Monday, February 16, 2015

Daily Encouragement (02/16/15) "Considering Their Threats"

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Winter blast 2/15/15 Drifts out office window
Early Sunday morning it was clear but very windy with temps in the single digits.
Snow drifts had essentially blocked us in and many churches cancelled including our own.

"Considering Their Threats"

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Note: Today's message is a followup to the message we wrote Thursday on the "Hidden Heroes" of those suffering for Christ.

"Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak Your word with great boldness" (Acts 4:29).

Pakistan gospel meetingWe have a reader in Pakistan that sent us photos this morning of his evangelist father praying for the sick at Christian gatherings in his country. Of course his life is under great threat. This morning I read of the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya.

All throughout the Islamic world our brothers and sisters in Christ are under extreme danger, enduring persecution while many are dying daily for their faith. The cursed lie that this is a religion of peace must be exposed. Just consider the strife in so many countries that are Muslim dominated. Consider the inability of Christians, Jews and other religions, to freely practice their faith in even "moderate" Muslim countries. Can anyone name a single Muslim dominated country where people of faith are invited to practice their Christian convictions safely and unhindered? Yet in the last couple of weeks a prominent leader in our country proclaimed that 99.9% of Muslims are moderate and peaceful!

Certainly it's not only Muslim countries that threaten Christians. In China our brethren face persecution as well as other countries. We have a long-time reader from China who reported how church buildings in his city are being demolished since the Church is seen as a threat to the secular government.

Chinese worship service

He shared about the work of the Holy Spirit going forth in the city where he lives with many turning to Christ. It touches our hearts to see our Chinese brothers and sisters worshipping Jesus at a great personal cost! (Sharing facial photos on this site could jeopardize believers but this photo is a reminder that all over the world, the Spirit is moving! This photo is posted with our reader's permission.)

Here in America one can sense the winds of persecution as we read our Bibles and tune in regularly to the news events. Consider those who act in Biblical conviction regarding moral issues. Even those who assert the Biblical teaching on marriage are labeled as hateful. All over the country business owners who do not accede to the demands of activists are facing persecution such as a husband and wife who own a bakery in Oregon. They were recently fined $150,000.00 for their unwillingness to bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple's "wedding", due to their biblical views regarding marriage between a man and a woman.
The early church knew threats and persecution. Within the context of the daily text Peter and John had already been imprisoned for their faith and, in the coming days, they would again be imprisoned and flogged. They did not know the outcome at the time and later Stephen would become the very first recorded Christian martyr.

In Acts 4:24-30 we have one of the great prayers of the Bible. 
Peter and John's prayer petition was not, as we might expect, for God to remove the threat or opposition, nor was it an appeal for an easy life. Jesus had made it very clear they would face opposition and they seemed to have accepted this. There is no mention in the prayer for protection or deliverance, which on the balance of Scripture is certainly appropriate, but they lifted an impassioned cry to  heaven, "Enable your servants to speak Your word with great boldness."
We belong to a worldwide family of believers. John, in the book of Revelation, records this about Jesus, "With Your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). Today let us pray for our spiritual family, certainly considering their protection and deliverance from evil. But let us also pray that God will "enable Your servants to speak Your Word with great boldness" (verse 31).
Their prayer was answered as the Spirit-empowered disciples went forth and "began to speak the Word of God with boldness."

The next chapter discloses ongoing and increasing persecution and ends with this summary: "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ".

Then the focus turns to Stephen who, instead of being on the defensive, boldly proclaims Christ through sharing his personal faith about Israel's relationship with God from the Old Testament up to the present time when he refers to those who betrayed and crucified Christ. Stephen's persecution and martyrdom is recorded in the Scriptures and the list goes on through the remainder of the New Testament, throughout the church age till this very day; the unsung heroes, both men and women, who are boldly standing for and declaring their faith in Christ no matter the cost.

We are all called to be a part of this faithful proclamation!
We must ask, "Am I doing my part?"

All over the world, today, O God may your Word indeed be proclaimed with great boldness. "Stretch out Your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus" (Acts 4:30).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, in this depraved generation, darkness is broadly sweeping across the land. At one time morality and virtuous behavior was applauded, but we now live in a time where good is called evil and evil is called good. Those who uphold Biblical truths are seen as archaic, old-fashioned, unenlightened. May we not be confused by where the line crosses Your perfect will for our lives. We know in our hearts that teachings or lifestyles that defy Your holy Word is evil, not good. "Enable us to speak Your Word with great boldness" like Peter on the Day of Pentecost and Stephen prior to his stoning. May we not be intimidated or allow ourselves to be bullied into supporting a position that contradicts that which is revealed in Your Holy Word. We rely on the power of Your Holy Spirit to live out our lives in a way that honors You and shows others the way to heaven. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Beginning Saturday night, on Sunday, and still today we have a blustery blast of very cold weather with temps at zero when we awoke this morning. We thought we would share some winter photos from our neck of the woods! Although we are getting the cold he have not gotten lots of snow such as the folks in New England who see mounds of 6 feet in some areas.

Scooby-Doo relaxing in sun
Ester's grandfather (Brooksyne's dad) gave her a stuffed Scooby-Doo stuffed dog over 15 years ago and she won't part with it. Now we allow him to "guard" our property as Dottie looks on! I wonder which would scare away the prowler?

Scooby-Doo ready for artic blast
Knowing the winter blast was coming we wrapped Scooby-Doo up in an old quilt.

Winter blast 2/15/15
View out our front window early Sunday morning.

Winter blast 2/15/15
Our side yard. Actually we didn't get much snow as can be seen on our neighbor's lawn. It just blew into drifts.

Winter blast 2/15/15 storm door
When I opened our lower door the blowing snow had managed to come in right through the storm door.

Winter blast 2/15/15 barn loft
I went out to check on Dottie who stays in the barn. She was in the barn loft all bundled up and Mollie is checking on her. Notice all the snow that blew in through the cracks around the loft door! She's now indoors till the cold passes.

Winter blast 2/15/15 garden shed
The inside of our garden shed was covered in snow.

Winter blast 2/15/15 drifts
The snow drifts in the front part of our driveway.
Thankfully it's a very light snow and I can move it easily.

Winter blast 2/15/15 Mollie playing in drifts
Mollie is always ready to play frisbee and will trudge up the snow drift as needed!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Don't Forget Us"  Video  Written and arranged by Gary Lanier, is a heart cry song from the Persecuted Church asking the Church at large to never forget them, continually lifting them up in prayer.

"We Will Hold On"  Video  
Paul Baloche

"Wear The Crown"  Video  Bill Drake  Written in response to the martyrdom of Bonnie Witherall

"Martyr's Song"  Video  
Todd Agnew

"Only Our God And King"  Video  David Page

"Monuments"  Video  Legacy Five

"His Life For Mine"  Video  The Talley Trio

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