Sunday, November 20, 2016

November 20, 2016: Faith Is Costly

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2016 - Day 325  

Devotional Song:  … GO TO THIS LINK …  Please take the time to take in a YouTube video of images and lyrics from Bebo Norman singing … I Will Lift My Eyes … poignantly singing of our need to lift our eyes to our only real source of strength to deal with the problems and, yes, even the persecutions of life.

Highlight Text: Acts 6:8-15; 7:59-60 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… Stephen was the first martyr of the post-resurrection church; and he was our first example of giving our all for Christ.

Reference Passage #1 … Matthew 5:10 [NKJV] …  
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, … for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
… Christ’s promise from His Father of eternal blessing for all who are persecuted for righteousness sake.

Reference Passage #2 … John 16:33 [NKJV] …  
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” 
… As Christians Jesus even promised tribulation - and even persecution. How we handle it is our tribute to our Lord.

Reference Passage #3 … Acts 1: 8 [NKJV] …  
8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 
… And often we have to have the Holy Spirit Power Christ promises when we are his persecuted witnesses.

Reference Passage #4 … 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 [NKJV] … USE THIS LINK 
… We may be persecuted as Christians; but Christ promises His grace to sustain us.

My Journal for Today:  … Our Daily Bread author [unknown today] highlights Stephen (highlight passages) and other martyrs of the faith in asking readers to pray for the persecuted church (see photo). The author wrote: The stories of Stephen and modern martyrs remind us that the message of Christ can be met with brutality. If we have never faced persecution for our faith, let’s pray for the persecuted church around the world. And may we, if and when tested, find grace to be found faithful to the One who suffered so much more for us. 

Fellow Christians, … especially those here in my country (i.e. USA), … the world is raising the heat of persecution on Christians; but here in the U.S., our persecution doesn’t hold a candle to that in the middle east or other areas of the world where Christians are even being martyred for their faith.

Today, the ODB author (not identified) highlighted the first post-resurrection Christian martyr, Stephen [see Acts 6-7 above], as an example of what can happen when we become witnesses for King Jesus and His gospel (see the reference passages above).

Jesus charged all of His disciples (you and me too) to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8); and He even promised His disciples that we would experience tribulation (John 16:33). But our Lord also told us (in that same passage and in 2Cor. 12:9) that He would give us the grace to deal with our tribulation. And Stephen became the first example of raising his eyes to the heavens (see today’s song) when we are persecuted, giving us His strength to live - or die - as witnesses for our Lord.

And today I’m convicted to pray for the persecuted church [again, see photo]. Please join me!

My Prayer Today: Heavenly Father, … Lord, give all who are persecuted in Your Name the grace and strength to give You glory. … Amen  

Blogger Note:  Everyday during this year, my daily devotional blogs are influenced by the reading and study of the online devotional blog entitled Our Daily Bread, distributed online via email by RBC Ministries.  If you GO TO THIS LINK on the date of my blog, you can read/study the ODB blogs; or you can subscribe to the blog via email at that site.

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