STAND FOR WHAT IS RIGHT – Open Doors
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Matthew 5:10-11)
Jesus assures his followers there is blessing in suffering for what is right. This blessing may take the form of inner peace and joy. This is the meaning of the word translated “blessed” or “happy” in Jesus’ teaching called the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12).
The New Testament writer, James, indicates that pressures are blessings in disguise and should be responded to with joyfulness (James 1:2-3). The Message paraphrase translates the verses this way, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.”
She explains, “I told the chief, ‘I cannot abandon my faith. If you puncture a sack of grain, the only thing that pours out is the type of grain that was in the sack. It is the same with me. I can only say what is inside me; everything that is in my heart must come out of my mouth…The more you punish me, the stronger I will be. If you keep hammering on a nail’s head it just becomes harder to pull out of the wall…’
I could not understand how they expected me to stop believing; it was impossible for me. In fact, the guards were making their own situation worse, because people began to ask what was so special about this religion that Christians refused to give it up, and they also believed. Our suffering became a glory for our faith…I am convinced that the number of Christians has doubled or tripled since they closed the churches. So perhaps God is using this terrible situation for his glory.”
RESPONSE – Today I will stand for what is right, because I know Jesus will be glorified, and I will receive a blessing.
PRAYER – God give strength and courage to me and to those around the world being pressured to deny their faith today. I ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen
ERITREA (Open Doors) – All evangelical churches were closed following the government’s ban on all religious groups other than Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran or Islamic in 2002. Anyone discovered to be an evangelical is tortured and forced to revert to the registered denominations. If they don’t, they are held in military camps without trial. Around 1500 are believed to be imprisoned; at least five died in 2011. Others were released so they wouldn’t die in custody. In 2011 there was a renewed crackdown on house churches; at least 23 believers were imprisoned.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS) A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks
© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission