Testimonies of Jesus’ Presence

The wife of my younger brother recently went to be with the Lord. She was born in Somalia and lived her earlier life as a Muslim, but came to know and love Jesus as her Lord and Saviour when she and John were visiting Liz and myself in Singapore some years ago.  They both became avid lovers of Jesus. They also became keen readers of the Bible. However, their “knowledge” about heaven was rather vague and my brother is quite keen to know where his bride of some fifty year is now.  I mentioned to him recently a couple of incidents we encountered many years ago in Adelaide.

Mrs Hoskins, with her husband and family had immigrated to Australia from London. She became a faithful and prayerful member of our Assembly. Her greatest desire was always that her husband would come to know the Lord. She eventually became quite ill and confined to her bed. One day when I was visiting her, she confidentially told me that whilst praying for her husband she had told the Lord that she would gladly surrender her life to God if He would save her husband. She told me that she did not really mean that she would be happy to die if it would mean that her husband would be saved. I quietly counselled her that Jesus had died for his salvation and that her own death could never be necessary for Henry’s salvation.  In an incident remarkably like the one I have just described, she also became confined to her bed lying weakly on her back too  weak to raise herself up.  Whilst her lady visitors were sitting quietly around her bed, suddenly without any aid she began to rise from the bed into a sitting position.  As  she rose, she lifted her hands towards heaven and cried out  excitedly “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”  before  her body fell back lifeless on to the bed.  That Sunday evening we held a memorial service for her. He husband attended the service and publicly accepted Christ as his Saviour.

Mrs Paul and her husband became members of our Assembly in Sutherland, after many years as members of a Presbyterian Church. They were both lovely Christians, Spirit filled, but still rather quietly undemonstrative.  Mrs Paul eventually became quite ill and was eventually confined to her bed. Several ladies from the Church used to visit her every day, praying at her bedside.  One morning Mrs Paul lay in bed as she had now for many weeks. She was too weak to even raise herself, but suddenly with her gaze risen towards the ceiling, she began to raise her whole body from her prostate position.  As she rose, she became very excited about something that no one else see or hear.  Her face became relaxed and radiant and she began to say, “Listen to that wonderful music.”  She rose to a sitting position without any help, calling out to “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”, before falling  back on to the bed with a radiant look on her face.

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Islam in the Future?

Muslims are currently the fastest-growing religious group in the world today. The growth and regional migration of Muslims, combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State, (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and other extremist groups that commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries. Yet many facts about Muslims are not well known in some of these places, and most Americans – who live in a country with a relatively small Muslim population – say they know little or nothing about Islam.

Here are answers to some key questions about Muslims, compiled from several Pew Research Centre reports published in recent years:

There were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010 – roughly 23% of the global population, – according to a Pew Research Centre estimate. But while Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion in the world today. Indeed, if current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century.  These predictions published by the Pew Research Centre, are supported by international reviews that are recognised worldwide.  At this critical time, we can readily see that the trends predicted are certainly happening throughout the world. This fact must be seriously  and urgently faced by every Church and every Christian in the whole world. Even in Australia, which is favourably placed in terms of geographic distance from present Islamic activities involving international influence, it is certainly not necessarily safe from the dominance of Islam.  However, one extremely vital fact about the predictions concerning international dominance of Islam in the future, is that it does not refer to any possibility of a Divine intervention by Yahweh, the God of Israel and the Church.  How grateful we should be that the God of the Bible has prophetic plans that will bring defeat and shame on Islam drastically reducing its power and influence throughout the earth.  According to Zechariah 12 and numerous other Biblical prophecies, these plans will miraculously bless both Israel and the Church, with glorious victory and a secure eternal future.  Let’s begin with a careful look at Zechariah 12!  The future influence of Israel and the Church will be dramatically and gloriously enhanced in the immediate prophetic future.

 Zechariah 12  contains  a brief yet astounding panoramic view of  the world as we presently find it. There are several features we may currently immediately recognise, and other predictions that will obviously happen in the very near future. This predicted future will be manifested in the very near future.

The Importance of Jerusalem

The prophet Joel saw three great developments before the coming of “the great and terrible day of the Lord.” First, he saw the Spirit of God being poured out on all flesh—a revival that would cover the whole earth (Joel 2:28ff). Second, he saw the Jewish people returning to their homeland (Joel 3:1). And third, he saw the nations gathering together against Jerusalem, specifically in the valley of Jehoshaphat (“God judges” in Hebrew), a northern extension of the Kidron Valley. He had a special name for this valley—the “valley of decision.

