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(Voice of the Persecuted) In these troubled and unstable times, many feel as though threats loom around every corner. We’re bombarded with constant news of terrorist attacks or those which have been thwarted, war or the threat thereof, the refugee crisis, economic woes, intolerance disguised as tolerance, growing divisions among citizens in nearly every nation, increasing violence and hatred. It can be very difficult to deal with and extremely intimidating. But as Christians, it would be hard not to notice the push to remove God and His Word from society as a whole. The attacks against our faith in Christ and the rapid rise of Christian persecution, quite possibly by our friends and family members. How does one not become overwhelmed by the pressures of this world? What can we do as believers in Christ to keep from being crushed by the darkness closing in?
Put your focus back on Jesus, have faith. FEAR is a distraction to draw you away from him. Remember God’s promises. He is faithful and His Word will never come back void! To know where these attacks come from and why, STUDY God’s Word here and equip yourselves with courage.
Read scriptures that can guide and encourage you on topics relating to fear, such as fear and anxiety, fear of love, fear of the unknown and fear of death. Read verses from the Holy Bible about fear in relation to God, Jesus Christ, and the Christian faith.
Let us encourage one another come what may…Love wins! Below are Bible verses about fear to help you overcome. God bless you, dear brothers and sisters. May God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord. AMEN
4 say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
1 But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
11 You who fear him, trust in the LORD— he is their help and shield.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—
1 Praise the LORD.Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands.
6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.
3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
13 For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
4 “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats ; do not be frightened.”
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
source Bible Study Tools
Day #41 — BREAKTHROUGH FAITH
“Jesus said to her, Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11: 40)
Because I believe, I know that I will see the glory of God!
People often pray, “Use me, O Lord,” and then do nothing! You cannot wait to feel faith. Faith is not a feeling. You simply do what should be done when you know that you cannot succeed unless God helps you. The whole Bible is written to break down unbelief, and build up our trust in God.
There is no greater challenge, no greater call, no greater personal instruction than to read and take heed God’s Word, imprinting it on the pages of your heart and mind. Walking daily in the power of His Word will make a permanent impact on your faith, your emotions, and your destiny. “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to God’s word” (Psalm 119:9). Daily Fire Devotional is a collection of dynamic devotionals from the powerful writings of evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. With its simple, convenient, easy–to–read format, you can take this book anywhere and plunge in at any point, choosing to read specific indexed selections focused on a particular topic or to read it chronologically as your personal daily Bible reading program. Much more than a daily devotional, this book will to give you a passion for lost souls and motivate you to be a soulwinner. Features a brief, daily motivational message; a Scripture verse for the day; related Bible passages; a “Daily Fire” encouragement to carry you through the day; and a verse plan to help you read through the entire Bible in one year.
Get the Daily Fire Devotional: 365 Days in God’s Word by Reinhard Bonnke.
Many times we find ourselves saying, I should start reading the Bible, or I need to get into the Word. Often this thought gets put aside due to our hectic schedules and the trials of the day. If this sounds like you, I’ve got great news…Today is a new day! A day to purposely choose to begin one of the most important things we as those called by Christ can do, read God’s word.
It is where you will learn His plan for us and this world which seems to be collapsing in on itself. How we can have true peace and joy. Courage in times where worldly men fear. Hope in the many promises that God has given to us. And to come to know the One who created all things for Himself, including you!
Commit yourself to reading the Bible. Begin by praying for wisdom and understanding through the Holy Spirit. Be still. Think yourself EMPTY, then read yourself FULL!
Click Here for resources to help you get started. And may God bless you on this wonderful journey where HE will go with you!
One month ago thousands to millions of people across the globe gathered to pray for our Brother Pastor Saeed Abedini’s release. Today Saeed has been imprisoned for 2 years and 1 month, this article is a reminder to continue to pray for his release.
If you look back to the 7 points of prayer of the vigil the first prayer request is for Saeed’s immediate release. As Colossians 4:2 (ESV) urges us to “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” I humbly request that you continue to pray for Saeed and for his immediate release.
Recently, on October 24, 2013 an article was written encouraging us to pray for a minimum of 2 minutes a day for the immediate release (http://freeallthree.com/2014/10/24/thirty-days-to-november-24-deadline-for-p51-iran-to-reach-final-nuke-deal-can-you-pray2minutes/). This is one worthy of being read.
Encouraging 2 minute prayer, one that might look like this;
“Dear God, thank you for allowing me to pray for my brother Saeed Abedini, and the persecuted church. You encourage us in Matthew 21:22 (ESV) “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. “to ask in faith as well as in James 1:6 (ESV), “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” without doubt I ask with faith for Saeed’s release and the many other refugees and believers in Christ that you know.
