By Greg Byman
What did Jesus mean when he taught his followers to regard themselves as blessed when they are persecuted? Is the believer in Christ supposed to just smile in the face of loss of health, wealth, reputation, family or even life?
Today’s sermon is the culmination in a series called Game Changers, principles found in Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5, which when implemented in the Christ-follower’s life, produce game-changing results in one’s spiritual, emotional and even physical life. Pastor Greg Byman preached this sermon on November 19, 2017 at St. Joe Community Church, in Fort Wayne, Indiana where he serves as the senior pastor. For more information visit www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org.
We're finishing a series called Game Changers, and this is a series based on Chapter 5 in Matthew where it talks about, "Blessed are those who…. Blessed are.... And there are all of these blessings, that God is blessing people who are choosing to do things that, quite honestly, are not things that the world naturally wants to do. And many ways, the world is moving away from these things, and actually shuns these things, and doesn't even want us to live out these characteristics in our lives.
In fact, when we do so, we can expect opposition to what we are doing. We may be blessed by how we're living them. We may find a blessing in the crowd of people, that you might be in here this morning, in this warm and friendly environment, but the world in general does not want us to live out these Beatitudes.
I mean, even the conversation of putting the Ten Commandments on the front lawn of any public institution is now seen as a controversial conversation. And then when I go visit the Lincoln Memorial I just see all of these scriptures all over the place. And I'm wondering how many times.... How often they're going to start scrubbing away all of the theology that was in the fabric of the beginnings of our nation.
And I'm grateful also when I look at the fabric of Scripture that Scripture has gotten stronger in our moral ethics as a nation and our laws and our treatment of human beings, that all men are created equal, not just the ones that are privileged and not enslaved. I know that we're an imperfect place, but what I'm saying is today that we are doing more as a culture to remove the consciousness, the God consciousness, than ever before.
But this is not unusual, and as I want to, kind of, make you aware of before we're done today, the freedom of religion is an anomaly in the history of the world and our ability to come here under the banner of Jesus Christ really is saying that we worship God and God alone, and that we believe that it is God first, country second, not country first and everything else second. That is a traitorous and dangerous thing to say in most other nations in our world today. Because dictators and rulers and communistic systems can't tolerate someone who says, "we worship Jesus Christ.”
That's why the church in the early days of the Roman Empire, that's why they couldn't handle Christianity, because they would not bow down to say, "Caesar is Lord.” And that's why Christians are seen as an easy scapegoat, whenever things went wrong in the nation. Or in that system, they knew they could count on the Christians to take the brunt of whatever was going wrong and all the people would say, "yeah those are a bunch of weird people. Let's go ahead and marginalize them. Let's go ahead and persecute them. Let's go out and throw them in the arenas with the lions. Let's go ahead and make sure that they are punished for what the gods are raining down on us and our calamity as a nation.
Christians were seen as dangerous even though we are, by whole, the least dangerous group of people in the world, because we oppose the world system of doing things. And when you are opposing what Satan and what this world is wanting to do, you are seen as a threat.
And that's why I set that up to say we are talking about Matthew chapter 5:10, and it wasn't enough for him to say, "Blessed of those who are persecuted,” but he had to add a couple more verses to make sure you understood what he was saying. Of all the Beatitudes, he kind of beefs up the conversation, and he does so as we read.... Let's read the first verse together and then I'm going to read the continuing verses after that. Let's read it out loud.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. – Jesus Christ, recorded in Matthew chapter 5:10
And it goes on to say,
Bless it are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice because your reward is great in heaven, for that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Jesus Christ, recorded in Matthew chapter 5:10
Now, again, at first glance, you would think, how in the world could you say, "Blessed are those who are persecuted?” I'm going to give you a mind-blowing fact about people who are in China. People who are in Saudi Arabia. People who are in the Middle East, Iraq and Iran. People who are in Africa, who are in predominantly Muslim nations. I want to tell you a fact, that Christians who are imprisoned for their faith, who have been beaten for their faith, who are now suffering horrific circumstances because of their faith, are not asking for Christians in America to pray for their safety. Did you hear me? They are not praying for us. They're not asking us to pray for their safety. They're actually praying for us, that we will wake up. They're praying and they're asking us to pray, that they will be found faithful in the testing.
Have you ever prayed for that? You’re going into a bad situation at work and you know that you have a boss, or you have some supervisors, or you have a team of people that are wanting to make some very unethical choices and you know that if you stick your neck out on the line and say, "our company ought not go that direction, and by the way, if our company does, I can't put my name on it because this is ethically wrong. This goes against my moral principles as a Christian, and I'm not able to stand with you if you're going to go this direction.”
