Pray for Our World: Bangladesh

Bangladesh is one of the world’s poorest nations.  Nearly half the population lives on less than $1 day.  Think about that for a moment.

The official state religion is Islam, however there are several churches there, and the churches have been growing faster than the population rate for the last 50 years.  Some of the churches include Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Church of the Nazarene, and a rather large one called Muslim followers of Jesus.  There are tens of thousands Muslim believers who claim to follow Jesus but it is hard for them to leave their Muslim background.  It can be almost impossible to find a job, your family can be persecuted, and you are disassociated from the community.

The Bengali people are also by far the largest unreached people in the world.  William Carey, a British Baptist minister who is considered the founding father of modern missions, went to Bengali in the late 1700’s.  He taught in schools and translated the Bible into Bengali.  The Christian seeds were planted, but it was a very difficult culture to break into.  Today, I have co-workers who are from Bengali.  We’ve shared meals and visits in our homes.  Our world is changing, and it is changing fast.  God’s plan for His Son, Jesus to be made known to the world is coming together, and then Jesus says He will return.

Jesus says, “This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations.  And then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

Names of Jesus – Star

Jesus describes himself as the “Bright Morning Star” when he reveals himself to John in Revelation 22:16.

I, Jesus, have sent My angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star.”

Jesus is not just one of many stars, but the bright morning star – the one that outshines all the others.  While Jesus is prophesied to come from the line of David, the term Star of David (or shield of David) is never mentioned in the Bible. It is a Jewish symbol with its earliest archaeological reference from the 3rd century.

In John 9:15, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.”

Even in the beginning of the Bible in Numbers 24:17, there is prophesy of a star, A star will come from Jacob, and a scepter will arise from Israel.”

Jesus is the true light of the world.  He is the pre-existent light, before all other light.

And as a morning star, he announces the beginning of each new day. He gives us newness. As the brightest star, he gives us a reference point for our lives.

Names of Jesus: Prince of Peace

Then Jesus arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:39)

With one word, Jesus commanded peace over nature. Only the Prince of Peace could do that. And only Jesus can create peace in our hearts.

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”
(John 14:27)

Our world is filled with fear, hate, lust, greed, war, and utter despair. Surely the second coming of Jesus Christ is the only hope of replacing these features with trust, love, universal peace, and prosperity. For it the world wittingly or inadvertently waits. – Billy Graham

Paul writes it so eloquently in his letter to the Colossians:

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
For everything was created by Him,
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things,
and by Him all things hold together.
He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that He might come to have
first place in everything.
For God was pleased to have
all His fullness dwell in Him,
and through Him to reconcile
everything to Himself
by making peace
through the blood of His cross—
whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:15-20)

May you know the everlasting and true peace of Jesus Christ this Christmas.

Names of Jesus: Everlasting Father

In a time where everything is instant and temporary, the thought of everlasting is almost forgotten.  But it is still there, in eternity.  Isaiah 9:6 names Jesus as the Everlasting Father.  This is an eternal father (protector, provider, creator) who has no end.  Many earthly fathers may have failed to provide or protect us, but Jesus promises to be a father who never leaves us.  Isaiah further explains the everlasting in the next verse.

The dominion will be vast,
and its prosperity will never end.
He will reign on the throne of David
and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it
with justice and righteousness from now on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7)

About one hundred years after Isaiah, the prophet Jeremiah talks of the Davidic Covenant – one with no end and no conditions.  God promises David and the nation of Israel that the Messiah will come from the line of David, tribe of Judah (see Leah, the Unloved – a Christmas story ), and establish a kingdom that will last forever.  No conditions of obedience on David or Israel are placed on this covenant, it is solely on God’s faithfulness and promise.  In other words, we can’t mess it up and we can’t stop it. God’s promises always come true.

“Look, the days are coming”— this is the Lord’s declaration—
“when I will fulfill the good promises that I have spoken
concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
In those days and at that time I will cause a Righteous Branch
to sprout up for David, and He will administer justice
and righteousness in the land. 
In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely,
and this is what she will be named: Yahweh Our Righteousness. 

“For this is what the Lord says: David will never fail to have a man sitting on the throne of the house of Israel. The Levitical priests will never fail to have a man always before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices.” (Jeremiah 33:14-18)

Names of Jesus: The Mighty God

The prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming Savior child to be born of a virgin, and said that he will be named Mighty God.  Isaiah is referring to two prophesies of different times – a child and a king.  We celebrate the birth of the child at Christmas, but we will celebrate again at the return of a mighty king who will restore and redeem.  Isaiah gives us a hint of this Mighty God in his earlier prophesy:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of darkness, a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy.
The people have rejoiced before You as they rejoice at harvest time
and as they rejoice when diving spoils.
For You have shattered their burdensome yoke
and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor,
just as You did on the day of Midian. (Isaiah 9:2-4)

This Christmas, when you hang your lights, think of the great light that will overcome the darkness and will once again fill the earth with joy.  We have hope!