Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Christian Students Murdered for Jesus

Tears for the Christan Martyr's  
Almost daily the reports keep coming in from around the world concerning Christian persecution. The latest: Kenya. It is reported that nearly 150 Christian students were shot in the head for proclaiming themselves to be Christians.1 Some reports are saying they were "Sifted" out by being asked to recite the Islamic creed.2  (click to tweet) Of course female Christians were easy to identify because they did not cover their heads. Other reports state that many Christians were asked to call their parents before they were shot.3  (click to tweet)This tragedy aligns up with all the others that have intensified over the last few years in the Middle east, Africa, Asia, and European nations.

According to a report released in March by Gordon-Conwell Seminary, one in four of the world’s Christians live in countries hostile to their faith. At any given moment, 100 to 200 million Christians around the world are being persecuted for their faith. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity reports that 100,000 Christians die every year (11 every hour) because of their faith.4

My prayers truly go out to the families of those who are suffering such ravages by militant fundamental Muslims and others in various regions of the world. May God's grace keep them strong.

Thomas Nelson -WestBowBut persecution is not limited to those areas. As I have written in "The Sifted Generation" (click to tweet) it is now going global. For the first time in history persecution is making its way around the globe. I believe it is time for believers in America to wake up. We will not be immune to the works of darkness. We have had it pretty easy in the West and even now we are still not shedding our blood. But the day is coming that we may no longer be able to say this.The exhortation to the West does not differ from that of old to the Hebrew Christians. They needed endurance for the times they were and would be facing and we believers also need the same. The passage below was written after they has already began to experience what life as a sold out Christian would bring.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin
(Heb. 12:1-4 NKJV emphasis mine).

"Claudius crop" by Marie-Lan Nguyen (2011).
It's no secret that during the Claudian expulsion from Rome around 49 A.D., that two prominent believers, Priscilla and Aquila of Acts 18:1-2, had to experience being driven from their homes and all that was familiar to them. They were strong in Christ and were examples to their peers. But as persecution can bring great fear into the hearts of believers (cp. Acts 8:1ff) many of their peers would still need a strong dose encouragement to press on toward the eternal reward. The gospel message that brings salvation and hope to souls around the world was hanging on the shoulders of those early ambassadors for Christ. Souls were in the balance and regardless of what the cost would be, they could not give up sharing His love. Like Christ, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross completing His eternal mission to bring salvation to the world, it would take suffering at the hands of darkness to complete their work. The Holy Spirit went on to exhort them in the following manner:

But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven (Heb. 10:32-34 NKJV). (click to tweet)

There are times when we too need to remember the fire that God placed in our souls the day we became a believer. We need to remember how he illuminated us to great truths and the promises of eternal life that far outweighed anything this world offers. In one place the apostle Paul expressed this unmitigated devotion and joy he saw in new Christians like this:

And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me (Gal. 4:14-15 NKJV emphasis mine).

Believer, do you remember those days in your own life?

The thousands upon thousands of Christians that are persecuted each year are able to do so because
they see the eternal and enduring reward. These are people of invaluable worth. These are they who have seen that in this world the temporary pleasures of life are fleeting. These are they who through discernment have recognized that sin--even their own sin--has wreaked nothing but havoc and pain in their lives. These are the saints of God--men, women, and children that have chosen to leave the temporal behind as they focus on something better in the eternal and heavenly city of God.

The future on earth does not bode well for any who seek a utopian existence. One day it will be destroyed by fire and at that point it will not be the believers who are leaving their lives behind, but all will. At that time the only--the absolute only thing--that will be of any importance is what you did with Jesus Christ. Mark my words. The time is coming when all of the stuff we have accumulated, all of the people we have gathered to ourselves for social standing, and all the education and power we currently wield will come to nothing. It will not be able to save you in that day. "Therefore men fear Him; He shows no partiality to any who are wise of heart" (Job 37:24 NKJV).

So today groups like ISIS, Boco Haram, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda, and Hamas; communists like those in North Korea or the militant Hindu's of Asia--even expanding to the militant anti-christian left wing groups in America--may still wreak their physical and emotional trauma on believers, but in the end they will all be relegated to the hell of eternal punishment, (see Rev. 20:11-15).

Reader, I do not think that place is really where you want to end up. There is still hope. Jesus went to the cross to give up His innocent sinless life in order that you may inherit His righteousness. You know, that you are a sinner and that no sinner can enter into heaven before a sinless Holy God. So He made the way for you. By faith won't you accept His free gift now? (click to tweet) Won't you allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse you and make you a new person now--that's His work; a work of awesome miraculous transformation. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will inherit eternal life." Isn't that a great promise?? While the light of Jesus still shines make haste to turn your life to Him now. He promises to bring His life into yours.

God Bless and Stand Strong!

Pastor Mike

1 - accessed 04/07/2015
2 - accessed 04/07/2015
3 - accessed 04/07/2015
4 - accessed 04/07/2015