Persecution and Prayer

Posted on 11/12/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT:

Good morning and welcome. Thank you all for coming. You're not here by accident. God has a purpose and a plan for your life, and he has brought you here today for a reason.

Stay with us for the next 45 minutes, and let's seek the face of God together.

First, I'd like to share a quick status report. At last tally, we're about $120 US, which is 32,400 Linden dollars away from having the setup fee for an island. I want to thank all of you who have made sacrifices to make this happen.

While almost all of the feedback we've received has been positive, even excited, about the purchase of an island, we've receive some very good feedback in the other direction.

Every single idea, suggestion, and concern is very valuable, and will be considered for situations which arise in the future. So my thanks and appreciation go to you all. Keep going after Christ!

The issue of tax-deductible donations has been brought up, and we are looking at the possibility of applying for non-profit status some time early next year. While we can't offer non-profit tax write-offs for your donations until that time, remember that everything, including money, time, and talent, that you give to the Kingdom of God, is treasure layed up in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy, and theives do not break in and steal.

Let's all stand to our feet and go to the Lord in prayer.


Father God, thank you for being here with us today by your Holy Spirit. Thank you that even at times we're unsure, even at times when we think things may not be going in the right direction, even when we question what's going on in our lives or in the world around us, you are still on the throne.

Thank you that you see everything from the beginning to the end, and that you have our steps ordered and ordained to walk on the path you have set before us.

And Lord, thank you for the price you paid so we can be reconciled to you, having our sins completely blotted out, and our slate wiped sparkling clean.

We ask that you help us lay aside any thoughts or feelings that would keep us from coming completely unhindered into your presence today. The stresses of our week, the thoughts of tomorrow, the hurts, struggles, and questions of today; help us to remember that as we draw near to you, you will draw near to us, and will keep us at perfect peace as we stay our minds upon you.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray.

Amen.

Click-touch the pulpit for a notecard, and let's have a time of worship around the throne of the Great King.


THE NOISE WE MAKE

This is the noise we make
With our voice and with our hands
We come to celebrate all across his land
Yeah
The joy that's in our hearts
Makes us want to dance for you
Join as the angels sing and worship as they do
And we worship you alone with our songs and praise
One day before your throne
This is the noise we make

You are worthy worthy
You are worthy worthy
You are holy holy
You are holy holy

And we worship you alone with our songs and praise
One day before your throne
This is the noise we make
 

YOU'RE WORTHY OF MY PRAISE

I will give, you all my worship
I will give, you all my praise
You alone, I long to worship
You alone, are worthy of my praise

I will worship, with all of my heart
I will praise you, with all of my strength
I will seek you, all of my days
I will follow, all of your ways

You are worthy of my praise

I will bow down, and I'll hail you as king
I will serve you, I will give you everything
I will lift up my eyes to your throne
I will trust you, I will trust you alone

You are worthy, You are worthy
You are worthy of my praise


WE FALL DOWN

We fall down
We lay our crowns
At the feet of Jesus

The greatness of
Mercy and love
At the feet of Jesus

We cry holy, holy, holy
We cry holy, holy, holy
We cry holy, holy, holy
Is the lamb

My Jesus, I love you
I know thou are mine
To thee all the follies of sin I resent
My gracious redeemer
My savior, art thou
If ever I'll love you
My Jesus tis now


Lord, you are worthy of our praise, and there is no one else like you! If we were able to search for all eternity, we would find none other like you, and we worship you today!

Thank you for preparing our hearts to receive your Word, as it goes down deep into fertile soil.

Amen.

You may be seated.

Yesterday was Veteran's Day, and I would like to take a moment to honor all the brave men and women who served our country so bravely and selflessly. Scripture tells us in Romans 13:4, "For he is Godís minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid;  for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is Godís minister, an avenger to execute  wrath on him who practices evil."

So today I salute the ministers of God who served him in battle and today are veterans, and I salute those who are ministers of God today, fighting the cause of freedom today.

As you may or may not know, today is the International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians. There are people here today from all around the world, and even more listening to the audio after this service and throughout this coming week.

Like many of you, I live in a place where I have a relatively high level of freedom to worship God and walk the walk of Faith without fear of imprisonment, torture, or even much persecution of any kind.

