Prayer Focus for Republic of Maldives – September 1, 2013

Republic of Maldives, Asia: The desire to honour human rights and increase freedoms has been expressed by the current government, but freedom of religion is highly unpopular and violent opposition to it has been promised. Grassroots religion has shifted in a decidedly Islamist and Arabized direction, losing its indigenous Maldivian roots. Pray for the future of the people of the Maldives, torn between oppressive religion and empty freedoms.

The Maldivians are still among the least evangelized on earth. Neither mission work nor Christian literature has ever been allowed. Paradoxically, the government denies the existence of Christianity among Maldivians while arresting those who do believe. The perception of Christianity is so bad (largely due to Western media and tourist immorality) that political opponents use the term “Christian” to slander one another. Pray for the true name and nature of Jesus to be made known in this nation. Pray that the state’s contradictions and heavy-handedness toward Christianity would generate great curiosity.


Heaven can’t wait

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Do You Disagree? Acts 15:36-41

Disagree                Disagreement is a funny thing. Well, maybe funny isn’t the right word (but interesting might be overused). You see, on one hand, agreement is our goal (2 Corinthians 13:11). We also know that we are not to be selfish and always demand our own way. At the same time our discomfort with disagreement may be because of other reasons. Ungodly fears of rejection and of being wrong can often dictate our emotional response more than godly commitments. In order to tease out our motivation we need to both be aware of our emotions and also what triggers them.

In our passage Sunday (Acts 15:36-41) we learned about a disagreement that was unavoidable between Barnabas and Paul. They disputed as to whether John Mark should join them on another missionary journey. (As a side note, why do we call this the “second missionary journey”? Isn’t it their third? First was the journey from Antioch to Jerusalem with help for Jewish Christians, second to Cyprus and southern Turkey in an evangelistic form of outreach. Maybe we think of missionary as only having to do with word ministry as opposed to deed?) This disagreement within the body of Christ was unavoidable because a) they are humans and will not have God’s perspective on the issue b) God didn’t speak into the situation with his perspective and c) John Mark’s sinful behavior added the irrationality of sin into the picture. So, at the point where they had their “sharp disagreement” the goal was to disagree to the glory of God.

So how could they (and how can we) disagree to the glory of God? We need to disagree with humility, without despising and as those who are ultimately answerable to the risen Christ our Lord. We must be humble because we are only human and God hasn’t given us his divine perspective on our particular situation. Humility is requisite because of the many ways sin has fractured the many situations we find ourselves in. Despising and hatred do not have a place among us, and so when we have differing opinions we must nevertheless respect the other (Romans 14:1-3). Despising those we have disagreed with shows that there is something amiss about the way we are relating to our brother, sister and/or God. Finally we must be able to stand before Jesus and be able to say we took our position out of concern for his glory and good for our neighbor. Jesus died and rose to the end “that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9-10). If your goal in defending your position is to please your father, friend or professor without any thought to Christ and his judgment than your disagreement is less than gospel disagreement. That is because gospel disagreement will always seek to be agreeable to Christ’s will. We cannot disagree with God.

So, how are you doing in your relationships? Do you agree with people, simply to keep them from leaving you? Do you disagree with people simply to be the first to do so since you believe they will reject you anyways? Where do your fears about disagreement come from? Are they rooted in the gospel of God’s grace through Jesus Christ? When we know that we are accepted by God eternally through Jesus and that God’s people are striving to work out disagreements in this way our lives will increasingly grow into the harmonious unity that God desires for us.

Questions for Conversation

What is the worst disagreement you’ve ever had? Why was it so bad? Were your emotions coming from a place of fear? If so, what were you afraid of?

Are you embarrassed of that disagreement? Why?

Will you be able to stand before your Savior in good conscience regarding the position you took in that disagreement?

Is it possible to contact that person and remain connected to them in a healthy way? How could you do so?

Prayer Focus for Malaysia – August 25, 2013

Malaysia, Asia: Religious freedom for all faiths is constitutionally guaranteed despite changes that threaten this. Pray especially that the Christian community may continue to possess the liberty to practice, profess and propagate their faith amid the discrimination and intimidation arising from the process of Islamization currently occurring.



Acts 15:1-35

  Acts 15:1-35

   1But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”

The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,

16 “‘After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins,
and I will restore it,
17 that the remnantof mankind may seek the Lord,
and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,
says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known from of old.’

19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

30 So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. 33 And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. 35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001

by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Prayer Focus for Malawi – August 18, 2013

Malawi, Africa: The increasing activity of Islam is a significant issue in Malawi. Over 80% of the Yao are Muslim, and make up the largest block of Muslims in Malawi. The Qu’ran has been translated into Chichewa. A Quranic movement (Sukuti) is trying to replace the prevalent Qaddiriya folk Islam with a more scriptural version of the faith. Malawi has a great influx of funds via the Africa Muslim Agency. These extend Islam’s influence through primary education, scholarships for tertiary students to go to Muslim nations, aid distribution, drilling wells, medical aid, mosque building and many other means. Although the impact of these has thus far been quite limited, pray for awareness and training for the equipping of Christians to meet this challenge. Pray also for a persistent, loving witness to Muslims throughout Malawi. For more information visit


Acts 14:8-20 – The Three “P”s of Christian Life

1. Perseverance


2. Passion


3. Perpetual Optimism

Acts 14:8-20

  In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®

 Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®

14th Day Ladies Event – Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ladies come and join us for our monthly Fellowship with a Focus on Wednesday, August 14th at 6:30-8:30pm.

It will be held at the home of Cindy Riggle, 14955 Grassy Knoll Court, in Woodbridge.

Prayer Focus for Madagascar – August 11, 2013

Madagascar, AFRICA: Political troubles and conflict plague this land. Many thought political freedom had arrived with the conclusive defeat of Marxist rhetoric and the ending of civil strife in 2002. The victor of the 2002 and 2006 presidential elections was concerned for the poor but criticized for his autocratic style. He was forced to resign in 2009 after his rival, the capital’s mayor, orchestrated street demonstrations and the necessary military backing to seize the presidency. Widespread political condemnation of this move from most of the EU, the African Union and the UN, demonstrates Madagascar’s continued democratic fragility and vulnerability to military intervention. Pray for leadership that will serve the people with humility and transparency, not seeking power for its own ends.

The Protestant Churches have a glorious history of faith despite their persecution by heathen rulers and harassment by the French Catholic colonial authorities. It grew from 5,000 in 1861 to one million in 1900. There have been significant revival movements within the larger churches in 1895, 1941, 1948, and during the 1980s. Springing from the revivals, movements of indigenous lay “shepherds” are operating within the mainline churches. Their emphasis on healing and exorcism – which relate strongly to the spiritist mentality – has led to conversions and full churches in some areas. Pray that this movement might continue to grow and be rooted in Scripture.