From the very beginning, Jerusalem has been a city of decision. The first time we read about it, we find Abraham returning from a successful campaign against four kings who had taken hostages from the city-states of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pursued and defeated the kings, liberated the hostages, and brought back a rich bounty of his conquest (Genesis 14).

Upon his return, Abraham reached the “valley of the Kings”—thought to be the Kidron Valley just east of Jerusalem’s Old City. There, two kings appeared to him: the King of Sodom, ruler of an unrighteous city, and Melchizedek, King of Salem. Both made an offer to Abraham. The King of Sodom offered him all the spoils of the conquest: “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” Melchizedek’s offer was far more modest: bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed him from “God Most High (El Elyon), Possessor of heaven and earth. The difference was stark! The ruler of Sodom offered riches but kept the souls. Melchizedek was Priest of the God Most High, and with bread and wine, the eternal symbols of sacrificial redemption, he offered Abraham redemption of the soul. Abraham understood this came from the same God who called him out of Ur in Chaldea. This was the Creator God, “possessor of heaven and earth,” who could claim everything he had.

It was not an easy choice. Abraham had every right to keep the riches of Sodom but he returned the spoil to its king. He then readily accepted Melchizedek’s blessing and offered back a tithe of everything he had, recognizing God’s claim over his life.

Years later, God called Abraham back to Jerusalem. “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2). This is the most demanding call anyone could ever receive from God. It meant giving up the son of promise for whom Abraham had prayed and hoped for those many years. Isaac also embodied his own calling to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. And of course, Isaac was his own flesh and blood. We can only imagine what it took for Abraham to make this agonizing journey to Jerusalem. Hebrews says Abraham’s deep belief that Isaac would be raised from the dead enabled him to walk this difficult road (Hebrews 11:17–19).

Twice Abraham made a radical decision in Jerusalem. For him, Jerusalem represented the very fact that God indeed was possessor of heaven and earth. It is the place of total surrender to God; the place to make God the highest authority and submit our rights and will to Him.

David would later make Jerusalem the capital of Israel. As with Abraham, Jerusalem became for David the place of ultimate worship and sacrifice to God. There on Mount Zion, David established a place of perpetual worship to God. One of his psalms says it is a place reserved for the humble and pure of heart (Psalm 24:1–4). Here, the Creator of heaven and earth expects our total surrender to Him. Isaiah declares that “His fire is in Zion and whose furnace is Jerusalem” (Isaiah 31:9). Jerusalem is a battleground for the soul—the place for deciding whom we will serve.

Yet in Jerusalem, God made His own decision to give everything for us. Like Abraham, He gave that which was most precious to Him—His only begotten Son. Two thousand years after Abraham, in the Kings’ valley on the slopes of the Kidron, Melchizedek appears again—now as the son of David, King of the Jews, and Son of God. There, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Christ, our High Priest, prayed the greatest prayer of submission: “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). And as did Isaac, Jesus carried a wooden burden up that mountain to offer Himself as an eternal sacrifice for me and you. Throughout history this offer of redemption has confronted every soul. It remains a place of decision for everyone!

Interestingly, the king of Sodom’s offer also seems to be ever-present in this city. The book of Revelation calls Jerusalem the city that is spiritually “Sodom.” There is an enduring spiritual battle over the city that manifests even in the political arena. Jerusalem is like a magnet to the rulers of this world, where the arrogance of their power is demonstrated by their desire to divide and control the City of God. But “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: ‘Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion’” (Psalm 2:4–6).

The prophet Zechariah foresaw the drunkenness with which the world’s rulers are eager to decide the fate of Jerusalem. Yet the prophet warned: “… it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would have it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2–3).

It is a dangerous thing to carelessly lift that heavy stone of Jerusalem. It is a burden that can crush even nations.

Exactly one hundred years ago, British General Edmund Allenby liberated Jerusalem from the Ottomans. When entering the city through Jaffa Gate, he dismounted his horse and asked his soldiers to do the same. “Only the King of kings should enter the city riding on a horse,” he reportedly said. Some 20 years earlier, the German Kaiser Wilhelm II visited Jerusalem and insisted that Jaffa Gate be widened for him to ride into Jerusalem on a white horse.

