Monday, April 10, 2017

2017 Devotional Word #14: PERSECUTION

I woke up Sunday morning to find these news notifications on my phone...

EGYPT BOMBING: At least 21 killed, 25 wounded in explosion at a church north of Cairo.

PALM SUNDAY ATTACKS: Blast at second church in Egypt kills 6.


The persecution of Christians around the world continues to escalate.

I often think that many in the Christian church (Christ followers) in America live with an incomplete understanding of how many believers live around the world. I dare say most of us went to church this past week (at least those that made it) without fear of a bomb going off or some other type of violent opposition.

For many of our brothers and sisters in Christ outside of the USA, persecution, suffering, and hardships are a normal part of everyday life. Many people weigh the hard choice of following Jesus against the harsh reality of their family disowning them, public disgrace, and even death. Great sacrifices are made to be a part of simply going to worship on a weekly basis or even reading the Bible.

In these places, against what we would expect, Christians are bold in their faith and obedience to Jesus. They seem to genuinely grasp the call to daily deny themselves, take up their crosses as they follow Jesus. 

How are we living here in our borders of freedom? If you are like me, I am often overly focused on the insignificant as I ignore the simply call and presence of the Savior. My hardships usually revolve around my disappointment in not getting what I "need" when I "want" it. 

For many who claim the name of Jesus, they fail to simply commit to a community of faith due to the busyness of their self-indulgent lives. The reality of the "consistently inconsistent." If this sounds harsh, I guess I'm really not sorry. The truth hurts sometimes. 

This week in our small group class time, a friend reminded our group of a powerful quote from a recent movie our church showed:

“I cannot forget the words of my friend, Stoyan..."I took great joy that I was suffering in my country so that you could be free to witness in your country." And then he raised his voice to say: "Don't you ever give up in freedom what we would never give up in persecution - and that is our witness to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!” ~ Nik Ripken in The Insanity of God.

In our freedom: don't give up your witness for Jesus. Don't miss out on the eternal value of sharing life with other believers (in church). Pray for the Lord's peace and empowerment for our brothers and sisters around the world. Give your all to Him each and every day!

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