Da’wah – Is It Your Duty? Will You Be Held Accountable For It On The Day Of Judgment?

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Dear Muslim friends,

I am curious today. Is dawah – inviting non-Muslims to Islam – required of you? Is it truly your obligation – your “duty,” as this graphic above says?

And if you don’t do dawah, will you be held accountable for it on the Day of Judgment?

I see many things on the internet about dawah – many efforts of Muslims around the world to invite non-Muslims to Islam:

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For me as a follower of Jesus – a Christian – it is most definitely my duty to call people to follow Jesus. It is called, “evangelism,” and comes from the Greek word for sharing “Good News.” It is required of me to invite all people to put their faith in Jesus as their Savior who loves them so much that he died for their sins. And yes, it will be brought up on the Day of Judgment for me.

But. . .having said all this, I want you to know some things that are very important:

* I don’t do evangelism primarily because it is my duty.
* I don’t do evangelism primarily because it is required of me.
* I don’t do evangelism primarily because I will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment.

I do evangelism – I share the Good News – because:

* I love Jesus and he told his followers to evangelize in very nation (the Injil, Matthew 28:19). Because I love him, I want to obey his commandments (the Injil, John 14:15 and John 14:23)
* I love people and I don’t want anyone to go to the hellfire. The thought of that grieves my soul so much! And. . .I know it grieves the heart of my loving God even more (the Injil, 2 Peter 2:9 and 1 Timothy 2:3-6).
* I love truth and I believe we can only be forgiven of our sins and go to Paradise through the sacrifice of Jesus. We can’t do enough good works to get to Paradise – no one can. But God has mercifully made a way. A bridge. It is Jesus. He is the way to Paradise (the Injil, John 3:16 and John 14:6). This I believe to be the absolute truth.

And so my dear Muslim friends, I hope you will feel free to practice dawah on me – to invite me to Islam – because you love me and you believe it will save me from hellfire.

And I hope you will allow me to do the same – to evangelize – to spread the Gospel (means “Good News”) of Jesus Christ. To share it honestly and respectfully with you – because I love you and I don’t want you to be in hell either.

I am not an Arab but I believe this proverb:

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I have found water and it is not right to be silent.

I love you, my Muslim friends. I really do.

But God loves you so, so much more. He really does.

And this is why I share this Good News with you today. . .

A Friend Died. . .Where Is He Now? Where Will You And I Be?

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Dear Muslim friends,

A few years ago I learned that a friend, Steve, passed away.

It was kind of. . .shocking. More than that, it was. . .painful.

We had not seen each other for several years since my wife and I had traveled to Steve’s home in another state. I had tried to e-mail him a few times after our last time together but never got a response. It seemed a little strange but we were not what you might call “close” friends. We had contact only once a year or so through a call, a card, or an e-mail. Like too many other friends, we got busy, didn’t see each other for years, and slowly – imperceptibly – we drifted apart.

But then I had a bad feeling about Steve. I wanted to try again to reach him. Somehow, I just wondered if he had died.

I “googled” his name and found several websites with his obituary.

He had indeed passed away. In 2009. A year after we last saw each other.

It is usually always sad for me when someone dies. My friend, Steve, was not that old. 61 years of age.

But learning about Steve’s death was more than sad. As I said, it was very painful. Why? Because I wondered, “Where is he now?”

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To some of you, that might be a foolish question to think about. Even a waste of time. What is done is done. Like all of us, he lived. . .and. . .he died. Now he is in God’s hands. You might think it is silly to think about “where he is.”

But it isn’t silly to me. You see, I care very, very deeply about the eternal destiny of people.

Others of you might be wondering, “Was he a good person? Didn’t he believe in God?”

Yes, basically, Steve was a good person. And yes, he believed in God (or I should say, he believed in the existence of God)

So, some of you might think, “Enough then! Let it be!”

But I can’t.

I’m going to tell you the reason why Steve’s death bothers me – the reason why I care when anyone dies.