I thank you God for the growth in my faith through the persecuted trials, thank you that I can pray earnestly night and day for our brother and sisters in Christ who suffer, through this fill what is lacking in my faith. You tell us in 1 Thessalonians 3:10 (ESV), “ as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?”, show me where I can grow, challenge me and comfort me in times of growth. I love you God and thank you for your son Jesus who died and rose for my salvation.
I ask that in my life I can be a testimony for you, that those in persecution will be an encouraging factor in my life to share Christ with boldness. As Apostle Paul has done in Phillipi may I have the same boldness in my household, town, and beyond? I am reminded of that boldness in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 (ESV), “But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.” As Paul has done and my persecuted brothers in Christ have done. Prepare me for the persecution in my life, your Word tells us in 2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV) “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” All who desire to live godly lives in your son will be persecuted, let my life reflect you, I welcome the persecution and count it joy when these trials come, as you say in James 1:2 (ESV), “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,”
I pray this in your precious Son’s name: Jesus Christ, may I glorify Him in everything, Amen.”
Setting an online timer, the prayer above is a little over 2 minutes. I encourage you to pray that daily. I also encourage you to add to it, as the Lord leads you, add to it.
The shared attachment is an opportunity for you to participate in a worldwide prayer meeting. This year, Voice of the Persecuted is uniting together in prayer with other organizations and in promoting the International Day of Prayer, or IDOP, among Christians in the U.S and around the world. In the spirit of oneness that Christ commanded: For, if one suffers, we all suffer (Hebrews 13:3).
I challenge all of you, as it is written in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV), to “pray without ceasing,” Join me and thousands around the world on Sunday November 2nd between 8a and 8p and again on Sunday November 9th between 8a to 8p to do one thing and that is PRAY ON.
by Dr. Jim Seward
(VOP) I was introduced to Naghmeh Abedini, on a cold December 2012 morning, while getting ready, I turned the television on to find a woman speaking of her husband who was imprisoned in Iran, for nothing more than being a Christian. I stopped everything and watched more. Naghmeh, whom I learned was his wife, shared that Saeed was in Iran to start an orphanage and how the Iranian Guards forcibly took him. It wasn’t until I learned of Rebekka and Jacob, his two children that I thought, there must be something I can do?
As a father of three young children, in similar ages, my heart hurt for Saeed. Naghmeh shared of the upcoming January 27, 2013 sentencing and how confident she was that he’d be home. I ran into the living room to find my wife preparing my girls for school, i.e., brushing hair, etc. I told her of the story I heard and said I was going to start a prayer facebook page to encourage others to pray for Saeed. The facebook group page “Praying for American Pastor Saeed Abedini” was born.
After inviting all my friends and my wives friends to this page, it began to attract others. It wasn’t until I noticed Naghmeh’s name requesting to be a member when I thought I have a responsibility to encourage this woman and trust others will with this group page. As I encouraged her, I was being encouraged, I noticed more people submitting encouraging prayers, verses, and thoughts. Through this facebook group, we assisted in yellow page letters campaigns to the Secretary of State office, we’ve shown support by having yellow within your profile picture. The most memorable was the “Endure for Saeed” 5K that Boise, Idaho hosted. My wife Amy stated something about it in May 2013, we both said “we should do that?’ 5 months later, in October 2013, we hosted one here in Fort Dodge, Iowa, where Naghmeh came and spoke.
Endure for Saeed 5K was held October 19th at Northfield Church of Christ, Fort Dodge. 160 people endured the 40 degree weather, the drizzle, and the 15 mph winds for Imprisoned American Pastor Saeed Abedini. Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Saeed, was there to share his story: on September 26, 2012, Saeed, an Iranian born American citizen, was jailed in Iran and thrown into one of the worst prisons in the world – Evin Prison – simply because of his Christian faith. Saeed has been beaten, tortured, and put under great psychological and emotional pressure. Pastor Saeed has stood strong in his faith in Jesus Christ and has become for many the face of the persecuted church around the world and a symbol for religious freedom and human rights. This message was presented by a woman who has received peace from God. 160 people from Fort Dodge and surrounding communities and as far as Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa and Overland Park, Kansas came to support, love, and encourage Naghmeh.
It was an exciting time to meet and hear the woman I have been praying for. My whole family prays for Saeed, and we still do. We circle up in the morning to “pray in” and always close with Saeed’s immediate release and safety. It was this visit from Naghmeh to see and hear her passion and love for the persecuted church, it was an awakening for me. They were brothers and sisters in Christ who for their faith had to find refuge in other lands. So I prayed steadily for Saeed and the persecuted church.
