Persecuted, But Not Forsaken

November 2020
This month’s TLO Disciple theme is “Persecuted, but not forsaken.” In his second letter to the Corinthians 4:8-10, Paul writes:
 
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”
 
The Christian Church has been entrusted with a great treasure, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It may seem strange that this wonderful message is given to us who are as jars of clay. In ourselves we are weak vessels, frail and perishable. The human body, our tongues and voices, are earthen vessels that decay. We are made of clay that is cheap and fragile. It is through these weak, fragile vessels, broken clay pots that we are on account of sin, that God proclaims His wonderful grace that Christ has triumphed over the devil and the chaos in this world.

The suffering members of the body of Christ must contend, comes from all sides. Like a boxer trapped in the corner, our sin hems us in. The devil presses in from all sides, threatening to hit a final death blow. But as members of the body of Christ, we are not overcome for the Spirit of Christ is in us. While all Christians are partakers in difficulties, and every kind of persecutions, losses, trials and conflicts arise against the message of God’s grace in Christ, there is in the end victory by the Gospel for all who believe. We are persecuted, but not forsaken. Through Christ we are given courage to resume the struggle and hold on to the promises of God in the Gospel.

Across the globe persecution of Christians is occurring at an alarming level. In this TLO Disciple we hear about how many Christians are suffering persecution. Let this be a call to pray for the persecuted Church. May we, with the Lord’s help, contend for the faith when we are called upon to make a defense of the hope that is in us through the gift of life that comes through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
 
Your servant in Christ,
 
Pastor James L Kroonblawd
"Persecuted, But ..."
Sep. 3, 2012
By Pastor Ken Klaus
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10


When Paul wrote those words, he was speaking to a church which had and would continue to encounter prejudice and persecution from the people of the world -- a world like ours.

Understand, America's persecution is not like that of Ugandan Pastor Umar Mulinde who had acid thrown in his face. We have not experienced the pain of Eva Abdullah, a 17-year-old girl from Tanzania who has been disowned by her parents and jailed for two years for having insulted the Koran. We are not in mourning like the family of Egyptian Refaat Eskander who was murdered hours after propaganda promised a bounty to anyone who kills Christian Copts.

Even so, a new 140-page report released by the Family Research Council and Liberty Institute maintains America's Christians are being persecuted. The report cites examples lof a federal judge, who threatened to jail a high-school valedictorian, if "Jesus" wasn't removed from her graduation speech. Read more
The Sept. 2014 issue of the Journal of Lutheran Mission features papers from confessional Lutheran church leaders presented at the International Lutheran Council’s fifth world seminary conference on the theme “Suffering, Persecution and Martyrdom as a Mark of the Church.”

The journal covers such topics as:
  • Christian Martyrdom: Some Reflections
  • Suffering, Persecution and Martyrdom as a Mark of the Church 
  • Book Review: Joining Jesus on His Mission How to Be an Everday Missionary
  • Book Review: Protestant Missionaries to the Middle East: Ambassadors of Christ or Culture? 

Persecuted
A woman is caught with a Bible and publicly shot to death. An elderly priest is abducted and never seen again. Three buses full of students and teachers are struck by roadside bombs. These are not casualties of a war. These are Christian believers being persecuted for their faith in the twenty-first century.
As Western Christians pray for the future of Christ’s church, it is vital that they understand a large part of the world’s Christian believers live in danger. The book's goal is to expose the church around the world suffer persecution daily and also address why America's major media ignore covering this growing persecution due to their prejudice against Christianity.
The Lutheran Witness: Persecuted Christians
The Lutheran Witness, (June, 2014), discusses the “mark of the Church,” the suffering that Christian brothers and sisters endure for the sake of Christ and His gifts of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Click to access this compelling publication.
International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians
Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020
And throughout the month of November

Join Christians around the world in a global prayer meeting for our persecuted brothers and sisters who boldly witness for Christ at any cost.
From God's Word
For your sake we are killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

Psalm 44:22-26
Almighty God, heavenly Father, Your beloved Son assured His own that they would suffer in this world and yet called them to rejoice in His promise of a life no death could ever take from them. Strengthen all Your children living under persecution and threat of violence; fill them with Your unshakable peace and use their witness to bring salvation even to their persecutors and slanderers and, according to Your gracious will, bring an end to the bloodshed and violence; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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From God's Word
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:19 ESV
Making a faithful confession
Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison
 
We face Satan’s attacks and threats head-on, look them square in the eye, because we have been marked — just like the Christians in Iraq — with the sign of the holy cross on our foreheads and on our hearts in the waters of Baptism. In that gift, Christ promised us eternal life, salvation, comfort, mercy, even joy with Him, despite what the world and all its evil send our way. And He always makes good on His promises.
 
So let us pray and endure, trusting that, like the apostles and the martyrs and the saints before us, our Lord will preserve us too, suffering much but never letting us fall away. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted so ruthlessly in Iraq. And then join with me in reading our Bibles, singing the Church’s hymns, praying its catechism, so that we, too, may make a faithful confession, for “everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32).
 
From God's Word
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:10 ESV
 Fourteen Years In Communist Prison Could Not Break His Faith!
 
Click to watch Tortured for Christ – The Movie Online for FREE – The Voice of the Martyrs
Pastor Zill, Director of Campus Ministry & LCMS U for The LCMS, and host of The Student Union, provides an update and a personal review of the movie, “Tortured for Christ." Click here for the podcast
The Student Union is a show for college students, as well as all those who work with, love, and care for them. Join us each week as we explore the many and diverse issues that college students face as well as offer ideas and support for everyone engaged in campus ministry in and around the collegiate community.
From God's Word
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:10 ESV
Former Muslims baptized at LCMS partner-church congregation
By Elizabeth Ahlman
 
Using a baptismal rite in both German and Farsi, Gevers led the candidates through the rite. A special feature of this liturgy is a purposeful moment: during the time when the candidate denounces the devil and his works, these former Muslims also denounced their former faith.
“I renounce Islam and confess that neither is the Koran God’s revelation nor is Mohammed God’s prophet,” is the English translation of what they said.

It was a poignant moment, Gevers pointed out, because many of them had Christian ancestors who had to renounce their Christianity and confess Islam on fear of death centuries ago. Now, the Persian Christians who come to Leipzig and are baptized reverse that confession — not under fear of death, but out of faith and in joy.
 
From God's Word
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.1 Peter 4:12-14 ESV
Why Are You Persecuting Me? — A Christian Response to Hostility and Persecution
From God's Word
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV
From God's Word
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 ESV

Soli Deo gloria
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Eagan, MN 55121
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