And you stand there in the middle of that. What's your first thought? Oh Lord, help me not lose my job. Oh Lord, help me to be able to pay my bills if they start to demote me. And I'm not saying everybody says that, but that's kind of the first thought sometimes. What is going to happen if I stick my neck on a line?
And by the way, I know there are people in this room that have walked away from businesses and God has immediately given them opportunity later to work somewhere else. Others in this room have said no to things and it has cost you financially in ways that that you think, “That's not fair.”
Where is the blessing of God when I can't put food on the table because I made the right decision? But Christians and other nations that are being persecuted today are not asking us to pray for their safety or asking us to pray that they will remain faithful in the testing and in the persecution.
You know that I would probably.... Right now, in my present state of ministry of twenty years’ experience, would not be qualified to pastor a house church of ten people in China. You know why? Because I’ve not been to prison yet. My faith has not yet been tested. They don't trust any pastor that hasn't gone to jail for their faith in China. Fact.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted.” What do we mean by that? And how is that a blessing? Well let's, again, remind ourselves of what it means to be blessed. We've done this seven times. We'll do this now, the eighth time, and the first thing is that it is simply independent of the circumstances in our lives. This is a blessing that is just.... It is not based on necessarily financial, although it can be. It is not necessarily based on your relationships around you are better, although it can be. It's not based upon your circumstance of your position in the society, although it can be a blessing that God gives you and grants you because of the way you do these things.
These game changers are things that change you personally, and are shining example of that, as you live them out, you have a direct connection from the God Almighty above through faith in Jesus Christ, and he comes into your life, and he shows you that he is warmly pleased with what you're doing.
It's the applause from heaven. It is God saying, "I bless you because you are being faithful to the way in which I called you to live out your life as a person.” Who, by the world's standards, is called a Christian, but it is normal for every human being to function in these game changer kind of ways. It is normal to live this way and to live any other way is abnormal. The problem is there's not enough people living in that way, so really, in the world's way, it looks abnormal.
And heaven forbid, but true enough, even in some churches and even in our church, if we were to practice all eight of these all the time, even in our church, it might look.... If you personally chose to do that, and you looked that way 100 percent for the next six months, you would stand out even in our church. I hate to say that. That's probably the case, because we don't all live this way all the time.
It's almost like those teams, as you think of the game changer motif, where they get it together: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, , "Oh, Alabama's getting it together too many seasons.” They get it together and figure out how to be a game changer. They make the game changers in their team to build the championship and the dynasties, and they make it happen year after year after year, but most teams, whether it be football, basketball, soccer NHL, you name it, college sports, it seems like you'll see a team that won't have a spurt of seasons and then they'll fade from the glory of the national limelight. They only put them into place for a while and then they lose their vision for how to do it and they stumble into the lower echelon of the ratings.
My prayer is that we will put these game changers into our life all the time and we’ll rise to the top, not just one or two seasons, but we’ll have enduring seasons year, after year, after year of generations of young people growing, up learning what it's like to see adults who want to put these things in their life. Make it real. Count the cost, and pay the cost when necessary so that they know that there is a God in heaven. He did send his son. There is hope in Christ. The shame of our sent can be erased and don’t have to be chained to our past, that we can recover from and fully be healed from our habits, our hang ups, our hurts. The things that have gone in our lives, that should never have gone on us, whether they were inflicted upon us or we chose to put into our own lives. A we don't have to live like that anymore everybody has a past, but that past does not define our future. Jesus does, and we want to show that to the world. And we want to see you and I doing that in such a way that younger women are taught by older women, and younger men are taught by older men, not a book, but a way of life, by example. As we read, the book. And then, secondarily, books about the book, when we have time. Bible study.
As we've been looking at the rescue mission situation, last couple weeks, last week, we talked about one night without a home, and a few of us did that to experience and to raise awareness and to raise finances for the rescue mission. With the banquet, we were highlighted that same kind, what was that again?....
Same kind as.... Same Kind of Different as Me. That's a book, movie that's out, based on the book, based on a very real story. And the reality is that it's.... Sometimes, we have Bible studies, but we need to have some Bible doings. And that's what the star in this movie was all about, talking about, that she decided to take her Bible and start doing among the homeless in Fort Worth, Texas and a movement began that's affecting the nation.
