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American Christian Connection
September 19, 2022


Zambian Christians Rejoice as Bibles Are Translated into Their Native Tongues for the First Time

Christians in Zambia, Africa, are celebrating the latest milestone in Bible translation, the creation of Bibles written in their native tongues. 

According to CBN News, the effort is led by Wycliffe Associates, an organization that offers Bible translations in countless languages. Currently, over 5,000 people are working in Zambia to translate the Bible into 20 native languages.

Bishop Henry Mumba, a pastor and church planter, is assisting church-owned translation work in Munsa. He recalled how he heard his first Bible verse, John 3:16, when he was 19 years old.

"My pastor was a missionary from another country," Mumba told CBN News in an interview. "And he came into this town and when they preached the Gospel to me, the first verse that I knew was John 3:16, 'For God so love the world, that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'"

Believers in Mansa, Zambia, were reportedly dancing after they got to read and listen to the reading of the New Testament in Aushi, their native language, for the first time.




Honoring the Queen by Serving Her King

Queen Elizabeth II consistently and publicly found that “special kind of courage” in her faith, calling Jesus “an inspiration and an anchor in my life.” Just last month, she prayed for Anglican bishops that “you will continue to be sustained by your faith in times of trial and encouraged by hope in times of despair.”

If the Queen of England, one of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world, needed a King, how much more do we?

Now she has joined the saints of the ages and the angels of all eternity in proclaiming, “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever” (1 Timothy 1:17).

How will you emulate her commitment to this King today?



The Importance of Intentional Gratitude

Have you ever read the passage of scripture that outlined the journey the Israelites took on their way to the promised land? The promise God made and fulfilled having freed them from their oppressors, the Egyptians. In my reflections on their murmuring and complaints during the journey I often considered them ungrateful.

Imagine sitting under bondage for hundreds of years, finally being free; freedom that you dreamt about for years, finally coming through. Seeing the hand of God as He delivered you from your oppressors and yet, on the journey complaining that you want to go back to Egypt because what you had there to eat was much better than the freedom you are now experiencing.

What heights of ungratefulness, wouldn't you say?

With so many things in life, not working in the manner we sometimes predict, disappointment will loom and depression may set in. More important to note is that God's plans for us are not always straightforward and do not always unfold in the manner in which we expect. We must therefore be intentional about being grateful.

This Week's Thought

by Madison Moore

Do you ever just wish you could tell someone off for their offence against you? I do. I’m a peacemaker, which means I want to run away from conflict at all costs, but sometimes I don’t back down and I’m too quick to speak. Not just my words but also my thoughts. I find myself dwelling often on the sins of others instead of seeing that person as an image bearer, fearfully and wonderfully made and in need of grace. Because as we all know, we are just as sinful as the next person, and our eyes and hearts need adjusting to see our own messiness.  
 
But then I read 1 Peter.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”
 
There’s a lot packed in here, but what struck me is Peter telling Christians to bless those who do evil against them. Yes, I know that revenge belongs to God and that we’re supposed to offer grace, but, bless—that’s a lot to ask, God.
 
In the Greek, ‘bless’ here, means to speak well of; to praise. We do this because of the grace and mercy God has shown us in Christ Jesus. We’re imitators of Christ, and if our hearts are seeking God, the Holy Spirit will help us bless others in word and deed. Practically speaking, this could mean asking God to bless a particular person’s day, for them to have a revelation in Christ Jesus, for there to be healing in their life, and so on. Or, you can respond with kind words and a smile.
 
In the following verses in 1 Peter 3, Peter references Psalm 34:12-14:
 
For ‘Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.’”
 
Peter continues to warn Christians against speaking evil and urges us to seek peace and pursue it. I’m reminded of Proverbs 18:21:
 
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
 
If we truly believe that God is who he says he is, then we must believe that our words matter and hold power—that we can tear down ourselves and others, or we can speak (think and pray) words of life and follow in the footsteps of our Savior.
 