I admire Naghmeh, I respect her, and love that she is Saeed’s voice. I truly believe God is using her as the face to the religious freedom in the United States. I enjoy what Dr. Charles Stanley has said,
God isn’t looking for impressive people; He wants willing ones who will bow the knee in humble submission. Being weak and ordinary doesn’t make you useless. Rather, it positions you for a demonstration of divine power in your life. He takes insignificant ones and delights in making them great.
If you’d ask Naghmeh, she’d tell you that she was not “impressive” but meek, quiet, humble. Not a fan of public speaking, enjoyed being supportive, but now God is using her. He has allowed her to speak to 196 nations about Jesus Christ, while sharing Saeed’s story. Therefore I add her to the praying points. I am confident she’d probably not want the attention, as humble and grace filled as she is. Even in the midst of concerns, there are many praises to God for the situation that Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini find themselves in. Psalm 143:1 (ESV), reads “Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness.” Although there has been many changes in Saeed’s situation, one thing I know that is constant, our prayers. I’ve taken the privilege to extend seven prayer points that was prayed at vigils across 500 cities and 35 countries adding detail to them for guidance in praying for Saeed and the persecuted church. Please pray for the following;
- For Saeed’s immediate release.
- For the Abedini support, for one another that we may never tire on waiting for the Lord to be glorified.
- For Saeed’s Health; for medicines to be received.
- For the pain to cease from his injuries.
- For Saeed to receive treatment for his injuries.
- For Saeed’s peace of mind, for his mental regulation and his wellbeing.
- For Saeed’s safety in prison, that cellmates will not danger him.
- For prison guards, wisdom and discernment as they oversee Saeed’s ward.
- Pray for cellmates and guards to come to know Christ through Saeed’s testimony. For spiritual support.
- For Naghmeh’s faith in Christ to grow, to remain strong and humble in spirit.
- For Naghmeh to know when to rest. Her peace of mind, and emotional regulation.
- For Saeed’s children, Rebekkah & Jacob that they will enjoy life and know their dad is safe in Christ.
- For Saeed’s imprisonment will point to Christ and souls saved around the world, changed hearts.
- For the Iranian country that many will come to know Christ and their world view will change to Christ.
- For the unity of Christians, for revival to occur, for our voice to be stronger in Christ for souls to be saved.
- For President Obama’s voice to be louder and stronger for the release of Saeed.
- For Secretary of State John Kerry that he will begin to consistently ask for the release of Saeed.
- For the Iranian Supreme Leader’s heart and mind to be changed and clemency to be given.
- For the preparation of Saeed’s release when that time arrives that events are in order.
- For the persecuted church, around the world, that God will provide a hedge of protection around them as they worship and share Christ.
I am confident all of you have been praying (Col 4:2); as we continue, let us watch and as each prayer is answered let us praise God and rejoice. As detailed as the above requests are for Saeed, I encourage you to continue to pray for the persecuted church in this manner:
- That the Lord would give them Grace and strength to endure the abuse and persecution that they may be a shining light for Jesus wherever they are at.
- Families of persecuted Christians. That their children would grow strong in their faith in Jesus and not be resentful. That the Lord would give the spouses strength and patience to wait and to be light of Jesus to their communities and to the hurting world.
- Revival in our cities as we gather in unity to pray for the persecuted Christians. That the Lord would use this time to awaken the churches and the Body of Christ in our cities and in our countries.
These prayer requests provide a concrete foundation for prayer for Saeed and the persecuted church, as well as for us the church. To find unity and revival in our hearts, who are we that we should pray earnestly for Saeed and Persecuted Church and not for revival in our hometown. Encouraged by Naghmeh to share Saeed’s story to share Christ, as strange a concept, it can be done. Some Christians may have an easier time sharing Saeed’s testimony then Christ’s gospel. But as you tell Saeed’s story, peppered in it the love he has for God, and the joy he finds in being imprisoned, the gospel is shared.
I pray that as you pray that you will grow in your prayer life and know that in doing so, you will have a better opportunity to resist the devil (James 4:7). The benefit of prayer is drawing closer to God and as you draw close to Him, what does He do? He is drawing closer to you (James 4:8), your relationship with God is strengthening and your love for Him deepens.
