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Discussion Forum : Devotional Thoughts :  Extreme Devotion

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“Hurry, get into the closet. Do not make a sound unless you hear my voice. Do you understand?” Rose heard the two small voices of her preschool children say, “Yes, Mommy,” then she bolted out the door and headed toward her daughter’s school, praying that it was not too late.

At the proclamation of Sharia, or Islamic law, by the Nigerian government, pockets of violence broke out against Christian groups because they had opposed the laws. Rose’s oldest daughter was still at school during the rioting, and Rose was sure she would not be safe there. When she arrived at the school, her daughter had been taken to a military base for safety.

Eventually, Rose found her, and they returned home where the two younger children were waiting safely.

The following day, when her husband left for a Christian gathering, it was the last time she saw him alive. Roughly 260 churches were destroyed during these riots, and more than 460 Christians were killed.

In the months since her husband’s murder, Rose has drawn comfort from the book of Acts. She said, “The same God that allowed Stephen to be stoned also allowed Peter to escape from prison. God has been faithful, and his grace has been sufficient.” Today Rose continues to work in the church where her martyred husband pastored, and she busily raises her three children.

It has been said God will never lead us where his grace cannot keep us. We must realize that sometimes his plan does not include a miraculous deliverance from illness, death, or oppression. Yet his grace is sufficient, and he has not abandoned us. We must trust that God would not lead us to a place of ministry or work without an adequate measure of his grace to make it. Sometimes his plan involves simply seeing us through an ordeal instead of delivering us from it. Have you come to a point where you are willing to entirely rely on him? You’ll likely never say that God’s grace is all you need until his grace is all you have.

 2008/6/8 20:46


“I never knew what these prisoners were singing until I became a Christian.”

Soon Ok Lee was a prisoner in North Korea from 1987 to 1992. She did not become a Christian, however, until she escaped to South Korea. When she first received Christ, she was overwhelmed by her memories of what she had seen and heard in prison.

It was the simple things, like the Christians who sang as they were being put to death. At that time, she did not understand and had thought they were crazy. She was not allowed to talk, so she never had the chance to speak with a Christian. She does remember hearing the word, “Amen.”

“While I was there, I never saw Christians deny their faith. Not one. When these Christians were silent, the officers would become furious and kick them. At the time, I could not understand why they risked their lives when they could have said, ‘I do not believe,’ and done what the officers wanted. I even saw many who sang hymns as the kicking and hitting intensified. The officers would call them crazy and take them to the electric-treatment room. I didn’t see one come out alive.”

It was the singing that stuck with her. Perhaps it was the singing of these precious saints that planted a seed in her spirit and eventually led her to Christ.

Like spies, those who are curious about Christianity zero in on believers so that they can evaluate the truth for themselves. They observe. They watch. They take mental notes. Whenever Christians go through trials, these silent observers often hope to see the believers fall, so that they can assure themselves that Christians are like everyone else after all. However, when Christians smile through trouble, they are stumped. When believers clap instead of cry, they are amazed. When Christ followers sing amidst sorrow, they are drawn in by what they cannot explain. If you are going through a trial right now, you have an unprecedented opportunity to witness for Christ. Pray that your joyful example will inspire others.

 2008/6/9 7:59


Shortly after becoming a Christian in 1997, Hezekiah went to what was known locally as the “sanctuary” to receive discipleship and evangelism training. He then returned to his father’s house and was immediately approached by thirty-five relatives and villagers demanding to know why he had converted to Christianity. He told them, “Jesus is the only way I can be saved from my sins and have eternal life.”

The crowd grew angry, and Hezekiah tried to reason with them. Finally, they grabbed him by the hair and began to punch him in the face until he fell unconscious.

A friend of Hezekiah was able to take him to his house where he remained in bed for four days recuperating from the beatings. Hezekiah has never been able to return to his father’s house, but he continues to travel from village to village in Laos carrying the good news of salvation.

Since this first incident, Hezekiah has been beaten on ten separate occasions, sometimes preferring death to the continued suffering. He testifies: “As I have matured in my walk with Christ, I have more faith to endure these hardships. The trials I have gone through have served to strengthen my faith, and I see God’s faithfulness in delivering me. I thank God I have been able to bring thirty people to the saving knowledge of Jesus.”

God’s loyalty to his children is not based on reciprocity. If it were, we would all have been abandoned long ago. Instead, God is well aware of our frailties and chooses to love us anyway. We must be careful to read the stories of Christian martyrs in light of God’s loyalty to his children. The martyrs would be the first to remind us that their story is not about them. It’s about God! Though we read of many believers who willingly endured scourging rather than renouncing Christ, the amazing conclusion is not the extreme loyalty of a person but the extreme faithfulness of the God of glory. Your faithfulness may falter, but his steadfast loyalty to you never ends. Take time to thank God for his loyalty today.

 2008/6/12 15:48


The young Jewish doctor was so sad. One night, Sabina Wurmbrand tried to offer some comfort:“God promised Abraham that the Jewish people would have a bright future. They will be like the sand on the seashore and the stars of the sky.”

