I truly believe that we are living in the end of the age. I know, I know, we Christians have been saying that for over 2000 years. And in all honesty, the end of the age has been here since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior, Yehushua. But I mean even more so than that. I believe that these are really the last few years (months?) of this evil world as we know it. I believe that The Anti-Christ is here, alive and ready to step in to the role that Yahuah created for him at the beginning of time. That being said, I do not believe that Satan knows when “the end” is going to come. So, I think that Satan has had someone in each generation ready to step in at a moment’s notice to attempt to steal away the Glory of God and of The Lion of Judah! I truly believe that we can look back in history and see a man in each era/generation that is so evil that only Satan could be molding him. Take Hitler . . . how about Nero . . . Antiochus . . . the list goes on and on. Anyway, I digress from my original quest: how to pray for the persecuted Christians in Kenya. Islamic radical Jihadists killed over 140 Christian students today at a University in Kenya. Most of those were men . . . over 300 others, mostly women, are missing. We, here in America, are somewhat isolated from this pain & torture. However, my heart is heavy and broken for these who are being persecuted. We know that as Christians, we WILL face hate and persecution. Peter said in 1 Peter 4:12 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” and then in verse 16 he says “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” Jesus Himself told us in John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you.” and in verse 20 He says “Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” Persecution is coming to America. For now though, it is still just words . . . difficult words . . . but mostly still words. In Africa, the Middle East, Muslim countries, the persecution comes in the form of death. So, how do we pray for these persecuted Christians?

Did you know that Kenya is ranked #19 in countries where Christians face the most persecution (www.opendoorsusa.org). At the moment, Christians in Kenya are facing persecution from two fronts, the secularist government and from radical Muslims and militants, most crossing the border from Somalia. The Jihadi faction in Kenya is al-Shabaab. They were the ones who carried out the massacre today, 4/2/15, at the Kenyan University.

The Persecuted Church

Here are some prayer points to consider as you pray for Kenya & their Christians:

  • That growing persecution and violence toward Christians by al-Shabaab will decrease in 2015
  • That God would enable Christian leaders to reach out to those in the Muslim community
  • For peace and comfort for the families of Christians who were killed in 2014, including 36 quarry workers murdered in December outside the city of Mandera and the families of the students massacred today.
  • Pray that God will bless Kenya with a strong and steady growth of the national economy so that all citizens will be blessed.
  • Pray against the two problems of badly formulated policies and prevalent corruption, both of which combine to adversely affect national economic growth.
  • Pray that the Church will take the lead in reaching out with concrete acts of love and compassion to the poor, including refugees and migrant workers, regardless of race or religion.
  • Pray for integrity, truth and compassion throughout the Kenyan Government
  • Pray for the positive influence of God’s people for the good of all throughout all Government departments

I got some of these prayer points from http://www.opendoorsusa.org and some from the “PRAY for KENYA” FaceBook page at http://www.facebook.com/praykenya. I hope this stirs your heart to pray for our persecuted Brothers and Sisters in Christ, not only in Kenya but across the world. Even so Lord, come quickly! We praise Your Holy Name!

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Is it intellectually feasible that dead people can come back to life?  Or, do you have to throw your brains in the trash can to believe this?  We need good intellectual answers for hard intellectual questions.  Is there evidence to support a faith in the Jesus of the Bible, a Jesus who claims to be God, a Jesus who claims to be the giver of Life and the source of absolute Truth?  All our answers must start with one foundation.  If this foundation is true, great!  If it is not, then everything we believe as Christians is a hoax. That foundation is the resurrection of Christ Jesus.  Even the Apostle Paul said, “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And, if Christ has not been raised, your faith is not bad, it is FUTILE and you are STILL in your sins (emphasis mine).  Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ we are to be pitied more than all men.”  Boy, those are tough words.  If Christ was not resurrected we are lost and without hope.  Praise God, we are not lost nor without hope because Christ WAS resurrected!

There are seven reasons why the literal resurrection of Jesus is true. We will go over 4 of those reasons in this part.

