Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Are We Willing to Live… Or Even Die for Our Faith?

Most Americans have seen the graphic images of bombed-out Syrian cities and citizens killed by chemical weapons. But amid these stories of chaotic civil war and tragedy is another, less publicized story: Christian churches in Syria continue to spread hope in the face of hopelessness, holding high not a political or denominational banner; but the banner of Jesus Christ—the only path to salvation and peace with God.
           
In the midst of great persecution and threats of death, Christianity is continuing to spread as more Muslims are coming to know Christ and where prayer and Bible studies are growing in fast numbers. But, friendship with Jesus is becoming more costly as the evils of Islam continues to rise up to destroy churches, kill children, rape Christian women, and behead those who oppose the Islamic faith.
           
I have been reviewing some past issues of the Voice of the Martyrs monthly magazines and find in them the many stories and accounts of many of our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Africa who, because of the entrance of Jesus into their lives, suffer the loss of their homes, cars, bank accounts, jobs and even the end of their lives. Friendship with Jesus for them is costly. Faith alone saves, but saving faith is never alone. It is always accompanied by great sacrifices for Christ’s sake.
           
The Apostle Paul writes “yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8) That was Paul’s attitude toward earthly possessions. Is this our attitude toward earthly possessions?
           
I think that preachers who promise prosperity, good health, and continual joy can and do lead people astray. What did Jesus mean when He said, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple?” (Luke 14:33)

How prepared are you to face such a time when at the end of the day when everything is gone, all you have left is Jesus?

PRAY FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH!

I once personally heard Richard Wurmbrand speak of his 14 years of being tortured and imprisoned for preaching Christ in Romania which then was under communistic rule. He said that being tied at his ankles and hung upside down and being beaten with a hard rubber hose on the bottoms of his feet was the most excruciating pain. Every muscle and nerve of his body reacted to the pain.

He stated that those Christians who are being beaten and tortured for Christ around the world are members of the same body as we are. As Wurmbrand felt pain in every member of his body from the beating on his feet, he stated that “we should also feel the pain of our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and should feel the love and compassion to remember to always pray for them.”  Today - pray for your persecuted brothers and sisters.