“When Persecution Comes”
August 4, 2015
These Mennonite girls seemed to be having a good time although it sure seems to us it wouldn’t be very comfortable for the two girls sitting on those narrow fenders, though there may be more “seat” than meets the eye!
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“But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them” (Mark 13:9). “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3). “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:19).
Many of us here in America believe, especially given the direction our country is taking and the rapid increase in evil, that a time of persecution is coming. It seems to us we are moving toward a state religion of godless secularism with attempts at forced compliance. Just consider the many efforts to force people to participate in activities they morally oppose such as gay “weddings”, or funding abortion and the “morning after” pill. In this sense many are already being persecuted. Just yesterday our Senate could not muster enough votes to cease tax-payer funding of the exceeding wicked organization “Planned Parenthood” which is now selling baby parts and according to one report whole babies from abortions. One grieves and wonders just how long God’s judgment will be withheld.
However whenever we think with some trepidation that persecution may very well be coming for people of faith we must recall that for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ persecution is already here and so many have lived knowing nothing but persecution being the norm.
One of the great fulfillments in any kind of ministry is the blessing of helping others, especially in their spiritual walk. We hope all of you have experienced that fulfillment to some degree in your own ministry! But we receive an extra measure of fulfillment when we hear from those who read our messages in closed countries where Christians suffer persecution.
Last week we heard from Syed Ibn Syed, one such reader in the Middle East, whom we have been communicating with for a number of years. He has requested that we keep his real name and location private due to the dangers his stand for Christ places him in. He informed us that our Daily Encouragement website brought encouragement and spiritual nourishment during desert experiences. He writes, “Thanks to the Daily Encouragement site and especially to Dr. Stephen Weber for being faithful in building us up in the Lord.” (Although actually I am not a doctor nor have I ever played one on TV!)
“Since I am in the Middle East ministering to Muslims, Please don’t include my real name in your newsletter. It is a grave security threat for me if my name ever gets out. The name to be used is Syed Ibn Syed. This is my pen name and I go by this in all my correspondence. My book is also written in that name. You have encouraged me through your website regularly when I was extremely spiritually down.”
He was on the verge of suicide when the miraculous happened, and he gave his life to Jesus instead. A former Muslim, he has been walking with Christ for a quarter of a century and maintains a deep passion and love for Muslim people.
Because of his background, Syed is equipped to share the gospel and the love of Jesus in unique ways. He has a master’s degree in religion, speaks nine different languages, and conducts seminars and conferences in various countries. He has written a book which is not only an account of his incredible journey with Christ but also a celebration of the love and grace of God.
Syed writes, “Thank you so much for your kind and considerate heart brother. Please keep up the good work. You don’t know how much of a blessing you have been to me and to us as a family. Because of your daily encouragement we have found the strength spiritually to keep going on amidst a very tough, dangerous and difficult field. Blessings Brother.”
Today’s first Scripture reading is from the Gospel according to Luke. Each of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) has a long chapter devoted to what is known as the Olivet Discourse, a sermon given by the Lord on the Mount of Olives just prior to His death. In this message Christ shares regarding future events and warns His followers to expect persecution: “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.”
Persecution has long been a part of the life of the church practically from the beginning, though it’s difficult for many of us to identify with our persecuted brethren around the world. This is especially true if we live in free countries where we haven’t yet experienced significant persecution.
Let us remember and pray regularly for persecuted believers. In Hebrews 13:3 we are called to seek to identify with these believers, “as bound with them” and “as being yourselves also in the body.” As we seek to identify we also need to consider the unwavering faith required if we were to face persecution and even execution. May the Almighty God equip us as we persevere in our faith, professing Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, help us to be moved by the plight of those who are prepared to suffer and even lay down their lives for the sake of Christ. We remember them and their families in our prayers and remember them as warriors of the faith, who for the joy set before them are enduring the suffering, shame and agony of their tormentors. As they endure the humiliation they also overcome their suffering and humiliation by the blood of the Lamb. Scores of the persecuted have already received the crown of life in heaven that is rewarded to those martyred for their faith. On Coronation Day when we all gather in heaven we look forward to enjoying earnest fellowship with these tried and true saints of our faith who did not give up their faith nor meeting together with other believers to worship You. Keep us faithful when tested by fire, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Syed’s online book can be ordered here. It’s available as both an Ebook and softcover. I ordered one as an Ebook ($3.99) and it’s a very informative read giving us the perspective of living under a cloud of persecution.
With our heavy topic today we would like to share some photos of the peacefulness of our rural area. You ask and we supply more photos of various types of transportation modes we saw on the roads throughout Lancaster County in July.
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