It is much of the reason for why I get up in the morning.
It is the topic of so many of my conversations.
It is how I spend my time. . .my money. . .my energy.

My life is about helping people find Jesus so they can know where they will be when they die.

1 John 5-13 That Ye Know Ye Have Eternal Life red

Steve’s death bothers me because. . .

I don’t think he knew Jesus. I don’t think he put his faith in Jesus as his Savior, though I asked him to. He wanted to trust his own good works to get to Paradise.

Being good is important. . .but it won’t get you to Paradise.

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We need forgiveness. We need our sins washed away and we don’t have the power to do that, no matter how much we pray, fast, give, or go on a pilgrimage.

Like you, I believe Isa – Jesus – was a great Prophet. But I also believe he was – and is – so much more.

I believe with all my heart that Jesus is the one bridge to Paradise. I believe he is the only bridge God has provided for forgivenss of our sins.

Isa – Jesus – boldly and unequivocably said about himself:

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If you put your faith in the sacrifice of Jesus for your sins, you won’t have to fear hellfire. Your family and friends won’t have to wonder when you die:

“Where is he, where is she, now?”

I plead with you to pray, “Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I know God is too holy to allow sin in His Paradise. I have tried to be good but I know I can never be good enough. I fail continually and I fear hellfire. I deserve hellfire. But I am asking that you would see fit to forgive me for everything I have done that is not God’s will and for not doing everything that is God’s will. Wash me. Wash my sins away so that I can hear these words from you (in the Injil, Luke 5:20):

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Thank you, Jesus, for loving me so much. . .that you would actually die for me. You would die in my place. For my sins. Thank you. For eternity, thank you. . .

Palestinians With Keys To Their Homes: Can They Ever Go Back?

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Dear Muslim friends,

I have been blessed to travel to Palestine several times. I loved the holy sites. I loved the food. But most of all. . .I loved the people.

I remember seeing around Palestine a symbol of both tragedy and hopethe key.

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The key: the symbol of tragedy for displaced Palestinans who lost their homes in the Nakba (Arabic for “disaster” or “catastrophe“) of 1948. More than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1948 Palestine war.

The key: the symbol of hope that one day these dear people might be able to have “the right of return” to their homeland and to use those keys to once again enter their homes and live there in peace. It is the right to the property they themselves or their ancestors left behind or were forced to leave in what is now Israel and the Palestinian territories.

I grieve for these people in their deep and unjust losses. And. . .I pray for them.

Look at the sadness etched into their old, wrinkled faces – these people who lost it all – as they still hold the keys to their homes.

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The Injil says there is another One who holds keys. His name is IsaJesus. The Injil says He is:

“the Holy One, the True One, who has the key of David (Dawood), who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.” (Revelation 3:7)

I believe Isa – Jesus – grieves for the Palestinian people! I believe He prays for them. Tragically, most Palestinians will never regain their homes. But I believe that Jesus is even now taking His keys and opening doors, doors that no one – no one – can shut. (you can read more about this below)

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Postscript: my dear Muslim friends, I must tell you about one more mention of Isa – Jesus – holding keys in the Injil. He says:

“Don’t fear: I am First, I am Last, I’m alive. I died, but I came to life. . . See these keys in my hand? They open and lock Death’s doors, they open and lock Hell’s gates.” (Revelation 1:17-18)

Amazing! Jesus claims to hold the very keys that determine whether you and I will be in Hellfire or Paradise. Only He can open the doors to Paradise for you and no one – no one – can shut those doors!

Do you long to be in Paradise? To have your eternal home there?

There is an even greater tragedy than the Nakba (as tragic and terrible as that was) – the tragedy of spending time in hellfire when Jesus has the keys to allow you into Paradise.

Please my friends, please ask Jesus to use His keys to Paradise for you! Ask Him to forgive you of all your sins. He died for them and He has the keys. For you. For me. For all who will put their faith in Him and His sacrifice.

