Duration: 365 days
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. Deuteronomy 30:11
It is possible! The persecuted church by example prove to us that it is indeed possible to lose everything…to suffer everything…to endure everything…yet maintain a joyful spirit and heart of love for the Lord.
So often our major shortcoming is simply to doubt that we could go through those experiences and come out of them as refined and triumphant as we have witnessed others in these devotionals. Jesus never promised that our life would be easy—just fulfilling. He never promised that things would be fair—only that He would be just.
Though we might think that life is too hard for these brothers and sisters about whom we’ve been reading, we have been given perhaps an even tougher spiritual assignment. Yet the principles in dealing with it remain the same.
Ruth Graham shared a convicting story about a Christian who had just arrived in a free country from years of persecution. He was appalled at the seeming casual commitment to Jesus and materialistic contamination of these Christians. And he said so. Sometime later he returned to visit the friend to whom he had spoken so bluntly when he first arrived:
He asked if his friend remembered what he had said, the bitterness of his criticism. The friend remembered. The man stood silent for a few moments, reflecting. The friend tensed for a second attack.
“I have come to apologize both for what I said and the way in which I said it,” he said simply. “I was merely afraid. I did not know how dangerous freedom could be. It has been a year now. And I am worse than those I criticized.”
Then he added a significant statement: “It is more difficult to live the Christian life under freedom than under repression.”
Iranian Christian leader Luke Yagnazar lives in the United States. He concludes, “It is more difficult to be a Christian in the USA than in Iran. There you are either a Christian or not!”
Pastor Samuel Lamb in southern China says, “We have physical persecution but you have materialism. Your lot is harder because we know what we are spiritually fighting. Many times you don’t.”
Another Chinese church leader adds, “Once you are chasing after money there is no time and energy for church affairs…And the government knows that materialism will destroy the church faster than persecution can…I tell my co-workers in China that the biggest enemy we’re facing is no longer communism, it’s materialism.”
We must remember it’s a spiritual battle we fight in and we fight with spiritual weapons only.
RESPONSE: Today I resolve to begin the New Year ahead accepting the more difficult assignment and putting God and His kingdom ahead of all others and all else.
PRAYER: Lord, help me accept the more difficult assignment putting You and Your kingdom first.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.