BE TRANSFORMED devotion for 04-SEP-12

BE TRANSFORMED

Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. – (ROMANS 12:2)

The verb be transformed in Romans 12:2 is a command to do something. This indicates that we as believers are not passive in this transforming process. We’re not like blocks of marble being transformed into a beautiful sculpture by a master sculptor. God has given us a mind and heart with which to respond to and cooperate with the Spirit as He does His work in us.

That thought leads naturally to a classic statement in Scripture of the working together of the believer and the Holy Spirit within: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

Paul urged the Philippian believers to apply themselves diligently to working out their salvation. He urged them to display the evidences of salvation in their daily lives through their obedience to God’s commands and through putting on the godly character traits that Paul elsewhere called the fruit of the Spirit. And, according to William Hendriksen, the tense of the verb work out indicates “continuous, sustained, strenuous effort.”67 Here again we see that sanctification is a process, and a process in which we, as believers, are very actively involved.

But Paul’s strong exhortation to the Philippians is based on the confidence that God’s Spirit is working in them, working to enlighten their understanding of His will, to stimulate in their emotions a desire to do His will, and to turn their wills so they actually obey. He gives them the enabling power so that they’re able to do His will.

Transforming Grace

via BE TRANSFORMED devotion for 04-SEP-12.

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He works in so we can work out.

http://bible.com/59/PHP2.12.ESV Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Bible.com/app

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Sep 25: Pakistan

Believers from a Muslim background are in a unique and challenging situation. Islam, particularly under shari’a, has grave or deadly punishments for apostates. Yet increasing numbers of Muslims are coming to faith in Jesus, often through media such as literature, radio, TV as well as dreams and visions and the witness of Pakistani Christians. Some are ex-militants. Churches, comprised mostly of Hindu-background and lower caste believers, do not know how to integrate and disciple these people, and so the large majority of them revert to Islam, turn to atheism or retreat to private faith. Some networks of Muslim-background believers are emerging for mutual spiritual support and discipleship. Pray for such networks to spread and fellowships to form for these believers so that they do not easily fall away. Ask the Lord to raise up leaders for these believers, and for their protection. Pray that any such movement will develop solid disciples with hearts to reach other Muslims.

Pakistan lies at the very heart of the unevangelized world. Over 350 peoples and castes can be regarded as unevangelized. Many of these have no churches, no Christians, no missionaries and no witness. Pakistan is the world’s second-largest concentration of unengaged, unevangelized peoples and the world’s second largest Muslim population. Few countries, if any, present a greater challenge for missions. Pray for the calling of more intercessors, advocates and missionaries for these people in such hard places:

a) The Punjabi majority on the Indus plain. Few of these highly populous Muslim groups have been reached. There are some fellowships among them as well as growing numbers of secret believers.

b) The Pashtuns of the North-West Frontier with Afghanistan are famed as combative, clannish and fundamentalist, comprising the majority of the Taliban. They control the lucrative drug and weapon trades in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Over two million live in Karachi. There are only two known Pushtu-speaking fellowships, but a response to the gospel is beginning. A handful of expatriate workers and agencies are committed to ministry among them, but those who learn the language come under intense spiritual attack. Some claim the Pashtun heartland is one of the most spiritually oppressive places on earth.

c) The Seraiki-speaking peoples have thus far been largely ignored by Christian work, with very few Christian resources available to them. Largely rural, they number 14 million, divided among 200 peoples speaking Seraiki as either their primary or secondary language.

d) The Sindhi peoples are among the poorest and least-evangelized people groups in the world. There are only a couple hundred known believers from a Muslim background and no truly Sindhi congregation among these groups which number up to 25 million people. FEBA,TWR and GFA broadcast in Sindhi as well as other languages. WV runs a hospital that meets many health needs, especially for women. An International Sindhi Partnership links churches and agencies interested in the Sindhi. Signs of the Holy Spirit’s working among the Sindhi are becoming evident.

e) The Baloch and the Brahui. Some 75% of the world’s ten million Baloch live in Pakistan. They are notoriously difficult to reach – Balochistan is geographically inhospitable, poor and very hard to access for expatriates, but some Baloch are very responsive to the gospel. Over one million live and work in Karachi. Only a few hundred Baloch and Brahui believers are known globally with reports of increasing numbers coming to faith, but the vast majority of them remain untouched by the gospel.