As always, I love you, my Muslim friends.

I really do.

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What Have You Experienced On The “Night Of Power”? (Laylat al-Qadr)

Dear Muslim Friends,

I am curious, as a Christian (who loves Muslims!), what have you experienced on the “Night Of Power” (Laylat al-Qadr) during your lifetime?

Truly, one of the aspects of Islam that intrigues me greatly is this time during Ramadan known as the “Night of Power”

For my non-Muslim readers, Islamic tradition holds that the Night of Power is the night that the first revelation of the Qur’an was sent down to Muhammad. Muslims are instructed to “seek” the Night of Power during the last ten days of the thirty days of Ramadan, particularly on the odd numbered nights (the 21st night, the 23rd night, etc.).

It is reported that Muhammad said:

“Whoever stays up (in prayer and remembrance of Allah) on the Night of Qadr, fully believing (in Allah’s promise of reward) and hoping to seek reward, he shall be forgiven for his past sins” (hadith from Sahih Bukhari).

The Qur’an, Sura (chapter) 97, says of the Night of Power:

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
We have indeed revealed this message in the Night of Power.
And what will explain what the Night of Power is?
The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
Therein come down the angels and the spirit, by Allah’s permission, on every errand.
Peace! Until the rising of the morn!

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Muslims worldwide spend the last ten nights of Ramadan in solid devotion, retreating to the mosque to read Qur’an, reciting special supplications, and reflecting on the meaning of Allah’s message to us. It is believed to be a time of intense spirituality, when the believers are surrounded by angels, the gates of heaven are open, and God’s blessings and mercy are abundant. (http://islam.about.com/od/ramadan/a/leyla_qadr.htm)

As I close this post, may I ask questions of you, my Muslim readers:

*** Do you believe you have ever found/experienced the Night of Power?
*** How would you know if you did?
*** If you found the Night of Power, do you believe all your sins were forgiven?
*** If your sins were all forgiven, how would you know?
*** If your sins were all forgiven, could that forgiveness be lost or forfeited by later sins?

Thanks for reading and as always, I love you, my Muslim friends!

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Postscript: the greatest – the most powerful – night of my life was May 28, 1966. That amazing night found me, even though I wasn’t looking for it (what compassion and mercy!).

On that night, I experienced an unbelievable powerthe power of God in forgiving my sins. A kind man simply read one verse of the Bible to me. It was John 3:16. I will never forget the change and the new life that came to me on that night.

Whether you call yourself a Muslim or Christian, I pray for each one of us to experience that kind of power.

Have You Had A Dream Or Vision Of Isa – Of Jesus? (The Man In White)

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To all my dear Muslim friends around the world,

Have you ever had a dream or a vision of a “man in white,” especially during Ramadan?

The Injil describes such a vision:

“Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light.” (Matthew 17:1-2)

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Dear Muslim reader, maybe you have had a dream or vision of Isa – of Jesus. Many Muslims around the world have seen Him this way and they say that they have never known such love. If you see Him, I pray that you will respond to His amazing love – for you!

If you have a dream or vision of Jesus, seek out a follower of Jesus to talk to. Look for an Injil to read and learn more about the Prophet Jesus and his love. And then pray that you might know, “Is this truth?”

As always, I love you, my Muslim friends. . .

Ramadan Mubarak, Dear Muslim Friends!

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Dear Muslim friends around the world,

I know you have been in Ramadan for several days but I never wished you a blessed Ramadan until now. I pray for you in these remaining days that you and your family would be blessed by God.

As you seek God in this special time, may He hear your prayers. . .and may you hear His amazing voice.

A Nepalese Muslim boy offers prayer during Eid al-Fitr celebrations at a mosque in Kathmandu

I pray you will see God in new, amazing ways. I pray you will understand His love for you – a love so great we can never fully comprehend it (Ephesians 3:16-19), a love that was proven through God sending His beloved Jesus as a sacrifice for your every sin (and mine). I pray you might even experience something Muslims all over the world are experiencing: a dream or vision of Isa – Jesus – the man in white. (Wow! I would like to have one of those too!)

