Posts tagged ‘persecution’

Start Collecting

First of all, what I am writing is not some new revelation from God. This is a non-prophet blog. 🙂 But I have had this nagging feeling. It’s something that I started doing awhile ago and thought I would share it. No, you are not disobeying God by not doing it, too!
I am not certain of what lies ahead for American Christians. Whether persecution will be our lot or we continue to worship and spread the Good News (Gospel) freely. But here is what I am doing because of that uneasy gut feeling, and you might want to do it, too. Or you might not.

Start collecting Bibles. By that I don’t mean get a stack of printed Bibles, although it is always nice to have them to give away. I mean every format you can get. Save CDs, DVD, flash drives, and any electronic medium that can be used to transmit over the internet. We do not know when the Bible may be labelled as “hate speech” and banned or restricted.
Gather up good, solid, biblical teaching on any of the above mediums. If we are forced to be in hiding and/or in small house fellowships, good teaching may be hard to find. Its best to already have it so that your spiritual diet can be well rounded.
Find and keep song books. They can be the old hymns, choruses, or whatever. PDF files may be best. But be prepared to sing them acapella. You won’t want to be using music that will be loud enough to get you discovered if you must worship in secret. Even musical CDs and mp3 files are good, but make sure you have headphones for them.

And I would have a few blank books around for keeping a record of what happened to and through God’s people when times get tough. You never know who, generations from now, will be encouraged by them.
Again, this is not some dire prophecy, but rather emergency preparedness. If nothing happens, you will still have a valuable library of sound teaching that you can transmit to brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. So it’s a win-win proposition!

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The Jailhouse Rock

How would I react if faced with genuine persecution? I know how I hope I would react, but do any of us really know unless we are placed into that situation? I want to take a look at two men who experienced just that. Take a look over at Acts 16.
“The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.” (Acts 16:22-24 NASB)
Here we have Paul and Silas in ancient Philippi. They were God’s men, doing God’s work in God’s way. And the result? They are beaten with rods and shackled inside the deepest, darkest cell in the prison. What’s more, as a Roman citizen, Paul’s incarceration was illegal since he had not been tried! To add injury to insult, they were beaten with rods and received “many blows” to their bodies.

This punishment was particularly brutal. Rods were not designed to break bones, they were designed to bruise bones. From what I have heard and read, a bruised bone is excruciatingly painful and slow to heal. And with their fresh set of painful injuries, they were fastened down with metal stocks in complete darkness. So of course Paul and Silas had the reaction anyone would have in a situation like this. They began singing and praising God!

“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;” (Acts 16:25 NASB)
Notice what time it was. Midnight! They had not been singing for a few minutes or seconds. They had been at it for an extended time, probably hours! And their music was not just affecting them, but the other prisoners as well. At a time like that, perhaps the words of Jesus were flooding their minds, as the recalled Him saying, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11, 12 NASB) So that is exactly what they did! And look at the effect their obedience had!
“and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.”(Acts 16:26, 27 NASB)
The first jailhouse rock and roll broke out and there was a great earthquake. But the effect was not exclusively for Paul and Silas. Their bold and joyous praises to God caused the other prisoners who had been listening to be set free, too! And later in the next few verses, it led to the salvation of the very man who had chosen the day before to send them to the armpit of the prison!
If Paul had asserted his rights as a Roman citizen, the jailer and his family might never have been saved.

What lessons can we glean from this account?
1. Doing God’s will, at the right time, in the right place, and in the right way does not mean we will never suffer.
2. The suffering and persecution we go through is nothing compared to the value of a soul!
3. The presence of pain is not the absence of God!
4. If you are surrounded by darkness, you can be a light.
4. Our obedience in the face of adversity will not only deliver us, but can be used by God to set others free, too!
5. Never underestimate the lengths God will go to in order to give someone a chance to hear the Gospel and see it lived out in you!
6. Next time you are singing praises to God, remember that there may be someone who can hear you that needs what we’ve got in Christ Jesus!

So don’t hold back. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad!

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Soft Christianity!

Soft Christianity

As Independence Day approaches, I am thankful to be living in a country that, at present, allows us to worship God. This freedom has enabled America for the last century or more to be a land where workers can be trained to preach the Gospel around the world, and where Bibles can be printed and then distributed to those who would receive them.

But there is no scriptural guarantee that this will always be the case. In fact, I almost wonder if this freedom has caused American Christians to take the church for granted. To look upon Christ and the Church as a nice addition to our lives that helps people behave, but that one shouldn’t get too radical about. Where selection of a “church home” is done on the basis of who has the most to offer rather than on the veracity of the message being preached.

And all the while, our brothers and sisters in Christ in other parts of the planet suffer and are killed for their faith on a daily basis. They worship God in secret gatherings, out of sight of government officials or the radical religionists who would think they are doing God a service by killing them. They continually live out the Words spoken by our Master:
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:18-20 NASB)

On occasion, I have met brethren from lands like Pakistan, or who have fled Saudi Arabia because they had a sentence of death on them. They were not proud, but considered it an honor to be persecuted for their Lord. After such meetings, through no fault of theirs, I would walk away feeling so lukewarm and convicted. You see, where I am from, I am surrounded by those who encourage my faith and I can openly worship Jesus. But for those who are the persecuted, their faith costs them something. They truly have to count the cost before putting on Christ in baptism, because it may cost them everything they have held dear to themselves. Surely their heavenly rewards will be so much greater than my own, and rightly so.

But again, we in America must also remember that there is no guarantee that things will always be like they have been in our past. Persecution could come at any time, and who are we to say that it would not be a pruning and purifying process that the Lord would deem necessary to our spiritual development?
Did not Jesus himself say,
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11, 12 NASB)?
And the Apostle Paul wrote that, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12 NASB)
Do we dare to contemplate what the Spirit meant when He had Paul use the word “all” in that verse?

Well, what are we to do in the mean time? First and foremost, pray for the persecuted church daily! As Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them, those who are mistreated since you yourselves are in the body also.” All of us who belong to Christ make up His body. And when one part is suffering, we all suffer with it (1 Corinth 12:26)

I would also encourage all of us to prayerfully examine the Scriptures and judge for ourselves the depth of our commitment to Jesus Christ and the Gospel. And after that, say with deeper conviction than ever before, “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back!”

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