f) The Mohajirs are Urdu-speaking peoples who are native to India. They are highly urbanized and make up nearly half of Karachi’s population. They are financially more prosperous than most groups and are quite accessible, yet there is only one fellowship and only one church-planting team trying to reach as many as 10 million Mohajirs.

g) The peoples of the far north. Over 27 smaller people groups live in the mountain valleys of Kashmir, Kohistan, Swat, Dir, Chitral, Gilgit and the Hunza. The Kalash are largely animist but are increasingly becoming Muslim. All the other peoples are Muslim – Sunni, Shi’a and Ismaili. Pray especially for the Burusha of the Hunza, the Tibetan-related Balti, the Khowari of Chitral, the Shina, the Kohistani and Turbvali as well as the numerous smaller groups. There are only a few Christians and a handful of fellowships among these peoples.

h) Karachi is a chaotic city with a huge population (double the official population figures), inter-ethnic conflicts, kidnappings, violent crimes and widespread drug addiction. Karachi has six peoples of over one million population (Pashtun, Sindhi, Baloch, Punjabi, Bengali and Urdu-speaking Mohajirs) and nine more over 100,000. Only three have a dedicated team of missionaries focused on reaching them. CMS and others have a ministry to some of the two million addicted to drugs or at risk. Karachi is the business and economic centre, the locus of ethnic interaction and an easier place for foreigners to work. As such, it is the strategic key to reaching and influencing Pakistan with the gospel.

i) Afghan refugees. Between 1-1.8 million immigrants remain in Pakistan’s north, most of whom are there to stay. Most are Dari- and Pushtu-speaking, but there are also many Uzbek, Tajik and other groups. Many are moving from refugee camps into the cities. For years, Christian groups have faithfully offered aid and assistance, often at great risk to themselves. As a result, there are a number of Afghan believers in Karachi and Islamabad. Pray for dedicated Christians, both foreign workers and nationals, to reach Afghans in Pakistan’s cities.

j) The Ahmadiyya are a missionary-minded Muslim sect, largely driven underground in Pakistan by persecution. Viewed as heretics by other Muslims, they are one of the most intensely persecuted religious groups in Pakistan. Few of the four million Ahmaddiya in Pakistan or the 10 million worldwide have ever come to Christ, but their sufferings are making them more open for the good news. Currently no groups are focused on reaching them.

from http://www.operationworld.org/sep25

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Sep 24: Oman | Operation World

The unreached. The entire Muslim majority remains a big challenge. Proselytism of Muslims is illegal, and the few Omanis who have come to faith face huge pressure to return to Islam. There are no known churches among the semi-nomadic Mahra or Jibbali of Dhofar, the Baluch of the eastern coasts, the rural population or the Swahili speakers.

via Sep 24: Oman | Operation World.

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Sep 23: Norway | Operation World

The Lutheran Church, while a pillar of society and the most evangelical of all state churches in Europe, faces challenges nonetheless. It has, in the past, seen revivals, prayer and mission houses and many mission and volunteer agencies formed. But today it faces the same pluralistic challenge as other European societies as well as an internal battle over homosexuality. Pray for new revival and for a deep commitment to biblical faith and practice.

via Sep 23: Norway | Operation World.

 

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Holiness Day by Day

“God has clearly set forth certain disciplines for us to practice in pursuing holiness. As we practice them, God will use them in our lives, not because we’ve earned his blessing but because we’ve followed his ordained path of blessing.”

via Holiness Day by Day.

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Sep 22: Nigeria, The Northern Zones

Nigeria

Federal Republic of Nigeria

Africa

Challenges for Prayer

Christian leaders are under great stress in today’s Nigeria, including spiritual opposition, political pressure and financial temptations. Those in the north also face very real dangers from Muslim extremists. Many have ministries with wider African or even global impact. Pray for:

a) Integrity and unity in leadership. There is frequently a gap between what is preached and what is perceived to be practiced by Christian leaders. Especially among the newer, fast-growing churches, prayer is needed for:

     i Unity. The fragmented nature of the Church is not so much about personal ambition and personal conflicts as it is about denominational or tribal differences. If leaders cannot work together, then neither will their followers.

