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Discussion Forum : Devotional Thoughts : In the Fellowship of His Sufferings

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 In the Fellowship of His Sufferings

Fri AM...11/24/17

Our persecuted brothers and sisters have a different understanding of living in persecution. They understand what it is to lay all down for Jesus. The following story is true. This is transcribed from a video from Voice of the Martyrs.

https://youtu.be/wwm5bekBtqw

Video Transcript...

What Does it Mean to be a Christian in Syria?

We were praying for revival believing God would do a big work in Syria. Then the war came. Now the terrorists started attacking Christian homes, churches, and even our children. Their goal is to empty Syria of its Christians. We hate the spirit of Islam that is destroying our country. But we love our Muslim Neighbors. They come to us and say in the name of our god, terrorists rape and kill. Where is God? We tell them about Jesus. And many are coming to know Him. Still others say we are like living in hell.

Liena's Prayer

One day while I was praying. I asked God. What He would have me do to be His witness. But He only asked me, will you give me your life? As I prayed, I understood he wanted all of me. And I said yes. If the time came. I was willing to die for Jesus.

The next day while I was praying I asked God God again what he would have me do. This time he asked me. Are you willing to give Me your husband's life? It is not easy to be ready to die. My husband and I prayed about this together. We said yes to God.

The third day was the most difficult. On this day God asked me if I was willing to give up my children's lives. The terrorists know who we are. That we share Jesus with Muslims. It is not safe for our family. My husband and I prayed and fasted. And together we agreed God gave us our precious children. He has the freedom to take them back.

When we agreed to put our children on the altar. I knew I had to tell them the truth. I told them that it was possible men with swords may come through our door. Men who don't know Jesus. They may say bad things to us and try to force us to convert to Islam. But no matter what they say. We should not answer them. We should only tell them that Jesus loves them. That we forgive them. I told them that we might see some blood and have some pain. But it would only be for a little while. That we should just close our eyes. And that when we open them we will be with Jesus.

Am I a good mother to have to tell my children such things? I also told them that as God wants us to be safe that we will be safe. That he is in control. Even during the bloodshed. During the killing. He is carrying hour future.

This is what it means to be a Christian in Syria.

Or is this what it means to be a Christian?

•••••••••••••••••••••

A few weeks ago I attended a Seventh Day Adventist church.  During the course of the service a mother with her young daughter beside her sang a moving hymn.  She sang it acapella so as the music to not draw away from the hymn's message.  As this dear sister sang I thought of the persecuted brothers and sisters. At the end of the service I went up to commend her sharing the hymn and what it meant to me.  This led to us sharing our hearts about the persecuted church.  This young mother told me that she spoke with her young daughters about our persecuted brethren.  She was also instructing her daughters that they may very well lay down their lives for Jesus. Listening to this mother's heart moved me tears. Before I left her I gripped her hand and we both wept.  But this does give me hope that God is raising up a remnant who will go through the fires of suffering in America.

••• that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.••• Phiippians 3:10-11

Let us remember dear saints like Leina in restricted nations.  Let us remember those who make the difficult choices to lay down everything for Jesus. And let the persecuted brothers and sisters be our examples that we too may lay down everything down for Jesus.  Let this young mother I described above be our example.  Let us remember to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters.

Only because of Jesus.

Blaine 


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 2017/11/24 9:01Profile
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 Re: The question Liena asked?

Fri. Noon...11/24/17

I have watched many powerful and heart gripping videos on the persecuted church.  But from time to time always return to the VOM video on Liena's Prayer. Every time I watch this video it rips my heart and I learn something new. This video is the true story, though reenacted, of what a mother had to lay down in Syria.

In her words Liena describes,

••• One day while I was praying. I asked God. What He would have me do to be His witness. But He only asked me, will you give me your life? As I prayed, I understood he wanted all of me. And I said yes. If the time came. I was willing to die for Jesus.•••

In essence what this dear sister was asking was what must I do to be a "martyr" for Jesus. In the Greek the word "martyr" means "witness".  I am sure in that part of the world in a restricted Nation Leina understood what she was praying.