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God bless you, dear Muslim friends.

I love you.

Much more importantly, Jesus loves you and gave his life for you (John 3:16).

Ramadan Mubarak!

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I Don’t Promote “Christianity” – I Promote JESUS!

(Dear Muslim Friends, you are always welcome to read every post I make on this blog – it is primarily for you! So. . .read on if you like, but this post is specifically directed to my “Christian” friends who may not agree with or understand my last post.)

Dear Christian Readers,

Some of you may be confused about my last blog post (Am I Trying To Convert Muslims Into “Christians”?). Maybe I can clarify a little bit here.

If I am speaking to someone who self-identifies with being a “Christian,” I am not afraid or ashamed to be known as a “Christian” myself. But in my friendships and conversations with Muslims, I do not promote “Christianity.” I do not promote being or even becoming a “Christian.”

Let me explain before you think me a heretic! I realize that “Christian” is a Biblical word and thus an important word but. . .it is only used 3 times in the entire New Testament (Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and I Peter 4:16). Because it is a word used in the Bible, maybe we need to simply define it or redefine it. However. . .

It is my firm opinion that redefining the word “Christian” is a very, very daunting task. Why? Because so many Muslims in the world today equate the word “Christian” with a lot of things that would shock and dismay us. In their minds, some Muslims still equate modern day “Christianity” with the atrocities of the Crusades. Some link “Christianity” to the U.S. military incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan (which many see as “Christianity” attacking Islam) or the killing of Osama bin Laden. Some equate “Christian” with “America” or the West.They think America is a “Christian” nation (my wife and I run into this all the time in the Middle East). They see Hollywood movies and even link “Christianity” to what they see there – violence, immorality, abortion, divorce, drunkenness, drug useage, swearing, lack of care or honor for the elderly, on and on.

Let me ask you, what is a Muslim to think when they see rap singers from Western countries spouting f-words in their lyrics and rapping about doing drugs, beating women, and killing people. . .but also wearing huge crosses? And what is a Muslim to think when they see a very famous American female singer singing sexually explicit lyrics, dancing provocatively, and wearing a cross. . .but not much else?

If you were a Muslim, wouldn’t you ask the questions, “Is that ‘Christianity’?” “Are those people ‘Christians’?”

Just from these few examples of real misunderstandings (and there are more), can you see how the word “Christianity” is not a positive word in the minds of so many Muslims? Can you see how we need to strive to learn how each other thinks about words?

Because of these misunderstandings, I prefer not to use or promote the words “Christian” or “Christianity” with my dear Muslim friends.

So. . .what do I promote?

I promote JESUS. I promote FOLLOWING Jesus. I promote being his DISCIPLE.This is what I believe he wanted.

Depending upon which translation you use, the word “disciple” is used in the New Testament between 230 and 260 times – obviously far more than the word “Christian”!

I share with my Muslim friends that Jesus is calling all of us (no matter what religious label you go by) to be his disciples – to follow him.

Following Jesus means we are willing to: do anything for him, say anything for him, go anywhere for him, suffer any loss for him. To be completely, unreservedly, devoted, dedicated followers of his. To give him undivided allegiance as our Savior and our King.

Our Muslim friends are absolutely right when they point out that the Bible does not specifically say that “Christianity is the true religion.” What it does say over and over and over however, is that JESUS is the true path – the bridge – to heaven. Jesus himself said he was the way, the truth, and the life. That no one could come to God except through him (The Gospel of John 14:6). That is what we should promote. Better yet, that is who we should promote!

So I promote being a disciple – a follower – of Jesus. If I must have a label to describe my faith, that is what I prefer.

Finally, let me say that no “religion” or religious rules can cleanse a person’s heart or change them from the inside out. No “religion” can take away all their sins or free them from their fear of the Day of Judgment and Hell.

