Sunday, October 25, 2009
Christian Persecution: "Raid on Full Gospel Church"
Pray that God encourage & strengthen these Christians and that He will send his angels to protect them. Pray that He use them whether they are in or out of prison. Pray that their persecutors & the rest of the community see their faith & ask what it is about this Christianity that causes them to risk their lives & make people hate them so much. Also, pray that when we begin to suffer persecution, that we will hold fast & never bend under the pressure of Satan & his emissaries.
A muscle does not grow unless stress it put upon it. It is the same with the church. Those Christians who suffer persecution are like no other Christian you will ever meet. Persecution against the Church is begging to grow. Every time the Church has been persecuted in the past it resulted in a stronger, more faithful Church.
Many times in the Bible, persecution has been compared to the threshing of wheat. Back before we had machines to do all of it for us, the farmers would place wheat on the ground & toss the wheat into the air. As the wind blew, the chaff (the useless part of the wheat) would blow away, leaving only the good, useful grain.
This is what happens when the Church is put under persecution. Persecution is a time of weeding out the weak & useless, a time for the chaff to be blown away.
You need to decide now. Are you going to be chaff or grain?
Just before Stephen was stoned (Acts 7), he looked up to Heaven & proclaimed that he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Act 7:55-56).
I heard a preacher once preach on this & he commented that he couldn't find any other reference of Jesus standing next to God, he was always sitting next to God. So he asked, "Why did Stephen say he was standing? Did he make a mistake?" He went on to say that he believed that Jesus, seeing Stephen's faith & knowing what was about to happen to him, Jesus stood.
Just as when we are at a football game & the whole game depends on the last couple of seconds & your team is just slightly behind but has the ball. What do you do? You stand. You are excited.
This preacher thought it was a similar reaction with Jesus. He saw that his boy, Stephen had just stood up & witnessed to the Sanhedrin and knowing that because of what Stephen had just said he was about to die, Jesus stood up. He was excited, he was proud of him, & he was about to welcome his friend home.
When the gun or knife is pointed at you, are you going to cower away later to feel the shame that Peter felt at denying Christ, or when you die is Christ going to raise to his feet & say to God, "Father, just wait till you meet this girl/guy!"?