1 Corinthians 11:23-26 “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
The first of May signals the end of the muslim holy month of Ramadan. On this day the festival of Eid Al-Fitr marks the end of day the dawn to dusk fasting and this festival of breaking of the fast is held for 3 days. Muslims believe that Ramadan teaches them to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate, thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity (zakat). Muslims also believe fasting helps instill compassion for the food-insecure poor.
You may wonder why a christian blog is placing such a focus on a Muslim holiday and the answer is not unlike any other godly endeavor. The call to encourage the fainthearted, shine the light to the blind, and remind fellow believers for the need to be vigilant in practicing the faith as followers of Christ never changes.
Sadly, many muslims are in a state of insecurity. Since muslims don’t trust in Christ as their Lord and Savior they must try to be the best muslim they can be, hoping their god will have mercy on them.
The Loss of Vigilance
The Lord doesn’t require His people to fast at a specific time of the month or year. Fasting according to God’s standard is meant to shape your heart and mind, not place you into God’s good graces. The spiritual significance of a fast is one that places our bodies at a disadvantage so that our spirit might be strengthened. A fast can also be a great way to focus your prayer life toward a specific need or in seeking direction, yet the practice has been diminished over time.
The vigilance of Islam makes people think their white robes, multiple prayers each day, and strict adherence to the Qur’an gives them favor in Allah’s sight. If only the christian church could regain some of its own vigilance in sharing the gospel, encouraging and building up one another, and placing greater emphasis on holiness—the church would see much greater effectiveness in engaging this world.
The advantage of the Bride of Christ is that it is empowered with the Holy Spirit, this is a concept that is foreign to every other major religion. Living under grace in free societies has softened the christian church and drawn them into patterns of apathy and fear. Fear of man’s rebuke and apathy against a world that has become increasingly offensive.
If the Church of Christ would only remember the power that it wields, it would go forth in confidence knowing the gates of Hell cannot prevail against it.
“Discipline is doing what needs to be done even when you don’t want to do It.”Zig Ziglar
We have a mandate that Christ placed on us long ago–
Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
It can be a bit scary to go up to people and share the gospel. Personally, I use creative tracts that I purchased through livingwaters.com, these give me a point of focus away from me and places the focus on the tract. The more creative the tract, the more interesting it becomes when presenting it to someone you just met.
When you’ve done enough good evangelism, relationships begin to form and opportunities for discipleship grow out of the faithfulness of the ones who are obedient. The more you practice evangelism, the easier it becomes and I’ve found the Lord honors the one who is willing to take a risk. Even when there seems to be no one to listen, the Lord will often bring someone to you that needs to hear your presentation of the gospel.
There is certainly much more in the christian faith that requires self-discipline, practicing holiness in the fear of God encompasses the whole of our relationship in Jesus. Walking in a way that pleases God is to be obedient to His moral law. Everything that God requires false somewhere in the spectrum of the 10 commandments.
” I am a spiritual being… After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ.”Max Lucado
The man or woman who exhibits self-control has a conviction that translates into determination. A determination to honor Christ, bringing Him glory in how you live your life, and the self-will to know what is truly important in life and see it through.
Titus 2:1-5 “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”
Can you hear the godly advice given by Paul?
We have to talk about these things so that we are reminded to practice them. There are good reasons why these practices should be every day attributes of how we live our lives. We, as believers, are called to represent Christ to the world, if we don’t learn self-control, we allow God’s Word to be judged unfairly, ridiculed, and made ineffective in our testimony.
“You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed. Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan.”John Bunyan
There are so many ways the church is called to exhibit sacrifice, through the giving of funds, showing hospitality, regarding the poor, considering others before you consider yourself, loving your enemies, showing kindness to strangers—the list goes on and on.
When it comes to sacrifice, there are very few acts that can be considered greater than the act of sacrificially lifting others up in prayer. Some may say the giving of your life for another, and since this is what Christ did for us, it clearly is regarded as the ultimate sacrifice.
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
It might seem rare that we are required to give our life in place of another but in reality this is often practiced by people who serves others each day in love. Selflessly helping with someone’s care, serving the hungry, or helping others with everyday needs is a sacrifice many have shown in our world. I’ve heard stories on the mission field or in times of war or conflict of people giving their lives for another and if this situation ever presented itself, I hope I’d have the faith to see it though. When it comes to prayer, this is a much more common expression of sacrifice. Communication with God is of utmost importance, especially if we expect to hear anything from Him. When those moments occur when we can’t help someone by our own strength, prayer is more than enough in lifting others up to God.
“Empathy is born out of the old biblical injunction ‘Love the neighbor as thyself.”George S. McGovern
What muslims consider as empathy, Jesus exhibited as Agape Love. The love of God is what separates the God of the Bible (Yahweh), from the god of Islam (Allah).
The nature of God is love and therefore His people should exhibit the same traits as their Father.
1 John 4:7-8 “Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
The ability to love one another becomes a reality in God’s people because God has endowed them with the ability to love through the Holy Spirit.
The presence of God’s abiding love is what clearly separates the true Church of God from imposters.
There are so many people who strive hard to be found acceptable in their respective religions, only to find themselves lacking the fullness of the Spirit that brings joy and strength in the Lord.
When we witness people like muslims striving hard to be found approved, we who have a close relationship with Christ should show them grace and be motivated in our commitment to sharing the Truth of Jesus abiding love with others.
The gospel is meant to be shared, Muslims as well as many other people in this world need the hope that we have and it might just be you who God has ordained to tell them.
Don’t hold back.