Tag Archives: glory

A life worthy of persecution

comfort

Chinese government authorities have begun pressuring house churches to register with the government and join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM). Officials have approached key leaders of many house church networks in recent weeks and delivered an ultimatum: Register with the TSPM within the next two months, or else. House church leaders, who oppose joining the TSPM, believe their only option is to create awareness of their situation and ask Christians around the world to pray for them. (Taken from icommittopray.com).

Have I ever been in this position?  No.  I live in the United States.  I have complete religious freedom.  I can stand on my street corner and shout (so long as it’s not to the point of disturbing the peace) the praises of my Lord Jesus Christ.  On a trip to Washington, D.C. a couple of years ago, I witnessed a man standing outside the gates of the White House, proclaiming through a bull horn, his distaste for what was currently going on in our country.  We are free.  There is no question about it.  In the past few weeks, my church youth ministry has been focused on the persecuted church.  We have read countless stories, watched videos and learned about what it’s like to be persecuted.  In some countries, it’s atrocious.   People are dying, everyday, because they profess their faith in Jesus Christ.  Dying.  Everyday.  According to a study by the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), over 90,000 Christians were killed in 2016 for their faith.  That’s 1 person every 6 minutes, that lost their life for simply publicly living for Christ.  It doesn’t say what they were doing, specifically.  Some may have been leaders, spreading the gospel message.  Many were simply converts, that refused to renounce their new faith.  Again, I have never faced this.  In fact, I couldn’t recall a time when I faced any form of persecution for my faith, and that disturbed me.

In the past few months, I have found my world challenged.  I don’t feel comfortable anymore just sitting idly by and not doing anything with my faith.  It’s not enough to attend the regular meetings at church, participate in outings, and be a “facebook Christian.”  I blame…rather give credit to God.  I prayed, one night, a couple of months ago and asked God to give me the strength and the courage to give all of me to Him. Everything.  Move me where you want me.  Give me the thoughts you want me to have so I can do what you created me to do.  It was a scary prayer, and the excitement and fear that I have felt since then, prove that God will use you and move you if you are willing to give him control.  But last night, I just thought about that question – have I ever been persecuted for my faith?  I couldn’t say that I had.  So why does that disturb me?  It’s simple.  Jesus explains that anyone who follows Him…I mean really follows Him will face the same treatment He faced.  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. (Matt. 5:10-11).  Jesus says we are blessed when we face persecution.  Why?  We are blessed because of the key part of that verse, we are living for Him.  We are living out our faith.  We are living a life of righteousness.  In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12).  So, again, I ask the question, why am I disturbed and downcast because I haven’t felt persecuted?  It’s a simple answer, and one that I am ashamed to admit.  I haven’t been living a life worthy of Christ.  My faith hasn’t been radiant to those around me.  God’s word promises that when we live a life for Christ.  When we are out there – we will be persecuted.  Does that mean that I will have to give my life?  Probably not in this country.  That adds a whole new round of guilt and shame.  I live in a country where the worst I have to be afraid of is someone not liking me, or someone talking about me because of my faith.  Yet, I hide it.  There are people in this world that are dying, horrible deaths, because they utter the words, “I believe in Jesus.”  Yet, here I am, with no fear of physical pain or death, and I don’t say a word.

I want to challenge, myself and anyone else that comes across this.  Be intentional.  Lay down any fears and reservations about what people may think of you and be intentional in living for Jesus Christ.  Our fear should not be of our peers perception of us, but in how Jesus sees us.  “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and int he glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).  That verse should be committed to memory and thought of often.  I have said often, I am non-confrontational.  I don’t like conflict and that bleeds over into my spiritual life and how “out there” I am.  I don’t want to upset anyone.  You may be reading this and think – if I get out there and live like that, I’ll run everyone off and that’s not what Jesus wants.  I believe that if we live as and for Christ, we won’t run everyone off.  We may challenge them, but they will be drawn to us because we are different and genuine.

Are you living a life worthy of persecution?

Lord, I have failed.  Until this point in my life, I have never even thought about living a life worthy of persecution for you.  I pray, today, that I will be bold in my faith and unashamed of your name.  Stoke the flame in my heart so that your radiance shines brightly and unmistakably.  May I live a life that leaves no doubt where my heart is.  In your name I pray, – Amen.

He’s got the whole world in His hand

godAtom

He’s got the whole world in his hand
He’s got the whole world in his hand
He’s got the whole world in his hand…

This song is a classic children’s song that we sing often in Sunday School or in the children’s nursery to convey that God has everything in His hand.  Simple idea, often not thought of again.  But have you every really stopped to think about the meaning behind those words?  I received an online devotion today entitled Holding it Together.  It referenced Colossians 1:16-17, among other scripture, but the idea was that God created it all…EVERYTHING, and that nothing is outside of his grasp, He holds it all together.

 

Look around you and think about how everything that you can see fits together.  Then, if you can, try to wrap your mind around how things that are unseen, are still working in unison and perfect harmony with what you can see.  Our minds are not capable of understanding the depth and breadth of our universe and how it is all held together.  Science has spent hundreds of years trying to explain it and learn about it, yet they can only get so far.  We have been able to dissect the atom, which is a marvelous feat in itself.  Inside this tiny particle are many more parts and pieces and we have names for almost all of them, and we understand how they work and relate to each other, but that is generally where it stops. There is still the “God particle” that has yet to be discovered.  For a believer, we know what that particle is, it is clearly defined in God’s word, Colossians 1:16-17.  At the end of verse 17 – He holds all creation together.  I find it amusing that some will spend their entire life to find that one thing that is right in front of them.  Think of what science could turn it’s attention to if it went like this:

1. We are made up of atoms
2. Inside those atoms are particles
3. God holds those particles together
4. Then end.

That is where my thoughts took off today.  Why is it so hard for someone to rely on the unseen, the unheard, the “beyond understanding”?  It’s faith.  It’s simple faith.  Kids have it.  I don’t know when we lose it as we grow older, but their faith is amazing.  If only we could maintain our child-like faith as we grew older, how much closer to God would we all be and as a result, what would this world look like?

All of this thinking brought my mind back to current events and the uncertainty of the future of our country and this world.  As an adult, these things occupy my mind more and more.  Not so much because I am worried about how it will turn out.  I know the ending.  I read the Bible.  Totally full of spoilers.  But as a parent, with that God-given love for my children, I am consumed with the type of world they are growing up in and the challenges they are and will continue to face.  Sometimes thinking along this line can cause us to panic and stress.  When that happens, I am taken back to this simple verse in Colossians.  “He has the whole world…universe in His hands.  He holds it all together and He will continue to do so until that day when we, that know Him as our personal savior, are called home and He simply “lets go”.

Remember this today.  We do not have to worry about tomorrow. We simply need to place our trust in the God that works all things for His glory.  He loves us.  We were created by His hands in His image.  He is perfect and He created us perfectly.   I have heard before that believing in God and trusting in Jesus to save us is the “easy way out” to give up and quit thinking, become a mindless robot.  As a growing christian, I can say with all certainty that believing and continuing to trust everyday is the hardest thing I have ever done.  I am human.  I want to have a sense of control.  It’s natural.  But I love my God, the creator of this universe and everyday He fills me with the gentle peace of knowing He is in control and nothing is beyond Him.

Lord, thank you for being You.  Thank you that You are in control and that You hold this all together.  Thank you for strengthening my faith on a daily basis and for forgiving me when my faith falls away.  I am forever yours and find comfort and hope in Your word.  I am thankful today that “holding all creation” includes me.  Help me to be a light and shine for your glory today.  In Christ – Amen.