And they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin." And when he had said this, he fell asleep. - Acts 7:58-60. Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. - Acts 12:1-3. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. - Revelation 12:11.
Abdul Rahman became a Christian 16 years ago. He had previously been an
Islamic believer. Abdul has been arrested in Afghanistan and charged with a
potentially capital offense. The crime is that he has converted from Islam
to another religion. The judge in the case stated, "We are not against any
particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is
against the law. It is an attack on Islam."
In spite of the judge's statement it does appear that Islam is against every
other religion in the world and in particular, Christianity. If you execute
those who switch to another religion then it is a very loud and violent
statement of opposition to other religions. It is also a loud and violent
statement that there is not religious freedom in Afghanistan and if there is
not religious freedom how can you say that the people there are free? It
does appear that the people of Afghanistan are still in bondage and have yet
to gain their freedom.
Persecution of Christians for their faith is alive and well in the 21st
Century with some 200 million being persecuted every year. Here is a webpage
that is eye opening about the persecution that is ongoing across the world:
I have no doubt that most of those reading this devotional have not
experienced severe persecution for their faith although a few may have.
Persecution of Christians, however, has been in existence from the very
beginning of the faith. Stephen was executed after confronting the people
with the truth of their guilt in the crucifixion of Jesus. It also appeared
that Saul soon to become the apostle Paul was in charge of that execution.
Herod thought that he did so well with the execution of James the brother of
John that he decided he would execute Peter too. But we know that God
intervened in Peter's situation.
Knowing that there are Christians still dying for their faith across the
world should be a warning to the rest of us. Persecution can happen to us as
well. We must not forget about the rest of the brothers and sisters across
the world that are hurting. To know the truth about the persecution should
be a strong encouragement to at the very least pray for the rest of the body
of Christ that is hurting. It should also spur us to do what we can to
support directly those who are being persecuted in every way that we can. It
should remind us too that we should take our faith seriously and live our
lives for our Lord.
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