Posts Tagged ‘persecution’

17
Dec

FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE

   Posted by: pastordiehl    in Spiritual Gifts

And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Paul here concludes the Love Chapter, but is only midway through the teaching on spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts should not be taught without a full understanding of how Agape love works. If love is left out, spiritual gifts “puff up“, breed “envy“, and lead to “vaunting” oneself above others. (1 Cor. 13:4). I’ve seen some of the ugliest people in Pentecostal churches competing for who is the greatest in these supernatural gifts. The better question is: who succeeds in loving others into the Kingdom? Jesus said, Whoever is greatest among you should be servant of all (Mark 10:43-44).

Although spiritual gifts are only temporary, and although Jesus will one day return and answer all these mysteries and questions we have, there are three foundational principles that will always be steady: Faith, Hope, and Love. Faith is seeing God in the current picture and believing for something better. Hope is the earnest expectation that God is up to something good whether I see the big picture or not. And Love is allowing God to love sinners through us. Love is unconditional and sacrificial, and never gives up.

I heard a testimony the other day about a Christian woman living in a Muslim land. A man persecuted her by pouring hot sauce into her eyes in public. She cried out in agony, “I still pray for you, ———“. He replied that he would be back to teach her an even greater lesson. That night the Muslim man had a dream about Isah (Jesus). He couldn’t shake it from his mind, so he went to her and asked her to tell him about Isah. She did and the dream gave him the faith to accept Christ. Today he is a leader in the church in that closed Muslim nation. That’s how Love overcomes evil.

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5
Oct

STARFISH

   Posted by: pastordiehl    in Uncategorized

Some oyster fishermen off New England learned an important lesson. They discovered that their oyster beds had become infested with starfish. The fishermen cut up the starfish they caught and threw them overboard. Much to their dismay, rather than destroying them they were actually helping them multiply.

The truth is, if one of the arms of a starfish is severed, a new one will grow in its place. In fact, if a starfish is cut up, any piece that contains a part of the central disc will develop into a new starfish.

For centuries, Christians have been hated and viciously opposed in many nations. But persecution has not destroyed Christianity. Even under the most dire circumstances, it has not only survived but thrived. Jesus said of His church that “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

If anything divides us, let’s multiply!

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24
Sep

SCATTERED

   Posted by: pastordiehl    in Uncategorized

Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word (Acts 8:4).

Joseph Stalin didn’t plan to assist the church in Russia during his purge of political and religious dissidents. But he did help it when he sent some pastors and Christian leaders to the labor camps of Siberia. From Magadan, where they got off the ships, the prisoners were sent in work gangs to forests, mines and remote areas to clear land, dig out vital ore, and cut roads through remote areas. It was grueling work that many did not survive.

But those believers were not silent. They banded together, and as they were sent from place to place they witnessed and taught, leaving behind clusters of believers. In many communities of Eastern Siberia, strong churches still stand and groups of Christians witness to the faith and courage of those dedicated servants.

Wherever the Lord “scatters” you, look for opportunities to talk about how good your God is. People need that hope.

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15
Mar

THE JOY OF THE LORD

   Posted by: pastordiehl    in Uncategorized

As a third century man was anticipating death, he penned these last words to a friend: “It’s a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians – and I am one of them.”

Have you found Christians who can be described like that? There are a few like that out there, but most don’t do well under pressure. If we can’t find them, let’s become them. Let’s give others something to write about. “The joy of the Lord is my strength!”

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24
Sep

SUPPORT

   Posted by: pastordiehl    in Uncategorized

In his book Why Christians Sin, J. Kirk Johnston tells about a young Russian woman who, before the collapse of the Iron Curtain, was allowed to visit her relatives in Canada. She was a devout Christian, and her friends assumed that she would defect and seek asylum in Canada or the US because of the religious oppression in the USSR. But they were wrong. She wanted to go back to her homeland.

This Russian woman said that people in the West were too busy acquiring material things and not concerned enough about their relationships. In her homeland, Christian fellowship was essential to their faith because it provided the support and encouragement they so desperately needed.

What do you think? Is America so materialistic that God needs to send persecution to get the church to come together? Would tribulation do any good? What do you think?

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26
Jun

HIS KINGDOM IS FOREVER

   Posted by: pastordiehl    in A Mighty Fortress

‘A Mighty Fortress’ verse 4:

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours through him who with us sideth;

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;

The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still; His Kingdom is forever. Amen.

Throughout modern history there have been many efforts to silence Christianity. I believe we’re seeing one of those movements in our secularizing society right now. But, as Martin Luther pointed out in the closing verse of this hymn, the Word that liberates us still abides. There always has been and always will be a faithful remnant of believers doing His work.

The power we have in this world today against our ancient foe is in the Spirit and the gifts from Who is on our side. Luther concluded: So, never mind about worldly comforts. So what if they persecute and even kill your body? What does it really matter if you lose loved ones, as long as you gain the One Who loves us. His Kingdom is forever. Hallelujah! Amen!

What evidence have you seen that our culture is turning away from its Christian roots?

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24
Jan

THE STOLEN BIBLE

   Posted by: pastordiehl    in Uncategorized

When a team of Christians visited Stavropol, Russia, in 1994 to hand out Bibles, a local citizen said he recalled seeing Bibles in an old warehouse. They had been confiscated in the 1930s when Stalin was sending believers to the gulags. Amazingly, the Bibles were still there.

Among those who showed up to load them into trucks was a young agnostic student just wanting to earn a day’s wage. But soon he slipped away from the job to steal a Bible. A team member went looking for him and found him sitting in a corner weeping.

Out of hundreds of Bibles, he had picked up one that bore the handwritten signature of his own grandmother. Persecuted for her faith, she had no doubt prayed often for her family and her city. God used that grandmother’s Bible to convict that young man.

The language of the Spirit is coincidence. Do you have a coincidental story relating to a Bible?

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