But there are countless believers who are forced to meet in secret places, just as they did in the early church. Their voices are raised quietly in praise, knowing that if they are discovered, their lives and the lives of those they love would be over.

Here are a few exerpts from an article in worldnetdaily.com. If you think you have it bad, take a look at some of the prices other Christians have to pay for their faith in Jesus:

"Not since Stalin's time have Christians been so savagely persecuted...

"Last Sunday during evening services, terrorists detonated car bombs outside five  Catholic churches in Mosul and Baghdad. A dozen worshipers perished. Scores of women and  children were injured.

"Now the Christians are fleeing. In Damascus, Rita Zekert, who heads the Caritas Migrant  Center, says that where, a year ago, the refugees were Shiite, Sunni, Christian, and Kurd  in rough proportion to each's share of the population, 'nowadays, 95 percent of the  people coming to us are Iraqi Christians.'

"According to the New York Times, these refugees 'tell of Christian shopkeepers killed by  Islamist gangs for daring to sell alcohol, of family businesses sold to ransom stolen  children ... They left Iraq, they say, only because they were too terrorized to stay.'

...

"Last May, in Nigeria's second city, Kano, Muslim youth went on a midnight rampage with  cutlasses, clubs, and machetes, massacring 600 Christians and leaving their bodies in the  streets. Sixteen churches burned to the ground. The senior Muslim cleric in the city  ordered all Christians out. Some 30,000 were driven from their homes."

...


So when is the last time any of us have been in church and had a bomb explode?

When is the last time any of us dared to go out of our homes and were slaughtered in the streets?

When is the last time any of us were ordered to leave our homes and cities under fear of death because we are Christians?

Here's more from lcms.org:

"Christian homes in Basra have been attacked and looted.
Occupants were told that the next time they will be killed because they are Christian."


"A nun was beaten and decapitated by a Muslim mob."

"In February a Kurdish Christian convert was murdered at a
taxi station in northern Iraq. An Islamic extremist approached the cab driver and ordered him to deny his faith. When the driver refused, he was shot in the face and chest as his assailant shouted 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Great)."

"One Christian man returned home from work to find his
furniture and belongings on the street. His Muslim landlord stated he would no longer rent to Christians."


And from christianmonitor.org:

"Helen Berhane was among about 2,000 members of illegal Evangelical church groups in  Eritrea, who Amnesty says have been arrested in recent years.

"She was reportedly imprisoned inside a metal shipping container and beaten in an effort  to make her recant her faith."

...

"She was being held at (a) military camp where many prisoners, including Ms Berhane  according to Amnesty, are held in metal shipping containers.

"The containers are swelteringly hot during the day and freezing cold at night..."

...

"Amnesty International says (Hellen) is confined to a wheelchair because of her  injuries to her legs and feet."

...

"There was mounting international concern Tuesday, October 31, about the persecution of  Christian teenagers in Iraq amid reports that a 14-year old boy was beheaded while a  13-year-old girl is being held in prison."

...

"Eritrean security police tortured two Christians to death yesterday, two days after  arresting them for holding a religious service in a private home south of Asmara.The  deaths came just after officials detained a U.S. citizen and re-imprisoned a popular  Christian singer who was hospitalized as a result of spending 29 months in a metal  shipping container."

...

"Hundreds of Christians have since been attacked. Reports state that more than fifteen  hundred members from the evangelical Word of Life denomination have been displaced from  their homes. Five churches in the area were burned."

...

"Hindu extremists in the western state of Orissa on Wednesday (October 4) abducted a  Christian youth from his house and tortured and tonsured him, allegedly to punish him  for accepting Christianity."

...

How many of us have gone through these things? Having our children kidnapped and beheaded, our churches burned, being locked in metal containers for months, being tortured, being in constant fear for our lives and the lives of those we love...

And yet the day is coming where no follower of Christ will be safe anywhere in the world. Scripture promises we'll be persecuted if we follow Jesus. But it also tells us the reward is great.

We read in Matthew chapter five, verses eleven and twelve, "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil  against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your  reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

The question is not whether persecution is coming. It is already here. The question is, how will you respond? Most of us, just like Peter, would say adamently, "Although everyone else were to abandon you Jesus, yet I will never leave you." And that very night he denied three times that he knew Jesus.

