does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:1
Pray for God to be revealed
Ask that the Lord reveals Himself to the nations in the Arabian Peninsula. Although the people are neither seeking nor asking for Him, we ask on their behalf that they may be found by the Lord. The Lord is present. Ask that an ever increasing number of people in the Arabian Peninsula will be found by the Lord. May the people come to know the work of what the Son did on the cross. May the Lord bring repentance over the land that draws the nations into His very presence and Kingdom.
Praying for Workers
A fellowship of workers has been going through a hard time in the past few months with some members facing difficulties in family relationships, some having experienced a lot of remorse and grief at work recently, and many members leaving the country due to job-related reasons. Please pray for this group of workers during this season--for encouragement, healing, restoration, and joy--as they continue to serve the Kingdom faithfully.
A group of people interested in long term work for the Kingdom in the Arabian Peninsula are visiting this week. Pray for the potential harvest workers and their time in the region, for God to make abundantly clear where He is leading them and for these people to become more rooted in His heart for the people here.
Oud forms an integral part of Arabian hospitality and culture. It has been traditionally called the "Scent of Heaven". As demand surges in the Gulf for its use, its cost has also increased manifold. The price of the best quality Oud is at par with the rate of gold in the market. However, supply has been diminishing due to the scarce availability of the Agar wood tree that produces the Oud in the wild, making it rare and expensive.
To truly savor the scent of Oud, the wooden chips of the Agar wood tree have to be burned. It is only when the wood is completely burned that the true fragrance of the Oud is released. How sad! We pay so much for it.
We wish that the smell of Oud can remain forever, but over time, even the scent of heaven can die out. No scent of this world can last. We can only truly be satisfied with a scent that is indeed sent from heaven, that which is not produced from nature. Is there such a heavenly scent? Yes! The best thing about this scent is that although it is heavenly and expensive, it is free for all us who choose to use it.
Two thousand and sixteen years ago, a Man came to offer us this eternal fragrance. He offered to make us pure and clean with the real scent of heaven. Just like how the wooden chips of an Agar wood tree are burned to get the scent, the Lord Jesus Christ was burned completely on the cross through his crucifixion to pay the penalty of our sins which were laid upon him. His death became a sweet smelling aroma to God. Today, we can experience the scent of that lasting Oud by faith in Him. All the scents of this world will only give us an external fragrance. But if we savor this heavenly scent, we will be filled to radiate the fragrance of Christ's scent to those around us. (2 Corinthians 2:14-17)
Please pray that the Arabs of the AP will experience the true, living, and eternal Oud - Jesus Christ himself!
For both Muslims and Christians there is a great desire for the afterlife. This world and all that it offers is still empty of what our hearts desire. We desire heaven. Because of the work of Jesus on the cross, Christians believe all their sins are placed on Him, and it is because of Jesus they will enter heaven. Christians have confidence in the finished work of Jesus. For Muslims, they do not have Jesus' righteousness, all they have is the wish that Allah will allow them into paradise, there is absolutely no assurance. If they follow the Quran and the Sharia Law perfectly there is no assurance. Pray that all that Jesus has done will be understood in the Arabian Peninsula. Pray that the name of Jesus would grow in honor. Pray that local people of the AP would so long for heaven that they would seek the only way there - Jesus Christ. May the power of the following Scripture move you forward in your prayers.
"We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus." Romans 3:22-26
Seventy years ago today, 33-year-old Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal, having being rejected from serving in the Army due to poor eyesight, took a photograph that would become widely recognized and reproduced. The image records U.S. Marines and a Navy corpsman raising an American flag atop Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, site of the only Marine battle where the American casualties, 26,000, exceeded the Japanese. Not surprisingly, today’s USA Today headline describes this war photo as “iconic.”
“Iconic” is one of the most overused words in the English vocabulary, perhaps more overworked than “wonderful” ever was. Sports heroes, movie stars, political leaders, buildings, and landmarks are all candidates for this tired adjective.
Computer users refer to symbols appearing on their monitor to represent a command as icons. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, icons are representations of some sacred personage, as Christ or a saint or angel, painted on a wood surface and venerated itself as sacred. The core meaning of icon is a picture or image.
The greatest image maker throughout human history has been the church. Long before literacy, theology, or philosophy, there were images—symbols that taught lessons about God, stained-glass windows that preached messages to people who couldn’t read, icons that spoke volumes without words.
