Martha

Friday, September 17, 2021

Martha was a loyal follower of Jesus (Luke 10:40; John 11:21-22, 27). When Jesus was in the area where Martha lived, she decided to throw a party for him and his disciples. She wanted to honor him. As she got busy with the preparations, she felt overwhelmed with the many chores that had to be done. So she rushed to the living room where Jesus and others were gathered and expressed her concern and frustration. She even blamed Jesus for not telling her sister Mary to have the courtesy to help in the kitchen. Jesus pointed out to Martha that she was concerned and troubled about many things. He added that Mary, by sitting at his feet to hear his words, had made the right choice. Martha was busy serving Jesus a meal, and that was good. But she had become distracted and troubled in her ministry to Jesus, and that was a problem. Read the story in Luke 10:38-42.

Prayer

Almighty God, our loving Heavenly Father, I pray for your church in Muslim societies. Give her men and women like Martha with a keen sense of responsibility and a readiness to serve Jesus and honor him.

Protect her leaders and members from being plagued with restless thoughts, worry and other distractions. Teach them, your servants who have come to Jesus from Islam, not to let anxiety and concern rule over them in what they are doing.

I know, Lord, that you value our service to you. At the same time, you do not want us to get troubled and distracted because of the ministry or other responsibilities. Protect us all from anxiety and agitation in our work for you. O Lord, may we have Mary’s attitude and the ability to sit quietly in your presence, read your Word, pray and hear you speak to us. Amen.

Promise

Come to me… and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Martyrs of the Cross

Friday, September 10, 2021

Fatima al-Mutairi lived in Buraydah, Saudi Arabia. Although she was raised in a Muslim family of influence and power, she was searching for meaning in life. She read the New Testament on the internet and gave her life to Christ. She started writing poetry to praise the Savior. When her brother found out, he beat her with intense cruelty, broke her bones, cut off her tongue, then dragged her outside the house and burned her alive. She was 26 years old.

Fatima’s story, with different details, is repeated multiple times each day. Every year, close to 100,000 people are martyred for being Christian.[1]

No price is too high to pay for the sake of him who gave his life to redeem and save us.

Prayer

Most high and majestic God over all the earth (Psalm 83:18), may you be exalted and praised for ever and ever. We thank you for people like Fatima. Only you can give such courage and determination. It is your Holy Spirit who worked in Fatima’s heart to bring her to you and sustain her in the face of horrific and ghastly abuse.

I pray for my Muslim friends who have decided to follow Jesus. They know the price is very high. Threats to their lives are indeed a reality. Strengthen them. Visit them. Set their hearts on fire so they can remain loyal to you, obedient to your Word, and willing to sacrifice all for the sake of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

I pray for all who are in authority in Muslim-majority countries. Change their hearts. Bring them to the cross. Change them into vessels of honor and righteousness. Help them bring many of their fellow citizens to your Kingdom.

All hail to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the One True God, amen.

Promise

The Lord is my light and my salvation. I will fear no one (Psalm 27:1).

(These were Fatima’s final words before she was brutally killed.)

Footnotes

[1] Statistics of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.

“Jonahs”

Friday, September 3, 2021

God commissioned Jonah to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-2). Jonah did not like his assignment because the Ninevites were wicked. He knew that, later on, they would defeat and torture his own people, the children of Israel, in ways unheard of. As a prophet, Jonah saw those tragedies coming. He did not want the Ninevites to repent or to receive God’s mercy!

He thought he could escape from his duty. But after the Lord brought him back to his senses, he went to Nineveh and preached God’s message. The entire nation repented! Read the book of Jonah.

It is not easy to convince Christians to wish Muslims well and offer them the message of Christ’s grace. Yet, we trust God to change our hearts and give us courage to carry out his divine plan for the lost.

Prayer

You alone are God of all the peoples of the earth. You are our Maker and Redeemer. You have other sheep that are not in this flock (John 10:16). Your mercy is more universal than we sometimes think. Your love and compassion extend to Muslims also! You are interested in their well-being. You want the blind to see, the lost to be found and the dead to come back to life.

We pray for grace that we, the followers of Jesus your Son, will have kind hearts toward Muslims. They are lost because they are away from Christ, the only Savior.

We repent because we have failed you. Just as you were patient with Jonah and gave him a second chance to obey you, give us another chance, Lord God.

Help us go to Muslims with love, compassion and courage, empowered by your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Promise

“I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT).

Wolves

Friday, August 27, 2021

One afternoon, Mouldi came to my house so excited! On the bus he had met a local girl who had a cross on her necklace! She was supposed to be Muslim, but she was wearing a cross in public in a Muslim capital! Mouldi and the girl talked and confided to each other about their personal conversion. It turned out that she was a member of a cult that does not believe in Jesus as Lord or Son of God or Savior. They believe that Jesus is only a prophet.

There are many sects and groups that wrongly call themselves Christian. They are active in the Muslim world and are ready to prey on those who have come to Christ in a genuine experience of being born again by God’s Spirit. Some new believers, who fail to recognize that the

sects are not true followers of Christ, can be easily led astray.