These game changers are Bible doings. And that's what we need to be about. The blessing comes from God and he's congratulating us in so many ways that we can't even imagine, but I’ll tell you what. Some are saying, “What do you mean?” Start doing it, and you'll know what I mean. How many here would testify to that? Start living it and you'll know what I mean. Raise them up high. So as a few people don't realize.... Is that OK, thank you. So.
No, no, we believe this is true because we've known it's true. It's almost like, and I never did understand this, when you're in the zone of when it comes to, like, OK, I know what this is like. When you play a song on your instrument, and I used to play trumpet, and you knew when you had it. You knew when you nailed it. Now it's called “You dropped the mic,” right?
All right? You knew that you nailed it. Right? That's the feeling. Well, that's the spiritual surge that God puts in us. You know when you've got it, and once you've experienced it, you know when you don't got it. That's what I'm talking about. The applause from God, and it's about now, and it's about future. It has to do with what we're going through right now, that God wants to bless us, by doing these things, but he also wants to bless us with a future reward that is only ours as we move forward in our faith, and it is something that we look forward to.
And it's something that we long for, and the older we get the more we realize this place is not our home. And that's where the eternal blessings are going to come, not here but there. So that's the blessing we're talking about.
Blessed are the poor spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the gentle. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are the merciful. Blessing to the poor and heart. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed that are those who persecute you for righteousness because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
What does it mean to be blessed when you are persecuted for righteousness? Persecuted for righteousness is simply put a clash with someone who opposes our commitment to obey Jesus Christ. You see, those who are persecuted for righteousness means they are practicing what they believe. This is not ceremonial cleanliness. We are already clean in Christ. Did you know that? If you're a follower in Christ, you're clean. He has cleaned you up.
The thing is, our life will now be spent, once we follow Christ, catching up with who we are spiritually, catching up behaviorally, mentally, emotionally with who we already are spiritually. Already, but not yet. And so, we're living out that life in Christ, and as we live it out, people say, "I don't like what you're doing. I like the way you're living that way. We need to cut corners over here. We need to choose to do it this way, and you say I can't do that. I live for God. My boss is not you. Tell the boss that sometime. I live for the Almighty God, not for you.
Now, don't say that arrogantly, because then you're not living righteously. And there's a difference. Now, this is not saying that someone is opposing us because we're a jerk. You cannot be a righteous jerk. OK? You didn't say amen on that one.
You can.... Righteous indignation. You ever heard us say, "I'm just righteously indignant.” Now, some of you, it's too many words. “I have the right to be mad in front of God.” Right? But God just made me this way. I point things out because I'm just that kind of guy. I'm that kind of woman.
Really? No, this is not because someone is marginalizing you because you can't get along with people. That's a whole another conversation. That's a whole series, right? OK. All right, that's not what we're talking about here. We're saying that when you live at a conviction that is Biblical, that is clearly defined as a righteousness way of living, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and your boss or your society or your neighborhood or people around you say, "I really don't want you being in charge of anything because we don't really want Christians in charge anymore like that. We want Christians in charge, but we don't want real Christians to be in charge.
Heaven help somebody who runs for political office that says they're Christian. They will dredge up every single thing that's ever happened in their life, and people who don't say they're Christian, and say yeah, "I'm just a dirty scoundrel. I want your money and want to spend your money on Capitol Hill.” They'll get it they'll get a pass. But as soon as you put up the idea that you are a follower of Jesus Christ....
And I don't mind the extra scrutiny, OK? Don't get me wrong. OK? I'm not complaining, I'm just explaining. OK? I'll complain later, but I'm not doing that right now.
It's just the way it is. Life isn't fair. That's the F-word you're not allowed to use in our house. Life's not fair. It isn't. Never has been. And being a Christian, it's not fair what people do to Christians. Get over it. Blessed are you when you're persecuted. It's going to happen. It's real, and what you think you were persecuted, the way in which you were, in this life right now in America is nothing. It is chump change. It is toddler school compared to what is going on right now to brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are in secret, who drove several different places, who figured out how to smuggle one person in, five different ways of getting extra people into a room so they could actually have a small crowd, that's half the size, not even a quarter of the size without the government knowing they were meeting for worship today. And probably not on Sunday, because they would expect Christians to use Sunday, so they might have picked and picked another day of the week, so that they could get them off their balance.
