Sunday, 5 May 2019

Persecution of Christians

Scripture: 2 Timothy 3 v 8 - 12: "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 
 9  But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.
 10  But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
 11  Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
 12  Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

Timothy was like a son to Paul.  He had led him to Jesus and ministered to him in a special way until he knew he was a good soldier in God's army.  And all those who live godly lives in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Jesus was persecuted and hated by the Pharisees because He rocked their religious boat.  Their pride and hypocrisy caused them to be so offended in Him that they plotted His death, and then had Him crucified.

John 15 v 17 - 20: "These things I command you, that ye love one another.
 18  If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
 19  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
 20  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also."

Paul was persecuted as he writes in 2 Corinthians 11 v 23 - 28: "Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
 24  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
 25  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
 26  In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
 27  In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
 28  Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches."

To Paul persecution was the norm.  Because he had been a Pharisee and persecuted Christians himself he felt he deserved all that came on him and never complained.  He referred to himself as the least of all the saints.

Yesterday morning I woke up to news that the persecution of Christians worldwide has become so bad that we are now the most persecuted of any group of people.  The deaths of Christians is so huge that it is now labelled genocide.

Years ago, before the USSR crashed under Gorbachev, and while the Iron Curtain prevented people coming and going to Russia, there was a huge underground church there, from which we received reports and testimonies, news of those imprisoned or martyred.
Pastor Richard Wurmbrand and his wife, Sabrina, ran this ministry and he was imprisoned and tortured many times for preaching the gospel.

He always thanked those who tortured him for allowing him to suffer for his faith in Jesus.  There was very quick changes of torturers in his prison as he led so many to Christ.  He said, and it is true, that when the church is persecuted it gets stronger.

It surprised me that this news of Christian persecution was being aired on Sky News and they spoke of huge underground churches that existed in the worst offending countries, China, North Korea, India, Muslim countries, other communist countries.  

When churches in South Korea pledged to send one million missionaries into China, the missionaries were surprised to find a thriving underground church in every village, town and city.  They lack Bibles and other Christian items like books, gospel music, and freedom of worship, but the Holy Spirit gives them such faith and strong preaching that they are well supplied with spiritual instruction.  The persecution unites them and strengthens them.

The Lord is always with us and never forsakes us.  He died to save us and ever lives to intercede for us at our Fathers right hand.  He hears our prayers and answers them in beautiful ways.  However, we live under a government that is allied to Communism and Muslim nations.  This year South Africa has recalled its ambassador to Israel and is shutting the embassy.

They don't realise what our God said to Abraham about the Promised Land.  He said whoever blesses Israel will be blessed and whoever curses Israel will be cursed.  To declare Israel an enemy is to make an enemy of God.  In an election year! And its 3 days away.

We were praying last night about this election and the Lord gave us His opinion through Psalms 2 v 3 - 6: "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
 4  He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
 5  Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 
 6  Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion."

Jesus has made a choice and we wait in perfect peace and surrender to His will, to see who He has chosen to lead this nation forward.  Making Israel an enemy is the first step to declaring Christians enemies too.  The connection of our present government to Russia, China and Muslim countries can cause alarm bells to ring as the Antichrist rises in every nation.

Time is running out for people to sit on the fence.  Does the Lord have to allow persecution to come upon nations to unite Christians in underground churches because the visible church has become too worldly, too structured, too false and humanitarian.

If your church is politically correct but contrary to the Bible God will remove His presence from it.  The world controlled by Satan has gained access to the Fathers House and turned it into a market place.  I was visiting a large church which had a famous American preacher grace its pulpit.  In his sermon he said he had just published a book on Prosperity.  He then commanded the doors of the church to be locked and only opened when every person present had bought a copy of it.  

It opened my eyes to how far we have fallen from the walk of Jesus and the early apostles.  Paul kept working as a tentmaker so as not to be a burden on the Church.  All who live godly in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted.  If we are not feeling it then we are not godly enough.  

I was in a church where I was persecuted for four years by my pastor, my husband and some members of the congregation.  I begged the Lord to get me out of it.  He commanded me to stay until He was ready or I was ready for my onward journey with Him.  It took a forty day fast eventually and on the 39th day of this fast the pastor and brethren held a meeting about me in which the final say was that when I come into the church Jesus leaves!  I was not there but my husband informed me.  

A few days later the Lord commanded me to leave and start my own ministry under His authority.  That was in 1983 and it has been this incredible journey.  My husband divorced me giving me an ultimatum of submit to him and his church or the marriage is over.  The Lord gave me His answer, Let him go!  I had to obey Jesus and walk this path with Him and I have not regretted it.  Persecution drew me closer to Him and totally reliant on His protection.

I share these things because in some form or another in these last days we will go through a trial of our faith.  1 Peter 4 v 12 - 14: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
 13  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
 14  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified."

I forgave my persecutors and realised that the Lord put me through that fiery trial to hammer every bit of pride, falseness, worldliness, and churchianity out of me to prepare me for His absolute truth, His revelation about The Bride of Christ and all that happened to us before the world was formed. (If this is news to you read my blog post "Brokenness" link

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for those who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus, imprisoned, caged, beaten, starved, threatened with death, expelled from jobs, separated from loved ones, tortured to make them reject Jesus.  Lord be with them, strengthen them, uphold them and cause their persecutors to be saved by unshakable faith and their witness to truth.  In Jesus' name. Amen.