Praise and Rejoice !

19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.— Ephesians 5:19 NLT

 Ephesians 5:15-20 NLT

If we take any time to read the testimonies of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted by being imprisoned, our hearts will break at the stories of their cruel treatment.  Sleeping in hot containers in the blazing sun or on cold ground in winter time.  Being allowed only one set of clothing with no laundering facilities for months. Being fed one meal a day (on good days) and that being nothing but gruel.  Being given the worst of the chores, such as shoveling out the latrine pools and carrying the waste away in buckets.  Being beaten for witnessing to the other prisoners.  When these brothers and sisters are interviewed (if they survive), they each have amazing stories of how God was gracious to them, providing supernatural spiritual, mental and physical strength.  But there is one common theme that runs through their stories.  When asked the question; “How do you survive such cruel treatment for such a long length of time?”   They tell stories of singing the spiritual songs they have learned while serving Jesus.  Some are old hymns, some are psalms and other Bible verses set to music, some are words that God has given them for just such a time.  Helen Berthane tells her story of imprisonment in the containers in Eritrea in her book,  “The Song of the Nightingale”.  In her book, she tells of many songs that Jesus gave to her.  In our own lives, though we certainly have never tasted such cruel punishment for our Christian beliefs, such songs can get us through the hardest times.  Take the time to commit some Spiritual songs to memory and the next time, satan shoots his fiery arrows at you, repel them with your favorite songs and verses.  He will flee.

Acts 16:25-30 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 01-14-2019

Why Are We Persecuted?

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20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. – John 15:20 ISV
In His lifetime here on earth, Jesus suffered rejection, ridicule, mockery, and finally death on a cross.  While he was living out His life as an example to us, He promised us that we would be offended and suffer persecution as well.  When we suffer for His sake, we should be happy that He has chosen us to suffer with and for Him because we will receive a blessing here and a reward later.
 
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.– Matt. 5: 11, 12 NLT
 
God also disciplines His children and the discipline is for our benefit so that we grow and mature in His service.

 

19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. — Hebrews 3:19 NLT

I like the NLT translation of this verse because the way most of us Christians sin is through indifference.  So what, if my neighbors are lost, I am not going to get involved.  Yeah, I felt that little nudge to speak or act but I am not going to do anything.  Yes, I should visit the sick but I just don’t have the time. Woe unto us!! Jesus will not ignore these sins of indifference, there will be discipline for His children in this world, not in eternity.  The kids of satan may prosper here because they are not God’s children to discipline but they will suffer punishment, the full wrath of God’s anger, for an eternity.  So, we don’t need to concern ourselves with how God handles them.
We need to be concerned over why we are suffering:  Is it persecution for His sake or discipline for our mistake?

 
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Post 09-17-2018

Praying for Our Persecuted Christian Brothers and Sisters

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11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. – 2 Cor.1:11 NLT
 
When we read these verses, we need to consider our brothers and sisters who live in places where persecution and imprisonment are still common practice today.  They need our prayers and our encouragement on a daily basis.  There are numerous testimonies from these Christians about being able to endure their harsh treatment because they received cards and/or knew that other Christians were praying for them daily.  They, as Paul, have learned to rely on God to deliver them from deadly perils.  Until recently we, in the free world, have not been subject to such unfair and brutal treatment.  That time has passed and we are being tested here in America, as well as other so called free countries. Christians are being ridiculed, beaten to death and imprisoned for refusing to deny their faith and their beliefs.  We need to pray and encourage each other daily.  Our hope is still in Jesus Christ.  He is our Redeemer, our Savior and our Lord. There is no other God that is capable of loving their followers and delivering them from every situation. We need to understand that some times that deliverance includes physical death. But we need to count it all joy and say along with Paul:

20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. — Phil. 1:20, 21 NIV

 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 05-29-2018

“Behold the Man!”

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 “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.
– John 19:3 NLT
 

The mockery and the persecution goes on and on. A whip with jagged pieces of metal that literally tore the flesh from His back, a crown of thorns that was pushed viciously down upon His brow and a another slap across the face. All this plus the verbal mockery of His truthful claims as to who He really was. Then Pilate goes back out to the crowd and says “I find Him not guilty”. Pilate could have stopped the proceedings then and there, but he chose not to do so. He has Jesus brought out wearing the purple robe and the crown of thorns and Pilate speaks to the people.
“Ecce homo!” “Behold the man”!
The crowd wants Jesus crucified and they let Pilate know that loudly. Pilate tells the crowd they can take Jesus and crucify Him. He knows they can’t administer the death penalty. It is just a ploy to assuage his quilt. Today, I say to all of us, “Behold the Man”, what will we do with Jesus? Will our words and actions or the lack thereof scream ‘Crucify Him’ or will they plead for His acceptance?
Behold the Man”!!!

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 12-06-2017

It’s Our Turn

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Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked. – John 18:4 NLT

Jesus was fully aware of what would happen this night and every night until He ascended into heaven. But, because He loved us so much, He was willing to face the persecution, the ridicule, the mockery, the beatings and the agony, that was the cross. Jesus had known this from time immemorial, yet He came to earth and dwelt among us in the flesh. Our finite minds cannot grasp or understand this infinite, unconditional love. But there is a void in us that can only be filled with this love. The world is looking for this love without knowing or understanding why. There was a time in each of our lives when we were in the same place as the lost people around us. We were looking for something or someone. If we had been asked, “Who are you looking for?”, we probably would not have understood that we were looking for Jesus and our answer would not have been so quick and sure. But then, someone took the time to share with us about the love of Jesus and we realized that He was who we were looking for.
Even if we are staring death in the face just as Jesus was at that time, are we willing to take the time today to ask someone “Who are you looking for?” 
and then share the love of Jesus with them?

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 11-28-17

Keep On Keeping On!

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“I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. – John 16:1 NLT
 

Jesus is warning His disciples and us that there will be times when the path will not be so smooth. There will be times when we are mistreated and offended for the Gospel’s sake, but we need to press on. Paul thought he was doing a service for God when he was persecuting and killing Christians. He was walking in darkness but he encountered a powerful Light that changed his life. As long as Jesus was here with the disciples He knew that He would be the target for all the abuse. But now that He was leaving, He knew that He had to reinforce the things He had been teaching them. We need that same encouragement every day in our lives. It is easy for us to become frustrated and want to give up, but we have a friend that sticks closer to us than a brother. He is always with us. As Paul learned after his life-changing event, we must suffer with Christ. There is a cross for each of us to bear. But we must remember and hang onto the conclusion that Paul came to in his journey.
18 The sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be shown to us. 19 Everything God made is waiting with excitement for God to show his children’s glory completely.Romans 8:18,19 NCV
6 God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure he will continue it until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes againPhilippians 1:6 NCV

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 11-14-2017

Take Up Your Cross

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14 And then, dear brothers and sisters, you suffered persecution from your own countrymen. In this way, you imitated the believers in God’s churches in Judea who, because of their belief in Christ Jesus, suffered from their own people, the Jews.
— 1 Thessalonians 2:14 NLT
We can talk about a lot of different things and different “gods” and most people may not even pay attention to what we are saying. But when we talk about the Good News, which is “the very Word of God”, we will get some sort of reaction. The Name of Jesus is not neutral and when it is spoken, it requires that a decision be made by the hearer. No response or not accepting is still a decision. If we allow the Word to continue its work in us, we will be persecuted by the worldly factions. Since the Creator was persecuted, even to death, how can we, the creation, expect not to be persecuted?
 

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

Post 03-16-17