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Monday, November 7, 2022
This "fresh out of the woods" type arrangement we saw at an Apple Festival helps us to appreciate flowers and plants not only in the spring and summer but also in the fall.
"The World Was Not Worthy Of Them"
Message summary: Let us stand for the One who also knew the jeering scorn of unbelief and rejection and gave His life for us. Let us remember those who are persecuted for their belief in Him.
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"Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated — the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground" (Hebrews 11:35-38).
Yesterday was "The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church". We had a focus on persecution in our Sunday School class, taught by Dennis, who served in Nigeria for 40 years as a missionary. He bears such a burden for that country especially where they are enduring severe persecution with a martyr for Christ every 2 hours.
The nature of enduring hope is foundationally a spiritual hope. The "good life" (peace and prosperity), as many of us have known and desire it to be in this life, is not guaranteed by God. Heroes of the faith in the past and those in the present testify to this. The abundant life promised by Jesus is altogether different than the expectations of the world!
We admire the great people of the Bible who stood up for their faith. Hebrews 11 is known as the "Faith Chapter" and is a hall of fame for people of faith. Toward the end of the chapter the focus moves from named individuals to unnamed heroes.
I've been especially drawn to this portion of Scripture over the years, although it's not a reading that is particularly edifying in the same sense many other portions of Scripture are. When reading this passage it's as if the writer is on a literary roll.
You've probably never been flogged (although we have heard from a reader who has had this horrible experience). But most of us have been jeered at some point in our lives. That's about the extent of physical "persecution" thus far for most of us in America and many other areas where this material is read. But of course in many other places they know the "flogging" and worse.
In this daily Scripture portion the writer of Hebrews is chronicling what happened to many unnamed heroes of faith. It's not a pretty picture. These are faithful people who stood up for God with uncompromising faith that they were unwilling to exchange for a favorable temporal outcome.
I don't understand why stuff like this happens, but it does and it always has. My faith in the goodness of God asserts that my God is in control even when I don't understand or when circumstances make no sense at all. It goes against the sensibilities that godly people would be stoned, sawed in two, or be put to death by the sword or by the bullets of hate-filled gunmen. But then I immediately consider Stephen, the first martyr of the New Testament, who was stoned as he stood up for Jesus.
I'm inspired as a couple of phrases in this portion are loaded with spiritual richness and seem to leap from the pages of my Bible; "that they might gain a better resurrection" and "the world was not worthy of them". That gives me the perspective I need today and everyday. Let's stay faithful and keep standing true for Christ no matter the cost. Today let us link our hearts with these heroes of faith as we stand up for Christ and the Holy Scriptures. Let us stand for the One who also knew the jeering scorn of unbelief and rejection and gave His life for us. Let us remember those who are persecuted for their belief in Him.
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Our God Father in heaven, may I first confess that with our elections and the political strife here in America I often forget to pray for those throughout the world that are facing so much more uncertainty: in ways that we, in the United States, only begin to comprehend. Many of Your people throughout the world face relentless persecution for their faith in You. Oh, Holy Spirit, bring them Your comfort. We pray together on behalf of those who, on becoming a follower of Jesus, forfeit any opportunity for meaningful work, for the many whose family and friends disown and shun them because they are Christ’s followers. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ that have lost their homes for their faith. We pray for those who, by naming Jesus as Lord, face imprisonment, inhumane physical torture and even death. Yet, these held fast their faith and continue to follow You. Your Word speaks of these faithful followers as those of whom the world was not worthy. They endure all of this, Lord Jesus, Lamb of God, because You are worthy. Walk with them, Lord Jesus Christ. And Sovereign God we unite our hearts in prayer for persecuted Christians throughout the world. We pray as Jesus prayed not that You take them out of the world, but that You protect them from the evil one. So, Lord shelter them; protect them we pray, our Father in heaven. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we unite to pray in the name of the One Scripture calls the suffering servant, our Lord and King Jesus Christ. Amen.
(This prayer was offered yesterday in our church by David Harrop, Pastor of Global Ministries)
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Rebecca", a face of persecution Video (we saw this yesterday in our class.)
"Thank You Jesus For The Blood" Video Closing song in our service yesterday.
These singers are testifying for Christ in a busy city.
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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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