But someone can. Jesus can.

Following Jesus can set a person free.

Trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice can make a person clean on the inside. Forgiven. . .of every sin.

JESUS.

ONLY Jesus.

And that is why I don’t promote “Christianity.”

I. . .promote. . .JESUS. . .only JESUS!

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Am I Trying To Convert Muslims Into “Christians”?

Dear Muslim Readers,

Some of you may be asking the question, “Are you trying to convert Muslims into “Christians” through this blog?” (That is, “Are you trying to convert me?”)

Now that is a big question. No, that is a HUGE question and a very legitmate one!

Let me answer your question beginning with a question of my own:

What does the word “Christian” mean to you as a Muslim?

I know that to some Muslims around the world, the words “Christian” or “Christianity” can mean a lot of things. Things such as words from the list below:

* The Crusades

* Imperialism

* Colonialism

* Zionism

* Hollywood

* Immorality

* Violence

* Abortion

* Alcohol

* Drugs

* American foreign policy

* Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

* And finally. . .American television preachers who blindly and unconditionally support Israel at the expense of the Palestinians.

If the list above comes to your mind when you hear the words “Christian” or “Christianity,” we have a lot of misunderstandings to clear up – a lot of misunderstandings. (Maybe we can’t clear up these misunderstandings. Maybe we have to use different terms.)

But. . .back to the original question: “Am I trying to convert Muslims into “Christians”? If you define “Christian” and “Christianity” by the list above, the answer is an emphatic and unequivocal “NO!”

What I do want for you – my Muslim reader – is what I want for everyone (I truly mean EVERYONE). I want every person walking on the earth to follow Jesus. Much more importantly, that is what Jesus wants. That is what he said over and over as he walked the earth:

I may get in trouble with some of my non-Muslim readers, but let me make a strong statement to you – my Muslim readers – here:

I don’t see anywhere in the words of Jesus in the Injeel – in the New Testament of the Bible – that you have to be or become a “Christian” to go to Heaven (Paradise). What I do see very clearly and very strongly in Jesus’ words is that you have to follow him. You have to give him your life – completely, unreservedly, wholeheartedly. You have to love him more than any person, goal, or dream.

You have to believe in him (his uniqueness) and his sacrifice for your sins (his work on your behalf).

Jesus said:

“. . .unless you believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24 in the Injeel)
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” (John 10:9 in the Injeel)
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11 in the Injeel)
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26 in the Injeel)
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 in the Injeel)

I believe with all my heart that your relationship - or lack of relationship – with Jesus will determine your eternal destiny.

So no, I am not trying to convert you to a religion.

I just want for you what I want for myself. What I want for everyone.

I just want you to follow Jesus so you can be changed from the inside out by Jesus himself living in you instead from the outside in by trying to perfectly obey endless rules and rituals (something none of us can do).

I want you to follow Jesus and believe in his sacrifice so you can be forgiven of all your sins.

So you won’t have to fear Hellfire.

So you can live with Jesus forever in Heaven.

It’s not about conversion to a religion.

Not at all. That’s not what this blog is about. It’s not what I am about.

It’s about Jesus.

Just. . .following. . .Jesus.

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Coptic Priest to Radicals After Palm Sunday Bombings: “A Message To Those Who Kill Us”

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On Palm Sunday, April 9 2017, twin suicide bombings took place in Egypt in two Coptic churches: St. George’s Church in Tanta, and Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria. At least 45 people were reported killed and 126 injured. ISIS claimed responsibility.

The night after these terrible attacks, a Coptic priest gave an incredible message to the killers:

* WE THANK YOU,
* WE LOVE YOU,
* WE PRAY FOR YOU
.

Please watch and be moved by this display of love of Jesus for enemies. . . (Arabic with English subtitles)

Excerpts From: “A MESSAGE TO THOSE WHO KILL US”
by Fr. Boules George, St. Mark, Cairo, Egypt
(excerpts taken from Coptic Dad & Mom website – http://www.copticdadandmom.com/fr-boules-george/)

What will we say to them?

