Signpost pointing two directions with the words, 'Beginning' and 'End'
Signpost pointing two directions with the words, 'Beginning' and 'End'

The Beginning and the End

"Thus says the Lord, the King of
Israel and His Redeemer, the Lord of
hosts: 'I am the first and I am the
last; besides Me there is no god.'"
Isaiah 44:6 ESV

This Christmas season provides another opportunity for us to anticipate and celebrate God's gift of love as revealed in His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is not just the cute baby at the centrepiece of every nativity scene. John 1:1-3 tells us: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made."

A woman lifting her hands toward heaven.
Christians praying over map

Praying for Greater Connection

"As it is, there are many parts, yet one body....
If one member suffers, all suffer together;
if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.

1 Corinthians 12:20,26 ESV

Persecuted Christians ask that they not be abandoned nor cut off from the body of Christ. Yet, far too often, they feel as though they are alone, forgotten and disconnected from other believers. They long to be in fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ, for it is in this environment that they find encouragement and comfort as they exercise their faith.

A woman lifting her hands toward heaven.
A woman lifting her hands toward heaven.

Praying for God's Presence

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what
you have, for He has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'

Hebrews 13:5 ESV

At first glance, Hebrews 13:5 might seem out of place when praying for persecuted Christians. However, its context lies within a series of practical points for living out the Christian faith. God calls His people to be distinct from those who belong to the world; and how we live reflects this difference. The Christian faith is not to be passive, quietly confined to our private lives. Rather, faith propels Christians to action, and that action is best described as 'love at work.'

Several folded hands of people praying together
Several folded hands of people praying together

United in Prayer

"You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you
cannot do more than pray until you have prayed. Pray often, for prayer
is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan
John Bunyan

Of all the ways we can assist persecuted Christians, prayer is the preeminent appeal. Yet the request for prayer doesn’t negate our obligation to help with practical relief and support efforts. These projects are gratefully received and indispensable for Gospel proclamation and Christian witness in hostile environments. However, without prayer, anything we provide, no matter how substantial, is inadequate.

A small container with water pouring out
A small container with water pouring out

Stronger Stuff

"For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships,
persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV

A church occupied in Great Commission work will see growth when people discover the love of the Father through Jesus, His Son. Then, fuelled by the Holy Spirit's guidance, these new followers of Jesus mature in the faith through discipleship and the application of God’s Word. Thus, the church becomes a marvellous blending of young and old, immature and mature, growing together in awe and reverence of the one true God.

Planting a tree
A man and young boy planting a tree

Fret Not (Part 5)

"Trust in the Lord, and do good....
Turn away from evil and do good."
Psalm 37:3,27 ESV

Overcoming a fretful mindset requires that we seek the Lord's equipping to do good works in this fallen world. External situations should not determine our level of productivity in bearing the fruit of righteousness. Fretfulness doesn't bring glory to God but rather hinders us from responding as we should, namely by overcoming evil with good.