Some background to the above story that came out of a VOM magazine.  Leina and her husband were pastors of a church in Syria.  As she mentions in the video they were praying for revival in their church and in Syria. The civil war came. They were caught in one of the most dangerous areas where the Jihadists were operating.  They were sharing Jesus with their Muslim neighbors who were coming to Christ. As a result of this they were in increased danger.

Contacts in Europe offered them sanctuary and aid.  The family could have fled Syria and lived safely in Western Europe. At least one would not have blamed Liena's husband if he had sent his wife and children away and he had continued his ministry among the Muslims. But after much heartache prayer and fasting. The family made the dangerous and difficult decision to stay and continue their ministry.

Thus one can see why Liena is asking the Lord what she should do to be a witness or a martyr for Jesus. Jesus asked her will you give me your life. After what I'm sure was a heart wrenching prayer she made the decision, if necessary, to lay her life down for Jesus. But she did it willingly to be a witness for Him.  She did it willingly to be a martyr for Him.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells his disciples,

••• but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."•••

Again Jesus is telling his disciples that they would be His "martyrs" even to the ends of the earth.  History records all of the disciples, save one, died horrible martyrs deaths.  And this has been the testimony of the followers of Christ for over 2000 years.

But how could the early and the present saints face martyrdom?  How could mothers like Liena choose to stay in a nation like Syria and endure persecution and possibly death for the Lord Jesus Christ?

Again looking at Acts 1:8. Jesus says but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. Often times we look at that verse as power in witnessing about Jesus in our evangelism. Well that is certainly true. The implication of the above text is that the disciples would receive power even when faced with martyrdom.  This has certainly been true from the first martyr, Stephen, up to present times.

Just as Liena we need to be asking ourselves what must we do to be martyrs for Jesus.  I am not advocating a cult of martyrdom. But we need to be asking ourselves what would God require of us to lay down our lives for Jesus. Granted we are not in Syria. But have the events of Sutherland Texas said something to us as believers in America?

As my team gathered to pray for the International Day of Prayer call on November 5th. We were crying out for the persecuted church and the global Harvest of souls.  Word came down to us about the slain saints in Texas.  Amidst tears we started praying and crying out for those dear people in First Batist Church in Southland Texas.  That day, 26 precious souls found their way into the arms of Jesus.  Many of them children. One was the 14 year old daughter of the pastor of that church. On that day half of the church's membership of 50 saints were slain.  That day the persecuted church came to America.  The blood of the martyrs was shed on our shores.

Though, heart-wrenching, the video of Liena's Prayer should prompt us to ask God. What would He do to have us be His witness. What would He have us to to be His martyr.

Only because of Jesus.

Blaine 


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 Re: Will you give Me your life?

Fri PM...11/24/17

••• One day while I was praying. I asked God. What He would have me do to be His witness. But He only asked me, will you give me your life? As I prayed, I understood he wanted all of me. And I said yes. If the time came. I was willing to die for Jesus.•••

Our sister Liena had to ask the difficult question.  What would God have her do to be His witness?  This is a dear sister who's asking this question in the midst of a nation hostile to the followers of Christ.  So our sister is not asking a superficial question when she puts this question to Him.  Realizing the answer that comes back from Jesus may very well require that she lay her life down for Him.  It may very well require her death for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our brothers and sisters and restricted nation have a far greater understanding and apprehension of Romans 12:1 than we in America do.  Paul writes,

••• Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. •••

The persecuted saints would look at the above verse and realize that God is calling down to be his living holy sacrifices even into martyrdom.  In essence, to give themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ as He gave Himself for us.

The leader of a persevuted ministry in a restricted nation shared this.  He asked a sister what he should do if she were being raped by a jihadist.  The response of the sister floored this ministry leader. She told him if I were being raped. I would tell the Lord Jesus Christ that I offer my body as a sacrifice to Him.

Thus our persecuted brothers and sisters in the shadow of the cross understand the sacrifice to cross requires. Even the sacrifice of their own lives.  My question to myself and us would be are we prepared to ask God what He would require of us to be His witness.

