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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Monday, September 11, 2006

Never Forget

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Daily Scripture Reading - Hebrews 11

Puritan Catechism
Question #40 - What did God reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?

Answer - The rule which God first revealed to man for his obedience, is the moral law (Deut. 10:4; Matt. 19:17), which is summarised in the ten commandments.

Devotional Thoughts
Today has been declared Patriot Day in the United States. We pause today to remember, indeed, to Never Forget the events that occurred on this day in 2001. We refer to it as 9-11. The day the enemies of our country and way of life and freedom of religion brought the fight to our shores once again through acts of terrorism.

This was a day, five years ago, where we all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when the planes hit the Two Trade Center Towers. We cannot forget the images broadcast that day, and replayed over and over again. We cannot forget the days and days that the rubble burned. The Towers, the Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania. The smoke. The horror. The loss. We were under attack.

Since that time we have been reminded that freedom is not free. It costs the lives of our soldiers. And now, of our everyday citizenry. Freedom comes at a price.

I do not want to in any way belittle the significance of that day. I do want to honor the memory of heroes and those that lost their lives as a result of these attacks. While we vow to Never Forget the events or the people of September 11, 2001, we should all give thanks to God right now for His grace shown to us and His everlasting mercy - without which we could not imagine surviving or recovering or moving on from the events of that day. But I do want to shift the focus today and use the opportunity of this day of remembrance to call to mind the cost of our spiritual freedom!

Just as freedom for our nation has not come cheaply, so to we must Never Forget the price that has been paid for the forgiveness of our sins. There has also been a heavy price paid so that we could even have a Bible printed and readable in our own language today to study for this devotional!

Our freedom from sin, death, and the wrath of God has come at the price of the blood of our Savior Jesus Christ. It cost His life so that we might be redeemed. He humbled Himself, became a man, was obedient even to the point of death on the cross, and has offered Himself as a sacrifice once for all for the sins of His people. We must never neglect the preaching of the Cross of Christ. For there is the gospel and the gospel is the power of God to salvation for those who believe.

Today I also want to recall the cost of our spiritual freedom in terms of the blood of the martyrs and the suffering of the persecuted Church. These are those who through the history of the church have been willing, indeed ready to lay down their lives so that the gospel could be advanced and Jesus Christ exalted. Let us start our remembrance then by reading Hebrews 11:35-12:2:

35Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36Still others had trial of mocking and scourging, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented-- 38of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. 39And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. 1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.


Others were tortured, beaten, stoned – in other words killed for their faith. Let us look at but a brief number of the martyrs and suffering saints. Today, let us remember the cost of our freedom.

The Prophets, Apostles, and Disciples

The Prophets – many were killed as is testified to by New Testament writers.

John the Baptizer – beheaded by Herod.

Stephen – stoned by the Jews.

James, the brother of John – beheaded by the Romans.

Thomas – killed in India.

Simon, the brother of Jesus – crucified in Egypt by the Romans.

James, son of Alphaeus – killed by the Romans.

Simon the Zealot – crucified, possibly in England.

John Mark – burned to death near Alexandria, Egypt.

Bartholomew – beaten, crucified, and then beheaded on the cross by the Romans in Armenia.

Andrew – crucified in Ethiopia by the Roman governor.

Matthew – assassinated with a spear by order of the King of Ethiopia.

Philip – stoned and then crucified in Phrygia.

James, the brother of Jesus – thrown off the temple but did not die until struck in the head with a club.

Peter – crucified upside down by the Romans during the persecution by Nero.

Paul – beheaded by the Romans during the persecution by Nero.

John – Romans attempted to boil him in oil but he escaped unharmed and was exiled to Patmos where he died of natural causes.

The Inquisition – AD 1200 – 1800

31,912 Christians killed for standing against the false gospel of the Roman Catholic Church. Another 291,450 had their property confiscated and were imprisoned.

John Wycliffe – An early Protestant forerunner who preached the truth of the gospel and against Roman idolatry. He gave us the first Bible in English and as a result was tried in 1377. He lived in hiding until his death in 1384. In 1425 the Roman church declared his preaching heresy, dug up his bones, and burned them!

John Hus – A disciple of Wycliffe, Hus was notorious for preaching sermons in the language of the people instead of Latin. He wanted everyone to hear and understand the gospel, believing it alone was the power of God to salvation. When he refused to stop preaching in common language he was condemned as a heretic and burned at the stake in 1415. Before he died he said that those murdering him were simply killing a goose (his family crest) but that in a hundred years from the ashes would rise a swan that would not be killed (the family crest of Martin Luther was that of a Swan)!

