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They had to choose who’s killed first! Persecution of the Church
Can you imagine being put in jail for the solitary reason of simply being a follower of Jesus Christ? It is the very reality of persecution that reveals what is inside of us. Imagine being able to sit down and talk to the very people that have endured tremendous persecution for the cause of Christ. Francis Chan was just the conversations and the experience is beyond memorable for him. In 2007, a group of Korean missionaries traveled to Afghanistan to spread the Gospel. It was during this trip that 22 were taken hostage by the Taliban. This was the reality that Chan was able to get a personal perspectiveon what happened.
It’s one thing to know that you may be killed, but it’s another to be in a group of Christians who have been taken hostage and begin seeing your brothers and sisters being killed one by one. “The last day they were together, one of the gals still had a Bible on her…she ripped it into 23 pieces and they passed it to one another so they could each have a little scripture. Whenever you have a free moment, look at the scripture and get yourself encouraged.” Can you imagine the dialogue and conversation between them? Each of them begin surrendering their lives to whatever God wanted to do.
Of all of those who were in this circle, the Senior Pastor spoke up to tell the group “The Taliban are going to start killing us and I already told them that I die first because I am the pastor.” In response, another spoke up in rebuttal, “No. I am a pastor and I am your elder. I die first.” Still another adds to the conversation, “No. You are not ordained…I am the ordained senior pastor. I die first.” He did in fact die first.
The revealing perspective in all of this, as Chan recounts, is the continuing conversation between each of them after they were released from captivity. Each of those who survived the experience had the same comment to the senior pastor. “Don’t you wish we were still there? I was so close to Jesus in that hole, in that cell…and I come back here and I try to pray, I try to fast and it’s just not the same…”
Paul prayed for this very reality in the words of Philippians 3:10, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”. It’s one thing to want to know God, but do we want to know Him in the closeness and intimacy of this reality? It is only in the revelation of who He is, when we spend time with Him, that we would desire to seek this reality. Difficult times are coming. In order to be faithful to Him, we must know Him. Allow your faith and hunger for the heart of God to be challenged and stirred as you hear the full encounter from Francis Chan and so much more. Also shared in this segment: The Cross, revelation, visions, persecution, oppression, death, eternity, Glory of God, Jesus as Lord, Verge, abiding, discipleship, and faithfulness. Greg and Steve shared in this segment.
Is there an Evil and Oppressive Leadership Waiting to be Released over the Church? The Lord is Just
Now is an important time for us to recount and remember the reality that God is Just. If someone were to take the life of a child, we would expect justice to be served and that person be convicted of a crime. Taking the life of your own child for the ability to have greater success in your life is not just. When we begin to understand the repercussions of God’s definition of being just could be the taking of our own life as an adequate consequence, we have an immediate response of humility and the recognition of needing to get right before the Lord.
Presently, there is an increasing level of stress, anxiety, and darkness. Regardless of our realities, nothing is a valid excuse to accept being unfaithful to the Lord. We must recognize what took place amongst the Israelites because of the decision of unfaithfulness towards the Lord. 2 Chronicles 12:2 reveals, “Because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem in the fifth year of King Rehoboam.” This is an important truth to be aware of: destruction was coming to the people of Israel because of their choice to no longer be faithful. In response, this is what the Lord says, “You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak.”
In response to the words of the Lord, ”the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is just” as noted in 2 Chronicles 12:6. God took note of their humble response, “When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.”
We are seeing conflict and persecution throughout every part of the Globe. Instead of focusing on the event that is happening, we must see the paradigm of what is being allowed by the hand of God. This is the same comparison. There are many “Shishaks” lined up to bring destruction to America. The only reason why so much devastation and so much mounting destruction could take place in such a short period of time is because we, the Church, have turned our backs on the Lord. If we think the last seven years have been bad, get ready. This is nothing compared to what lies in our future if we do not repent. There is a Zedekiah waiting in the shadows.
Presently, America is at that point. Many have turned their backs on God, blind to the reality that we have an Egyptian-sympathetic leader that is increasing his strength day after day. If we do not heed the warnings of the Lord, we will find ourselves under an ever greater leadership to learn the difference between serving the Lord and an evil king, just as Judah did.
This is such an important truth and reminder of the days that we are living in. It matters what we do and it matters what we don’t do. This is a revealing paradigm. As 1 John 2:6 states, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” Our lives must demonstrate the commandments from Jesus, not just our tongues. When we begin to see Jesus and His life more than simple admirations of character, but more as a holistic role model in every way, we begin to take a drastically different approach in our decisions.
Hear the full context of this important truth, the vitality of understanding the current events that are happening in the world, in America, why we cannot be satisfied in simply liking Jesus, and so much more. Also shared in this segment: government, leadership, sin, repentance, humility, consequences, kings, and pride. Greg and Steve shared in this segment.
“I’m not scared to die…I’m Scared for those that are distracted by the world”, Clayton’s Story
When we are focused on this life alone, our dreams and hopes have a completely different look than compared to having a perspective focus on eternity. If we are aware of how fragile life is, life begins to take on an entirely new reality. What if you knew the very day, the very moment that you were going to die? Do you think that you would live your life differently? Clayton did.
Because his perspective on life is much different than many others, he sees things a little differently. “Life for some person can mean the usual, go to school, go to college, get a good job, get a good husband or wife, get a good family, get a good car, get a good home. Get a good everything and then have a good memorial service.” For Clayton, this wasn’t his perspective. At 19 years old, Clayton has been diagnosed with Lukemia on four different occasions. In his own words, Clayton shares his outlook on life. “I’m not scared of cancer. I’ve had it most of my life. I know what’s going to happen. I’m not scared to die either because I know where I’m going when I die.” It is what scares Clayton that is most concerning. “I’m scared for everybody else. I’m scared for those who don’t know where they’re going when they die. I’m scared for those who think they know where they’re going when they die, but they really don’t. And I’m especially scared for those of you who are distracted by this world.” Ultimately, Clayton shares, “It’s not hard for me to be thankful for every breath that I have because it was given to me by God.” Clayton continues to still have impact on the lives of others. Hear the full story about Clayton and so much more. Also shared in this segment: gratitude, thankfulness, Satan, eternity, and death. Greg and Steve shared in this segment
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This post was edited 8/1/2016