Sermons

Summary: The persecuted church and the crucified Christ demands a response with our lives.

Introduction

- Over the past several months I have told you about much of my family. You have heard about my mother, father and some of my sisters. You have even heard about my grandparents, but I haven't told you about all of my family.

- I haven't told you that I have a....

- Brother in Cuba who has been sentenced to 18 months in prison where he will undergo the harshest of treatment from his other cell mates and from the guards. The reason he is in prison is because he wouldn't stop showing Christian videos in his home and in other people's homes.

- Sister in Sudan, Africa who was tortured and executed because she would not convert to the Islam faith. Her children were abducted and taken to a special school where they are forced to memorize the Koran.

- Brother in Pakistan who was imprisoned because he blasphemed against the prophet Mohammed.

- Another brother in Iran who was imprisoned, tortured and eventually murdered because of their Christian faith.

- The truth is, I have never met these brothers and sisters and neither have you, but they are none the less, family. They are your brothers and sisters and my brothers and sisters. They are family. And when a member of the family is in need, we must respond.

- Did you read the quote found in this month's Homefront,

"More Christian have been killed for their faith in the 20th Century than in all other centuries combined."

- Hebrews 13:3, "Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."

- When a member of the family is in need, we must respond.

- Today as you listen to this sermon, many of your brothers and sisters in Christ are being beaten, tortured and executed for their faith in Jesus Christ. In Sudan, believers have been sold into slavery, physically mutilated, deliberately starved, even crucified. In Saudi Arabia, Christians have been arrested, tortured and beheaded. In Egypt, Christian girls have been kidnapped, raped and then forced to marry their attackers. In Pakistan, Christians have been tortured in prison, attacked on the streets and had their homes destroyed by mobs. In China, church leaders continue to be sentenced to long prison terms in harsh labor camps.

- When a member of the family is in need, we must respond.

- As you may or may now know, today has been designated as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It is a day to remember those around the world who are undergoing persecution, suffering, and death for the sake of the gospel. It is a day to respond to a family crisis.

- So the big question is how must we respond.

- One of our responses can be to make the proclamation that so many of these missionaries have made. The proclamation,

I. Not my will, but yours

- Of course we are all familiar with these words as they were the words spoken by Jesus just a few days prior to His death. We find them in Matthew 26:39.

- I want us to get a proper picture of what is going on here in this verse. In the chapel at Ozark there is a picture right above the stair well as you are walking up to the balcony. The picture shows Jesus kneeling with his elbows on a large rock and His hands in a prayer posture. It is supposed to be a picture of this verse, but I wonder if it is a proper picture. If an artist were to be in the garden when Jesus said these words, would he draw a picture of a man neatly positioned, with no dirt on him, calmly praying. Probably not, listen to the verse again.

- Literally, it translates "he fell upon his face". The true picture would be one of a man in anguish, with the sins of the world heaped on his shoulder, sweating drops of blood, with his face in the mud.

- Hebrews 5:7

- Yet, in all of this struggle and agony, Jesus demonstrates what it truly means to take a stand, no matter the circumstances, and no matter the cost. Jesus takes a stand by boldly professing, knowing what the answer would be, knowing that he would be mocked by the people, knowing that he would be stripped and beaten, knowing that he would go to the cross, knowing all this, he took a stand by saying, Not My Will, But Yours.

- The millions of Christians around the world who have suffered for their faith did not ask God to bring upon them such treatment. The persecuted Christians of the world did not desire for this to happen to them. Rather, they simply professed the same profession that Jesus made in the garden. A profession that perhaps every person who comes to Christ for the first time should make, the profession that we must offer in response to the way so many brothers and sisters are suffering, Lord not my will, but yours be done.

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