In this service, we look at different ways to interpret the Book of the Revelation, and focus on Revelation 21.1-22.5 to see what heaven will be like according to Scripture. You can watch the whole worship gathering below, or just the message below that.
The western pull-out from Afghanistan has been heart-wrenching to watch on television. As I mentioned last week, the resurgence of the Taliban has placed many people at risk, especially women and Christians. For the Americans, the way this is playing out is very reminiscent of their time in Vietnam.
Canadian forces are saying that they wish they could have stayed. But the Big Fish in the Pond has decided that the multinational effort is over. It’s like they have given up, in some ways, though I’m certain this is an oversimplification.
Have you ever put effort into something – say, a friendship – and found it an uphill battle? It’s common for us to give up when we’re not making any progress.
This is especially true when we are seeking to encourage someone to embrace faith in Christ.
We might find ourselves getting blocked every time we try to “go there” in terms of spiritual conversation. But let me encourage you not to give up.
To use another battle image, consider the speech given by Prime Minister Churchill to the British Parliament in 1940, in the midst of the ugliness of World War 2. It is one of the most inspiring speeches ever given! Quite near the end, Churchill tells his fellow parliamentarians, and the world: “…we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”.
When you’re sharing your faith, like on the battle fields, it’s a matter of life and death. Don’t give up. Never surrender. Even when you get pushback, be loving and respectful, but continue to witness to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ at work in your life.
For your friend, eternity is in the balance.
“But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, ‘I believed in God, so I spoke.’ We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4.13-18, NLT).
Finally, something has eclipsed the pandemic in the news: the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. It is fraught with political nuances and challenges for those of us who may not have been following the story closely for years, going back to the time before and during the western nations’ war and occupation that sought to keep the nation under some form of democratic rule.
But with the final withdrawal of American troops, the Taliban has solidified its control. And with that will come some form of Islamic law, which is concerning to many women, as well as to Christians in general.
It is said that this nation is second only to North Korea in its record for persecution of Christians. And that is only apt to get worse, not only in Afghanistan, but in other middle eastern countries, where terrorist groups may feel empowered by recent events favouring the Taliban.
I want to encourage you today to take some time to pray for Christians and churches in Afghanistan, and throughout the middle east. Pray for protection, for peaceful co-existence, and for the power of the gospel to triumph over hatred and persecution. And pray that western nations will stand up for the rights of women and religious minorities in these countries.
You may have trouble finding the words, but give that to the Lord, too. He will know the groaning of your heart.
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words” (Romans 8.26, NLT).