— WE THANK YOU —

The first thing we will say is “Thank you very, very much,” and you won’t believe us when we say it.

You know why we thank you? I’ll tell you. You won’t get it, but please believe us.

#1 – You gave us to die the same death as Christ – and this is the biggest honor we could have. Christ was crucified – and this is our faith. He died and was slaughtered – and this is our faith. You gave us, and you gave them to die.

#2 – We thank you because you shortened for us the journey. When someone is headed home to a particular city, he keeps looking at the time. “When will I get home? Are we there yet?” Can you imagine if in an instant he finds himself on a rocket ship straight to his destination? You shortened the journey! Thank you for shortening the journey.

#3 – We thank you because you gave to us to fulfill what Christ said to us: “Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). We were lambs; our only weapons: our faith and the church we pray in. I carry no weapon in my hand. We are so grateful that you helped us fulfill this saying of Christ.

#4 – Thank you for helping us achieve our goal. You’re helping us, and you don’t even know it. I know you don’t understand, but I’m trying to explain it to you. There are people we visited at home to encourage them to come to church –three, four, five times. Still they won’t come. What you’re doing here – you’re bringing to church the people who never come. Believe me – it’s bringing to church the people who never come!

People who were living in sin and away from God, after the bombing of St. Peter’s Chapel in the Cathedral, they were saying, “You never know when your number’s up. Better take more care (in our spiritual lives).” All these vistations we do – you’re so much more effective. You’re filling up our churches! You’re filling our churches!

Can you see why we thank you? We’re not being deceptive. A priest holding a microphone can’t lie to you! I say to you: THANK YOU. Thank you for all you have done for us without even noticing.

— WE LOVE YOU —

The second part of the message we want to send to you is that we love you. And this, unfortunately, you won’t understand at all. Maybe you won’t believe us when we say we’re grateful. But this – you won’t even understand. Why won’t you understand it? Because this too is a teaching of our Christ. I want to explain to you about our Christ. I want to tell you about how wonderful He is.

See what Christ said: If you love those who love you, you have no profit or reward with me. Even thugs and thieves love those who love them. Any gang loves its members. Even the drug dealers all like each other and take care of each other. Right? But I want to tell you that “if you love those who love you, what reward have you? But I say to you, love your enemies” (Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:46, 44).

We Christians don’t have enemies. We don’t have enemies; others make enmity with us. The Christian doesn’t make enemies because we are commanded to love everyone. And so, we love you because this is the teaching of our God – that I’m to love you – no matter what you do to me.

I love you very much.

— WE PRAY FOR YOU —

And I want to say one last thing to you: we’re praying for you. Because the One who told us to love you told us to bless those who curse you. . .and PRAY for those who spitefully use you” (Matthew 5:44). So my instructions from my loving God make it my duty to pray for you.

——————————-

Concluding remarks by the priest addressed to the people of his church:

So what do you think? How about we make a commitment to pray for them? Pray that they know the God of love? Pray that they experience the love of God? Because if they knew that God is love and experienced His love, they could not do these things – never, never, never.

They are a wretched lot. And because they are wretched, we must pray for them. But when someone loves God, he won’t know except love.

We need to pray for them so they can sleep at night. A person who has all this inside them, how can he sleep comfortably?

Can you imagine? We are being slaughtered and the King of Peace gives us peace to sleep. And the one who slaughters, all night he can’t sleep.

Pray for them. Take it as a command. Take it as a duty. Take it as the application of Christ’s instructions.

We must ALL pray for them today that God opens their eyes and open their hearts to His love.

Because if they knew Him, they could NEVER do this.

God comfort us. God give us understanding. God give us JOY because Christ’s promise is truth. He said, “I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy NO ONE will take from you” (John 16:22).

To our God be the glory now and forever.

Amen.