Illustration results for persecution
R. David Reynolds
Dwight L. Moody also says it well, “Happiness is caused by things that happen around me, and circumstances will mar it; but joy flows right on through trouble; joy flows on through the dark; joy flows in the night as well as in the day; joy flows all through persecution and opposition. It is an unceasing fountain bubbling up in the heart; a secret spring the world can’t see and doesn’t know anything about. The Lord gives His people perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to Him.” [SOURCE: Dwight Lyman Moody as quoted by Edythe Draper, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 6529.]
John Stott – “Peter would prepare the church, not simply to endure persecution, but to find in persecution an opportunity for witness.”
THE 40 MARTYRS
"History knows them as the forty martyrs of Sebaste. They were soldiers in the famed Twelfth Legion of Rome’s imperial army, around A.D. 320. One day the captain informed his troops that Emperor Licinius had sent down an edict commanding all soldiers to offer a sacrifice to his pagan god. Forty of the soldiers were followers of Christ, and they refused. 'You can have our armor and even our bodies, but our hearts' allegiance belongs to Jesus Christ,' they said.
"The emperor decided to make an example of the soldiers, so in the middle of winter he marched them onto a frozen lake and stripped them of their clothes. 'Renounce your God and you will be spared from death,' he told them. Not one man came forward. So he left them there, huddled together to contemplate his offer. Throughout the night the man stayed together, singing their song of victory: Forty Martyrs for Christ. When morning came, thirty-nine of the men had frozen to death. The one survivor finally relented and crawled to safety, recanting his confession of faith in order to live. The officer in charge that night had been so moved by the scene that during his watch he’d come to Jesus, so he broke rank and walked out onto the ice. Stripping his clothes he openly confessed his faith in Christ. The furious emperor demanded that he renounce Jesus, but he refused. When the ordeal was over, the Roman soldiers carried forty frozen men off of the ice."
(Ref: Lahaye, Tim, Jerry B. Jenkins and Frank M. Martin ed., Embracing Eternity, Living Each Day With a Heart Toward Heaven: The Persecuted, Matthew 5:10- February 15. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2004.)
Perhaps an analogy will best clarify this. As Christians we may be compared with a reservoir for producing electrical power, like one of those you see when you drive down the canyon. When we accept Christ, construction of our reservoir is complete. We now have the potential to be useful and to affect lives. But until the flood gates are opened and the cascading river waters pour through, no power is realized. So it is when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. We open our lives to God and the Holy Spirit pours into us and through us. It is then we become most effective in God’s service.
As with the reservoir, this power-generating experience is not intended to be a one-time occurrence. It is to be an ongoing process. When our spiritual power runs low, we need to return to the Source and let the blessed Holy Spirit pour into us again, bringing fresh power.
Sermon Central Staff
AMERICANS: FLABBY FAITH
A dozen or so years ago, a Romanian pastor came to visit the church I belonged to. He had gotten to know my pastor, John Vawter, who had been involved in a Bible-smuggling ministry when the Iron Curtain was still up. John asked him what he thought of our country, and of the church in this country. His friend was at first hesitant to speak, for fear of giving offense, but finally said that in his opinion the American church was rich in material things but poor in spiritual things. And by that he did NOT mean that we were the blessed "poor in spirit" whom Jesus commended. No, what he meant was that American Christians by and large had a flabby faith because it was rarely even exercised, much less tested.
(From a sermon by Alison Bucklin, The Gift of Persecution, 6/8/2011)
• Every single apostle experienced persecution: 1 John died of old age exiled on the island of Patmos. 2 Peter was crucified upside down under Nero. 3. Andrew died upon a cross at Patrae, in Achia 4.James the brother of Jesus was thrown from a pinnacle of the temple and beaten to death by a club. 5 Bartholomew was flayed alive in Armenia 6. James the son of Zebedee was beheaded at Jerusalem. 7 Thomas was run through the body with a lance in the east Indies 8. Philip was hanged against a pillar in Abyssinia. 10 Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows. 11. Simon died upon a cross in Persia now Iran 12. Paul was beheaded in Rome. Christians martyred on mass scale under Nero.