It’s not easy, but it’s what God has called us to. It’s for our good and his glory, and God’s ready to bless us for doing so.
 

We Must Respond to Temptation by Immediately Taking it to God in Prayer

by Jim Denison

It is estimated that global cybercrime will reach $10.5 trillion by 2025, an amount larger than every economy in the world except the US and China.

For example, Los Angeles Unified, the second-largest school district in the US with more than 640,000 students enrolled, was hit with a ransomware attack a few days ago. Such attacks on schools and universities are on the rise.

Cybersecurity threats are also escalating against the US water industry, the US healthcare system, and industrial infrastructure, including electricity grids, oil and gas facilities, and manufacturing plants. Uber Technologies said yesterday that it was investigating a cybersecurity incident that forced the company to shut down several internal communications and engineering systems.

The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against three Iranian individuals alleged to have launched cyberattacks against the US and global critical infrastructure. The individuals are still at large and believed to be in Iran. The State Department is offering a $10 million reward for information on the three men. The Treasury Department has also announced sanctions against ten individuals and two groups affiliated with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, alleging that they have carried out ransomware and other cyberattacks since at least 2020.

You and I cannot see a cyberattack, only its effects. Therein lies my point today.

WHAT OUR DAILY MANTRA SHOULD BE

As I noted yesterday, “secret” sins are one of Satan’s most effective strategies for hindering the advance of God’s kingdom through God’s people. Sins known only to God nonetheless grieve the Spirit who alone can empower us to do eternal good.

Human words cannot transform human hearts. The Spirit alone possesses the power to bring us to repentance and faith (John 16:8) and to make fallen people into God’s new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is only the Spirit working through us that can do anything of eternal significance.

Consequently, our daily mantra should be, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

However, Satan knows this fact as well and counters the work of God’s Spirit through God’s people by leveraging three cultural factors:

  • We are consumers who have been taught by brilliant marketers that the world exists to meet our needs.
  • We are fallen people plagued by the “will to power” to be our own god (Genesis 3:5).
  • Unlike the Catholic concept of penance for sins in this lifetime and purgatory for them in the afterlife, evangelical Christians focus on the immediacy of God’s forgiveness and grace when we confess our sins to him (1 John 1:9).

Satan plays to all three factors with “secret” sins we think we can choose to commit and then confess without consequences. No one but God knows, we say to ourselves, and he forgets all he forgives (Isaiah 43:25). But we should remember that Satan is at war with a God he cannot attack directly (Revelation 12:9), so he attacks his children to hurt their Father (1 Peter 5:8). The best way to hurt me is to hurt my kids or my grandkids.

As a result, Satan’s evil character will not allow him to offer us a temptation that does not produce greater evil than the good it promises. There are no exceptions to this rule.

THREE FACTS ABOUT "SECRET" SINS

Here are three facts about “secret sins” we should remember:

ONE: "SECRET" SINS LEAD TO DEBILITATING "SECRET" GUILT.

When God forgives the sins we confess, Satan then afflicts us with guilt for committing the very sins he tempted us to commit. Guilt is also how we punish ourselves for failures God has forgiven and forgotten. It can be debilitating in our lives, leading to a second factor:

TWO: "SECRET" SINS CAUSE US TO FEEL WE ARE UNUSABLE BY GOD.

When we are engaged in “secret” sins, even after we confess them, Satan whispers to us that we are hypocrites if we share our faith with others when we are not fully living up to it ourselves. This is one of the main reasons more Christians do not share the gospel more publicly and persistently. It affects our willingness to serve the kingdom in other ways and steals our joy when we do.

THREE: "SECRET" SINS, EVEN WHEN CONFESSED, COST US REWARD IN HEAVEN.

The Bible promises, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). Every time we fail the test we forfeit such a crown. God forgives the sins we confess, but the rewards we would have gained for refusing to commit them are lost forever.

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

Satan knows the sins we can resist in our strength and doesn’t waste his time with them. So, we can know that every temptation we face is one we cannot defeat without God’s help. However, part of Satan’s tempting strategy is to entice us to fight temptation in our ability. He drags us into the quicksand an inch at a time until we are in too far to escape.