     ii Honesty. A profusion of competing denominations and sects has emerged, many of them claiming inflated numbers to increase the prestige of their leaders.

     iii Personal holiness. Extravagant lifestyles and oily showmanship usurp spiritual depth and biblical preaching as indicators of anointing. Instances of corruption, theft, embezzlement and sexual immorality are tragically frequent.

     iv Accountability is often absent; the “big man” dynamic plays into the same materialism, pride and carnality that cripple Nigeria politically and economically.
Pray that humility, simplicity and holiness might become the watchwords of the Nigerian Church.

b) The multiplication of leaders who are Spirit-led, well versed in the Scriptures, skilled in disciple-making and steeped in the knowledge of God and the power of prayer.

c) The hundreds of seminaries, colleges, Bible schools and training programmes in Nigeria, as well as the many TEE courses. The rush of many theological institutions to affiliate to Nigerian universities has produced neither the academic excellence nor the genuine spirituality that the churches so badly need. Several of Nigeria’s leading seminaries are strengthened by pursuing the standards of ACTEA (Accrediting Council for Theological Education in Africa). Though demand for places is high from their own constituent churches, evangelical seminaries are able to offer significant help in the training of pastors for African Initiated Churches.

d) Servant-leaders and mentors to be raised up. One-man ministries, dictatorial leadership, empire-building and unwillingness to entrust responsibility to the upcoming generation are common weaknesses. The generation gap between older and younger pastors is often large and a source of resentment, since the older leaders cling to their power and influence rather than passing the torch.

e) Expatriate ministries, seeking high-profile campaigns that are not necessarily needed or welcomed by established Nigerian leadership networks, can always find other nationals through whom to run their events. This fosters further division and is symptomatic of the Church’s inability to stand as one.

The scale of persecution of Christians by Muslims has accelerated in Nigeria’s northern states and as far south as the central plateau. It has caused the death of thousands, including pastors, and the destruction of hundreds, even thousands, of churches. It has united Christians and driven them to the Lord in prayer, but it also threatens the very fabric of Nigerian society and statehood. Pray for:

a) An understanding of the causes of this complex situation. Muslims fear a loss of power, influence and land as the Church grows and as democracy spreads. Tribal and political rivalries contribute to the tension. Jihadist influences foment pre-planned violence and use the flimsiest pretexts to invoke riots. Not least, the evil one seeks to kill, steal and destroy, from both Christians and Muslims.

b) Restoration and recovery for those who have suffered loss, bereavement and rape. Both Nigerian churches and international agencies are providing new homes, clothing, food and essentials, but inner healing cannot be so easily procured.

c) Forgiveness for persecutors and deliverance from a spirit of revenge.

d) The Christian Association of Nigeria and its ministry of representing Nigeria’s 88 million Christians in five major blocs to the local and federal authorities.

e) Decisive actions by the authorities. Not enough is done to prevent and discourage the outbreak of violence by Muslims – many feel the police and/or military are compromised. Justice is rarely seen to be done, and compensation for the loss and destruction is often promised but almost never delivered.

f) The exposure of the violent and hateful nature of extremist groups. Christians suffer a series of attacks, often pre-planned and well coordinated, and even attempts to force them to convert to Islam under threat of death. This has led to several courageously dying as martyrs. In a number of situations, Christians are unable to trust the protection of government security forces or police to prevent attacks from invading militants.

g) The conversion of Muslims, both of persecutors and of those appalled by the behaviour of their co-religionists. Many of these have been won to Christ over recent years, which is part of the reason for the attacks.

h) The best possible response by Christians. Until now, forbearance has been mistaken for weakness. The large majority of Christians endure such predations without retaliation. But at times of provocation, pastors struggle to prevent their members, especially nominal members, from taking vengeance. Many Christians are involved in peacemaking and pray for a supernatural love of enemies that no force can defeat.

The Northern Zones

Challenge for Prayer

The gospel has made progress since independence despite considerable opposition from Muslims. Many smaller non-Muslim peoples and an increasing number of Muslim-majority peoples are responding to the gospel. Believers from a Muslim background are often driven either underground or out of their home area. As a result, an underground network of believers is developing, as are Christian ministries focused on sheltering and discipling converts. Pray for the protection and growth of this accelerating movement.

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