I finished the 10-week Bible study I’ve been doing yesterday, and as always after completing something like that, I was somewhat at a loss to know where to go this morning to focus my devotional thoughts and quiet my mind before God. I resorted to a trick I learned from Donald Whitney. He advocates taking a Psalm a day and a Proverb a day. Whatever day of the month it is, look up that Ps/Pr. Since the book of Psalms has 150 chapters in it, you skim the Psalm to see if it catches your heart/attention, and if not, add 30 to the number of it. For instance, this a.m., I looked at Psalm 25, but then went to Psalm 55, where I camped out.
Anyway, I was struck in Psalm 55 but just how much I could not relate to the first half of the chapter:
Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea;hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.
As I began to reflect and meditate and pray through the passage, I discovered an interesting perspective developing within. Initially, I began to think like this… "I’m so worthless. I live in peace without persecution or threat to my health or family due to my faith. Yet there are thousands of believers across this planet today experiencing horrors and humanity-destroying grief. I’m such a loser. How can I be so selfish as to just skip over this Psalm and think ‘it doesn’t apply to me?’"
However, it seemed as if the Lord stepped in during this moment of self-flagellation and gently and lovingly reminded me of something… It was He that created me to live in this time and place. It was He that placed me in a country where we have these freedoms. In His Sovereign choice, I was placed here, for this day, for this hour, and for the benefit of the larger Kingdom. What right do I have in wallowing in false guilt?
My prayer response went something like this:
Thank you, Father, that I live in peace. Let me not feel guilty about it but praise You for Your grace and mercy and sovereign choice. Let me not seek persecution or condemn Your bride here for its lack. At the same time, let me not avoid it or excuse Your bride from compromise. Help me to understand better what my expected role and mission is in the global church when I live without fear of opposition or pain as a result of my faith in You.
This prayer and other thoughts led me to begin praying for the persecuted church, for my brothers and sisters in Christ around our world today who are being mocked, ridiculed, stolen, raped, tortured, and slaughtered because of their firm and vibrant faith in Jesus Christ.
I’ve provided some links below for you to begin learning more about the persecuted church. I’d also recommend you pick up Randy Alcorn’s excellent novel Safely Home which compellingly leads you into the world of the Chinese underground church.
BTW, I’ve got one, but am looking for nine others to do an online Bible study that I plan to write. It will be 4-5 weeks long. Comment below if you’re interested!
- persecution.org – contains news and info about world sites of persecution
- Voice of the Martyrs – tracks events and occurrences around the world and lists needs
- Prisoner Alert – tracks those in prison unjustly and details prayer needs
- Persecution Blog – amazing list of resources in right hand link column for further info
- Open Doors – an excellent ministry detailing current needs with a proven track record
- Release International – amazing way to track persecution globally
- Persecuted Church Blog
- Compass Direct – news organization dedicated to following Christian issues around the world
- World Net Daily – another Christian news source
Sorry to drag you into my personal world of introspection today, but I truly hope it will help us to:
- Be thankful for where God has us
- Intentionally and purposefully live in ways that connect us with our world
- Intercede daily on behalf of the persecuted
- Live sacrificially – whether that means going, giving, or laboring regularly to alleviate suffering wherever we find it