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"For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end" (Psalm 48:14).
600,000 Christian Armenians were executed by Young Turks who implemented a genocidal program on April 24, 1915. A young Armenian dragged herself into an American relief camp just inside Russian territory and collapsed in relief. A nurse quickly brought her food and water and asked if she was in pain. The teenager shook her head. "But I have learned the meaning of the cross," she murmured. At the nurse's perplexed look, the girl exposed her shoulder. The shape of a cross had been burned deeply into her flesh. Then she told her story.
Rounded up with others in her village and separated from home and family, she was asked to choose: Muhammad or Christ? "Christ, always Christ!" she replied. Seven days in a row she was asked the same question, and her reply was always the same. And each time she answered, part of a cross was burned into her shoulder. Finally she was told that the next day would be her last chance. If she chose Muhammad, she would live; if she chose Christ, she would die. But that night, hearing rumors that Americans were close by, she escaped to safety. "That," she finished, "is how I learned the meaning of the cross." (Excerpt taken from the book "Christian Heroes".)
The Armenian teenager had to make the difficult choice: Muhammad or Christ. In the Old Testament three Hebrew boys were also forced to make the difficult choice: bow down to the golden image or remain faithful to the God of Israel. Their ancient story has emboldened saints, both young and old, throughout the ages as they refused to bow down and worship the image Nebuchadnezzar had set up. They expressed unswerving confidence in God even if it meant their lives would be sacrificed.
Psalm 48 is a familiar Scripture passage to many because of a chorus we sing based on the first two verses, "Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised…" This Psalm is written by a group of singers known as the "Sons of Korah". Most likely these were temple singers who lived during the period of the divided kingdom.
This Psalm extols God for His greatness, His deliverance, His unfailing love and other divine attributes. But the Psalm ends with our daily text which empowers us as we transmit the life-changing message of God's truths to our generation. Let us examine it today, consider its relevance, and receive its assurance.
"For this God is our God forever and ever." This is our great God. This God is our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend. Consider His great acts throughout history. Consider the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of Moses, Joshua, Samuel and David. The God of Ruth, Esther and Mary, of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel. The God of Peter, Stephen and Paul. The God of those who have stood up throughout the long history of the church. Martin Luther, John Wesley, D.L. Moody, Jim Elliot and countless others like the Armenian teenager, whose name we don't even know, in today's opening illustration.
In your own life consider those who have walked faithfully with God and impacted your life. Some are now with Christ, others still labor here below. Let us together with one heart and one voice declare, "This God is our God! And He will be forever and ever!"
And, "He will be our guide even to the end." What a great promise this is. Let us praise God today and live our lives faithfully in His service, for He is indeed forever God!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, You are great in power and unsurpassed in wisdom. Though Your marvelous handiwork is seen in every direction, Your most awesome work is visible in the way You change and redirect our lives. When we consider the saints throughout history and the marvelous saving power exhibited in their lives we're encouraged by their example and enduring walk with You. We recognize these "greats" of the past and those in our own generation who are faithful and powerful examples. They do not build their own kingdom or take credit for their accomplishments. Instead they declared it is God and God alone who deserves our truest praise, no matter the sacrifice. So we praise You, Lord, and You alone this day as we seek to be faithful even to the end. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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"No Compromise" Video The photo in today's message is from one of our favorite album covers; Keith Green's "No Compromise." Set in an Old Testament period the people are required to bow before the passing king. But one brave soul, true to his convictions, remains standing in obedient defiance. A soldier on a horse is pointing him out. We are left wondering what consequence he faced for doing the right thing in the eyes of the One True King.
"You Are God Alone" Video
"How Great Thou Art" Video
"How Great Is Our God" Audio
Today's opening story is from The Complete Book of Christian Heroes By Dave & Neta Jackson/Tyndale House
Are there any true heroes? Discover the remarkable stories of those who have suffered for the cause of Christ throughout the course of history. This book reveals what inspired the great heroes of faith and drove them to give their all. Featuring such gripping accounts of each hero's life, this book gives the historical and cultural information as well as quotations and Scripture passages that amplify what each hero stood for. You will learn about John Bunyan, Mary Dyer, Brother Andrew, Todd Beamer and over 200 more heroes of yesterday and today. This is an excellent resource for any home library. For more information or to order click here.
Brooksyne's Note: I've been reading this book, one story at a time, in addition to my Bible reading over the past yera. It has certainly given me needed perspective and helped me to be more bold in my witness for Christ. The stories are riveting - many unfamiliar and others that we've heard over the years.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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