That's why Jesus warned his disciples that very night, "Watch and pray, so you do not fall into temptation." They didn't watch and pray, and they fell.

First he told them to "watch". Are we watching, not only for the return of Christ, but for what is going on around us? Are we watching how everything happening in the world today is fulfilling and leading toward the fulfillment of prophecy?

And are we watching for the return of Jesus, making sure we're ready to meet God face to face, making sure our lamps are trimmed and we're full of the oil of the Holy Spirit, and telling as many as we can that Jesus shed his innocent blood so they could have peace with God?

And then Jesus told them to pray. And in a few minutes we're going to have a time of prayer, and will pray specifically for the Christians being persecuted all over the world, and for revival to sweep the Church so we work while it is still daylight, and we're ready when the night comes.

In John chapter nine verse four, Jesus said, "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work."

We won't always be able to openly share Jesus. Some day soon the price for bringing hope to the hopeless, life to the dying, and freedom to the captives, will be torture and death. In many places this is the price already.

So let's wake up and stop worrying about what people might think of us, or who we might offend, if we tell the truth that Jesus is absolutely the only way to God, all others who claim there is another way are thieves and robbers who are stealing eternal life, peace, and reconciliation with God from people who follow them, and that there is freedom and release from their lives of bondage to sin, depression, obsession, self-destruction, and hopelessness, and it's found in Jesus Christ.

And as we prepare to close with prayer, let me ask you this question: Are you ready? Do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? If he came back right this moment, are you certain you would be ready to meet him and give an account of your life as it is right now?

If not, I'm going to ask you to turn your heart away from the things you've allowed to captivate it that are keeping you from God. Turn your attention fully to Jesus, your only hope for life, and talk to him with me now.

In your own words and your own way, say to him... "Jesus, forgive me for my sins. Wash my sins away with the blood you shed for me on the cross. Make me a part of your family. I believe you are the Son of God who clothed yourself with flesh and died for my sins. And I know that you rose bodily from the tomb, and will come again for your Bride. I choose to follow you, to be one of your own, purchased by you so I can be free to love, to dance, to mount up with wings like an eagle. And when you return, I will meet you in the air, and be changed in an instant, and will live in your life-breathing presence forever. Thank you Jesus! Amen."

At this time I will ask the ministry team to come to the front. This altar is open for prayer.

Since today is the International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians, we're going to take a moment to pray corporately for the Church. Everyone is invited to make your way to the front or pray where you are. And as you come, let's lift our hearts toward heaven on behalf of the Saints in all the earth.

Let's pray.

Lord God, we come to you today with thankful hearts, full of love and awe, full of praise and adoration. Thank you that your Holy Spirit has held back the enemy for so long, even to the point we no longer see the things from which you spare us.

Today your Bride is crying out to you from all around your earth. Many of us are being persecuted, tortured, violated, and put to death. And their reward in heaven is great!

We ask for protection, divine favor, miraculous intervention, and most of all peace and rest in the hearts of those who follow after you no matter what the cost.

And we pray that in this hour in which the dividing lines between light and darkness are beginning to become more clear, may your Holy Spirit work through us and around us to draw those who will come to the cross, so they can find life in Jesus and cleansing in his blood.

We also pray for those who have lost the distinction between what is of you and what only mimics what is of you. Scripture tells us that in the end times, there will be great deception. Open our eyes Lord, convict us of compromising with the counterfeits of the enemy, and give us the conviction and boldness to have nothing to do with the works of darkness and the false works of light, and stand up firmly for the Truth.

And Lord, we pray for ourselves, that you wake us up. Shake us, Lord. And let everything that is not of you fall away. Bring revival, Lord! Let your Holy Spirit blow through our midst, through our lives, through the deepest, darkest corners of our hearts and minds, and stir up in us that burning desire, that fire, stir up our passion to follow after you with everything that is within us.

And we ask these things in Jesus' name, knowing that as we pray according to your will, you hear and answer, and knowing that you who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it!

Amen.

If anyone needs prayer or ministry, please instant message one of the ministry team. The rest of you please stay and pray with us, and we'll all go next door in a few minutes for a time of fellowship.

"Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen." (Hebrews 13:20-21)