Sunday, August 24th, 2014
The Call To Overcome (Part 14)
The Persecuted Church
I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Revelation 2:9-10 (NKJV)
Prison, prisoners, captives and captivity are mentioned nearly 300 times in the Bible.* Joseph, Samson, Jeremiah, Peter and Paul were all prisoners. In David's isolation, he felt the same pinch, so he pleaded to God: 'Bring my soul out of prison' (Psalm 142:7).
Jesus joined the captives. In front of a live audience, He suffered earth's ultimate humiliation: a prisoner's popularity competition. The people got to vote for their favorite convict's release. Jesus lost and was crucified. Next, in the biggest surprise ending the world had ever seen, He won the ultimate victory: freedom. Not just for Himself, but also for every prisoner who would follow Him.
As David predicted in Psalm 68:18, the Captain of our salvation 'Led captivity captive' (Ephesians 4:8). For believers, Jesus turned death from a kick to a kiss, from night to day and from pain to joy. Earth's end became Heaven's beginning: 'O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?' (1 Corinthians 15:55).
The fear of the Persecuted Church in Smyrna foreshadowed the persecution of Christians today. In Nigeria, hundreds of schoolgirls were herded into busses by the hands of Boko Haram terrorists. In Iraq, thousands of families were huddled into churches by the dread of ISIS assassins. The first group is sold; the second group is hunted.
Comfortable Christians: refuse your comforts, close your screens and open your hearts: 'Weep with those who weep' (Romans 12:15), because Christians are persecuted and imprisoned in over 50 nations right now.** End times are upon them, and they are upon us, too.
Actors, models and talent for Christ, here's how to help: 1) Pray for the prisoners; 2) Pay for the prisoners. Jesus paid their final price, but your donations to key ministries can help them, too.*** 3) Play for the prisoners. Get into the game of entertainment. Stand on the world's biggest stage, the one that never existed before today: modern media. Bring attention to this tragedy and its Cure.
Become a positive example. America hosts media's capitol cities. You host God's Holy Spirit. Your rising is predicted. Kings will see you. Perhaps you will move them to deny the destruction of God's people. Esther rose. Now, it's your turn to overcome evil with good.
'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, 'Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me' ' (Matthew 25:39-40).
To Be Continued...
** Previous AMTC Devotion: The Persecuted Church http://www.amtcdevotions.com/which-church-are-you-part-4-the-persecuted-church
*** Catholic Relief Services in Iraq: http://emergencies.crs.org/iraq-crs-caritas-reach-displaced-families/
*** Unicef helping in Iraq: http://www.unicef.org/iraq/
*** Open Doors World Watch List: http://www.worldwatchlist.us
*** Persecution: International Christian Concern: http://www.persecution.org
*** Voice of the Martyrs U.S.A.: https://www.mnnonline.org/mission_groups/voice-of-the-martyrs-usa/
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the The Call To Overcome series.