Martin Luther – in 1517 confronted the Roman Church with the truth of the gospel that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone and cannot be bought or sold. This was the birth of the Protestant Reformation. He railed against the Catholic Church's false doctrine. He was excommunicated and spent much time in hiding after he was condemned by a Roman council in 1521 and continued to preach and write until his death of natural causes in 1550.

Ulrich Zwingli – a Swiss reformer, Zwingli preached fervently against a corrupt priesthood. As he preached and wrote that the traditions of men should be abandoned and only the Bible preached and taught his city was attacked by Catholic soldiers. He was killed in the fighting and his body was mutilated in 1531.

Michael & Maria Sattler – a monk and nun who were taught by disciples of Zwingli, they left the Catholic Church, married, and helped lead the first Baptists during the time of the Reformation. They were both condemned. In May 1527 he was tortured, having his tongue cut out and then having pieces of his flesh torn apart with hot tongs 7 times. To finish he was burned at the stake with a bag of gunpowder tied around his neck. She was tied to a chair and thrown into the river several days later.

William Tyndale – Anger toward an uneducated clergy who were ignorant of the Scriptures led him to devote himself to a common translation that anyone could read. The first accurate translation from Greek and Hebrew to English cost Tyndale his life. He was strangled, tied to his printing press, and burned with it in 1535. His translation in English has influenced almost every sound English translation since.

Modern Day Martyrs

Eric Liddell - Olympic gold medalist from Scotland died in a WWII prison camp in China where he had been serving as a missionary with China Inland Missions.

Jim Elliot and the Auca Five – missionaries killed by the tribe they were trying to reach with the Gospel in South America. Their wives later returned and won the tribe to Christ.

John Moldavan – beaten and tortured by the Romanian secret police for preaching, his best friend Nicolae Traian Bogdan was murdered by the secret police.

Hussein and Samsul – Gospel for Asia native missionaries who were attacked five years ago for preaching the Gospel in India. Hussein was killed and Samsul was stabbed 6 times but lived. He still preaches today!

Today

Manja and Yagya – Manja was hated in Nepal for preaching the Gospel and converting people from the Islamic faith, he was falsely accused this month and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He is still in prison, pray for his release! Yagya simply disappeared in January last year. Foul play is suspected. Pray for his family and for him!

Uzbekistan Christians Persecuted - "Police arrested twenty-seven Christians on August 28th in the city of Termez, Southern Uzbekistan for their involvement in illegal religious activities. Six of the believers were severely beaten by police, and then held up to six days in jail. On September 5th, Pastor Sergey Khripunov and his family (pictured) were taken under police escort to the airport in Tashkent, where they will be flown to Moscow, Russia to live. They were stripped of their Uzbek citizenship and deported for practicing their Christian faith. Ivan Bychkov, another pastor of Bethany Church, was expelled with his family for the same reason on August 11th. They are now living under very poor conditions in Moscow." (from Voice of the Martyrs).

The Church in Algeria - "There has been relative religious freedom in Algeria since 2000. As a result, the churches in Algeria has seen tremendous growth in the last 5 or 6 years. There are now tens of thousands of believers in that country. However, there is now legislation coming into force in Algeria which will subject the churches to severe restrictions and make evangelism almost impossible." See http://www.righttojustice.org/ for more information about this and other persecutions of the Church around the world.

How many believer in China, indeed all over Asia and the world live under threat because they have repented of their sin and placed their faith in Jesus Christ? These are our brothers and sisters! This is our family, our Body! Please take the time to visit Voice of the Martyrs for up to date information and if you sign up you can receive email notices regarding prayer needs and persecutions around the world.

This list is a very short list in light of all those who have suffered for Christ to the point of death. But it gives us an idea at least of the great price that has already been paid for our faith.

The truth is that freedom is never free. A great price has been paid so that we might be a free people - both nationally and spiritually. Today let us remember the cost of that freedom. Let us thank God for that freedom. And let us renew ourselves in this commitment - we will not take our freedom for granted but will use it to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world. And let us today also renew ourselves in the work of praying for our brothers and sisters around the world who even today live under threat of persecution and death for their faith.

Revelation 6:9-11

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.


May we Never Forget.


Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

The Best Strengthening Medicine by Charles Spurgeon
The Groans of Believers Under Their Burdens by Ebenezer Erskine

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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