Luke 9:18-26

18 And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 So they answered and said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.” 20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” 21 And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” 23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

2 Tim. 3:10-15

10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 23:4

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

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Good morning. And welcome you this morning and God is so faithful God is Good All and all the time God is good is we saying that last song Lord I offer my life to you Have we truly offered our life to him to do with as he pleases have we surrendered all to him have we trusted him completely and totally with our lives all that we are I’m going to be sharing some stories of some mourning of some individuals that have often during life without any reserve they’ve given it all for him on wavering faith is my title this morning is our faith unwavering I pray that it is hope that we be strong in our faith let us pray before I begin this morning whether God I do praise you and magnify you Father I thank you so much that we can come into your house and we can freely worship you that we can speak of your words and of your ways and father that we know that your here Father I pray that we would never as a people or as a church take for granted the privileges the joy that we can have to come in freely freely serve you freely worship you follow God I pray that our faith will be strong I pray that we would all offer our lives to you father that you would have your own way in us father have I known way in this place today may you be lifted high may your name be glorified made you use us Father God to accomplish your plans in your purposes in the world today and follow we just give you the glory honor in Jesus’ name amen this past week as I was praying for direction as I was beginning to plan this message out and it occurred to me that as I sat there in the warmth. And the security of my office and the comfort of our own home that at that very moment there are probably thousands upon thousands of people who were being beaten or Turk tortured or oppressed for their faith in Jesus Christ as we meet here this morning Undoubtedly there are styles of people experiencing things that would make us cringe to think about it and I’m going to share some amazing stories of people that have withstood some horrible things stood firm in their faith on wavering in their faith in the midst of some of the most cruel torture that I’ve ever heard of Rizana gave me a book for Christmas sees always good but give me some wonderful books it’s called the martyrs A and there were so many stories in there the just it shakes you when you read the stories of things that people have endured because of their faith in Jesus Christ and so many that were unwavering so many that gave their lives for Jesus Christ the game of my scripture from Luke Chapter nine verses eighteen through twenty six. And as I often do I have some preaching to do in the middle of this and it happened as he Jesus was alone praying that his disciples joined him and he asked them saying who do crowds say that I am so they answered and said John the Baptist’s But some say lodges and others say that one of the old prophets has risen from the dead risen again as I read this and I visit in my mind it says the disciples came so I don’t envision just one disciple answering him there I’ve been vision maybe Jane said well they say John the Baptist’s John might have said some say that your logic resurrected from the dead Peter might have said well they say you’re one of the prophets of old risen again but then he said to them to the disciples sitting there with them but who do you say that I am Peter answered and said the Christ of God. Peter says you are the Christ of God my friends out of the heart out of the abundance of the heart we speak right so we are going to speak what is in our heart what do you say about Jesus Christ that is the most important question that we will ever ask ourselves that could ever be asked of us who do you say that Jesus Christ is he is not John the Baptist resurrected if someone thinks that he is John the Baptist’s if someone thinks he is one of the prophets of old they are sorely mistaken they must believe that he is the Christ the Son of God in order to be saved who do you believe what do you believe about Jesus Christ the most important question you ever ask yourself and you must believe that he is the Christ he strictly warned them and commanded them to tell this to no one saying the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and be raised a third day then he said to them all if anyone desires to come after me let him deny himself take up his cross daily and follow me when Jesus took up his cross What did he do with it he carried it to where he carried it to Calvary he carried his cross of the place where he was willing to die are you willing to take up your cross daily and follow Him It may lead to a place where you may have to die for your faith in Him verse twenty four for whoever desires to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it for what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and is himself destroyed or lost for whoever is ashamed of me and my words of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in His glory and his fathers and of the holy angels and then let’s look to second Timothy. Second Timothy Chapter three verses ten through fifteen but you have carefully followed my doctrine manner of life purpose faith longsuffering love perseverance persecutions afflictions which happened to me at Antioch at Coney and Lyster Oh what persecutions I endured and out of them all the Lord delivered me yes and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution that did not read might suffer persecution all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution but evil men and apostles will grow worse and worse deceiving and being deceived but you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of knowing from whom you have learned them and that from childhood you have known the holy scriptures which are open able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus may God at His blessing to the hearing and reading of His Holy Word you know I believe that there are many people today in the world that are under unaware they are unaware of or under the impression that persecution does not happen that much in the world today I believe that there are many people aren’t aware of the extent of the persecution that is going on in the world today against Christians but that could be couldn’t be further from the truth open doors international