May 01 2019
God named Ishmael ‘God hears’ before he was born. Years later, God heard Ishmael’s cry when he was perishing in the wilderness and opened his mother’s eyes to see a spring of water from which she gave him drink – and he lived!
Islam claims Ishmael as a spiritual forefather. Today’s
Muslims are in the wilderness perishing and crying out for living water. Let the Church pray to the Father to reveal the well of living water, Jesus, so they might live!
Praying in the opposite spirit
Last week we spoke of the resurrection reversing the trend of human history. Acts 4:1-31 reveals how thoroughly Jesus’ resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit transformed the believers’ understanding of God’s ways:
Peter and John are arrested and taken into custody for preaching the resurrection of the dead and healing in Jesus’ name. After being questioned, they’re warned not to speak or teach at all in His name and released because the authorities fear the crowds who are praising God for the healing they witnessed. The gathered believers proclaim a prophetic scripture (Ps 2:1-2) that has prepared them for this trial in which Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles and Israel all conspire against Jesus and then pray, “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to Your servants to continue to speak Your word with all boldness, while You stretch out Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” The believers were one in heart and mind and their witness about the resurrection was strengthened.
ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has appeared on video for the first time since announcing the Islamic Caliphate in 2014. His performance reveals a very different understanding of God’s ways:
ISIS has lost all its territory but is not dead. Baghdadi concedes the territorial defeat but boasts (without evidence) that its “provinces” have carried out 92 attacks in 8 nations, including the recent attacks in Sri Lanka. In asserting his continuing leadership of a global jihad movement, he says, “The war of Islam and its followers against the crusaders and their followers [Christian and Western nations] is a long one…Our battle today is a war of attrition to harm the enemy, and they should know that jihad will continue until doomsday [Judgment Day].” (Robin Wright, New Yorker News Desk, Apr 29, 2019) Al-Baghdadi’s threats and practice reveal his belief that his Allah desires an earthly kingdom and calls on his followers to exercise dominion on earth and execute his punishment on unbelievers. He sees violence against perceived enemies as both righteous and permanent. How should followers of Jesus pray and act in light of this evil?
Jesus’ words guide us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:43-45).
So – let’s ask for God’s love to be in us and pray from that love for the jihadis to know this overcoming love.
Jesus’ example inspires us: “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8). He triumphed over the devil by the cross (Col 2:15) and He challenges us to carry our cross and follow Him (Mk 8:31-38).
So – let’s ask what “carrying our cross” looks like as we pray for the victory of the Son of God to be revealed to Muslims, whether jihadis or simple worshippers performing again the fruitless works of Ramadan.
Our living hope compels us: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Pe 1:3-5).
So – let’s pray to overcome the accuser by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, not loving our lives so much as to shrink from death (Rev 12:10-11). Let’s proclaim the hope of the resurrection over and throughout Ramadan (May 6 - June 4) – not in some ritual or formulaic way, but with life and joy! Our Redeemer lives!
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