Excitedly, at the crack of dawn, I park myself by the fire in my comfy chocolate brown chair and snuggle in my Australian sheepskin that Tim presented to me as an early Christmas gift, to read my Bible. Reading about Job, I suddenly realize afresh how Job's deep confidence that his "Redeemer lives," (Job 19:25) gives him strength even in the midst of the profound trials that he is facing in his life. This inspires courage in me for the era in which we live.
Often times, there is a tendency to think, when a life is lived virtuously, that hardship will somehow bypass us. Job is described as a God fearing man; he delivers the poor and the orphan who cry for help and he makes the widows' hearts sing for joy. He becomes eyes to the blind, feet to the lame. As he walks by, princes stop talking, the voice of the nobles hush. Clothed in righteousness, he wears justice like a robe and a turban. People call him blessed. The friendship of God is over his tent. But then... the devil is allowed to strip Job of his children, his wealth, and his prestige. How quickly his best friends turn on him, blame him and accuse him of wickedness instead of comforting him and looking to their own wretchedness. Worthless men even spit on him (Job 29-30).
Sometimes, God's love is hard to see when the enemy takes our children captive, when we are under financial strain, or when friends betray us, but the fact remains, our Redeemer lives and at any moment His resurrection power can turn our circumstances around. Like Job, we can stand unwavering in the face of the devil's accusations knowing that our merciful God is our advocate and judge and ruler of our affairs. In the end, we are promised in Romans 8 that all things work together for good to those who love Him and are a called according to His purposes. This is God's Christmas gift to us!
May you find lots of time this Christmas to nuzzle into your loving Shepherd's arms as His little lamb.
We meet the most wonderful people here at CRC! Recently, we visited with an Iranian couple, Sam and Esther, who were here for a personal retreat and have a wonderful testimony. About six years ago, while working in the Iranian oil fields, a friend of Sam's confessed that he had become a Christian. Sam got angry and set out to disprove his friend's faith by reading and comparing the Koran and the New Testament side by side, something he had never done before. But to his surprise, as he read them both, he was struck with the amazing beauty of the message of the gospel. The Koran told him to hate his enemies and seek their destruction, to take vengeance on those who had wronged him, while the New Testament told him to love his enemies, pray for them and to forgive those who sinned against him. He realized, "This is a good book!" Finally, one night as he was going to bed he prayed, asking Jesus to forgive him and show Himself to him.
At first Sam didn't feel anything. However, the next day, he sensed a strange new lightness in his heart, as if a burden had been lifted off. He quickly realized that he was no longer comfortable swearing and doing the things he used to do. The Holy Spirit had come to live inside of him. He started witnessing boldly to everyone he met, including Esther, a beautiful young Farsi woman, who was also born into a respected Muslim family. Initially, Esther's reaction to the news that Sam had become a Christian was just as negative as Sam's reaction to his friend's conversion. However, through the difficulties in Esther's family, she soon saw her need of Christ and received him as Savior. Meanwhile, Sam's parents were opposed to his newly professed faith and began pressuring him to marry a good Muslim woman, hoping that would straighten him out. This was something Sam knew he could not do. But, as Sam explained, marriages in Iran are arranged by the parents, and it would be completely wrong for Sam to marry someone his parents had not selected as a suitable partner. Finally, unaware of the fact that she had recently become a believer in Jesus, Sam's parents asked him to marry Esther! With joy, they soon married and, along with a group of other believers, started seven different home fellowship groups. Eventually Sam and most of his friends were arrested and imprisoned for their faith. Sam was beaten and held for several months. After his release, Sam and Esther felt led to escape to Turkey where they lived for three years before being accepted into the USA. They have now been in the US for 11 months studying English, since they spoke only Farsi when they arrived. Wow! What an encouragement!
Last month, I attended an International AGLOW conference in Indianapolis, Indiana where I heard a remarkable speaker named Harun Ibrahim. He spoke at one of the general sessions. He is a born-again converted Muslim who loves Jesus. He is sharing the gospel courageously with the Muslim world and with abundant success on TV, FB, Twitter, U-Tube, Apps, and more. His talk gives tangible peace and also a love for the Arab world. While at the conference, he asked forgiveness, from the Christian and Jewish people, for the curses that Muslims pray on us each day, and later Harun asked God to bless us. One of the trials afflicting our generation is fear of ISIS, so I want to offer this excellent resource. You can buy a copy of the DVD of his talk at this website. You will not be disappointed. The CD is AGLOW15C- GS 3 - Harun Ibrahim - Audio CD and the cost is $8.95.
A blessed and wonderful Christmas to you and yours as we celebrate the birth of Christ. Our salvation and hope. This makes me think of a verse in the carol, 'O, Little Town of Bethlemhem'... "Yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light, the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight".
God bless you,
Tim and Julie Hansen