When a Muslim, and certain countries, here's the Gospel of Jesus Christ.... I was talking to Greg Patton, who lives across the street from me, the pastor of the Cross down in the Wayndale area, and he brings in evangelists and every year, and he gets to preach to thousands of Muslims the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Evangelize them. Tell them about Jesus. But he has one shot. Because these Muslim soldiers, they're allowed to go listen to him—one time. If they go twice, their questioned. “why are you listening to him again?” He has one shot to put the seed into their life. If they are seen looking more than once at someone who's a Christian, about Christianity, they are questioned, and possibly punished for choosing a second time to look at Jesus.
We don't even have a clue what that's like. You know how many conversations I’ve had with people about following Christ in this city? One person, more than once, over and over and over and over.
Quite honestly, well more than they deserve to hear about Jesus Christ, because you should only trust Jesus as Lord the first time. After that you're offending him with your life when you're in rebellion, because when you know when you're in rebellion against him, and you're choosing not to, that's willful rebellion. That's way different than “I was ignorant.”
That was another whole story. This isn't because we differ in opinion or we’re a jerk or we’re sinful. 1 Peter 3:13-17. We're not going to read it, but it says that we're to share Christ gently. When we're asked why we have hope, share it, but with a gentle spirit, not beating him over the head with our Christianity, but say, "this is why I believe what I believe, and I hope that you would want to have it too.”
And I’m very emphatic with people to say, "you need to turn or burn,”
Right? Isn’t that the hellfire and brimstone, right?
I mean, I’ve been there with people. But it's been in a gentle way of saying, "I'm not going to talk you into anything because you could talk yourself out of it a minute later.” Only the Holy Spirit can do that in your life, and I trust what God's doing in their life far more than what I'm going to do in their life. And gently saying, "here is why I believe what I believe. We had a memorial service at Indiana Tech and I was sharing that this person, who had died, that was a faculty member, was a person of deep faith in Jesus Christ and I told the crowd of people, and the atheists and the non-…., all kinds of people put together in that room, and I knew, because I know who they are, and I know who doesn't like that I'm on campus as a chaplain, and I know who could care less, and those that care, when it really when it's popular to care, and then the ones that deeply care, and it's all mixed in the middle of this whole theater of people on Friday at noon, and I said, "I’ve done services and, and we could do a secular memorial service for any people, and I’ll do that, if that's what you.... Because I serve all kinds of people. But I said, “Gloria Chin was a follower of Jesus Christ. She lived she belonged to the Chinese Church here in town, and she was a true follower. And we can talk about Scripture, because she talked about Scripture, and we can talk about God because she believed in a holy God, and you can trust and know that she would want us to say this because that's the way she lived her life.”
And that's all I said, and I stopped, and I went backwards and suddenly the testimony of her life came out in another faculty member, saying she was a follower of Jesus Christ, and it's through Christ alone that we can have hope that she's OK. And then her son got up, and said, "thank you for saying what you said, but I wouldn't get away with it if I didn't say that we haven't lost my mother. When you lose, you don't know where they are. We know where she is. She's in the father's arms because she put her faith in Jesus Christ.”
Right there in the middle of a secular private institution, the Gospel was proclaimed. And we didn't beat him over the head with it. We just used an example of faith that lived out so well in the midst of us. We were able to share the gospel gently. Gently persuading people, that in your time of loss, as you have lost the love, that you have seen your.... And your sin, sorrow, and all these international students, Muslim students who are in the room, others that were from other countries. I have no idea what their faiths were, that they knew, that all the reasons why she was so special to you, is not because she was just a good person. It is because she was a follower of Christ.
We practice these game changers. People are going to oppose you because they accuse you of ulterior motives. They spread false claims. They'll slander you if you believe the whole Bible, our culture says that you're bigoted. You're backwards. You're wrong, that you shouldn't think that way. You see, it is not just a clash of someone who doesn't agree with you. It's also persecution that attempts to stop us from representing Jesus Christ openly.
And in Acts Chapter 4, if you remember the story, if you haven't, I’ll tell you, Peter and the Apostles were telling him, proclaiming, and they said, "you can't do that!”
And the Sanhedrin said, "stop talking about Jesus! You're embarrassing us! We put him to death!
And they said, "Well you can say what you want, but we have to fear God more than man. And we can’t help but proclaim what we know and what we believe and what we've experienced. I can't help but can proclaim Jesus Christ.”
And story after story in the persecuted church in other parts of the world, you'll hear people say, "are you have to do is to denounce Jesus and all of this punishment will go away. All of this pain and suffering. All of these beatings. This prison. All, you know, we open the door of the prison and all you have to do is say, ‘I denounce Jesus as my Savior and Lord’ and you can walk a free man. You go back home to your children. You watch your children grow up, and raise up and you can be the father, and you'll get your job back, so that your mom, your wife, and your kids actually, have money, because right now, they're on the streets, begging for money from people that are afraid to give them money because if they start helping them, they’ll be seen as a Christian sympathizer, and they themselves be put in prison as well. All you have to do is say I don't want to trust Jesus anymore.’”
