TODAY'S WORD FOR Friday, May 15, 2020:
The state of suffering, harassing or cruel treatment because of religion, race or beliefs.
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE:
Down through the ages there has been persecution. After Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples and the early church in Jerusalem became targets of persecution. Christians today are still targets of persecution all around the world. Christians are being marked today by many groups as a threat to their beliefs or thoughts. We want to share with you a few facts as to what is happening to Christians.
Here in America there is an assault being taken against Christians. It is now not acceptable to pray in classrooms and in many group situations. It is not acceptable, in some situations, to mention God and one’s belief in God in speeches where the public is in attendance. We have forgotten about the Judeo-Christian standards that our country was founded on. Our judicial system and political leaders are systematically removing our Biblical heritage from our society and even writing it out of our history books.
Eighty percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians. Over 100,000 Christians living in 139 countries were martyred in the last 12 months because of their faith in Jesus.
In the last 12 months in India alone, 1,500 Christians were hacked to death in Orissa and 80,000 Christians were made homeless because of their faith in Jesus.
Thirty-five percent of all Christians in North Korea are living in forced labor camps. This number is increasing dramatically daily because of the growing amount of Christians in North Korea.
Persecution goes back to the early days of Christianity. We read in Acts 8:1-4 about Saul (Paul was known as Saul before he found Jesus as his Savior) having a murderous hatred of all believers. Saul was the instigator of a great persecution of Christians in the Church in Jerusalem and the scripture tells us that as a result there was a mass scattering of believers away from Jerusalem. There was a positive result even in the midst of such terrible horror. It led to the spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire as the Christians fled from Israel to avoid persecution.
Persecution is alive and well today and it is ongoing at this moment. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus instructs us to pray for those who persecute us. No one knows more than Jesus what it means to be persecuted. Jesus was rejected, betrayed, and mocked, spit upon in the face, stripped naked, beaten, nailed to a cross and hung to die in agony.
Jesus endured suffering, pain, agony and the most painful of deaths in order to save us from our sins. Yet even as Jesus hung dying on the cross He prayed for His persecutors asking the Father to forgive them.
God hates sin and all of our evil ways yet He loves us no matter how great our sin. Jesus asks us to hate the evil things people do but to love the person who does the evil. This goes against our nature and is most difficult to do, so why would Jesus ask this of us? The reason is for us to learn forgiveness. Jesus has forgiven us so much and we are to forgive others even those who persecute us as He has forgiven us and forgave those who persecuted Him.
Christians in Muslim dominated countries are suffering real and ongoing persecution today. We feel compelled to share with you this portion of an e-mail we received.
The UN has withdrawn from our area and missionaries are on their own. A pastor wrote that ISIS has taken over the town and is systematically going house to house looking for Christians and then asking the children to denounce their faith in Jesus. He said so far not one child has denounced their faith in Jesus and consequently all have been killed and the parents were forced to watch as their children were killed.
Another writes, “We lost the city of Queragosh. This is a city that we have been smuggling food to. ISIS pushed back Kurdish forces and now is within 10 minutes of where our team is working. We must stay here with the believers and non-believers who cannot leave here.”
it is urgent that we do as Jesus said. We must pray urgently for the persecuted that they will be spared and we must pray for the persecutors that their hearts might be changed.
Worrying about persecution for our faith is natural. We must be diligent in standing up for our faith and encourage our fellow believers to be faithful and stand firm in their faith. We must pray earnestly for Christians living in areas of the world where they are persecuted for their faith. In America, we have freedom to worship as we choose. But we also must be careful about choosing our leaders because many are trying to legislate the elimination of freedom of worship.
Our memory verse for this week is found in John 14:14.
If you ask Me for anything in My name, I will do it for you.
I pray for all those who are being persecuted today for their faith in You. Protect them and lift them up with Your everlasting arms and surround them with the presence of Your Holy Spirit.
These Family Devotional thoughts are written by Dr. Ken Phillips, Executive Director of America's Hunger
Solution, and his wife Dottie. Ken has had ministry positions
with The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, World Vision, Youth For Christ, World Opportunities International,
and World Bible Society. He also has consulted for more than 30 Christian ministries in management and stewardship
development. They have published a book called No Problems Only Situations that discusses the journey of their family.
Ken and Dottie have been married for 60 years, and have 6 children, 20 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren. Their
second book, TODAY'S WORD, includes 365 daily
devotionals and is now available for only $10.
Ken & Dottie Phillips
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