Good morning, Lord Jesus. I thank You for the freedom to speak out Your name and lift up my prayers to worship my God -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- in spirit and truth. ...
"I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands" (Revelation 20:4).
As I read this verse the image came to my mind from 4 years ago of the twenty-one Egyptian Christians who did not cling to life even in the face of death, as the spirit of evil moved in the minds and hearts of their ISIS murderers to cut off their heads in the name of "global jihad." In their bloodlust, the terrorists were excited to send their video around the world with the title "A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross."
We are the Nation of the Cross. "From every tribe and language and people and nation" around this world and every generation who willingly choose to be called by Your name, we are the Nation of the Cross -- "a kingdom and priests serving our God" (Revelation 5:9).
"But they conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death" (Revelation 12:11).
And Your Word specifically warns us there will come a time when many will be called to lay down their lives for the sake of Christ -- even in the face of having their heads cut off by the bloody hands of evil men trying to force them to bow down to a false god.
At times it may seem like evil is prevailing, but in the end the people of God will prevail in the grace and power of our mighty God: "As I looked, this horn made war with the holy ones and was prevailing over them, until the Ancient of Days came; then judgment was given for the holy ones of the Most High, and the time arrived when the holy ones gained possession of the kingdom" (Daniel 7:21-22).
Through every season of torment, testing, and tribulation that has come against the people of God, demanding faith and worship to a false god, You've always encouraged Your people to hold fast to their faith even the face of persecution and death: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world. Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:1-4).
Give me courage to overcome. Give me the grace to stand firm in my faith no matter what may come. Give me the conviction to be convinced of the truth that Jesus is Lord and worthy of laying down my life even in the face of death. As You said long ago: "If any want to become My followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for My sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:34-38).
Thank You for the victory of the cross and the victory to come. In the end, as You showed John in the visions of what is to come, even those beheaded by evil for the sake of Christ and the gospel of the kingdom of God "came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years" as "priests of God and of Christ" (Revelation 20:4-6). Let me not wait for the end or the moment I'm forced to make a choice to be settled in my heart of my faith and unfailing commitment to You. Every day between now and then, give me the power of Your grace to take up my cross and follow you, not seeking to save my life, but willing to lay it down, in the face of every challenge, for sake of Your name. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
My family, I pray by the power and grace of God you will be convinced in your heart of the truth of your faith that Jesus is Lord, willing to lay down your life, take up your cross and follow Him every day, in Jesus' name. Please pray the same for me. God bless you, my friends!
I want to encourage you to join me by alsosharing with us your thoughts, comments, reflections, and prayers you received from today’s reading in the comment box below.
Gary Liederbach- Lead Follower
One Direction Community
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