And time, after time, after time, after time, after time believers are saying, "yes. I do believe in Jesus, and no, I can't denounce him, even if it means not being persecuted.”
Its opposition similar, as Jesus said, to what the prophets of the past have experienced throughout history, for that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you. We stand in company with great men and women who lived out their faith fearlessly. I'm not saying they were afraid, but a spiritual fearlessness that was an example to the world, and to history.
This is the kind of persecution we're talking about. The persecution that simply is put upon us. The hardship and opposition because we believe in Jesus Christ. And we really believe that he is our Savior. And that he really is the Lord of our homes. He's the Lord of our occupation. He's the Lord of everything we do and say. He's the Lord of our political decisions. He's the Lord of our financial decisions.
He's the Lord, period. End of discussion.
You know, I say this all the time, and everybody agrees with me when I say this. You know, even in a marriage, or any relationship, when you are both pointed at the same thing, it's going to draw you closer together. And we applaud that. It's a blessing. When I say, "Jesus is Lord in my home” that means that my wife is choosing to follow the Lord. I'm choosing to follow he Lord. I’m wanting my children to follow the Lord. And if God is not a confusing God, He has the same game plan, he wants all of us to win this together. And he will draw us together as a family when we put him at the head of the family. We love that blessing. But when people say, "you really can't do it that way. You're not really allowed to raise your kids in a Godly way. You're not supposed to do that anymore.
Sweden. They're starting to even talk about that it might be child abuse to raise your child up to follow Christianity. In the ways of the Bible. Other nations are thinking about passing laws that it is against.... It would be against humanity, it would be inhumane, to allow parents to impose their spiritual values on their children.
Now, right now, there is a U.N. law that says that is allowed, and that is inhumane for invited to not let families do that. But the trying to reverse that. You know, I'm not trying to give us the one world. That's a whole different conversation.
But the reality is we want the blessing of it but when the world starts chipping away at what you can't do, we start thinking, well, is this beneficial to our family if we're going to be thrown to the wolves if we do this anyway?
And I say, if it was good in the beginning, it's going to be good in the end. It's good, period. If it's good it's not, bad. We shouldn’t have done it in the first place. So, go for it.
But just know that God has a blessing in store for you. He has something in mind for you to experience about his great blessing that you'll never know unless someone does oppose you in your faith. And if you live a cowardly Christian life, you will never find the blessings that he's looking to give you. But take heart. He wants to empower you. Enable you. Give you the vision for it. And then bless you when you follow through in obedience.
“be glad and rejoice,” Jesus said.
You see, we're representing Jesus. If I want to represent anybody, I want to represent Jesus. I don't want to represent a political party. I don't want to represent a denomination in the world. I don't want to.... I want to represent Jesus. Amen?
I mean, that's the bottom line. I like my persuasions. I like my clubs. I like the mission agencies and people that we partner with, to make us what people would call us and do a denominational silo of things. But that's not who I serve. I serve Jesus. And I represent him. And I show up for duty not because I bow my head to some corporate office somewhere that I represent as a church somewhere else, and I don't even my head to say I go up to the upper room of my office because I represent St. Joe Community Church. I represent Jesus Christ as I serve in a local church. As I serve in my partnerships. As we work together.
We were glad to rejoice because when we are persecuted it shows that we really are following Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:12 says,
In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. -- The Apostle Paul, writing to his ministry partner, Timothy, in 2 Timothy 3:12.
So, the question is, "if you've never been persecuted in any way, shape or form for your faith, do you have one?” If you've never had someone oppose you because you're a Christian, are you? The evidence of a Christian is, there are going to be people in this world that hate you.
I had a friend of mine used to say, "if you don't wake up and meet Satan on your way to work you may be going in the wrong direction.”
So how do we do this? How can we be glad and rejoice? How can we be so excited when this happens? Well, first of all we need to pray. We need to pray. We start praying that God will help us to see what he sees, and do what he wants us to do. As we read the Bible, pray. Remain faithful in word and action. Start small, and build from there.
You say, “my life's a mess.” Start somewhere. Thank God, you're in charge of it all. “Where do you want to start today?” No remodeling project starts every single part of the house. You start somewhere. And you build.