What is the answer, then, to “secret” sins?

Developing the reflex of responding to temptation immediately by taking it to God in prayer. Such a reflex positions us to be “filled” and empowered by the Spirit in ways we would not have experienced otherwise (Ephesians 5:18). It draws us closer to our holy Father and makes us more usable in his kingdom.

As the Renaissance scholar Erasmus noted, Satan hates nothing so much as for his evil to be used for good.

Here’s the bottom line: Yielding to temptation makes us weaker. Refusing temptation makes us stronger.

Will you be stronger when this day is done than you were when it began?

Boasting in the Cross Requires Genuine Humility

by Dan Delzell

Man naturally tends to be quite proud of himself, and this innate weakness often gets him into trouble. Scripture informs us:  “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). 

“The proud and arrogant man – ‘Mocker’ is his name; he behaves with excessive pride” (Proverbs 21:24). 

It should therefore come as no surprise that “the Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: they will not go unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5). 

Bishop J.C. Ryle addressed the dangers associated with pride: “Let us watch against pride in every shape – pride of intellect, pride of wealth, pride in our own goodness. Nothing is so likely to keep a man out of Heaven, and prevent him from seeing Christ, as pride. So long as we think we are something, we shall never be saved.”

Preacher Charles Spurgeon wisely stated, “None are more unjust in their judgments of others than those who have a high opinion of themselves.”

I suspect you have found this to be true in your own life. Whenever you pass judgment on others and condemn them, you are engaged in the ugly sin of pride. All of us have been guilty of this wicked behavior. This ever-present temptation led the Apostle Paul to write:
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (Romans 2:1).

The apostle knew all about the problem of pride from his past experience with this gnarly proclivity. Prior to meeting Christ and being given his new name, Saul of Tarsus was saturated with an egotistical aura of self-importance and religious arrogance. 

Paul wrote, 

“If anyone thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless” (Philippians 3:4-6).

Saul was extremely proud of his religious rituals, religious pedigree, and religious zeal. And he wore his spiteful persecution of Christians as a badge of honor.

Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia: 

“For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:13-14).

In spite of his zeal, Saul was spiritually dead, which meant his sins were not forgiven. That all changed once Saul “received the Gospel by revelation from Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12). This good news turned Saul’s life upside down from the moment of his conversion.

Decades later Paul would write, 

“Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Philippians 3:7-9).

When God converted this vicious persecutor of Christians, Saul was transformed from a mean-spirited religious zealot into a loving and humble servant of the Lord. And suddenly this new creation in Christ began to boast in what Jesus did to save his soul and make him truly righteous in God’s sight.

Paul explained his astonishing new perspective in this profound declaration: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).

What a dramatic difference! What a breathtaking change!

Rather than boasting any longer in himself and his religious credentials, Paul began to boast in the message of the cross. It became Paul’s lifeblood and purpose for living. Everything for Paul flowed from the cross. Without the cross, he would have still been trying to “destroy the church” by “dragging off men and women and putting them in prison” (Acts 8:3).

What could have possibly transformed this tenacious terrorist into such a devoted follower of Jesus Christ? Only one thing has that kind of power, and it is the message of the cross.

Paul wrote, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Zac Poonen is a former Indian Naval officer who has been serving the Lord in India for over 50 years as a Bible teacher and church planter. Poonen wrote, “Sin came through the pride of Lucifer and salvation came through the humility of Jesus.”

You see, Jesus “humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8)

When a person becomes a Christian through faith in Jesus Christ, it produces the genuine humility that is necessary in order to boast in the cross of Christ and in the tremendous sacrifice Jesus made to pay for our sins.

I love the way theologian and Christian apologist Tim Keller explains it: 

“The Christian Gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself or less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.”

May God grant you and me genuine humility every day so that we never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Thank you Lord for enduring the agony of the cross in order to pay for my sins. Wash me, Jesus, with your precious blood."

 

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