Today and last week I have been very encouraged by the story of Joseph and his brothers. This morning on my way to work I listened to the following verses:
“Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt. (Genesis 45:4-8 NLT)
It is encouraging to remember that God walks with us each day, and is using the experiences we are going through to further His plans and His kingdom, when we are called according to His purpose.
These are words of exhortation for Christian witnesses. We need to share our testimony about how Jesus is in our lives and has acted to save us so others may believe::
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14, 15 NLT)
These are my tweets from a sermon and afternoon presentation by Nabeel Qureshi at First Presbyterian Church of Edmond, Oklahoma, on February 9, 2014. My Christian Twitter channel is @eyesrightblog – my professional channel is @wfryer. Nabeel’s web bio is:
Dr. Nabeel Qureshi is a former devout Muslim who was convinced of the truth of the Gospel through historical reasoning and a spiritual search for God. Since his conversion, he has dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel through teaching, preaching, writing, and debating.
Nabeel has given lectures at universities and seminaries throughout North America, including New York University, Rutgers, the University of North Carolina, the University of Ottawa, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Biola University. He has participated in 17 moderated, public debates around North America, Europe, and Asia. His focus is on the foundations of the Christian faith and the early history and teachings of Islam.
Nabeel is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He holds an MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School, an MA in Christian apologetics from Biola University, and an MA from Duke University in Religion.
Our scripture verse today:
In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:8-15 NLT)
We are hearing today from Dr. Nabeel Qureshi. Nabeel is @NAQureshi on Twitter. He shared powerful stories about his life growing up as a devout Muslim in the United States, in a family that had served as Islamic missionaries around the world.
It was not until a fellow debate member in high school engaged Nabeel in evidence-based dialog about Jesus in the Bible that he started a 3 year journey of searching which culminated in his conversion to Christianity.
Death, Deity & Resurrection are the three core beliefs of Christianity which Islam denies.
Prophetic dreams are commonplace among Muslims, and were in Nabeel’s family. God gave Nabeel three different dreams of revelation about Jesus.
“There is nothing in the Koran which speaks to a hurting man.”
“This life is not about me, it is about Him.” [Jesus]
The word “excruciating” was invented to describe how painful it is to die in a cross
Great message today in our early church service by Nabeel! I’m looking forward to hearing more from him this afternoon!
Our pastor shared this quotation from Lady Gaga today in his sermon, in the context of Genesis 3:1-7.
As we began the conversation, Gaga spoke carefully in a very odd accent—some combination of Madonna as Madge and a robot, an affect enhanced by the fact that she refused to remove her lightly tinted sunglasses over the course of two hours. “What I’ve discovered,” said robo-Gaga, with a photo-ready tilt of her head, “is that in art, as in music, there’s a lot of truth—and then there’s a lie. The artist is essentially creating his work to make this lie a truth, but he slides it in amongst all the others. The tiny little lie is the moment I live for, my moment. It’s the moment that the audience falls in love.”
Mateen said he recognizes this strategy: to portray a lie as truth. It is a common strategy of the Devil. Having listened to many of Lady Gaga’s songs myself, I can affirm there are many, many lies interspersed amidst more positive statements and even some real “truths.” Reality is obsfucated and deceptions are presented as desirable and good. In this way, Satan manifests himself as an Angel of light:
These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 NLT)
I have thought many times about creating some video deconstructions of Gaga’s songs to highlight the lies and deceptions which are artfully interlaced among compelling rhythms and melodies. I’m not sure I want to insert myself so directly into the “culture wars” of our current age, which those videos might force. I do think it’s extremely important for us to each be saavy & aware of the ways messages are crafted and presented all around us. We all need greater levels of media literacy to remain independent thinkers and (hopefully) avoid being manipulated unknowingly by others.
Our pastor’s use of this quote was the part of his sermon today that most caught my attention and got me thinking.
This is our memory verse in our new Sunday school rotation:
After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. (Luke 2:46 NIV)
We don’t have many stories in the Bible about Jesus as a child, but we do have this story. I love how it reveals Jesus, even at a young age, as a question asker! He was also a good listener. These are both behaviors we should copy as followers of Christ!
These are some if my favorite verses in the Bible. The metaphor of letting the light of Christ shine through our lives for others to see resonates deeply with me.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)
On February 9, 2014, Dr Nabeel Qureshi will present at our church in Edmond, Oklahoma, on his book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity.”
This is a 1.5 hour video recording of a past presentation by Dr. Qureshi.
These are our sermon focus verses today at our church:
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-21 NLT)
I pray this day and this year I would be filled with God’s Holy Spirit, to know and do God’s will. I pray our church would be filled with God’s Holy Spirit and overflow with the gifts He gives is through the indwelling of his Spirit.
I’ve started a new year-long Bible reading plan in the free YouVersion Bible app. It’s called “For The Love of God” and has a short commentary which accompanies each day’s readings from both the New and Old Testament.
This verse stood out to me today:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NLT)
In these last words of Jesus, before he ascended into heaven, he reminds us that we are all called to be witnesses. But we are called to be witnesses when we are filled by the Holy Spirit, and his power comes upon us.
Dear God, I pray you would fill me this day and this year with your Holy Spirit. Make me attentive to your words and your will. Mold me into a good listener, who is not afraid to share my witness of your power and your love. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.