Rom 12:12 (ESV), “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Phl 1:9 (ESV), “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,”
I leave you with this charge: continue to pray, for Saeed, the persecuted church, and for each other that through our experience of prayer our relationship with God grows, and we surrender to His will for our life, that His Kingdom in all that we do is glorified. Pray on.
by Dr. Jim Seward
Voice of the Persecuted would like to welcome Dr. Seward to the team! His heart breaks for and is called to serve the persecuted Church. For this reason and for the commitment he has shown, we have asked Jim to press forward with us in the mission. He will being joining VOP by sharing a monthly call to prayer helping us to remember and stay focused in our much needed prayers for our persecuted family. Please keep him in your prayers asking the Lord to lead him, as he embarks in this extremely important part of our mission, the power of prayer.
Lois Kanalos and the VOP team
As chaos spreads, the world seems to be edging closer to all out war and destruction. But there is a far greater unseen battle that is raging on—a spiritual battle.
Many report we’re witnessing a war against Christianity.The persecution that Christians are facing today, surpasses any other time in history. Though others are subjected to suffering at the hands of oppressors, Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. A growing hatred and horrific brutality perpetrated against them. These attacks are being recorded daily, shocking the very core of modern civilization. What stirs hatred so deep and hardens hearts to be ice cold? It goes beyond the comprehension of most.
Jesus told us, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (John 15:18-20)
What is this ‘Spiritual Battle’ taking place?
In one example in Hebrews we read of the unseen spiritual realm—Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. As Christians we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. HE gives us no reason to doubt HIM and we can trust HIS words as Truth. Though unseen, the spiritual realm of God is real.
Anyone who who truly follows Christ will become a target in this unseen battle.
Many, even some in the Church mock any reference of a spiritual battle. But the Bible says we have an enemy [the devil] prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Satan was the first to rebel against God. His goal, to be God…this is where the battle begins. He is not alone…others followed him. Scripture tells us we have an enemy who seeks to destroy and will do all he can to discourage, tempt, lie and accuse to corrupt us. We are his main targets. The Bible tells us that Satan knows his time is short. He is set on deceiving Christians, so we will doubt and feel defeated. But Jesus promises that His followers can both survive and thrive through the battle: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10) In Christ, we will have strength.
How can I be a true disciple and warrior for Christ?
We need to put on the armor (Ephesians 6:10-18).
‘The Christian life requires discipleship. We follow Christ while using his life as the example for the way we should live. We read and implement his words and commands into our own lives, living out our faith. The love Christ has for us far out ways the love of man. He laid down his own life so that we would be set free from sin and death. There is no way by our own hands that we can be saved. Redemption solely comes through Christ and there is salvation in no one else. He even calls us friend when we do as he commands.
- Repent—Matthew 4:17—Humility
- Follow Me—Matthew 4:19
- Rejoice—Matthew 5:12
- Let Your Light Shine—Matthew 5:16 —to bring God glory
- Honor God’s Law—Matthew 5:17–18
- Be Reconciled—Matthew 5:24–25
- Do Not Commit Adultery—Matthew 5:29–30
- Keep Your Word—Matthew 5:37
- Go the Second Mile—Matthew 5:38–42
- Love Your Enemies—Matthew 5:44
- Be Perfect—Matthew 5:48
- Practice Secret Disciplines—Matthew 6:1–18
- Lay Up Treasures—Matthew 6:19–21 —Give
- Seek God’s Kingdom—Matthew 6:33
- Judge Not—Matthew 7:1
- Do Not Cast Pearls—Matthew 7:6
- Ask, Seek, and Knock—Matthew 7:7–8
- Do Unto Others—Matthew 7:12
- Choose the Narrow Way—Matthew 7:13–14
- Beware of False Prophets—Matthew 7:15
- Pray For Laborers—Matthew 9:38
- Be Wise as Serpents—Matthew 10:16
- Fear God, Not Man—Matthew 10:26
- Hear God’s Voice—Matthew 11:15
- Take My Yoke—Matthew 11:29
- Honor Your Parents—Matthew 15:4
- Beware of Leaven—Matthew 16:6
- Deny Yourself—Luke 9:23
- Despise Not Little Ones—Matthew 18:10
- Go to Offenders—Matthew 18:15
- Beware of Covetousness—Luke 12:15
- Forgive Offenders—Matthew 18:21–22
- Honor Marriage—Matthew 19:6
- Be a Servant—Matthew 20:26–28
- Be a House of Prayer—Matthew 21:13
- Ask in Faith—Matthew 21:21–22
- Bring in the Poor—Luke 14:12–14
- Render to Caesar—Matthew 22:19–21
- Love the Lord—Matthew 22:37–38
- Love Your Neighbor—Matthew 22:39
- Await My Return—Matthew 24:42–44
- Remember His sacrifice—Matthew 26:26–27
- Be Born Again—John 3:7—Security
- Keep My Commandments—John 14:15
- Watch and Pray—Matthew 26:41
- Feed My Sheep—John 21:15–16
- Baptize My Disciples—Matthew 28:19
- Receive God’s Power—Luke 24:49
- Give–Luke 6:38
- Make Disciples—Matthew 28:20
Think of them as your instructions for being disciples and warriors of our Lord and Savior. And for carrying out the Great Commission spreading the Gospel—his teachings to all the world.