William Borden, a young man who was heir to the Bordon dairy estate laid  aside everything to become a missionary to the Muslims.  Tragically he died of meningitis at a young age before He reached the mission field.  But he prayed a prayer. Below He prayed,

••• Lord Jesus, do with me what you please, as you please, when you please.•••

I ask myself. Can I pray what our sister Liena prayed.  Lord what would you have me do to be your witness.  Can I even pray what William Borden prayed.  Jesus do with me what you please, as you please, when you please.

The thing that comes into my heart and mind is if Jesus gave Himself for me. Can I do any less but to get myself back to Him.  May God grant me the grace to even lay down my life for Him when the time comes.

Only because of Jesus.

Blaine 


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 Re: Are you willing to give me your husband's life?

Fri Eve...11/24/17

••• The next day while I was praying I asked God God again what he would have me do. This time he asked me. Are you willing to give Me your husband's life? It is not easy to be ready to die. My husband and I prayed about this together. We said yes to God.•••

We have heard the story of Joseph Tsom.  The communist commander pointed a gun at him.  He said he was going to kill this brother in Christ. To which Joseph, I replied. "Go right ahead. My message will spread all the more."  The commander was not prepared to make Joseph a martyr. At least not that day.

If somebody points a gun at us and says deny Christ or die. Many of us would probably go on and say go right ahead and pull the trigger. Knowing that we will be absent from the body and at home with the Lord.

This certainly happened with Cassie Bernal.  She was the young martyr slain from Littleton High.  When the demonic crazed gunman pointed a gun at her and said do you believe in God. Knowing that her response would send her into eternity she said yes.  That day this young sister was absent from the body at home with the Lord.

In Rosebud Oregon a gunman got into a college classroom and asked the various students if they believed in God. When some replied yes,  he said you will meet Him in a few minutes. Some of the students were again absent from the body and at home with the Lord that day.

But would we have the same resolve to say go ahead and pull the trigger if the gun or pointed at our spouse. Or in the case of Liena if a jihadist threatened to slice the throat of her husband.  Would we stand strong in a resolve to not deny Christ if it meant to see our spouse slain in front of us.

In restricted nations our brothers and sisters must work through the issue of laying one another on the altar at the foot of the cross.  These discussions, though difficult, are necessary so that they will not betray Christ. And not betray their secret churches to the persecutors. And in many cases this has resulted in the martyrdom of a beloved spouse.

I have read heart-wrenching reports of wives seeing their husbands sliced by jihadists or blown up by Marxist guerrillas. All because they would not deny the Lord Jesus Christ. Many times because they continued witnessing of Christ to those who so desperately needed to hear the gospel.

In a nation like Iraq or Syria it is not unusual for a pastor to kiss his wife and say my beloved I pray I see you by the end of the day. But if not I will see you in heaven. These pastors and other persecuted brothers and sisters have had the difficult discussions to lay one another on the altar.

No doubt Liena and her husband had to agonize laying one another down on the altar. But after doing this they realized that each one would be in eternity.

The question is are we having these discussions in America? Are Christian couples talking about and praying through and even fasting about laying one another down on the altar? Are American eangelical couples talking about giving up one another to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Granted we are not facing what Liena had to face in Syria.  We are not seeing systematic persecution where a gun is pointed at our spouse with a threat to deny Christ or see your spouse die. But there are other ways that we can lose our spouses.

Elisabeth Elliot lost two husbands. Her first husband was martyred in South America. Her second husband died of cancer here in America. No doubt she had to work through the martyrdom of her first husband to lay him on the altar. Never expecting that the lesson she learned about giving her spouse up to God would be applied to a second husband.

A dear pastor in Indiana lost his young wife in a home invasion. As he left to work out. Someone entered the home. The young mother thinking that the invader would harm her child threw herself at him and started fighting the intruder. The Intruder shot her. the dear wife was in heaven that day with Jesus. Thankfully her child was safe.

