Daily Encouragement Net
The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.

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Thursday, July 15, 2021

Voice of Martyrs wall
Voice of Martyrs wall of witnesses
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"Remembering The Persecuted"

Note: We are in the Midwest visiting family and friends and attending three family gatherings in Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. We drove through the West Virginia panhandle, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, stopping in Springfield where we met in college in the mid-seventies. We spent one night in Bartlesville Oklahoma. Today we are in Tulsa where Brooksyne has been visiting with family and friends. We are unable to prepare regular Daily Encouragement messages during this time due to long travel days and in some cases limited internet access such as when we will spend several days in a mountain cabin next week in Arkansas. We will also not be preparing the daily podcast during our time away from home.

Message summary: Today and every day may the Lord bring to our remembrance those who are enduring persecution and affliction so that we are faithful in praying for their needs. Today help us all to remember the persecuted church around the world. Let us, like Peter, hear and heed the words Christ spoke, "Follow me." We are all called to follow. Let's do it, regardless of the cost! Are you prepared to be an 'N' Christian?

"Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body" (Hebrews 13:3).

Yesterday we visited "The Voice Of The Martyrs" headquarters in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. For many years we have appreciated this ministry that calls attention to and assists victims of persecution all around the world. We'll share some photos from our visit with additional notes below today's message.

We receive a regular emails and a monthly magazine from the Voice Of the Martyrs which keeps us informed on persecution. We have particularly had on our hearts the plight of Nigerian Christians in part due to some direct correspondence from a Daily Encouragement reader.

A recent email shared the story of Naomi.

NaomiThousands of Christians in northern Nigeria are living in camps for internally displaced people after being driven from their homes by Boko Haram and Fulani Islamic militants. Overcrowding and lack of resources worsen the already difficult conditions in the camps. Yet many Nigerian Christians, like Naomi, faithfully follow Christ despite the challenges.

Naomi, a Christian widow, never expected to suffer persecution, but when her town was overrun by Islamists, she was ready. Her church and the Bible had taught her well: “Persecution is God’s Word being fulfilled.”

The day of the attack, Naomi was working her farmland outside the city when she heard distant gunfire. She immediately ran toward the sound, concerned for her children at home. After passing scenes of horrific violence on her way home, she gathered her children and fled to nearby mountains, where she and her family stayed for the next two years.

Naomi and her family eventually moved to a refugee camp in Cameroon, but poor conditions in the camp forced them to return to Nigeria. When VOM workers learned of the situation, they helped the family move into their own home and arranged for the children to attend a good school.

Through all of her difficulties, Naomi has remained strong in faith. “God has kept me,” she said. “I have always had faith in God. The attack only made me stronger in my faith.”

Sunday from NigeriaWe wrote a message several weeks ago about not going back to our old way of life but staying faithful to God whatever happens. We shared a song titled "I Won't Go Back" and a Nigerian Christian named Sunday wrote concerning the message,

"That last part reminded me of the song we sing in Church, but from now I will make it a song I sing everywhere and everyday: 'I won't go back, can't go back to the way it used to be, before Your presence came and changed me'."

Our daily text speaks of our need to remember those suffering two types of persecution; imprisonment and suffering adversity.

But today let us focus on the latter part of the text, "as being yourselves also in the body". This phrase is interpreted in various ways but primarily in the sense:

1) To empathize with those suffering since we all have a physical body and are fully aware of our body's strengths and weaknesses, of that which causes bodily pain and suffering, emotional distress and otherwise.

2) To identify with the body of Christ undergoing distress, as fellow believers who are born again, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

Today and every day may the Lord bring to our remembrance those who are enduring persecution and affliction so that we may be faithful in praying for their needs.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, help us to be moved by the plight of those who are suffering loss and even laying down their lives for the sake of Christ. We remember the congregation in Uganda and other persecuted lands who have suffered loss physically, structurally or materially or all three. Through Your miraculous intervention evil can be exchanged for good when we earnestly pray for Your purpose to prevail even in such mayhem and loss. On Coronation Day when we all gather in heaven we look forward to enjoying eternal fellowship with these tried and true saints of our faith who did not give up meeting together to worship You. Keep us faithful when tested by fire, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Some additional thoughts on "as being yourselves also in the body". The Handbook on the Letter to the Hebrews summarizes the possibilities…

    (1) “Members of the Christian fellowship,” understanding “body” in the figurative sense used by Paul (Jerusalem Bible “since you too are in the one body”), is most unlikely. There is no similar text in Hebrews; there is no definite article for “the” in the Greek, and this explanation does not fit in with verse 3a, which in other ways is parallel to 3b.

    (2) Many translators think “in (the) body” means “in this mortal life” (compare 2Cor 5.6 and Ro 7.24); Knox “since you are still in the world”; similarly Phillips.

    (3) Other common language translations, and some other translations, suggest either:

    (a) that the readers should identify themselves in sympathy with those who are ill-treated: Today's English Version as though you were suffering as they are (similarly German Common Language); Translator's New Testament “as if you too shared their lot”; or

    (b) that the readers may suffer in the same way in the future: “for the same can happen to you”; “for you may yet suffer as they do.” This is not necessarily implied by the text, though it is perhaps included in (a), which also makes a good parallel with verse 3a, as though. (The United Bible Societies' New Testament Handbook Series)

A book by an "academic" titled "The Myth of Persecution", the author, identified as a leading expert on early Christianity, contends the early church exaggerated, invented, and forged stories of Christian martyrs and how the dangerous legacy of a martyrdom complex is employed today to silence dissent and galvanize a new generation of culture warriors. For the discerning reader this is just another example of post modern, revisionist history masquerading as "scholarship". Be on your guard against deception!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"You Are Not Forgotten"  Video  A song for the persecuted

"When the Saints"  Video  Sara Groves

Today we will share several photos from our travels thus far

Bass Pro Shops Wonder of Wildlife
In Springfield we visited the Bass Pros Shops main store as well as the new (to us) Wonders Of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium

Dave and Sandy Simpson 7/12/21
Monday evening we visited with Dave and Sandy Simpson. Dave has been my friend for over 60 years and was the best man in my wedding. He leads a successful business in the Springfield.

Original mater
We traveled along Rt. 66 thru portions of three states (Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma) and saw this scene in Galena Kansas of the original mater from the movie "Cars".

Voice of Martyrs prison cell
At the Voice of the Martyrs they have a prison cell replicating where the founder, Richard Wurmbrand spent many years.

Chet Bitterman
The wall of martyrs (seen in our lead photo) has stories of those who died as a result of their stand for Christ. Chet Bitterman came out of the same church we presently attend in Lancaster (Calvary Church) and would only now be a few years older than us. His story is here, "A Cause Worth Living For"

10 ways to prayer for the persecuted
This is a helpful guide in praying for the persecuted

Finally today:

Chris at Pat's Car Wash, OK
This morning I went over to a car wash to vacuum the van and met Chris, the General Manager at Pat's Express Car Wash in Glenpoole OK, who was pleased to show me they ordered from Kleen-Rite in Columbia where we have served as chaplains for many 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 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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