Be encouraged by the prayer that Jesus prayed for us.
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Jesus Prays for All Believers
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:6-26)
Consider how Jesus handled attacks from Satan when He was tempted by him (Matthew 4:1-11). Each temptation was answered with the words, “It is written.” Jesus knew the Word of God is the most powerful weapon against the temptations of the devil. If Jesus Himself used the Word to counter the devil’s attacks, should we do it any other way?
The Armor of God
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvationand the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Become a warrior, put on the armor of God. Take the Sword of the Lord and be prepared in this raging battle. On our Study the Bible page, you will find an explanation of what the Bible is and why God gave it to us. We have compiled ways to help you get started reading the Word. Whether you are new to study or would like to get back to the Bible, we’d like to encourage you to start today.
I know a woman whose life was very hard through no fault of her own. She and her husband had 8 children together when he was murdered, leaving her a widow with very little means to survive. Family members offered to take the younger children so she could try to survive with the older ones. She told them they might as well have asked for her arms, or legs, or her very heart. She could not part with any of her children.
Her children remained poor, but they were loved. This simple, widowed mother was asked one time which child she loved the best. That question would shock some of us, as we might wrestle within ourselves with guilt over the tension and frustration we feel toward some of our own kids. I mean, I could see wrestling with the question and having to ask myself, “Oh, no! Is there a chance I love one child more than another?” –I don’t, mind you, but my emotional weakness would cause me a little anxiety.
But the question did not cause this woman even the slightest angst. She was not flummoxed by it a bit. Her answer was simple and to the point. When asked which child she loved the most, she quickly and calmly replied, “Whichever one is hurt.” The child who is hurting is the one most in need of a mother’s love and, thus, the one to whom her love must be directed. It’s a simple, profoundly true concept.
I know it is not appropriate to take our own illustrations and project them upward, onto God. Yet, the truth of love and its direction toward the needy must correlate to some extent. It might be better to say it this way. The reason a mother (or father) knows instinctively to love the child in need is that we have a heavenly Father whose heart is toward the needy, the suffering, and, especially, the persecuted–those who suffer explicitly because they belong to Him.
When Christ’s martyr Stephen was stoned, Christ was standing there to receive him (Acts 7). When Christians are called on by governors and authorities to answer for their faith in Christ, they are instructed by Him not to prepare what to say because His very Spirit would speak through them in that hour:
they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. 13“It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. 14“So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 15for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. (Luke 21:12-15, NASB)
We could continue on–Christ identifies Himself as the object of persecution when He calls Saul to account (Acts 9). He takes it personally: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” And, Christ is pictured in Revelation as holding all time at bay until the full number of his saints are martyred, then the reckoning will follow, and his angels of vengeance will reap full justice on the earth (Revelation 6…). The principle seems sound to me. Christ is particularly present with his saints who are suffering on account of Him.
So, below, I have listed a few examples of Christians who may be the objects of Christ’s particular love and affections–where He may be particularly present in this hour of need. Let us, too, draw near to Him and offer prayers for these suffering saints since we ourselves are in the body.
From Back to Jerusalem: Muslims in Syria recently crucified two Christian teenagers for refusing to convert to Islam. The story was reported on a Croatian Catholic website by Sister Raghida, former head nun at the Christian School in Damascus who witnessed the atrocity. (This story is graphic. Villages were stormed and Christians killed mercilessly. Some were beheaded, and the killers “played soccer” with their heads).
Lela Gilbert reminds us of the plight of Asia Bibi: Nonetheless, since 2009, this falsely accused woman has been on death row in a filthy prison cell, wondering if and when her death sentence will enforced. She longs for husband and five children. Day and night, in squalid surroundings, she fights off her fears, endures physical illness and prays.
And from Nigeria: Muslim herdsmen armed with guns and machetes on Friday night (March 14) launched attacks on three villages in Kaduna state, killing more than 100 Christians and destroying homes, sources said.
May the Lord indeed be present with His people in their darkest hours, as we help them through our prayers (see 2 Corinthians 1:5-11).