Dear Ones,
Hope you had a great weekend! I was spoiled for my birthday  with a delicious steak dinner at our daughter’s after Al preached at our church yesterday. Also had a hot game of scrabble with our grandson Joe (he won)  at the cabin and time to catch up with with the family. I am blessed. Today is beautiful and clear and I got to Aldi’s and to my Exercise class this morning.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Some people mistakenly think that when we become a Christian, our problems are all over; so, when we go through hard times, that we must have sinned and are getting our just punishment. But if that were true, why did Jesus closest followers suffer and experience persecution and a martyr death? No, the fact is Jesus said we would be slandered, persecuted, and suffer because of our faith in Him. We are told to rejoice in our suffering for His sake and to be faithful and let our roots go deeper into Him.
Our hearts go out to those in Afghanistan whose lives hang in the balance, wondering if they will die because of their faith. Missionaries there have seen many many come to the Lord, though the cost may mean their very lives.
I was reading what Mark Morris wrote about the Afghan/English retreat they had 2 weeks ago. They learned that a Pastor in Afghanistan had received a letter from the Taliban saying: “We know who you are, what you do, and where to find you.” On that Saturday they were knocking at his door but he had gone into hiding. PTL! But another pastor wept as he shared about his Christian friend whose village had been taken by the Taliban 3 days before and young Christian girls were being pursued; his own niece was taken to become the wife of one of the Taliban.
As they all wept and prayed, they were exhorted to build their faith on Jesus, the only cornerstone that can stand in face of the Taliban. They ended the retreat sharing about The Cross and Suffering: first of all, to face suffering with a higher view of God and a humble view of themselves and others. Also, to remember that suffering and evil exist to exalt the glory of God’s grace, as seen in Jesus’ death for us. God may use suffering to refine our faith, to show His glory and to teach us dependency on Him. And finally, God may lead us into suffering as part of His plan to fulfill the Great Commission. They closed the retreat singing, “Let goods and kindred go/ this mortal life also/ the body they may kill/ God’s truth abideth still/ His kingdom is forever!”
May we also say as David in Psalm 61:2-4 (ESV), “From the ends of the earth, I call to you when I begin to lose heart. Lead me to the ROCK that is above me. You have been my refuge, a tower of strength against the enemy.”
Challenge for today: Pray for those being persecuted and ask for grace to stand firm in the days to come.
Blessings on your week and prayers and love, Judy