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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Bryce Canyon winter (photo by Howard Blichfeldt)
Bryce Canyon winter (photo by Howard Blichfeldt)

"Considering Their Threats"

Message summary: The early church knew threats and persecution. Today let us consider those who live with threats and sense the winds of persecution coming as we read our Bibles and tune in regularly to the news events.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak Your word with great boldness" (Acts 4:29).

Several weeks ago I was talking to a friend and we were recalling times in life when we were bullies or we were bullied. In my life these are mostly junior high memories and not pleasant whether I was the bully or the one being bullied. I was bullied by the school bully who had threatened to beat me me up one day after school. (I have no idea why, he was just mean.)

For several weeks I lived in terror since at
that time I was a skinny runt and didn't have much confidence in fighting anyone, let alone the notorious school bully. Well, I obviously survived that tumultuous period of life. I never had to fight him and several years later we moved from that area and I went to a new school. I can't recall the boy's name but I do wonder how his life turned out. As I recall he didn't seem very happy.

Today let us consider those who live with threats. All throughout the Islamic world our brothers and sisters in Christ are under extreme danger, enduring threats and persecution while many are dying daily for their faith. The cursed lie that theirs is a religion of peace must be exposed. Just consider the strife in so many countries that are Muslim-dominated. Consider the inability of Christians, Jews and other religions, to freely practice their faith even
in "moderate" Muslim countries. Can anyone name a single Muslim-dominated country where people of faith are allowed to practice their Christian convictions safely and unhindered? Yet a prominent leader in our country proclaimed that 99.9% of Muslims are moderate and peaceful!

However it’s not only Muslim countries that threaten Christians. In China
and in parts of India our brethren face persecution, as well as many other countries.

Here in America one can sense the winds of persecution coming as we read our Bibles and tune in regularly to the news events. Consider those who act in Biblical conviction regarding moral issues. Those who assert the Biblical teaching on marriage based on Scripture, ("Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh" Genesis 2:24) and biological gender ("male and female He created them" Genesis 1:27) are now labeled as hateful. Business owners who do not accede to the demands of activists are threatened with persecution. Focus on the Family was banned from Twitter for expressing the truth about gender. *

The early church knew threats and persecution. Within the context of the daily text Peter and John had already been imprisoned for their faith and, in the coming days, they would again be imprisoned and flogged. They did not know the outcome at the time and later Stephen would become the very first recorded Christian martyr.

In Acts 4:24-30 we have one of the great prayers of the Bible. Peter and John’s prayer petition was not, as we might expect, for God to remove the threat or opposition, nor was it an appeal for an easy life. Jesus had made it very clear they would face opposition and they were willing to pay the price. There is no mention in the prayer for protection or deliverance, which on the balance of Scripture is certainly appropriate, but they lifted an impassioned cry to heaven, "Enable Your servants to speak Your word with great boldness".

We belong to a worldwide family of believers. John, in the book of Revelation, records this about Jesus, “With Your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). Today let us pray for our spiritual family, certainly considering their protection and deliverance from evil. But let us also pray that God will “enable Your servants to speak Your Word with great boldness” (verse 31). Their prayer was answered as the Spirit-empowered disciples went forth and "began to speak the Word of God with boldness".

The next chapter discloses ongoing and increasing persecution and ends with this summary: “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ”.

Then the focus turns to Stephen who, instead of being on the defensive, boldly proclaims Christ through sharing his personal faith about Israel’s relationship with God from the Old Testament up to his present time when he refers to those who betrayed and crucified Christ. Stephen’s persecution and martyrdom is recorded in the Scriptures and the list goes on through the remainder of the New Testament, throughout the church age till this very day; the unsung heroes, both men and women, who are boldly standing for and declaring their faith in Christ no matter the cost.

We are all called to be a part of this faithful proclamation! We must ask, "Am I doing my part?"

All over the world, today, O God may your Word indeed be proclaimed with great boldness. “Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:30).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, in this depraved generation, darkness is broadly sweeping across the land. At one time morality and virtuous behavior was applauded, but we now live in a time where good is called evil and evil is called good. Those who uphold Biblical truths are seen as archaic, old-fashioned, unenlightened. May we not be confused by where the line crosses Your perfect will for our lives. We know in our hearts that teachings or lifestyles that defy Your holy Word is evil, not good. “Enable us to speak Your Word with great boldness” like Peter on the Day of Pentecost and Stephen prior to his stoning. May we not be intimidated or allow ourselves to be bullied into supporting a position that contradicts that which is revealed in Your Holy Word. We rely on the power of Your Holy Spirit to boldly live out our lives in a way that honors You and shows others the way to heaven. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Note: In the message I shared about being bullied. I also recall shamefully bullying a fellow student at the same time in Junior High. His name was Sky Younger and I can't recall why I would have bullied him except that I was unconverted and had a mean streak. Several years later after moving from that area I committed my life to Christ. After we married I received a letter from Sky informing me he had also committed his life to Christ but have since lost contact. I tried to look him up and although I can't be sure but I think he now lives in the Phoenix area and is an engineer. If he comes across this and is the same Sky I would sure like to hear from him!

Berkey, 70th anniversarryYesterday Edward Berkey, who was my district superintendent 25 years ago when I was a pastor in New England, sent me the following note and a link to a song he enjoyed. "A few years ago I heard this song for the first time. As we draw to the latter days of our journey (unless Jesus comes sooner.  Discerning American Christians are crying "Even so come quickly Lord Jesus) this song's message has a powerful and penetrating impact on you."

Ed and his wife Gladys celebrated 73 years of marriage last September. He continues active in ministry with a weekly 30 minute radio program titled "Echos Of Grace".

"By and By When I look On His Face"  Video

Here's another song by the same singer "Signs of the Times"  Video 

We appreciate our older believers continuing to let their light shine which provides a model for us as we move along in life. We met Richard and Elnora Dresselhaus about five years ago at a mutual friend's house in San Diego. Richard writes a daily message called "One For The Road" and Elnora posts her piano music to YouTube. Here's a sample of a song we sure don't hear much in our circles but I really have been blessed by in the past. "I Must Tell Jesus"  Video 

Brooksyne and Elnora playing Steinway grand piano 10/17/16
Five years ago Brooksyne was enjoying her time at the Steinway at our friend, Marilyn's house in San Diego. She was excited to find a second pianist in Elnora Dresselhaus who stopped by to visit. They began to play "How Great Thou Art" together but it took only a few notes of their playing to realize the pianos are not set at the same tuning. It wasn't quite the pleasant sound we had all hoped for. Brooksyne backed off since we wanted to hear the beautiful hymn as it should sound. Elnora is a very gifted pianist and has played on this piano over the years as she would visit in Marilyn's home.

Today's lead photo was taken by our friend Howard Blichfeldt. Several years ago we visited Bryce Canyon and the views were stunning (our photos here). But we wondered how beautiful these western sites would be in the winter. His winter gallery.

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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