Jesus warned his disciples about such counterfeits. He called them wolves masquerading as sheep! (Matthew 7:15). This is one more trick of our enemy. He tries to destroy and kill.

Prayer

Lord Christ, you are the visible image of the invisible God. You existed before any creation, and you are supreme Master over all. I pray for the little sheep that have been rescued from Islam. Some of them face fierce, merciless wolves. Bare your arm, O great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20). Defend these weak lambs against the enemy. Shield them and protect them. Break the power of the wolves and defeat them.

We claim what your Word tells us, that you are the Shepherd and Protector of our souls (1 Peter 2:25, NCV). So, protect these brothers and sisters from poisonous doctrines. Guard them from error and from heresies. May you alone be their true Master, Lord and King.

Promise

I know that when I am gone, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock… I entrust you to God and the word of his grace… that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself (Acts 20:29, 32, REB, NLT).

Islamic Banks

Friday, August 20, 2021

Islamic banks do business according to the guidelines of Islamic law (Sharia). That law does not allow for interest of any kind on loans. Further, investments are to be made only in goods considered permissible by Islam (halal). For example, they do not invest in alcohol or pork products or gambling.

Islamic banks have the same goal as all other banks: they want to make a profit. So, how do they do that? They change words used in the financial industry in order to avoid their religious prohibitions! Accordingly, instead of lending money and collecting interest on it, they “rent” the money and collect “rent” on it! Instead of collecting interest for credit card purchases, they collect “penalties” for not paying the full balance immediately!

When you plan to buy a home, you need a mortgage. If you go to an Islamic bank, the bank buys the house from the original owner and turns around and sells it to you at a profit. Then they let you pay the price in monthly installments!

Each Islamic bank has a board of Muslim scholars to make sure that transactions comply with the rules of religious law.

Prayer

O the depth of your riches and wisdom and knowledge, Lord God! How unsearchable are your judgments and how inscrutable your ways! (Romans 11:33).

You care for all peoples, tribes and nations. You know about the exponential growth of the Islamic financial industry around the world. You also know that fanatic fundamentalist beliefs initiated these banks, and that the incredible income from oil has nurtured and amplified their success.

I pray for the owners of these banks, for their employees and workers, for shareholders, investors and borrowers. Bless them by leading them to the knowledge of Christ the Lord and Redeemer of all humankind. May they confess Jesus as their Lord and King. Help them dedicate their lives and talents to the cause of the Gospel of grace and love.

I pray for the scholars on the Sharia boards of these banks. Bring them to Calvary to see Jesus who gave himself to save humans from sin. In his name I pray. Amen.

Promise

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones (Proverbs 3:7-8, NLT).

Islam

Friday, August 13, 2021

What does Islam mean? In Arabic, the word applies to a soldier who gives up. The verb means “to surrender.” Hence, Islam, as a religion, means surrendering to God; and a Muslim is someone who has surrendered his life to practice the religion of Islam.

Islam was started by Muhammad in AD 610 and is based on the Quran and the Hadith. The Quran is comprised of one volume that contains the revelations Muhammad reportedly received. The Hadith is comprised of several volumes that contain stories about Muhammad and what he did and said.

There are two major groups in Islam: Sunnis (roughly 90% of the followers), and Shias (roughly 10%). Add to that a large number of sects and sub-sects. All of them believe in Muhammad, all believe in the Quran. The differences are historical and political more than doctrinal.

Prayer

Father in heaven, from one man you created all the nations throughout the whole earth. You purposed that they would seek after you, in the hope that they might find you, though indeed you are not far from each one of us (Acts 17:26-27). And in spite of our waywardness, you love us all.

When I hear or read the word Islam, help me remember it is a system that appears so near, while it is actually so far from the Kingdom of God. It seems close to Christianity, but it is far from Christ![1] Whenever I see or hear of a Muslim, please help me see him as a precious soul for whom Jesus died, a person whom God loves and wants to bring to his Kingdom.

Help me be an intercessor who brings Muslims to your attention. Remember them in your mercy and grace. Help them repent and confess Christ as their only Lord and Savior.

Fill them with the Holy Spirit to be your witnesses to others.

Blessed are you, our only Sovereign, King of kings and Lord of lords, immortal, invisible. To you be honor and power and glory and majesty. Amen.

Promise

“I will search for the lost, bring back those that strayed away, put bandages on those that were hurt, and make the weak strong….” “The Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost” (Ezekiel 34:16, NCV; Luke 19:10).

Footnotes

[1] Samuel Zwemer, paraphrased.

The Islamic New Year

Friday, August 6, 2021

Muslims use the Hijra calendar. The word Hijra refers to Muhammad’s escape from the Arabs in Mecca who were trying to kill him. Under cover he fled to Medina where the Jews welcomed him. The Hijra calendar counts years starting with that event. It follows the lunar system, so a year has only 354 days.

Muslims the world over use this calendar to date their religious celebrations and past historic events. It is an important community tie that binds them together.