1.  The historicity of Jesus of Nazareth is airtight.  Did He really exist?  Or, is He a myth or legend? Did He literally and historically live on this planet? Biblical manuscripts overwhelmingly demonstrate that He actually lived. Also, manuscripts in antiquity (such as Homer, Plato, Shakespeare) also demonstrate that He was a living, breathing, human being.  Often we may have only half a dozen to a dozen manuscripts to give evidence that what Plato (for example) said was really from Plato. Twenty manuscripts would be considered huge!  In the New Testament, we have 5,000 First century manuscripts! Not only do Biblical scholars treat those manuscripts as historical documents but there are many extra-Biblical sources.  A Jewish historian named Josephus has written alot of information about Jesus.  Also, Pleny the Roman historian has written information about Jesus.  So we have non-Biblical sources as well as Biblical sources that say Jesus was a man who actually lived. We also have archaeological confirmation.  Many times in the New Testament, Jesus would refer to governing peoples by name, mention an inscription on a coin, or talk about a specific census taken in Bethlehem at the time of His birth.  In the last 30 years, these fact have all been validated by archaeological evidence.

2.  The character of Jesus is unquestioned by friend and foe alike.  He was a great man, the leading moral teacher ever to live.  Even Islam holds Him in high regard.  Ghandi called Him a hero.  Even in the new age of today, we have the “Christ Consciousness.”  This character came from a literal man who lived a literal life (John 8:46) who claimed to be sinless.  No one ever accused Him of sinning.  All of history changed centered around the character of this man called Jesus.

3.  The works of Jesus went unchallenged. Did He do what He said He did?  Feeding 5,000 people, raising people from the dead, lame men walking, blind men seeing – is this the stuff of myth and legend?  The facts of His miracles were never disputed by His foes.  His no. 1 archenemy, the established Jewish religion, never said that He was lying about the miracles He had performed.  In fact, they witnessed many of them!  For 3 years and thousands of eyewitnesses, the only thing they could come up with was that He did the miracles BUT by the power of Beelzebub!  They never questioned the validity, they only questioned the source.

4.  The identity of Jesus was confirmed. Who did Jesus claim to be?  Jesus confirmed who He was in in John 14:6 when He said “I am the Truth, the Life, the Way.”  He claimed to be God.  He also said, “If you have seen Me then you have seen the Father.”  His identity was confirmed by God the Father in Mark 9:7 where God spake, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.”  His identity was confirmed by the disciples in Mark 8. “You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”  It was even confirmed by His enemies in John 10 where they say, “That is blasphemy because you make yourself out to be God.”  Jesus also fulfilled over 700 Old Testament prophecies.  Isaiah said that He would be born of a virgin, He was.  Micah said the He would be born in Bethlehem, He was.  Zechariah said He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, He did.  Psalm 22 predicted how the Messiah would die, yet crucifixion was not invented or used by the Roman government for another 200 years after Psalms 22 was written.

Closing Thoughts

According to scripture, the Apostle Paul said if Jesus was not resurrected, our faith basically does not hold water.  We are living in a world where people want us to feel like we are anti-intellectual – not thinking people if we believe .  However, just the opposite is true.  We need to be able to think our way through the resurrection.  We need to be able to understand and lovingly articulate our faith.

This study is taken from “Why I Believe” by Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram

Chip Ingram is a speaker who founded “Living on the Edge” Radio Series. He put out an awesome series called “Why I Believe.”  So, I thought I would do a short study on this series. It is really awesome. The Bible says that we should be ready to give a defense for our faith, for what we believe in.  After you study this series, you will know why you believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, why you believe in the Creation and not evolution, why you believe that Jesus was really resurrected and His body not simply stolen, and why you believe in life after death. So, sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee and read this blog. After we are finished, you will be ready to give a defense of your faith.

“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus.” Luke 1:31

Picture the omniscient eyes of the unfathomable El Roi – the God who sees – spanning the universe in panoramic view, every galaxy in His gaze. Imagine now the gradual tightening of His lens as if a movie camera were attached to the point of a rocket bound for planet Earth. Not a man-made rocket, but a celestial rocket – of the living kind.

