The definition of jihad is, “a struggle or fight” (usually to mean against the enemies of Islam). From the book, “No God but One”, the author writes: “… it was Muhammad himself who taught that fighting in jihad was holy and good. Fighting in jihad was so good in Muhammad’s eyes that there is nothing equal to it in this world. When a man asked him if there was any deed in the world equal to jihad, Muhammad responded, “I know of no such deed”.
1. How different could the world be if Muslims had the opportunity to know 1 Corinthians 13 vs jihad?
2. Do you believe that everybody should have the opportunity to know God’s love?
Challenge: Muslims don’t know God’s love. They don’t know that they have salvation through Jesus; that they don’t have to engage in jihad. Pray that all Muslims may have the opportunity to know God and experience His love.
Decades ago the gospel reached the Afar people of Djibouti, Africa. The Bible has been translated into their language, but the good news didn’t penetrate people’s hearts. Some have come to faith, but prejudice and tribalism make it difficult to seek community. Trust must grow, as well as the knowledge that in the family of God, all belong together.
1. Do you face persecution for your faith? Can you imagine what that might be like?
2. Do you courageously pass on the gospel to others?
Challenge: Pray for the Muslims seeking Jesus. Be open to sharing the gospel message with a Muslim neighbor in your community.
Muslims live in a fear and shame-based existence. The Hui people are a group of over 10.5 million living in north-west China who will borrow money to treat their guests in order to avoid dishonor. Muslims always seek to honor one another and to protect each other from shame. Bringing shame to one’s family would be one of the worst things a Muslim could do.
1. Have you ever brought shame to yourself or your family?
2. Did you or your family offer forgiveness?
Challenge: Muslims are seeking the truth, but are also afraid of bringing shame to their family. Pray for courage for the Muslims who are seeking Christ. Be open to sharing your faith with a Muslim.
Peter was trying to protect Jesus and his ministry by cutting off the ear of the high priest’s slave. Jesus knew that the kingdom would advance by His being crucified; Peter did not understand this yet. Fighting for what we want or what we think is right is our natural instinct. Being faithful and obedient to the Lord takes intention and practice.
1. Are you quick to fight when you perceive injustice?
2. Can you relate to Peter’s reaction to the armed men?
Challenge: Pray for an opportunity to practice your faith and obedience to God.
Author, speaker, and former Muslim, Nabeel Qureshi states, “Allah sent Muhammad and gave him the Quran. Thus, Allah gave mankind the final, perfected religion (Quran 5.3). All people still following the religions (Judaism, Christianity, other) after the arrival of Muhammad are either misled or rebellious.” (Quran 3.81-85). The Quran emphasizes that on the day of judgement all people will be held accountable for their sins and though God may be merciful and absolve us of ours sins, no one else can intercede. (Quran 6:164; 17:15; 35:18; 39:7; 53:38).
1. What do these passages from the Quran say to you?
2. What hope do Muslims have?
Challenge: Pray for the Muslims in our community.
Mormons reject the concept of our triune God. They do not believe in Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit or the virgin birth. They view the Son as the Father’s “spirit child” who had to be born on earth so he could earn godhood, just like his Father before him. In contrast, John gives us a beautiful picture of Christ (the Word) existing with the Father before time began. Jesus is God and gave life to all creation. His incarnation happened through the miraculous conception of the Holy Spirit, and this same Spirit lives in each of us who loves and obeys Jesus.
1. What struggles do you have with the concept of the Trinity?
2. In what ways can you love those who believe differently, yet stay firm in the primary doctrine of our faith?
Challenge: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” ~Jesus (Matthew 28:19)
In his book, Doctrine and Covenants, Smith described the three-tiered heaven to which Mormons say all people will go after death. The Celestial Kingdom (top tier reserved for good Mormons) is also divided into three levels, the highest of which is godhood and possession of a kingdom for one’s family. They believe their “celestial marriages” are eternal and able to produce children in heaven. This is one reason they used to promote the practice of polygamy - to have as many children as possible. They believe the gods’ “spirit children” need to be born to mortal parents so they can earn their way to heaven. Jesus refutes the idea of earning a level in heaven by stating that He is the only way to the Father. He also debunks the idea that the marriage relationship continues in heaven.
1. How do you imagine eternity in God’s presence?
2. What will our resurrected bodies be like?
Challenge: Do some research on what the bible says about heaven, the resurrection, and eternal life so you can be sure your beliefs are rooted in truth.
Mormonism teaches that through faith, works (as defined by their leaders), and baptism, man is progressively becoming a god. They also believe they can save deceased family members through “baptizing” them by proxy. In contrast, we read in Romans that forgiveness is a gracious gift from God through Christ’s sacrifice. We are saved by believing Jesus was raised from the dead, and declaring he is Lord. It is made clear in Ephesians that we can’t take credit for this because our salvation isn’t a reward for good deeds – it is a GIFT!
1. When have you been tempted to add requirements to your salvation?
2. How does it feel to give up the burden of earning forgiveness and accept God’s free gift?
Challenge: Listen to a song today that celebrates God’s grace and take time to bask in our Savior’s love. Thank him for providing your redemption with a grateful and joyous heart!
The basis for Mormonism began when Joseph Smith claimed to have found and interpreted new scripture (The Book of Mormon). He even “revised” the Bible and added a prophecy about himself! Mormons believe that their “living prophet” can have new revelations which supersede any past beliefs or scripture. In contrast, Jesus upholds the law and prophets, explaining that he came to fulfill their purpose. Revelation includes a stern warning against adding or subtracting anything. The Son is God’s final word and the ultimate authority!
1. How do you confirm that what a pastor, speaker, or writer says about God and being a Christian is truth?
2. What would you tell someone who asks how we can trust the Bible is truly the word of God?
Challenge: Check out Chip Ingram’s study called, “Why I Believe” which is available on Right Now Media. The lesson titled “Why I Believe in the Bible” is especially helpful in providing factual basis for accepting the Bible’s authority.
Mormons believe God the Father was once a man who eventually achieved godhood. Yet, Numbers clearly states God is not human and John reminds us God is spirit. The first words of the bible tell us that He created the heavens and the earth. How could He “achieve” godhood if there was no earth or heaven before Him? I would like to echo Paul’s words in 1 Timothy – God is the eternal King who alone is God!
1. How would you describe God to someone who has never read the bible?
2. Do you feel secure in your knowledge of who God is? If not, what would it take for you to feel more grounded?
Challenge: Find a bible verse or passage about God’s identity to memorize. Be ready to share it with someone whenever God places a searching soul in your path.
This devotional is written every week by Hillcrest members.
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