18“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin,but now they have no excuse for their sin.23Whoever hates me hates my Father also.24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.25But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. ~ John 15:18-27 (ESV)
My friends, welcome to this somber Prayers for the Week post. Today, we are going to be praying for persecuted Christians across the world — but also in our own back yard. Let me share with you some things that have happened recently, and how the chain of events is showing me very clearly just how persecuted we are.
On April 19th, our daughter Sophie was confirmed in our church, along with 39 of her fellow Confirmands. That was the day that Sophie publicly acknowledged that she is a Christian, a child of God, and that she loves Jesus with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength! As much as we don’t care to think about it, the day that this happens is the day that Sophie and all her classmates are in the crosshairs of those that persecute Christians. Those people, whoever they are, don’t realize this, or if they do realize it, they don’t care, but they are pawns in the service of Satan, the evil Prince of Darkness.
On April 27th, I started a new Bible reading program, called the Bible in 90 Days. This program guides you through reading the Bible cover to cover, from Genesis 1:1 all the way through Revelation 22:21 — in just 90 days. Each day the reading is harder and harder, and the distractions are greater and greater. Each day I find reasons to fall behind, to put it off for a day, and the temptation to put it aside for good is very great. My friends, this is another case of persecuted Christians. The battlefield for Christians, my friends, is not a physical battle — it is a Spiritual battle. Read what Ephesians 6:12 tells us:
12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
The battle to get me to stop reading the Bible is the Devil’s attempt to take away the greatest weapon I have — the Truth contained in the Word of God!
But the battle ramped up much higher this past Friday.
I came home from work to see both Cindy and Sophie in tears. During school, Sophie had been called names, slapped, accused of physically harming another student, and was subjected to emotional distress to an incredible degree by some at school. Now, Sophie is not completely without fault — she reacted when she shouldn’t have, and in essence poured gasoline on a lit fire, but she did not provoke this altercation, she did not do the things that the other student claims she did, and she was with a friend, at least we believe him to be a friend, and we trust that he will tell the truth. However, this has happened often enough that we are looking at an uncertain future, we do not feel that Sophie is safe at school, despite the wonderful teachers that exist there, and we are not certain that we will allow Sophie to continue going to school there. It seems like this happens just way to often, and Sophie, with her Aspergers syndrome, she just has trouble at times with the social interactions that are needed in Middle School and beyond.
Just like that, Sophie’s path is uncertain, her road towards her future is murkier, and we are not sure what path it will take. However, here is what we do know:
- We know that God is with us, and He will lead us on the path that we are to take.
- We know that the easy road is not the way to go, that this road leads to destruction. The gate to take is the narrow gate.
- Lastly, we know these two things: One, we know that God has plans to prosper us, not to harm us, to give us hope and a future. We also know that in this world, we will have troubles, but as Jesus tells us, do not worry! Jesus has overcome the world!
My friends, please pray for us, pray for Sophie, Cindy, and myself, for our Peace, our Comfort, our Strength to make the tough choices that must be made. Most of all, pray for Sophie’s future, that God would show her the path that she needs to take, and that He would lead her on that path.
These days, most often we hear about the Christian persecution overseas — in Iran, Syria, Egypt, and at the hands of ISIS. Don’t forget, though, that the battleground isn’t all that far away — the battleground is in our own back yards, and it just got a whole lot closer. Pray for persecuted Christians across the world, please, and tell us what we can do to pray for you as well. Now, to close, please pray the prayer that Jesus taught His Disciples to pray:
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done,
On earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever and ever. Amen.