One of my prayer leaders lost not one wife but two wives due to cancer. Brother Andy was widowed twice. Both of his wives went home to be with the Lord. Both were stricken with cancer.

Christian couples need to be having these discussions about laying one another on the altar. They need to be having these discussions about giving one another up to Christ. God forbid that any tragedy should come upon a loving husband and wife. But James tells us that we do not know what our lives will be like tomorrow.

Brothers and sisters in restricted nations that are hostile to Christ know the necessity of having these conversations as difficult as they are.  We in America need to do the same. Again we need to remember what occurred at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Texas. As I keep saying the persecuted church has now come to America. We need to look to our brothers and sisters in foreign lands who are at the foot of the cross. And we need to learn from their example.  For what occurred in Sutherland Texas could very well occur in our church this coming Sunday. God forbid that this happen.   But those precious saints in Southerland never thought that martyrdom would come up on them this past November 5th. Husbands and wives never thought that they would see their spouses blown into eternity.

Let us ask of the Lord grace to give up our loved ones to the Lord Jesus Christ. For Jesus has taught and commanded in the Gospels that He is to be loved even above our families.  If we love our families more than Jesus Himself, we cannot be His disciples.  

May Jesus give us grace and the Holy Spirit to do what we need to do in the days ahead.  For surely the persecuted church is now here in America.

Only because of Jesus

Blaine 


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 Re: Will you give me your husband's life?

••• Duplicate Poat•••


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 Re: Will you give me your children's lives?

Sat a.m. 11/25/17

This is an extract from an article that appeared in the forum a few weeks ago.

•••  I once shared at a home meeting in New Zealand about the need for every Christian to take up their cross and follow Him. To illustrate my message, I shared the testimony of Sister Yuen of Shanghai. It is a favorite story of the house church believers in China, and touches a deep chord in their hearts whenever they hear it.

Sister Yuen, a widow with two small children, was arrested and thrown into prison because of her faith. In a bid to make her renounce Christ, the guards brought Sister Yuen’s children and had them stand outside the prison gate. With their arms outstretched, they begged their mother to come home.

The guards taunted Sister Yuen by asking, “Doesn’t your God want you to take care of your own children? You can return home today if you just sign a statement declaring you will no longer be a Christian.”

Like any mother, Sister Yuen’s heart was torn at the sight of her crying children, and she asked the guards to bring her a sheet of paper and a pen. They hurriedly fetched the items, thinking they had finally found a way to break her faith in God. Sister Yuen calmly wrote on the paper and handed it to the prison warden. A moment later his face turned red with rage. She had written in large letters: “Jesus can never be replaced! Even my own children cannot replace Jesus!”

Sister Yuen was sentenced to 23 more years in prison. By the time she was released her children were adults, having been raised by the atheistic state. She spent months trying to locate them, and was finally able to reconcile with her daughter. Her son, however, had become a policeman and his heart was filled with hate for his mother and her God. He wanted nothing to do with her ever again.

As I shared this powerful testimony with the small group of New Zealand believers, a married couple, who were well-regarded in the Christian community of that town, threw their heads back and began to sigh and moan.

After the meeting, coffee was served. The couple marched straight up to me, obviously wanting to get something off their chests. “Your story is stupid!” they protested. “If we were in that woman’s position, we would have signed the paper. Of course God wanted her to take care of her own children!”

“So are you saying you would willingly deny the Lord Jesus to avoid going to prison?” I enquired.

“Yeah, we would,” they stated matter-of-factly. “God would understand and forgive us.”

I was astonished that a pair of professing Christians could openly admit they would willingly deny their faith under pressure, and they didn’t see anything wrong with it. I asked if they were concerned about the words of Jesus, who said, “Whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:33).

