Today in my devotional Bible study, I read Luke 14:25 -26, where it tells us, Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them He said: if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.
Our Lord Jesus Christ never tried to see people saved without them realizing the cost.
In all cultures and all nations, when a person gets saved they are renouncing ownership of their own lives. They become, by faith, united with Christ in His death and His resurrection.
To be united with Him in His death, means persecution, it is suffering for Christ, as He died to destroy sin, and sacrificed his life by shedding His blood, so we by His Spirit put to death the deeds of the flesh, which involves renouncing self love and self preservation. Paul exhorts persecuted believers in Phillipi, Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
The Greek word for the above word struggle is agon, from which our English word, agony, comes.
So we should realize that suffering also precedes glory. The agony and the ecstasy.
I close with this,
2 Timothy 2:8-13 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. It is a trustworthy statement: for if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. .
VOM-USA Prayer Update for March 23, 20127
On Thu. Mar 22 2012 at 03:06 PM Moderator wrote:
Pakistan--Pastor Discusses Christianity with Pakistani Teacher
An Arabic-language teacher at a government school in Pakistan has been meeting with a VOM-supported pastor to learn more about Christianity. The encounters began after the teacher learned that one of his students was a Christian. "I've never met a Christian in my life," he told the young man. "How do you Christians pray?" The student invited him to speak with his pastor. At first the discussions were difficult because the teacher didn't feel he could speak openly. But last month, the pastor visited the teacher's school and brought pencils and notebooks for the students. That day, the pastor and the teacher spoke for two hours, and the teacher requested a Bible so he could look up some of the verses the pastor cited. The Pakistani teacher suggested they discuss the topic of whether Jesus is the Son of God the next time they meet. The pastor asks for our prayers. "Please pray for me, when I have this meeting, that God will protect me and the Holy Spirit will guide me and save the soul of [this teacher], so he can accept Jesus Christ as his personal savior."
Azerbaijan--Church Sued Under Religion Law
Forum 18 News
Azerbaijani authorities are suing the Greater Grace Church in Baku, in what is thought to be the first attempt to close a religious community under the nation's religion jaw. The 2009 law requires that all religious groups re-register with the government. If the state committee suing Greater Grace Church succeeds, the church will lose its right to exist. Greater Grace, which first registered with the government in 1993, says it was unaware that it needed to re-register and that authorities gave no warning before filing the liquidation suit against them. In the past, authorities have acted secretly to shut down churches, but it now appears they will operate openly, with the backing of the law. Several hundred churches waiting for official registration fear that if Greater Grace is closed, many others will be closed as well. The first hearing was held on Thursday, March 15, and court proceedings are expected to resume on March 29.
Nigeria--Church Bombings Continue
Compass Direct News, VOM Contacts
At least nine Christians were killed in Jos, Nigeria, on March 11 in the second church bombing within two weeks. In this most recent attack, Boko Haram terrorists targeted the 3,000-member St. Finbar's Catholic Church, in an affluent Jos neighborhood. Security personnel forced the attackers to detonate their bomb before their car reached the sanctuary. Among the victims were two women in their 50s and two boys, aged 8 and 16. Reprisal attacks by Christians reportedly occurred after the bombing, and witnesses reported additional deaths of Christians at the hands of military personnel. The husband of one victim told Compass Direct, "What is happening in Nigeria today is a war against the Church. We need to fight back spiritually, as this is the only way we as Christians can survive it."
Yemen--Al-Qaida Claims Responsibility for Death of Development WorkerSources: Newser.com, NewYorkTimes.com, The Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
A 32-year-old American English teacher was gunned down in the central Yemeni city of Taiz on March 18, and al-Qaida members have claimed responsibility. A Pennsylvania newspaper identified the victim as Joel Wesley Shrum, a former high school football star who moved to Yemen in 2010 to work for International Training Development Centre, a nonprofit organization. Two men on a motorcycle approached Shrum's car and opened fire as he was on his way to his job as an English teacher at the center. Text messages later circulated saying "holy warriors" had killed a "senior missionary." The school has denied that Shrum was a missionary. He leaves behind a wife, Janelle, and two young sons.
Pray for the family of "Matthew," who was martyred for his faith, and especially for 19-year-old Roger, who received an auto rickshaw to help support the family.