No marriage that's falling apart, you put everything on the table and say, "we're going to deal with all of this.”
No financial mess, you'll deal with all of the bills, and all the pile ups of problems, because you've not been financially careful, or because things have just gotten out of whack.
You start small, and you build. And you let the snowball of your obedience and the blessings of the snowball begin to snowball into something bigger so that you can tackle other projects more easily.
We often say in talking with couples about solving conflicts together is, "I don't care what the conflict is. Pick one. Work on it. Learn how to work on a conflict. And use those skills to fix other conflicts in your marriage. So, learn how to obey God somewhere and then apply what you learned to other areas of your life to be a more obedient in those areas. Take your next right step. Not all the steps. The first one that God wants you to do right now.
Act wisely. And to act wisely, read his word. Pray. Be obedient in the little things. Let God show you how to be to be obedient in the big things. Act wisely. Remember the promises that God has. And I'm being opposed, and I’ve had little oppositions here and there, but one in particular I can think of. And I thought, "why is this person so upset with me? I'm not trying to change their life. I'm using the freedom that I have under the law and in the context of circumstances that I have, to do what I'm doing, and if I want to go to law, it says, "In God We Trust.” I'm in keeping with the heritage of our nation as I'm doing this. How can this person be so upset with me? I prayed. I just remained faithful. I didn't try to defend myself or try to argue myself into existence in front of that person's life. I acted wisely. I just kept on plugging away. And it's interesting that as you move forward and do the right thing, other champions will come around you and champion for you what you could never champion for yourself. And God began to put people in my life and I thought even then and then question, "do I just back down and stop doing this and not worry about making this statement for Christ in this particular area? I mean, there's other battles in the country in the world and in our city. I don't need to mess with this. This is in my mind, chump change compared …. And I have heard from other Christians that said, "Don't you dare back down. Because I was inspiring them. I was encouraging them by my choosing to be obedient in an area, or to take a stand for Christ openly in an area where they were meeting someone to encourage them to do the same in their sphere of influence.
I always remember that God's promises that he would bless and he would he would accomplish what he and the promises of God are sure that when we are faithful in the little things he'll take care of us and give us greater opportunity and responsibility. So many other promises in his word, he gives us.
Your integrity is more important than money. Proverbs.
It's better to lay your head on the pillow, to have done the right thing, even if you have nothing to show for it, than to do things in wicked ways and have a lot to show for it, but not be able to do so. Lay your head down on your pillow.
I'm telling you, there's a way of blessing that you'll never know, if you don't start choosing to live God's way even when the consequences begin to mount up in this world. I just want you to pray right now I'm thinking about one particular nation that is on the number one hit list for the most persecuted, most oppressive nation in our world today, and it is North Korea. North Korea.
North Korea, right now, it is estimated that 50,000 – 70,000 Christians are suffering from torture in North Korean labor camps right now. With no hope of ever leaving the labor camp. For some, it was associating with Christians. Some, it was for carrying a Bible. Some, for having a Bible study. Some for being Bible study leaders. Pray that God would open the leadership's eyes, to the surpassing glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And pray for Christians who are afraid to tell their own spouses and children about their Christian faith. Parents in North Korea are afraid to tell their children that they are Christians because they're afraid their children will slip up and tell that secret to someone who will then get the entire family arrested and be put in prison and their children become practical orphans. Can you imagine? Having something so valuable that will change your life, give you eternal life, hope it remove all the shame of your life, but you're afraid to tell your children about the very thing they need the most because you're afraid you know that if they accidently spill out what they say, it spells death. Or they might as well be dead in a labor camp for life.
Father God, I pray right now for North Korea. We pray for Saudi Arabia. We pray for those nations in Africa. For Africa for also for Iraq. And for Iran. We pray for India, where Christian churches are being burned by other dominant religious faiths. We pray for our believers and those nations, that they will remain strong under the tyranny of evil. They will remain true. That you will bless their families. We do pray that you will provide for their families and then a miracle of blessing will come upon them like has never been experienced before. Oh God, the Bible says that when one suffers, we all suffer. We haven’t really felt their suffering because we don't think about it a whole lot. We thank you for their testimony of faithfulness. We pray that you find us as faithful as they've been. If we should ever, heaven forbid, ourselves, in these circumstances. We do pray for revival to take place, for awakening to take place, and that those who are pressing these Christians will see their faith and be convicted and turn to Christ, that they may also be saved, and not experience the flames of hell, forever and ever, because they have rebelled against you, a holy God, their creator. And they have rejected your son. We pray this in Jesus name.
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