Do you ever remember the American group "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers"? Strange question to start off our Thought this month, I know! The group jumped up in my head as I recently observed some pretty 'Petty' attitudes, and yes, some 'Heartbreakers' too. But no, Tom wasn't involved! Isn't it strange that, as Christians, we are all sealed with the same Spirit, but somehow as an assembly of believers we can still come up with some very different ideas on certain important issues?
At pretty much the same time, I received news of the latest outbreak of violence between Muslims and Christians in central Nigeria. I have a good friend from Nigeria and so I tend to keep an eye to this part of the world. I then read the horrifying accounts of how gangs of men armed with guns, machetes and cutlasses walked into villages near the city of Jos and brutally attacked Christian farmers and their families. According to the BBC Website, it ended with the death of 500 people.
Sometimes the Lord lets us see pettiness and persecution slap bang together. We in the West have it so easy, on both a personal and church level. In fact, I don't want to mention petty attitudes again in this Thought but want to direct our thoughts to where real persecution is happening… the Persecuted Church. And by Persecuted Church, I mean the on-going and escalating violence directed towards the true 'church' of God, towards those 'born again' believers who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
I used to read about those great post reformation Christians who were martyred for their faith back in the 16th and 17th centuries. But then this was back towards the 'dark ages'. I mean, this kind of thing surely doesn't go on in the enlightened 21st century? It's a rhetorical question, unfortunately! Did you know that more Christians were martyred in the 20th and now 21st century than in all the previous 19 centuries! Shockingly, statistics estimate that a persecuted Christian is martyred somewhere in the world every 3 minutes!
"If the world hates you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you… but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you… If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you;… But all these things will they do unto you for My name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me." (John 15:18-21)
According to "Open Doors", there are 28 countries where to publicly declare your personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ could lead to your imprisonment, torture or death. I have noticed that some folk in these countries log on our website to view our Sermons and Thoughts. Web-page auto translation now allows our messages to be read in many different languages. If you are reading this Thought from one of these countries and love the Lord Jesus Christ, then may the Lord bless you and keep you safe. And if you don't yet know Him, please click on the link below and email us for any help.
So lets not major on the minors!
Pray for your Brothers and Sisters who are literally up against the wire.
Ask 'Open Doors' or 'Release International' to come and speak at your church.
Let us all focus on being 'salt' and 'light' to an unbelieving world.
I always want these thoughts to be short but if you would take 7 minutes out of your busy lifestyle and watch the following video, then this would cement what I had hoped to bring across this month. Thousands have already viewed it. Noviana Malewa, the girl in our picture, features too. Turn on your speakers and open your eyes to what is happening in the world today…
"Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Tim 3:12 NASB)
"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake." (Matthew 5:11)
(All quotations are from the KJV, unless otherwise noted)
Are you SURE that you have your place booked in Heaven? Read this if you're not!