Jesus told His disciples, "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." Matthew 16:24
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our international ministry centers to write our Sunday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.
In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,
Kenneth R. Klaus
Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
"Carrying the cross" is a way to describe the hardship that comes when someone follows Jesus.
That hardship comes with persecution ... one of the hardest situations a Christian can face. Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase of persecution in many hostile non-Christian communities.
Have you ever wondered what would be your reaction during a time of persecution? Would the fear of death or the fear of losing loved ones or belongings lead you to deny Jesus Christ? Or would we deny ourselves and remain committed to following the Savior?
Hayat -- a young Lebanese woman who is living in an area which is predominantly Islamic -- wrote to us and told us of the hard situation she faces in her life. She shared,
"Because I am Christian my life has become horrible. When I was a kid, I didn't pay attention to the fact that people hate us that much. But now, after I got a job, my friends started to avoid talking to me, especially when I give them the Bible. Some of my friends always try to drag me to Islam, and one of these friends is the man I love.
"We have been together for a few months now, and I love him very much. He always talks to me about Islam and tells me that if I don't leave Christianity and become a Muslim, he will break up with me. I love him and I can't stay away from him. He is the only one who understands me and shows me tenderness.
"On the other hand, I do believe Jesus is the only Lord I want to follow, I am convinced that Jesus is the right way and the Bible is the Word of God. Please help me find a way to show him the truth about Christianity and also make him become a Christian."
You can understand the tough situation Hayat is facing as she decides on what side she wants to be. Jesus said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you" (John 15:18-19).
It is the cross which we are privileged to carry in our lives. When we do, we show that we are children of light living in a dark world. That is why Jesus said, "Anyone who loves their father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me" (Mathew 10:37).
My friends, it is our prayer that the Holy Spirit will keep all persecution from you and yours. But if persecution does come, may you be granted the grace to be faithful -- faithful until death so you may be given the crown of life.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, You suffered all manner of persecution as You saved us. Now grant that we may stand for You when persecution comes our way. Let us show our faith in the middle of the storms of persecution. Strengthen us to carry the cross every day and let our eyes be focused on You throughout our lives. In Jesus' Name we ask it. Amen.
Biography of Author: Today's international devotion was written by Fadi E. Khairallah. Mr. Khairallah was born to a Christian family in Baabda, Lebanon. He has attended graduate courses in communications and Lutheran theology at Concordia University, Seward, Nebraska. He is currently preparing the thesis for his master's degree in Islamic studies. At present he serves as director for Middle East Lutheran Ministry (MELM) in Lebanon, a position he has held since December 2001. Mr. Khairallah is married to Lara and has one baby boy. He and his family reside in Beirut, Lebanon.
Launched in 1950 in Beirut, Middle East Lutheran Ministry -- also known as LHM-Lebanon -- uses radio broadcasts to reach people in at least ten Arabic-speaking countries with the Good News. Assisting individuals in their Christian faith life in places as far away as Libya, Iraq and Egypt, this ministry center teaches people about Jesus with its Arabic-language Bible Correspondence Courses (BCC). Through its Equipping the Saints (ETS) workshops, lay people are trained in how to better convey God's message of hope in their everyday lives. Many of this program's participants are students and young adults who are eager to share Jesus with their families and peers. Using the Internet (a website, text messaging), TV programming, and other video production, God's love and hope are shared with people throughout a region torn by war and other desperate circumstances. Holistic assistance is provided to many Muslim families and Bedouin communities through vacation Bible schools and programs that deliver clothing and school supplies to children. Emergency care is also given to people such as Syrian and Iraqi families who have come to Lebanon from their countries, as they flee various conflicts in their homelands.
Take a moment and check out the award LHM-Lebanon received recently from the Chaldean Diocese of Beirut. This was given to acknowledge the tireless work LHM-Lebanon has performed in assisting Iraqi refugees who have fled to Lebanon for safety. You can read this story by clicking here to access LHM-Lebanon's blog.
To learn more about our International Ministries, click here or visit www.lhm.org/international.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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