During this time, the Muslim New Year begins.

Prayer

God of history, of past, present and future, I bring Muslims to you as they celebrate the beginning of their new year. During this time of rejoicing and festivities, show them, O God, that they can find everlasting joy in Christ the Lord.

While they are commemorating the escape of Muhammad from his enemies, bring to their attention the fact that Jesus Christ, who could have escaped from his enemies, refused to do so. He was determined to accomplish what he had come for: he went to the cross, where he suffered and died to redeem us.

Change the hearts of many Muslims this week, and transform them by the power of the Holy Spirit to become new creatures in Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.

Promise

If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment (Job 36:11, NIV).

Hudud

Friday, July 30, 2021

The best translation of hudud is “boundaries or limitations”. In Islam, this refers to the limits of acceptable behavior. If you go beyond the limits, you are breaking the law and deserve punishment (Quran 2:187). Hudud crimes are those related to leaving Islam (apostasy), unlawful sex, killing, stealing and use of alcohol.

Punishment includes death by stoning or beheading, amputation of the right hand, imprisonment, flogging and fines. Such punishments are considered “debts” that need to be paid to God. Repentance does not exempt the “sinner” from receiving his due punishment.

The purpose of such penalties is to serve as a deterrent, to stop the “sinner” from repeating his sins, and to put fear in the hearts of others tempted to break Islamic laws!

Prayer

Almighty God, our Father, we stand in awe of your grace and mercy. We are all fallen humans and deserve only condemnation and death. Yet, in your compassion, you sent your only Son to die for us. Thank you for Calvary. Thank you for the cross. Jesus paid our debt and took our punishment.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.[1]

Thank you for graciously bringing the Islamic teaching of hudud to my attention. I feel for Muslims; they do not know that the eternal Son sacrificed himself to set them free from judgment. Open their hearts to accept Jesus. Help them by your Spirit to repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15).

Let them experience true freedom in Christ and live the life of joy he gives. In his name, I pray.

Promise

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19, NIV).

Footnotes

[1] From the hymn, And Can It Be that I Should Gain, by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788.

Honor Killings

Friday, July 23, 2021

Thousands of women and girls are murdered every year in Islamic honor killings. If a woman or girl behaves in a scandalous way, or even if she is a victim of sexual assault or rape, her Muslim family often sees it as their responsibility to get rid of her. The family believes that in this way they can have their “honor” restored! Usually a male family member has the duty to carry out the killing.

Studies show that family members normally do not accept any other solution in their effort to remove the “stain on their honor.” They often see bloodshed as the only way out. However, if the indiscretion of the woman or girl is kept hidden, it can be tolerated. As long as her actions do not bring dishonor to the family, the situation is covered up and does not ordinarily necessitate the honor punishment!

Prayer

Great Messiah, you went to the cross for us! We are all sinners, fallen and full of imperfections. We all commit shameful acts.

Yet, in your mercy, you died to save us and give us new life. You took upon yourself all our sin, shame and stain! Thank you. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for this free redemption. It is free for us, but it cost you your life, your blood. Thank you for your mercy.

I pray for those who commit such atrocities. Stop them in their tracks. Visit them in your mercy, love and grace. Change their hearts. Bring them into your Kingdom. May they repent and mend their ways. May they be willing to leave all at the foot of the cross, even their staunchly-held and well-guarded traditions.

I entreat you, Almighty God, loving Father, to help Muslims who put their faith in Jesus understand the power of your forgiveness and grace. Fill them with compassion and love. In the mighty name of Christ, amen.

Promise

When I bring you home from exile, you will be like a pleasing sacrifice to me. And I will display my holiness through you as all the nations watch (Ezekiel 20:41, NLT).

Sacrifice Celebration

Friday, July 16, 2021

During this season, Muslims the world over celebrate Id al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice (other names are used in different areas). This celebration commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son (Ishmael, according to Islam) in obedience to God’s command. But God provided a ram for Abraham to offer instead.

For the celebration, each family or group of families kills an animal, usually a sheep. Wherever Muslims are, whether in Mecca taking part in the hajj (pilgrimage) or anywhere else in the world, their religion requires them to slaughter an animal.

Prayer

Merciful and redeeming God, I ask you to open Muslims’ eyes during this season to see the Lamb you provided for the atonement of the sin of the world. May they open their hearts to Christ, who was led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7), who died on the cross, and who rose again to set us free from sin and condemnation.

Help Muslims realize that Jesus agonized, suffered, and died for them so that they could have joy, peace, and life in him.

May they accept your provision to redeem them “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Let them hear his cry on the cross declaring, “It is finished.” Then they will see how pointless it is to try to gain God’s favor through the millions of sacrifices they slaughter during this season.

Compassionate Father, reveal to Muslims the Lamb of God who now sits upon the throne in heaven. Draw them by your love to join saints and angels in singing the heavenly chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12).

Promise

Where is the lamb for the burnt offering? . . . God himself will provide the lamb (Genesis 22:7-8, NIV). There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, REB).