"But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you" - 1 Peter 4:12- 14 (NIV).
There have been a few recent developments that have brought cheer to many Christians world wide. In 2014 a gay activist, Mr Gareth Lee, placed an order at a Christian run bakery in UK to bake a cake for him with a slogan, "Support Gay Marriage"!
When the Baker declined that this would contravene company values (and there are many other providers anyway) the activist took the Baker to court. This case has been running since going on to the European Supreme court, which has dismissed it finally!
A Christian nurse, Mary Inhouha, originally from Nigeria, working for a south London hospital, UK, happened to wear a crucifix as a theatre nurse. "Every time I look at it, I think of Jesus, His love, how much He loved me, and the need for me to love Him back,' she said. Whereas Muslims who had on hijabs or Hindus wearing bracelets were not bothered, she was forced out of her job, on account of using the crucifix to proselytize patients. She took her employers to court which has ruled in her favour.
These accounts share a common story of our times- the targeting and persecution of believers for their faith. In 2004 a Christian biologist, Nathaniel Abrahams, was fired from his job at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, for questioning evolution as a scientific fact.
Believers must be aware that Christ warned us in the last days to see more of such persecution. "Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them" (Mathew 10: 16-18). And to these he says, "but one who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Mathew 24:13), and hugely rewarded!
Prayer for today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, as we see the increasing persecution of believers near and far, help us with the strength of your Holy spirit to hold on to the truth assured that you will deliver us and there is a big reward for those who persevere to the end, this I pray in Jesus name!
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“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful” – ( 2 Timothy 4:7).
Fighting may be looked at as a non-desirable way of life, especially by those who are pacifists. In fact, throughout Christian history there are many who have literally taken Jesus’s admonition of “turn the other cheek” in Mathew 5:39, to mean nonresistance in the face of attack. The fact that Jesus rebuked the Apostle Peter for drawing a sword against his captors ( Mathew 26:52), means giving in to those who attack them, as a sign of humility.
Yes, of course there are moments where Christians must practice that humility and give in to those who attack them well remembering His word, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord” ( Romans 12:19). However, that said, Believers in Christ would be mistaken to imagine that they must not fight for their faith, whenever under attack. For in reality, the faith of believers is under constant attack from Satan, who comes to “kill and destroy” ( John 10:1).
Faced with this, Paul went at great length to advise Christians to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” ( Ephesians 6:11). To ward of constant attacks by the enemy Paul challenged us to “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” ( vv 14-17).
Paul is telling us that if you think that ours is a walk over faith where you are not going to fight back against the attacks of the enemy you are very mistaken. Fight we must, and hold our ground. The devil respects that! And when all is done, we can then gladly say, “we have fought the good fight, finished the race” and thank God Almighty we are free at last!
Prayer today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, today I rise ready to resist the attacks of the enemy, by wearing the full of armor of God, and with the sword of the Spirit, fight back to victory, this I pray in Jesus’ name!