Gabriel has been summoned once again to the throne of God. At least six months have passed since God last sent him to Jerusalem, to foretell another unexpected birth – this one to an elderly priest named Zechariah, whose equally aged wife, Elizabeth, was to bear a son, John – John the Baptist. This previous assignment took Gabriel to Herod’s temple, one of the wonders of the civilized world. But this time heaven’s lens focuses northward.

Imagine Gabriel plunging earthward through the floor of the third heaven, breaking the barrier from the supernatural to the natural world. Feature Him swooping down through the second heaven past the stars God calls by name. As our vision “descends,” the earth grows larger. God’s kingdom gaze burns through the blue skies of planet Earth and plummets like a flaming stake in the ground to a backward town called Nazareth.

I love to imagine where Mary was when Gabriel appeared to her. I wonder if she was in her bedroom or walking a dusty path fetching water for her mother. One thing for sure: she was alone.

No matter where the angelic ambassador appeared to Mary, he must have stunned her with his choice of salutations: “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Prior to Zechariah’s encounter, four centuries had passed since God had graced the earth with a heavenly visitation. I doubt the thought occurred to anyone that he would transmit the most glorious news ever heard in all the world to a simple Galilean girl.

How I love the way God works! Just when we decide He’s too complicated to comprehend, He draws stick pictures.

I’m sure Mary wasn’t looking for an angelic encounter that day. As the recipient of such news, she was totally unsuspecting. Humble. Meek. Completely caught off guard. Luke 1:29 tells us Mary was “greatly troubled” at his words. The phrase actually means “to stir up throughout.” You know the feeling: when butterflies don’t just flutter in you stomach but land like a bucket at your feet, splashing fear and adrenaline through every appendage. Mary felt the fear through and through, wondering what king of greeting this might be. How could this young girl comprehend that she was “highly favored” by the Lord God Himself (verse 28)?

The angel’s next statement was equally stunning: The Lord is with you.” Although similar words had been spoken over men such as Moses, Joshua, and Gideon, I am not sure they had ever been spoken over a woman. I’m not suggesting the Lord is not as present in the lives of women as He is men, but this phrase suggested a unique presence and power for the purpose of fulfilling a divine kingdom plan. The sight of the young girl gripped by fear provoked Gabriel to continue with the words, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God” (vs. 30). Not until his next words did she have any clue why he had come or for what she had been chosen.

“You will be with child and give birth to a son” (vs. 31). Not just any son – “the Son of the Most High” (vs, 32). Probably only Mary’s youth and inability to absorb the information kept her from fainting in a heap!

Then came my favorite line of all: “You are to give him the name Jesus” (vs. 31). Do you realize this was the first proclamation of our Savior’s personal name since the beginning of time? Jesus. The very name at which every knee will one day bow. The very name that every tongue will one day confess. A name that has no parallel in my vocabulary or yours, A name by which I’ve made every single prayerful petition of my life. A name that has meant my absolute salvation, not only from eternal destruction, but from myself. A name with power like no other name. Jesus.

What a beautiful name. I love to watch how it falls off the lips of those who love Him. I shudder as it falls off the lips of those who don’t. Jesus. It has been the most important and most consistent word in my life. Dearer today than yesterday, Inexpressibly precious to me personally, so I am at a loss to comprehend what the name means universally.

Jesus. The Greek spelling is Iesous, transliterated from the Hebrew from the Hebrew Yeshu’a (Joshua). Keep in mind that Christ’s earthly family spoke a Semitic language closely related to Hebrew (called Aramaic), so He would have been called Yeshu’a. One of the things I like best is that it was a common name. After all, Jesus came to seek and to save common people like me. Most pointedly, the name Jesus means “Savior.” Others may have shared the name, but no one else would ever share the role.

– reprinted from “Jesus – 90 Days with the One and Only” written by Beth Moore