“God wants us to take care of our children,” they reiterated.•••

In Liena's own words,

••• The third day was the most difficult. On this day God asked me if I was willing to give up my children's lives. The terrorists know who we are. That we share Jesus with Muslims. It is not safe for our family. My husband and I prayed and fasted. And together we agreed God gave us our precious children. He has the freedom to take them back.•••

Above we see two mothers who had to make an agonizing decision. The decision to lay their children on the altar. I can't imagine what this must have been like to the mothers. A mother is created by God to nurture and protect her child. I shared in a previous post about a young mother who threw herself in front of a home invader to protect her child only to be slain. In the reports I read about Sutherland Texas one or two young women put themselves in front of the children to protect them from the assailants bullets only to have their lives lost.

So for a mother who follows Christ to lay her children on the altar must be difficult. Again not being a mother I can't imagine the agony and soul-searching of having to do this.

But in the lives of our brothers and sisters in persecuted nations the cross is all but central in their understanding of following Jesus.  But Paul does warn us the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.

Consider the response of the first account above of a couple in New Zealand. They told a speaker who was telling the story that God would want them to take care of their children. They said that God would understand and forgive them if they denied Christ for the sake of their children. They said to sacrifice one's children on the altar was foolishness. One would have wondered what they would have thought of Abraham laying Isaac down on the altar to be prepared to offer as a sacrifice.

This couple was a professing Western Christian couple. But yet the attitude they exhibit is typical of a western mindset. A mindset that says God does not want us to suffer.

A few years ago I posted the video where Paul Washer spoke of persecution coming to the American church. Even in the forum there were some who objected.  One brother went as far as to say that this was outright foolishness. Though these brothers are no longer in the forum. I wonder how many who read this thread would say that what I post is foolishness. But again the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. But the cross is life to our persecuted brothers and sisters.

Our persecuted family must go through the agonizing and hard decisions of placing their children at the foot of the cross.   How many fathers and mothers in this forum are having those discussions with God that they will have to put their children at the foot of the cross.

Again some may think why should I have this discussion with God? We are in America. I don't have to worry about my children being slain by jihadists. Or taken over by Chinese communist. I gently say again remember Sutherland Texas. Many of those slain on that fateful day of November 5th were children. How many parents are now grieving over the loss of their children. Even the pastor grieves over the loss of his 14 year old daughter.

Granted that these dear children are now in heaven. But did the parents release them to the Lord. No doubt they have now. But better to have the conversation with God.  And lay everything at the foot of the cross. Even our children. Thus when the time comes that they are taken away and go back to Jesus. The pain will be more bearable with the grace and love of Christ.

Please realize that a child may be taken by God in other ways. A child may be taken away by God in illness, perhaps in an accident, or in other ways. But I would encourage all of us to have the conversations with God.  Let us say to Him you gave us these children and they are yours to take.

But some would say I cannot give up my children. It is impossible. Not so with our persecuted brothers and sisters who trust in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and do what they have to do. That grace is also available to us.

Again only because of Jesus. Only because of Jesus can we lay everything down at the cross. This is what the mother from China discovered. This is what our sister Liena discovered. This is what the saints in Texas discovered. This is what we will discover. Only because of Jesus.

Blaine 


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 Re: God's Sacrifice of Christ

Sat p.m. 11/25/17

Romans 8:32

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

I can't help but think that Liena was thinking of God's sacrifice to her through His Son.  The Father gave His only Son so that she could have eternal life. He did not spare His Son but willingly gave Him to save her.

As Jesus willingly gave Himself to save our dear sister.  Then Liena and her dear husband would willingly get their children back to Jesus should He require it.

I can't say that it happened the way I described it above. But knowing this young couple is in a nation that is hostile to Christ. I can't help but wonder if they were thinking on the sacrifice of God the Father to give God the Son.  Perhaps they were thinking of this as they were wrestling about laying their  children on the altar.

But then our persecuted  brothers and sisters wrestle with laying everything including their own lives on the altar.  They do this because they realize that Jesus is worth the sacrifice. Even the sacrifice of their own lives and that of their families.

Yes to the average person this is foolishness. But to those who understand Christ and His cross. This is life.

Only because of Jesus.

