Persecution

Pray for the Persecuted Church

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Who is your family? Your husband, or wife, kids, and grandkids probably come to mind right away. Then there are parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters. You may have a really large family or a very small one. If you are a Christian you are part of an enormous family. You have brothers and sisters all over the world. Isn’t that amazing!

When a person accepts Jesus Christ as Savior, they become a child of God.

For you are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Galations 3:26, NASB

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. John 1:12, NASB

As Christians we are brothers and sisters in the same family, with the same Father. Our family is huge. There are over 2.38 billion Christians in the world.1 Christianity is the world’s largest religion. With that large number of Christians also comes a large amount of persecution.

Around the world, more than 340 million Christians live in places where they experience high levels of persecution, just for following Jesus. That’s 1 in 8 believers, worldwide.2

Every day, 13 Christians worldwide are killed because of their faith.

Every day, 12 churches or Christian buildings are attacked.3

In just the last year*, there have been:

  • Over 340 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution and discrimination
  • 4,761 Christians killed for their faith
  • 4,488 churches and other Christian buildings attacked
  • 4,277 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned

* 2021 World Watch List reporting period4

  • 322 Christians are killed for their faith every month (Open Doors).
  • 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed every month (Open Doors).
  • 772 forms of violence (beatings, kidnappings, rape, arrest, etc.) are committed against Christians every month (Open Doors).5

Around the world every single day millions of our brothers and sisters in Christ experience terrible persecution for following Jesus. Reading these statistics can make one feel helpless. What can we do to help our brothers and sisters in Christ? There are many things we can do to help, but the most powerful thing we can do is pray.

The book of Acts has a miraculous story of the church praying and a prisoner being set free. Peter was imprisoned for his faith by King Herod. James had already been killed and it looked like Peter was next.

So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made to God intensely by the church. Acts 12:5, NASB

Peter was asleep in his cell between two soldiers. He was bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the door. (Acts 12:6) Peter wasn’t going anywhere. But God had a plan.

And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly stood near Peter, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. Acts 12:7, NASB

God heard the passionate prayers of the church for Peter, and He answered their pleas. Peter walked out of that prison. It was a miracle. Read then entire incredible story in Acts 12:1-19.

We must pray for the persecuted church. Our brothers and sisters need us. As I sit comfortably in my living room, in America, I am blessed. I am free to worship, and pray, and read my Bible, and practice my religion without fear of imprisonment. Though its getting uglier here for Christians, we still have it quite easy. I expect persecution to come with intensity to America too, eventually. But today, I am free. So I will do what I can to support my family around the world who are losing everything because of Jesus.

I love my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

I love you all too.

Meghan

Father God,

Thank you for your amazing love and care for your children. I lift up all my brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe who are suffering because of their faith in Jesus. Bring comfort and protection to each of them and their families. Strengthen their faith and may many come to the saving grace and knowledge of Jesus as their Savior because of their suffering. You waste nothing. Use every ounce of suffering for their good and the good of the Body of Christ. Bring relief and lift their burdens. Open doors around the world for the good news of Jesus to be spread. Protect these precious siblings in the family who are willing to give up everything for Jesus. Great are their Heavenly rewards.

Amen

Here are two Christian organizations that help the persecuted church. They have prayer guides, newsletters, and practical ways to get involved.

The Voice of the Martyrs https://www.persecution.com

Open Doors

  1. https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/religion-by-country
  2. https://www.opendoorsusa.org/2021-world-watch-list-report/
  3. https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/january/christian-persecution-2021-countries-open-doors-watch-list.html
  4. https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/
  5. http://theestherproject.com/statistics/

Photo by Aslak Sonderland at Pexels.

Jesus, Obedience, Uncategorized

Take Up Your Cross

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Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

Matthew 16:24 

 

The cross means freedom to me. Jesus paid my sin debt in full. It is finished. I am free. My home is in heaven, because of the cross. I have full access to God, because of the cross. I have hope, because of the cross. I am forgiven, because of the cross. Jesus’ perfect work on the cross brought the end to death, sin, and shame.

A Roman cross means one thing, death. When Jesus tells us to take up our cross we are to die to self. The NIV, NASB, HCB and several other translations say, “he must deny himself.” We must. That is not a suggestion. That implies it is required, shouldn’t be missed. I can ignore Jesus’ words and go my own way and never pick up my cross. Then it’s all about me. Jesus won’t let me stay there. Everything changed when Jesus became my Lord and Savior. He’s calling me to something different.

Jesus saving me was the easy part. I like the saved from Hell part. But what about the cost? There is a cost to following to Jesus. Do I let it cost me? Do I stay comfortable? Am I willing to lose family, friends, comfort, reputation, and security for the sake of following Jesus? What about my life?

25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25, NASB)

Taking up our cross does not mean:

I am poverty stricken, that’s my cross.

I am stuck in a dreadful job, that’s my cross.

I am in a bad marriage, that’s my cross.

Taking up our cross daily means death to our own selfish desires. Following Jesus no matter the cost to us. It’s about obedience and surrender to the King of Kings.

26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26, NASB)

Nothing in this life is worth keeping if it means losing your soul for all eternity. The cost is great on this side of heaven to follow Jesus. Are you willing to pay the price? Some are not. They aren’t convinced. The price is too high. Jesus paid our sin debt in full with his shed blood. He asks for us to surrender fully to Him, no matter the cost. But, there are rewards waiting in heaven.

27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” (Matthew 16:27, NIV)

What if you gained every single thing the world has to offer? Money, fame, houses, vacations, and any material object you could want. Yet when you die you go to Hell because you rejected Jesus. Our souls are at stake. Life is short. Eternity cannot be measured or even grasped. Let’s make our lives count.

We are to daily take up our cross. Every single day we are to die to self. We have a choice to make. For the Christian, to surrender fully to Jesus and follow Him. For the non-believer, it’s time to make a choice. Please don’t forfeit your soul for the temporary. You can choose Jesus today. He already chose you.

The cross was a humiliating, painful means to death. As Christ followers we must daily take up our cross and follow Jesus. The cost to us is everything. We give Jesus all of who we are and all that we have. I struggle with this. I want to get to full surrender. I have moments, but they are rare. I want my comfort. I want what I think is best. I don’t want to let go. Jesus is loving, and patient. He knows what I need and He knows what is best.

May we all take up our cross daily and follow Jesus.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

Lord,

Thank you Jesus for saving us on the cross. Please help all of us who follow you to take up our crosses daily. It is not easy and we need your help to live surrendered lives. Equip us to do your will. We want to serve you and make a difference for your Kingdom. I lift up any non-believers reading this. You love them so much Lord. Draw them to you.

Amen

 

 

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