Dealing with Jerusalem demands humility from everyone, politicians included. Those who would too easily divide the city remind us of the prostitute who too quickly took up Solomon’s suggestion to divide her friend’s child. Let us rather seek the peace of this great city! The psalmist said, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you” (Psalm 122:6); the Hebrew word for peace, shalom—also means “wholeness.” To seek unity and peace can mean the difference between blessing and a curse.

Therefore, make it a place of decision for you personally, and choose afresh Christ’s eternal gift of bread and wine, submitting to Him. But also, let us pray for our nations to relate rightly to the city that Jesus Christ Himself calls the city of the great King. It will be for the prospering of our own nations!

Anti-Semetism Spreads Worldwide!

The Bible clearly predicts that in the Last Days anti-Semitism would be rife throughout the world. As Christians we must immediately affirm our strong unity with Israel and all Jews everywhere. Together we must be as one body boldly proclaiming that God has one people,  who in Yeshua (Jesus) will become eternally united. Most of the Church has not yet even recognised this, but we must open our spiritual eyes to the fact that we have entered the Last Days, when God will bring this vision of the One New Man to its fulfilment.

Anti-Semitism is assuming a potentially “pandemic” dimension globally, even in the USA, and if left unchecked it could grow into an immensely serious threat, worldwide, one of American Jewry’s most senior leaders said this week. He was calling on world leaders to convene a global summit to forcefully denounce the phenomenon.  “I think we’re seeing a terrifying pandemic in formation,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, who heads the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. I think America’s situation is different from Europe. It is not as bad yet, but it is certainly developing exponentially  and  the potential is definitely there.”

In a far-reaching interview, Malcolm Hoenlein, who is currently in Israel, also spoke about widespread concerns over the Israeli government’s total alignment with US President Donald Trump, which some fear could turn Israel into a partisan issue in the United States.   He said, “We see anti-Semitism in Britain, we see it in France, and now we see it’s spreading everywhere,” Hoenlein told The Times of Israel in its Jerusalem office on Sunday. “Look at the numbers of disastrous incidents in Germany, Scandinavia and other parts of the world. And now we see in America swastikas being painted, other expressions [such as phoned-in] threats or aggression against kids on campuses. So it is definitely rapidly spreading. It’s not isolated to one geographic locale. It’s like a vicious virus that rapidly spreads. And you have to declare it for what it is.”

The interview with Hoenlein was conducted mere hours before news emerged of an apparently anti-Semitic act of vandalism that took place in his hometown of Philadelphia. Several tombstones in the city’s Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery had been toppled in what the Israeli government called a “shocking” and worrying act. . “I do think that this cancer, left unchecked, spreads and becomes more and more of a threat.”

 The worst example of such a process can be identified in France, where anti-Jewish sentiment “metastasized over a period of time,” he said. “It didn’t just happen,” he added, citing recent reports of attacks on Jews, and information from his own relatives who live in France told  him life has become virtually “intolerable” there. European governments have denounced such incidents and increased measures to protect Jews, Hoenlein said. “But we can’t deny the fact that anti-Semitism today is no longer something that has to be done under the cloak of darkness, with the fear of repercussions. Those restrictions are gone. And I think we have to reimpose it and there have to be standards set. That’s why I want government officials saying this is not acceptable, just like racism and bigotry in any other form is not acceptable.”

‘It’s everybody’s problem when there’s hatred against Jews. We’re the victims, we’re not the cause of it’

Combating anti-Semitism starts with the Jewish community, “but it certainly doesn’t end with it,” declared Hoenlein. “This is not their  problem alone. It is society’s problem. It is definitely Christianity’s problem. In fact it’s everybody’s problem, when there’s such bitter unfounded hatred against Jews.

This horrible phenomena is not yet a huge  problem in Australia but the potential for it can definitely be seen. The manner in which our own Government is encouraging  Islamic people and their organisations in Australia, will definitely promote anti-Semitism in numerous Australian communities. We Christians must definitely prepare ourselves by taking immediate action. We must ignore political correctness. We must stand firmly with Israel and with Jewish persons everywhere, in an unrelenting manner. We must be one with them because they too are God’s special people. In the Last Days God’s people will be neither Jew nor Gentile but a New Creation in Christ.