The ultimate icon is the cross—site of the fierce battle between heaven and hell won by Light beyond light, the apparent defeat of goodness transformed by the triumph of vicarious Love, and the bloody sacrifice of the flawless Lamb who saves all who kneel before him in repentance. The serpent sunk his poisonous fangs into Christ’s heel, but the Son of God crushed the head of the snake. Victory over death—our greatest enemy, and victory over sin—our lifelong problem, were both accomplished at the cross.
After seventy years, Joe Rosenthal’s picture of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima still stirs the hearts of patriotic Americans. After more than two thousand years, the raising of the cross on Skull Hill and Christ’s words, “Father, forgive them” still echoes in the hearts of Christ-followers. The image of the cross burned into our consciousness is powerful enough to change our everyday demeanor and eternal destiny.
“God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)
Johnny R. Almond
Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity
Interim Pastor, Nomini Baptist Church; Montross, Virginia
From the upcoming book Altar’d by Jennifer Kennedy Dean. Release date February 2012.
The cross of Christ stands as the point of separation between the old person powered by death-driven corrupted flesh, and the new creation, powered by the very Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. At the moment you embrace the cross, you receive its power into your life —a power that is eternally and continually working. Paul says that “death is at work in us.” At work in us now. Doing ongoing work. Doing present work. A.B. Simpsons says, “We may not preach a crucified Saviour without being also crucified men and women…The cross that Paul speaks about was burned into his very flesh, was branded into his being, and only the Holy Spirit can burn the true cross into our innermost life.”
The death that Jesus died on the cross cannot be—and need not be—repeated. Only He is able to die for our sins, having no sins of His own to die for. As we surrender our corrupted flesh to His crucifixion, and as His death works in us, we are not repeating the atoning work of the cross. That is done, completed, finished. Instead, we are letting the power of the cross work out the crucifixion of our flesh. It is not a cross of punishment that works in us. The cross did its work of punishment on the body of Jesus. It is the cross that is freeing us from the confines and the distortions and the limitations of our sin nature. It is not restriction, but freedom. It is, in fact, the only hope of being all that we were created to be.
God designed the eternal cadence and it is built into creation at its crux. Life emerges out of death. The seed that falls into the ground to die to produce a harvest. The branch that is pruned so that it can bear more fruit. The beautiful colors of fall, ushering in the very death that will culminate in the springtime resurrection.
Living altar’d means surrendering to the death from which life comes. The cross is the only place where flesh can go to die.
Flesh is designed to misdirect. Flesh will work hard to direct your gaze somewhere other than the cross. Failing that, flesh will attempt to distort your view of the cross. Make it seem ugly and harsh instead of life-giving and redemptive and tender.
I have something of a hobby, I guess you would call it, of reading books and articles and blogs by people who grew up in strong Christian homes, but as adults rejected their belief in Jesus. Their stories seem to have several common themes, but central to most is the theme of always trying to please a God who could not be pleased. They felt burdened and ashamed—always trying to measure up. They fell for a misdirection.
You know how a magician’s tricks work. He depends on the fact that our minds can only focus on one thing at a time. He uses his skills to draw the focus of his audience where he wants it, so that he can do something else where his audience is not looking. The end result is that a lie appears to be the truth. He appears to have accomplished something by magic that was really done by trickery. It is very convincing.
This is what our flesh will try to induce in us. A misdirected focus. If flesh can keep you focused on your sin instead of His grace, then the myth of a rigid, angry god seems absolutely true. If your flesh can misdirect your focus away from the reality of the cross, and keep your attention on your best effort, then the perception of a demanding, harsh god appears grounded in reality.
Flesh tries to pull our attention away from the beautiful cross, where our freedom is to be found. tries to keep us focused on our own failings, or our own fleeting successes, redefining the cross as vindictive and vengeful and fearsome.
The cross is a living power working in our lives to irradiate the flesh that holds us captive and stunts our growth. It has nothing to do with our ability to follow rules.
If the cross is working on the inside, then the evidence will show up on the outside. If, however, the flesh is working hard at conforming the outside, it will wear you out and discourage you. Flesh-produced outward changes that started out looking shiny and beautiful will fail the test of perseverance. It won’t be lasting change. What counts is a new creation, transformed from the inside out. Not a spiffed up old creation. The only way to live is to live altar’d.