Read:  1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:28

Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition.  1 Thessalonians 2:2

The apostle Paul faced persecution and opposition almost everywhere He went. He claimed Christ and because of that, the world and the super-religious opposed Him. Jesus said this would happen and Paul and the early Christians experienced it first hand.

I wish I could say that was an isolated period in history, but it’s not. Faithful Jesus followers have been persecuted and opposed for most of the last 2000 years. In the U.S. we’ve experienced a 250 year respite from that discrimination, but that’s the exception in the big picture of history. It also seems to be shifting in our day and country.

As Christians are being painted as haters, bigots and intellectual neanderthals by academia and the media, and discrimination toward the rights of Christians in our country seems to be growing, the tide of religious freedom appears to be turning. We don’t face physical persecution in the U.S. at this time, but there is a concerted political and PR effort to shut us up and shut us down.

That being said, in Iraq and Syria and throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa, as well as in the communist countries of Asia, Christians are being persecuted physically. Churches are being torn down, believers are being executed and tortured, women and children are being raped and sold into sex slavery and made child soldiers. A religious holocaust is being waged on a scale and rate that is nothing short of stunning.

As long as God gives us the ability, we need to speak of these things, create awareness about them, and stand against them. Every Christian in the world (2.2 billion strong) needs to stand together and declare – not on our watch! We have the ability to do this at this point in time, but if we remain silent, there will come a time when we won’t.

The amazing thing is when interviewed, the persecuted Christians aren’t asking that we pray for the persecution to end, but to pray that they will stand strong in the face of it, that they will be good witnesses of Christ, and that He will be glorified through it. Let’s make our prayer for today that God will give His church, in the USA and around the world 1 Thessalonians 2:2  Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition.

Dear Jesus – please give your church and give me the courage to declare your Good News boldly in spite of great opposition. Give us wisdom, guide our steps and empower your people to live for you. Use us to expand your Kingdom and stand in courage together for your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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