The doctor looked up with tears in her eyes and said, “Like the sand on the shore, we are trampled underfoot by these Communist guards. Don’t speak to me any more about your God.”

A few days later Sabina became very sick. While lying near death in the prison hospital, the prison director came. He said, “We Communists have medicine and hospitals, and we are stronger than your God. In this hospital you are not to mention the name of God.” Only Sabina dared to speak about the existence of God. The other women were ecstatic that someone had actually defied the director.

The following day, they forced Sabina to go back to work. God miraculously touched her body, and she was completely healed. The news spread through the prison and did not escape the ears of the sad young doctor.
She approached Sabina late that evening and said, “If your God can restore your body and give you such peace in this pit of hell, then I have to believe he is real. No other power could accomplish this. How must I be saved?”

Whenever we feel like our lives are in a pit, we can be sure people are watching to see how we’ll get out of it. Christianity seems to attract interested spectators—especially when we are struggling. People observe our faith at arm’s length to determine what God is all about. They watch with keen interest when we experience a crisis. If we live by faith during times of trial, however, people cannot refute the evidence they see in our lives. What do people see in how you live? What does your reaction to life’s circumstances tell others about God? If you feel like your life is in a pit, remember people are watching to see how you will handle it.

 2008/6/14 10:44


Fritz felt each crashing blow to his head and prayed for strength. The Muslim attackers surrounded him and took turns beating him in the face. One of the Muslim attackers brandished a large knife thinking this would rid them of the Christian pastor. The first time the blade went into Fritz, all he could do was yell, “Jesus!” He was stabbed repeatedly. And each time, he yelled, “Jesus!” The attackers grew frustrated at the pastor who just wouldn’t die!

The radical Muslims proceeded to pull the benches and pulpit from the church and set them on fire. Two of the Muslims grabbed Fritz and heaved him onto the blazing wood. Satisfied with their attack, they ran away. Fritz doesn’t remember much after that, but he knows one thing: Not a hair on his head was singed.

Shortly after the attack, Fritz was brought to the largest hospital in that area of Indonesia, but he was refused treatment when they learned he was a Christian. He was brought to another hospital, but the attending doctor said that if he happened to live through the night, he would have permanent brain damage.

After a long recovery, Fritz is now preaching again at a new church. To his amazement, one of the Muslims who attacked Fritz began looking for him, only to ask a single question: “Who is this Jesus?”

Who doesn’t enjoy being thought of as the resident “expert”? It may be mechanics, mathematics, tools, carpentry, art, stamp collecting, or sports—everyone can be thought of as an expert in at least one area. We love to field questions on a topic with which we are very familiar. But if someone were to ask, “Who is this Jesus?” would we be as prepared as an “expert” would be? Not every Christian is an evangelist, per se. But every Christian can evangelize by sharing the plan of salvation when the opportunity arises. If you were asked that question by a nonbelieving friend, how would you answer? If you’re not sure, talk to someone who knows.

 2008/6/20 18:47


“The teenager never came back.”

The famous evangelist spoke from behind prison bars. A powerful preacher, known throughout Eastern Europe, he was telling how he could not find peace. This man had led thousands to Christ, so the other Christian prisoners could not understand his feeling of failure.
“I had preached at an evangelistic meeting,” he explained. “I had poured out my heart, and, at the end, two hundred people had come forward to accept Christ. I was thrilled, but I was also exhausted. As I was leaving, one young man came to me. ‘Pastor, I need to talk to you,’ he said. I told him that I was too tired, and could he maybe come back in the morning. He never came back. The Communists arrested me later that evening. I was interrogated nonstop, day and night for five days. I answered all of their questions. I answered because I feared the tortures, the beatings I would receive if I did not answer. Out of fear of the Communists, I could speak for five days and nights without stopping.
“Out of love toward God, however, I could not speak five minutes more to that teenaged boy looking for the way of life. How will I stand before God and account for bringing only two hundred to Christ that day when it could have been two hundred and one?”

We may choose to overlook opportunities that God puts before us to share Christ with others, thinking that we’ll get to it later or that we’ll have a better time. But we may never get another chance. When we choose to ignore a divinely given opportunity, we, like the evangelist, may find that the moment was fleeting—a once-in-a-lifetime gift. Tragically, it may be the only time a person asks to hear about God’s gift of eternal life through his Son, Jesus. In heaven, God may ask you why you did not share the gospel with someone when you had the opportunity to do so. How would you answer?

 2008/7/11 23:05


“Sometimes I miss those days of persecution!”