Blaine


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 2017/11/25 20:37Profile
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 Re: In the Fellowship of His Sufferings

Liena merely came to the Spirit confronting her with word about loving Him more than her family and even her life. It seems however, tgat for Liena, her own life was less valuable to her than that of her family. A lot people get stuck on giving up their family for Christ and there is a lot heretical teachings on this that deny carrying the Cross. Many don’t have a shrine to their ancestors in their home, like the Japanese tradition, but they effectively have one to family.

 2017/11/26 2:19Profile
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 Re: Is Jesus worth it?

Our brother Jeremy wrutes...

••• Liena merely came to the Spirit confronting her with word about loving Him more than her family and even her life.•••

Indeed my brother. You have hit the nail on the head. The struggle that Liena had to go through laying down her life, and that of her husband, and then that of her children was a heart struggle. It was a struggle in her heart of loving Jesus even more then her life and that of her loved ones.

Yet as she wrestled through these intense heart issues she realized that Jesus was worth loving more than even the things of this world. Remember the Chinese mother who said that Jesus can never be replaced. Not even by my children.

Our brother Paul articulates this in Philippians 3. Paul had apprehended a reality of Christ that he was willing to suffer the loss of all things in order to know Him better. To the Apostle Paul Jesus was worth suffering for.

And that is the question I believe that guards us from a heretical, legalistic cultic teaching that would say we isolate ourselves from our families under the guise of following Christ. Many of us are familiar with such cults.

But for those who have had an apprehension of the mercy and the grace of Jesus Christ. For those who have had a baptism of His incredible love. There will be those who say Christ is worth following. Even the laying down of all things including my life.

For those who make their way from North Korea in to South China to find physical food. Then come across the spiritual food that Jesus offers. They become believers and with just a few weeks of instruction burn with a desire to take the good news of Jesus Christ back into the darkness of North Korea. They do this realizing their life expectancy may very well be from 3 to 6 months. But they are willing to risk everything to take the gospel back to North Korea realizing that Jesus is worth it.

We have read the experiences of saints who have come to saving faith and life in the Lord Jesus Christ. And because they realize that Jesus has died for them through his atoning sacrifice. These saints burn with a love to lay everything down for Jesus to take the gospel to the Lost. Even to suffer the loss of all things including their lives to see others come to Jesus.

This was the choice that Liena agonized through. And what made it all the more difficult was that this family had an out. They could have fled the Western Europe. They had sponsors who were willing to support them. But yet Lena and her husband and family chose to stay in Syria to minister Jesus Christ. "Why"? One would ask. "Why risk the lives of your family and stay in this war-torn country?"

Ask those such as Jim Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, the Apostle Paul, Stephen the Martyr, Dalton Thomas, and countless thousands and thousands of other Saints who have gone and laid down their lives for the gospel and even suffered martyrdom. "WHY"???

Short answer. Because Jesus is worth it. Oh that this reality was so grip my heart to lay everything down for Him as my persecuted brothers and sisters are doing. The question I need to ask myself is is Jesus worth it to me?

Only because of Jesus.

Blaine


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 2017/11/26 8:15Profile
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 Re: The Prayer of an Imprisoned Saint

Sun a.m. 11/27/17

•••
O God, accept all my sufferings, my tiredness, my humiliations, my tears, my nostalgia, my being hungry, my sufferings of cold, all the bitterness accumulated in my soul. Dear Lord have pity also on those who persecute and torture us day and night. Grant them, too, the divine grace of knowing the sweetness and happiness of your love.

From a dear sister who was imprisoned in Siberia for her faith in Jesus.
•••

Only God knows the story of the precious saint above who prayed this prayer. But one can certainly feel in her words the sufferings that she probably endured in the gulag. And yet her faith still rested in the Lord Jesus Christ. And she still prayed for her persecutors.

I look at the above prayer and realize the shallowness of my own faith.

Lord Jesus I pray a dangerous prayer. I pray that I may know You not only in Your resurrection power. But I pray that I may know You and apprehend You in the fellowship of Your sufferings. For I ask this in Your Blessed Name. Amen.

Only because of Jesus

Blaine


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 2017/11/26 8:32Profile





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