PRAY FOR CHRISTIANS IN THE BIG LEAGUES!

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is this Sunday, Nov. 1st.  Let’s remember to pray for and give to Christians who are in the “big leagues”, struggling under great persecution in the contest to remain faithful to the name of Jesus.

It can be easy to believe God when nothing major is at stake or there is no adversity for believing. But consider how there are bigger leagues for those who play sports like football, basketball and soccer. When these players become more skillful, they move up to junior varsity, then high school varsity, then college, then finally pro. So it is with those who enter the “contest” of either believing God or disbelieving God. As a person moves up to the bigger leagues, the opposition keeps getting tougher and tougher.

This is the contest that all of life is about. Will we fall short and stop believing? Or will we do what it takes to keep our belief and obey, regardless of the amount of opposition we face?

While believing God pleases God, it frustrates God’s enemy. As with any war, the stakes are very high, and just about anything goes. If Satan can’t talk you out of believing what God has said, he might try to force you to do so by bringing great suffering and even persecution to you. There are many stories later in the Bible of people who must suffer greatly in order to keep their belief in God. The Apostle Paul wrote that those who believed God enough to act accordingly would have to suffer persecution in order to keep that belief in Him. This is still the case today.

The Voice Of The Martyrs

Cole Richards, President of The Voice of the Martyrs, a ministry whose mission is to serve persecuted Christians through practical and spiritual assistance, recently wrote the following:

Richard Wurmbrand [founder of The Voice of the Martyrs] often wrote sympathetically about Christians in Communist prisons who had buckled under horrific torture and denied Christ. In a Communist jail called Piteshti, the chief torturer, named Turcanu, told Christians, “None of you will die as a martyr and go to heaven. We will make you blaspheme God and betray believers before dying to be sure you go to hell.” Persecutors, like Turcanu, often try to make us apostates rather than martyrs. The enemy wants to bring dishonor to God and His gospel by showing our faith to be uncertain, weak or altogether false. The enemy whispers in our ears, “Must you always bear His shame?” Yes! And it is an honor to do so. Let’s trust God for the strength and grace to boldly and passionately speak of His love and truth. He will empower us, and He will restore us when we fail. And let us pray that our persecuted brothers and sisters who endure torture and hardship for the name of Christ will also be strengthened when they face temptations to deny Him.

To pray for or to give to Christians who are suffering persecution, visit https://www.persecution.com/.

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GOD WANTS US TO BELIEVE HIM

Here in Genesis 15, we see that Abram believed God. This is so important, so let me say it again. He believed God! That’s why he was counted as righteous in God’s eyes. This is an important point that is woven throughout the entire Bible. God wants us to believe Him. This is a fundamental requirement if we want to have any relationship with God. Our belief in Him shows up in our thoughts and actions and determines whether God considers us righteous or not.

What God is showing us here may be foreign to many in today’s world, who believe righteousness is something to be earned or acquired by “conformity to an abstract moral code,” or doing so many good deeds. On the contrary, in the Bible righteousness is “faithfulness to a relationship”, and the first requirement of this relationship is a belief that causes trust.

In only reading the first 15 chapters of the Bible, we have identified the epic battle of the universe in the eyes of God as recorded in the Bible. That battle is whether we will believe God enough to act accordingly. There is a great spiritual war that is taking place all centered around this one thing: Will we believe God enough to act on that belief?

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How To Worship “Online” During The Virus Crisis by Lewis Erickson

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I’ve felt it and I’m sure you have too.  It’s hard to worship the Lord when watching my church service online from home. It’s not like being at church and worshipping in the midst of a lot of people. Much like when we watch a sporting event or the evening news, we can become a spectator to an online worship service rather than a worshipper of the Lord God Almighty.

What if this “virus crisis” isn’t over soon?  How can we change from being a spectator to an “online worshipper”?  The answer may depend on what we consider being an “online worshipper”.

For example, how did Paul and Silas become worshippers of God while in a Philippian jail cell with their feet locked in the stocks? This was right after they had been beaten with rods. The Bible says they were praying and singing hymns at midnight and the other prisoners were listening to them. How could they worship in those awful circumstances?  There was no worship band, no hymnals, no worship leaders. They weren’t even comfortable at home in front of their TV, but in a hostile environment instead.

I believe it’s because they had learned to be “online worshippers”. They had learned to tune in to the worship service that goes on in heaven and never stops.  See Revelations 4 for more about that worship service. Regardless of their circumstances and where they were, they were able to pull away from their environment and focus on their audience of One. Rather than seeing just themselves, they were able to see the rest of heaven that they were joining in worship.  They were going online in a spiritual sense.

This is what our Christian family must do in countries that are hostile to the gospel. If they are caught, they will be beaten, fined and jailed. So, they must worship quietly, sometimes in strict silence, but going “online” in their hearts and minds to join the heavenly worship service that never ends.

How can we learn to worship earnestly, a/k/a “online” like Paul and Silas and our spiritual family in hostile countries? Primarily, we have to learn that worship is a matter of our heart.  Jesus has to be someone more than we just know about. He has to be someone we love and that we long for. If He isn’t that for you, pray right now and ask Him to become that for you. Then make it your goal to live like He is your “first love”. If you want me to explain more about that, let me know at godthefatherrevealed@gmail.com.

Beyond our heart, here are some other practical suggestions:

  • Put away your phone, tablet and anything else that may distract you. You wouldn’t be messing with them while trying to worship God at church. Don’t do it while worshipping at home either.
  • If you stand up and worship at church, stand up at home.
  • Sing when its time to sing. Don’t just watch others sing. Your audience of One is watching you. He’s not listening to how good you sing. He’s listening to your heart and mind.
  • Prepare for online church. Just like you would go to bed on time and get up in time to shower, shave, eat and then drive to church, don’t stay up late the night before binge watching Netflix.  Get to bed and get up on time so you have time to prepare to be ready to participate in online church without distractions of a hungry stomach, morning breath or bed head.
  • If you have kids, help them to prepare too. Talk about how you are looking forward to worshipping Jesus during online church. Share that all of you are going to act like the people on TV are actually in your house visiting you. If your kids are really young and must have attention, give them your attention. Hold them and worship like you would if they were sitting with you at your normal church service.

The Lord willing, the virus crisis will end soon, and we will resume going to our churches to worship.  Perhaps this time of “online worshipping” will help us learn to push out distractions that we can avoid. Perhaps we will learn to focus on worshipping the Lord despite distractions that we can’t avoid.  Finally, perhaps we will learn to go online no matter our circumstances or wherever we are to join the worship service that never ends.

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