3). It’s anticipation that fills us with the urgency to tell other people about Christ.

Revelation 21 describes Heaven amazingly. Obviously, Heaven is absolutely gorgeous, something that we can only imagine until Jesus allows us to see it ourselves after death or upon His return. In all, the New Jerusalem– heaven on earth– is 1,400 miles wide, high, and long. But it’s grandeur not the only thing that makes Heaven so beautiful.

God’s Presence is Paradise

But there is perhaps one special, beautiful thing that makes heaven, heaven. Many people focus on the presence of angels in heaven, imagining heaven to be a place of white, fluffy clouds, and angels playing melodious harps. But it is SO much more than this! Heaven will be re-created, as well as Earth– and Believers will be given a new, resurrected body, as Jesus dwells with them (Revelation 21:3).

revelation 21.2-4 true

What does this all mean? Ponder the importance of having a sun, a moon, and, for the Believer, a place of worship. Sure, we can worship anywhere we want as Believers; but the place of worship is where one meets with God. These verses are saying that in Heaven, God’s Presence with His Children is all we need. So it is, here; but God will dwell with His People, and God’s glory will be made most manifest, like never before. It is the magnitude of God’s Presence that makes Heaven, Heaven.

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is Near

In a mysterious way, that I admit I do not still quite understand, we are to ask Jesus to bring His Kingdom and Rule to earth (Matthew 6:10). The mind-blowing part: He does this through us! We, Believers in Jesus Christ, are able to experience the Presence of God in this moment– and are being used by Jesus to bring His Kingdom– “The Kingdom of Heaven”– to earth, starting now.

Jesus is with us, now; and, one day, we will live in the Presence of God, void of sin, pain, and death (Revelations 21:27). We will be given resurrected bodies, just like Jesus, and will live in a new Heaven on a new Earth (1 Corinthians 15).

We can be told these things, over and over again. But do they actually shape the way we live on a daily basis? 
Does the fact that all sin, and its consequences, will be banished away, give us realchange the way we live Hope and Comfort?
Does the fact that we will be given new, resurrected bodies, and a new Heaven and earth, make us look at the world around us, differently?
Does the fact that we will be with Jesus, in unhindered fellowship, give you Peace about your future?
And lastly, does the fact that time is running out– and that Heaven is real– give you an urgency about bringing others to Jesus?

With all of these beautiful promises of God in mind, we must live our lives with a sense of urgency, leading as many people as possible to know Jesus, and to enter into His Rest. The struggle is almost over; for those who believe in Jesus, this is a huge relief. But, for those who do not know Jesus, there is a sense of mockery and/or dread in their hearts…

Just as the soldiers fighting in Nigeria, Niger and Chad are fighting the war on terrorism, so are the people of God fighting evil. As we await the end of this war on evil, and struggle almost overanticipate a time of true Peace and complete Newness, we have a sure Hope: “the war is over soon.” Not only this, but we have a Commander who will see us through– one who has already secured the victory! On that day when this world and everything in it passes away, may we have lived in the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way that our Great, Loving Commander says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).



“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”
(Acts 1:9-12, NIV)

“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”
(Acts 7:55, NIV)

So many people today ask the question, “How can I get to heaven?”
Doing good things comes to mind; attending a place of worship, reading holy texts, and generally “being a good person” is usually the world’s answer to such a question.

But if this were true, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross– and His resurrection three days later, followed by His ascension to heaven– is entirely useless.

The Truth is, nothing we can do– no matter how “good” or “moral” it may be– can “get us to heaven.” Believing in Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior, is the ONLY way.

Find out more about Jesus, and why His death and resurrection were completely needed, here.



Please pray for…

  • For the Chibok school girls. As 113 of them are in physical bondage, and countless others are reeling from the PTSD and trauma they have experienced, that they would run to, and come to know Jesus– and that He would set them free.
  • The militaries of Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and Benin, as well as the rest of the world’s armies fighting terrorism and evil. Please pray that these men and women would come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and would not only be in an earthly army, but in the LORD’s army.
  • Those Christians, especially missionaries and those traveling to share the Gospel, for strength, that they might put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6; this will be spoken about in future posts.). That they would continue to fight evil on all fronts.
  • For those who are being persecuted. “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3). Please pray that Jesus continues to keep them strong in His Love, and that they would not turn away from Him!
  • For ourselves; those around us that are going through deep personal trial and anguish, that Jesus would bring them His Hope, Comfort, and most importantly, that His Presence in their lives would make them strong in Him.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support. Jesus bless you all.

 

Victory!

There is a darkness all around us. Whether one senses it or not, a spirit of sorrow– of fear, of loneliness, of hopelessness– reigns in the hearts and minds of countless people all over the globe. Daily, we read articles of heartwrenching violence abroad, while locally, the day’s headlines include senseless tragedies, marring the day with disheartening, sober pensiveness.

In nations like Nigeria, Iraq, and inumerable european countries all across the East, this darkness is both strikingly felt and incomprehensibly heavy. With events such as a child suicide bombing committed by a girl as young as seven years old in Nigeria, to the kidnapping of close to 90 christian Assyrians in Syria, the incessant persecution and violence found in these nations are a cause for deep terror in the hearts and minds of people caught in the crossfire. And while the Boko Haram insurgency found in Nigeria and its surrounding nations is being fought back against by a heavy-handed AU Army, the warfare found in Nigeria– as well as across the middle east– is only a symptom, a physical manifestation, of the spiritual warfare occuring all over the planet, every moment of our lives. Continue reading

Joy Amidst the Pain: Meditating on the Real Reason for Christmas

This coming February, Nigerians will line up at the polls to vote for their next president– or to reinstate their current president, Goodluck Jonathan. The APC (All Progressives Congress) is making sure promises that if their candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, wins the election, there will be such change that 2014 will be their “last Christmas in bondage.” Problems such as lowering oil prices, the devaluation of the naira (the country’s form of currency), government and military corruption, and the Boko Haram’s terrorist insurgency have caused Nigerians to lose confidence in Nigeria’s social and government institutions. Amidst such major problems, it can be hard– almost impossible– to have a joyous Christmas in Nigeria, especially in Northern regions.

This Christmas, countless Nigerians are grieving their loved ones, suffering economic downturns, and living as displaced people in places such as Maiduguri, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. Because of the government’s failure to serve their people, Nigerians are outraged and looking for any ounce of hope to get them through this depressing holiday season. Yet, among reports of worsening developments, there is a cause for joy: the true meaning of Christmas, Christ’s birth, expresses that God has become Immanuel, or “God with Us.” Continue reading