The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sings a song that says,
Take up your cross and follow Jesus
Take up your cross every day
Don’t be ashamed to say that you know Him
Count the cost, take up your cross and follow Him
Twenty one Coptic Christians gave their lives for that Cross this weekend. Who are the Coptic Christians?
Coptic just means Egyptian. Christians that live in Egypt call themselves Coptic Christians. Going back to the Apostolic Period, they come from the city of Alexandria. They call John Mark (who wrote the Gospel of Mark) their founder, and first martyr. He arrived in Alexandria A.D. 42.
Copts in Egypt make up the largest Christian community in the Middle East. The term comes from the Greek description of the Egyptian population in Roman Egypt. After the Muslims conquered Egypt, it then just applied to those Egyptians following the Christian faith.
Persecuted for centuries, they are no strangers to martyrdom.
Regardless of what the President of the United States prefers to call them, they weren’t beheaded because they were Egyptian citizens or Innocents. They were killed because they were Christians. The Islamic terrorists are members of the self-named Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This is simple, elementary education.
Islamic militants are murdering Christians because of their faith.
The Bible speaks of these things coming to pass again. Of course there was persecution during the period of the Apostles and the beginning of The Church and the Bible tells us that it will increase as the second coming of our Lord draws near.
“…This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4.
That is the problem with so many Christians around the world. It’s not just specific to America. We are being lulled to sleep. We continue on as we have always done, eating, drinking, etc., as the Bible points out, and if we are not careful, that day will come upon us unaware.
“Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9.
We are not children of darkness! We are sons and daughters of the light! Paul urges us here to not sleep but to be alert and self-controlled. How do we do that? Put on love and faith as a breastplate, protecting our heart and the hope of salvation as a helmet, protecting our minds!
It will be very easy, in this evil day, to be so filled with anxiety and the cares of this life that we become distracted from our purpose and distracted from our Source of Life itself. This is so dangerous. We must be connected to HIM, to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, if we are to stand in this wicked hour.
“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, (overindulgence) drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36 NIV.
Close unexpectedly on us like a trap. That is explicit and precise, friends. The Word of God says it will come upon all who live on the face of the earth…this means us! Whether it is ISIS at our doorstep or persecution in another form, we will face difficulty unless the Lord comes for His Bride beforehand.
‘To escape all that is about to happen’ doesn’t necessarily mean we will be exempt from suffering. I believe it means if we KNOW Him, if we are filled with His Spirit, no matter what comes our way we will escape by being rewarded with eternal life and be able to stand before Him in glory. The thief on the cross was not relieved of his immediate suffering but the Lord did tell him, “…Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 ESV.
Whether we die the death of a martyr, or are caught away with Him in the air, we will escape!
We win regardless, we will then be able to stand before the Son of Man; not with fear or dread, but with hope and joy to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
So have you counted the cost? Are you awakened out of sleep? Do you realize it is high time that we commit to the work of the Lord? No matter what it is He has called us to do, He has commanded us all to share this Gospel of Truth and Hope. Paul warns us that “…now it is high time to awake out of sleep ; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” Romans:13:11.
Jesus Christ is alive, He is risen and He is coming again. While we are here on this earth, He has sent the Comforter, Christ IN us, our Hope of Glory that will keep us, strengthen us and perfect us for every good work.
Be encouraged today of the Hope that lies within you but do not forget your Christian brothers and sisters around the world that are facing imminent danger and extinction at the hands of their persecutors. The enemy is no respecter of persons, friend. Faces and names mean nothing and they will stop at nothing until Jesus comes again. (Just since this was posted early this morning (2/17/15) there has been another report of ISIS burning to death 45 people in al-Baghdadi. These are atrocities that we are aware of.)
But I believe in an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in these last days! We share with churches every week, teaching them how to be able to accommodate the revival that God wants to give us.
May we all count the cost now and unite together to see as many as possible are ready to meet Him and, if that day comes, to lay down their lives for His Name.
“For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” Matthew 24:21-22:21.
Living in the Hope!
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