Be Someone's Consistent Help
Paul, in his letter to the Hebraic Christians, makes this point:
"…exhort one another daily, while it is called Today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." [Hebrews 3:13]
I will be the first to admit that when it comes to the inner-workings of my automobile that I know diddley-squat. Believe me, I know very little about the mechanical makeup of any car. I am what is known as "mechanically-challenged." But I do know of several guys that are very familiar about such things as internal combustion engines, the drive train and electrical system of anything on two or more wheels.
One such person is Dan Morlen, my mechanic! He seems to always know what is wrong with either of my SUVs when either is not quite running the way a vehicle should. All I have to do is call and then drop by his garage, and I know that I am going to be assisted in locating the problem. I also know that once the troubling factor has been located that he or someone he knows will be able to fix it with a simple solution and get my means of transportation back on the road.
Why do I know this as a fact? Dan has always been consistent in helping me when I need him the most mechanically: my Envoy or my Outlander is broken and needs fixed.
That is how God wants us to be within the community of faith: To be more consistent in assisting those who need our help, prayers and encouragement. Many today struggle with hardship and disappointment. That means it is the responsibility of a person's brother and sister in the faith to pick up the slack; to aid in putting the pieces back together; to be consistent in our efforts of brotherhood and sisterhood. We are called by the Christ to love those who are hurting and to stand by those who are suffering persecution for the sake of Jesus.
• Since the death of Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago, 43 million Christians have become martyrs
• Over 50% of these were in the last century alone
• More than 200 million Christians face persecution each day, 60% of whom are children
• Every day over 300 pe...
Few men of this century have understood better the inevitability of suffering than Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He seems never to have wavered in his Christian antagonism to the Nazi regime, although it meant for him imprisonment, the threat of torture, danger to his own family and finally death. He was executed by the direct order of Heinrich Himmler in April 1945 in the Flossenburg concentration camp, only a few days before it was liberated. It was the fulfillment of what he had always believed and taught: “Suffering, then, is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master. Following Christ means passio passive, suffering because we have to suffer. That is why Luher reckoned suffering among the marks of the true Church, and one of the memoranda drawn up in preparation for the Augsburg Confession similarly defines the Church as the community of those ‘who are persecuted and martyred for the gospel’s sake’… Discipleship means allegiance to the suffering Christ, and it is therefore not at all surprising that Christians should be called upon to suffer. In fact, it is a joy and a token of his grace.”
John R.W. Stott, Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1978), 53
I want to read to you the opening story from David Platt's book "The Radical Question" (Multnomah Press).
Imagine a scene that took place in Asia not so long ago:
A room in an ordinary house, dimly lit, all the blinds on the windows closed. Twenty leaders from churches in the region sit quietly in a circle on the floor, their Bibles open. They speak in hushed tones or not at all. Some still glisten with sweat; others' clothes and shoes are noticeably dusty. They have been walking or riding bicycles since early morning when they left distant villages to get here.
Whenever a knock is heard or a suspicious sound drifts in, everyone freezes while a burly tough-looking man gets up to check things out.
These men and woman have gathered in secret, arriving intentionally at different times throughout the day so as not to draw attention. In this country it is illegal for Christians to come together like this. If caught, the people here could lose their land, their jobs, their families, even their lives.
I was in that dimly light room that day, a visitor from America. I huddled next to an interpreter, who helped me understand their stories as they began to share.
The tough-looking man--our "head of security"--was first to speak up. But as he spoke, his intimidating appearance quickly gave way to reveal a tender heart.
"Some of the people in my church have been pulled away by a cult," he said. Tears welled up in his eyes. "We are hurting. I need God's grace to lead my church through these attacks."
The cult that had been preying on his church is known for kidnapping Christians, taking them to isolated locations, and torturing them, my interpreter explained. Many brothers and sisters in the area would never tell the good news again. At least not with words. Their tongues had been cut out.