1 Peter 2:12 - Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
By the time Dmitri was married and had children of his own, there were no churches left in his small village. He had been raised in Russia, during the early days of the Soviet Union. His parents and grandparents had passed the faith on to him, teaching him the Bible and the songs of the church and how to live honorably as a follower of Jesus Christ. But now most of the churches had been forced to close, and their pastors imprisoned. Dmitri knew that it was his responsibility to pass on the faith to his sons. So, one night a week, he gathered his family together to read them a Bible story, sing songs, and pray.
Now, in small villages, nothing stays hidden for long. Some of the neighbors asked if they could come to listen to the Bible and sing the songs they used to sing in church. When the little group grew to more than a hundred, the authorities tried to put an end to it. They arrested Dmitri and sent him to the prison camp for the next 17 years.
Dmitri's story was recorded by a man named Nik Ripken, in a book titled, The Insanity of God. Years later, when Nik interviewed him, Dmitri said that the most difficult part of his imprisonment was his isolation from the body of Christ. So, to keep his faith alive, every morning, for 17 years, Dmitri would stand in his cell at attention. He would raise his arms in praise to God and sing a song to Jesus. The other prisoners would laugh at him, jeer him, and curse him. They clanged their metal cups against the iron bars to drown out his singing. Another discipline Dmitri practiced was to recall the Scriptures he remembered. Whenever he found a scrap of paper in the prison, he would write down all the words from the Bible he could remember and could fit on that scrap. Then he would stick the paper to the wet concrete pillar in his cell as an offering to Jesus. When the guards saw the paper, they would tear it off the wall and punish him with a beating.
Years later, Dmitri found in the prison yard what he considered to be the greatest gift from God: a whole sheet of paper. He rushed back to his cell and wrote every Bible verse, every story, every song he could remember and stuck the entire sheet of paper on that wet concrete pillar. Of course, the guards saw it. This time, they said they would kill him. They dragged him from his cell. As they came near to the place reserved for executions, the strangest thing happened. Hundreds of prisoners stood at attention next to their beds in their cells. And they began to sing. They raised their hands and sang the song they had heard Dmitri singing all those years. The guards released him and stepped away in terror. "Who are you?" they asked. He answered, "I am a son of the living God. Jesus is His Name." After 17 years, they released Dmitri and he returned to his family.
WE PRAY: Dear Jesus, help us live such good lives among unbelievers that, though they accuse us of wrongdoing, they may see our good deeds and give glory to God on the day of Your coming. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. What does it mean for you to live honorably before unbelievers, even those who are hostile to faith in Jesus?
2. In the past, what spiritual disciplines have sustained you in this challenge?
3. What spiritual disciplines could prepare you to face new challenges in the future?
Today's Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 24-27 Luke 23:1-25
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