The words came from an Iranian pastor who had escaped to the West. In Iran, arrest and police harassment were common experiences. He had even lost his home and job because of his faith. Now he was free to live and worship wherever he wished. How could he long for the days of persecution?
“Sometimes I miss those days,” he said, “because I was so alive. I felt every day that Jesus was with me.”
The pastor had planted a church near the front lines of the Iran–Iraq war. He earned money by driving a taxi and grew his church by sharing Christ with his passengers. In two years, he had won souls from nine language groups. Many soldiers worshiped with them each week, and he had baptized fifteen Muslim converts.
The pastor and his wife counted on God for everything. When the bombs of war fell around them, they prayed for his protection. When there wasn’t enough money, they prayed for his provision. And each day God came through for them.
Their ministry was rewarded. Ten members of his church have gone on to become pastors. Even now, the pastor can see fruit from the time of ministry at the front lines.

If you’ve never been in love, you cannot understand what it is to be heartbroken. If you have never lost a loved one, you cannot truly relate to those who mourn. You cannot understand a longing for something you have never experienced. Those who have been persecuted for their faith describe a peculiar longing. They long not for the persecution as much as they long for the sense of fellowship their persecution brought them. They don’t miss the torture as much as they miss what the torture taught them. The end result far outweighs the suffering. If you want to experience a deeper walk with Jesus, you must be willing to obediently sacrifice for him. That is also a type of suffering.

 2008/7/11 23:06


In the sixteenth-century Netherlands, Dirk Willems had been labeled an “Anabaptist” during the rule of Spanish Catholics and imprisoned. Now he was running for his life.

He had escaped out the tiny window and lowered himself on a rope made of old rags. Landing on the frozen pond along the side of the prison wall, he stepped gingerly on the ice, wondering if he would fall through. But the months of starvation endured in prison now served him well. He barely weighed one hundred pounds.
Before he reached the other side of the pond, a scream broke the night silence. “Halt immediately!” yelled the guard coming out the window Dirk had climbed through only moments ago. Dirk was too close to freedom. He kept going.
The guard yelled again as he set foot on the ice. Quickly he began to chase after Dirk, but on his third step there was a crack. A splash followed as the guard fell through the ice. His screams changed to shrieks of cold and terror. “Help me, please! Help me!”
Dirk paused, looking toward freedom. Then he turned and quickly made his way back to the prison pond. He lay on his stomach and stretched his arm to rescue the nearly frozen guard. In sarcastic gratitude, the guard grabbed Dirk and ordered him back to his cell.
Despite his heroism, Dirk was burned at the stake for his faith.

Committed Christians don’t live according to common sense. They do the unthinkable with full knowledge of the consequences. They do the impossible as if it were commonplace. Believers live according to a higher calling. Their actions and reactions are so unnatural that they are often misunderstood. For some, Dirk’s extreme rescue seems an unnatural choice. Even, perhaps, a bit foolish. Dirk, however, believed he was simply following the basics of the Bible. He put another’s needs above his own. When we make sacrifices, we may not always make sense to the world, but we know we are making progress from a heavenly perspective. Do you most often live according to common sense? Or are you committed to following God’s commands at any cost?

 2008/9/18 14:23


I almost couldn't find this old thread I started. Wow! it was waay back! :-D

"During the last war we were taught that, in order to obtain our objective, we had to be willing to be expendable. . . . We know that there is only one answer when our country demands that we share in the price of freedom—yet when the Lord Jesus asks us to pay the price for world evangelization, we often answer without a word. We cannot go. We say it costs too much. . . . Missionaries constantly face expendability.


I am so ready to get out this weekend and do some OA preaching!!! Praise God! So excited! Can't wait! :-)

 2009/1/30 21:44


Watchman Nee, the Chinese church leader, had only six hours. He must lead the guard in front of his prison cell to Christ so that his letter of encouragement to Christians outside the prison could be delivered.

Chairman Mao’s government was infuriated by the spread of Christianity in China. In order to stop the spread of this “foreign cult,” they had forced out or killed all foreign missionaries and had sent thousands of Chinese church leaders to prison or to “re-education through labor” camps. But the church still grew.

When the police discovered that Nee’s beautiful, powerful letters of encouragement were making their way out of the prison and into the hands of Christians, they doubled the number of guards and never allowed a guard to stand outside Nee’s cell more than once. They shortened shifts to six hours, hoping Nee would not have time to convert the guard.

Nee told the guard about the Father’s love and willingness to give up his own flesh and blood so the guard could live forever in heaven. “Communism cannot get you to heaven,” he said. “Only the blood of Jesus Christ can do that.”

Five hours into the sermon, with tears streaming from his eyes, the guard accepted Christ. Yet another soul was won for the kingdom, and yet another of Watchman Nee’s letters would be safely delivered.

If Christian martyrs teach us anything, it is that we must use creative energy in order to promote the gospel. Their ingenuity, courage, and even craftiness ought to awaken our own spirit for spreading the Good News. While not everyone has the opportunity to smuggle Scriptures into restricted areas, we can still be willing servants for the kingdom. It might mean having a cookout in the driveway for neighbors. It may mean signing up for golf lessons or another community class in order to meet nonchurched people. A new method of witness always risks consequences. But we should always be willing to take the risk instead of settling for mediocrity. Which describes your evangelistic life today? Mundane and mediocre? Or creatively energetic for Christ?

 2009/2/1 20:48

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