That is an organization that ranks levels of persecution around the world has noted conservatively that more than seven thousand one hundred Christians were killed for their faith and twenty fifteen this kind of old data couldn’t find new or yet but that is that it is near that it nearly doubled the number killed in two thousand and fourteen and tripled the number of two thousand and thirteen. And they say that the actual number is probably much higher because that this ticks or hard to come by in countries where people were beheaded burned alive and in slaved there is a nother we’re going to zation call Gordon Conwell Center for the Study of Global Christianity their numbers are much much higher their numbers reported that they said that up to ninety thousand Christians died for their faith last year ninety thousand they say that from twenty two thousand and five to twenty fifteen there were approximately nine hundred thousand Christian martyrs worldwide astounding myself I did not know those numbers were that high up to nine hundred thousand in a ten year period around the world attacks against Christians come from said organizations as ISIS Bokova RAAM in many communist countries many communist regimes demand for unquestioning loyalty to the government and they believe then that those who claim to be Christians or against the authority of the government they believe that they are resistance to their law abiding government so they do all they can to shut them down put them in prison or many other things in northern Nigeria which has become the most dangerous place in the world for a Christian to live that group Boko her Ram has outpaced ISIS and both number of Christians killed and the brutality which they do it they are worse or more evil however you want to look at it than ISIS. The leader of Boko her Ram has been very transparent about the group’s intentions he says that they will booby trap and try to blow up every church that they could possibly reach not keep in mind in northern Nigeria Nigeria the you’re not going to see the big church with a big steeple on top because that would be like saying here I am coming get me many of them are home churches they will meet in the privacy of their homes and and try to be undetected so they continue to worship and serve the Lord but they say that they will try to kill all the citizens of the Cross that they could possibly find they claim that they plan to ethnically cleanse all Christians from Nigeria and all across Africa he is very transparent on the intentions of this organization northern Nigeria has become the front line in a battle between Christianity and extreme Islam in Africa not a place that you would want to live if you want to serve the Lord and I know that some of these stories the couple stories that I’m going to share with you are not pleasant things to hear not pleasant at all but I believe that the church needs to know how our brothers and sisters around the world are being persecuted and tortured for their faith so that we can pray for them know how to pray for them so that we can support them as we say we can as we see fit so this first story that I’m going to share is about a young mother of three she was at home one night with her two of her three children and her husband now these stories every one of these stories that was in this book open doors has confirmed a story to say that they are absolutely true they have found documentation and witnesses they are true they did change the names to try to protect the people from maybe further harm to themselves or their families the young mother they call rose her husband was a police officer and he was given permission to defend himself and his family they sat there that fateful night and her husband heard a commotion outside he rushed to the winder the see what it was and he told his wife it’s not the police out there he said it is Bokova RAM he says and they are here to kill us because they are Christians her husband prepare to defend his family and as they came through the door. He did take some of them out they were there they were armed they were there to kill that family but he soon ran out of bullets he took some of them out but then they were able to grab him and immediately they beheaded him then she watched as they grabbed their two children and beheaded them she tried to flee and they took swords and they cut it or arms but she got out the door but she didn’t get very far so they knocked her to the ground and they took swords and started slicing her neck the back of her neck insisting that she did not Christ and pledge her belief and they wanted her to say bar but she refused to do so instead of saying a lock up bar she has kept saying the name Jesus kept hollering Jesus they kept slicing atter kept kicking her kept abusing her they sliced her so badly she was bleeding so badly they thought she would just die in a few moments so they just left her there the miracle was she didn’t die as soon as they left some friends or neighbors came to her rescue daughter the medical attention that she needed but in the face of death she refused to Did not Christ she called out to Jesus there was a Middle Eastern man they called him Andrew he grew up in communist your reach or he became a believer in one nine hundred ninety one and immediately started serving the Lord by planning churches he was on fire for the Lord planning churches wherever he went as I read read this story he Conner resembled a modern day Paul he would be imprisoned in one country for his ministry and for planning churches then he’d be released and they’d time to leave while he would just go on to the next country plant more churches to these in prison they let him out he’d go to the next country plant more churches he was on fire for the Lord. No matter how many times they threw him in prison they put him in prison he preached to the guards like Paul Things became extremely bad in his country in one thousand nine hundred eight his country went to war with Ethiopia and the government was fearful of losing control so they determined that they would force all the Christian churches to be closed down in that country they claim that the church was responsible for spreading Western propaganda when the government officials came to Andrew They told him that he had to leave the village as he was living in though he said that it was his legal right to preach to the authorities gathered false accusations against him they arrested him and again put him in jail and he said the church prayed like they had never prayed before so they went before the judge for going out and preachin he said the judge shared with him how God revealed to him the night before telling him not to touch that man God still answers prayers Karen says God answered the prayers of that church I can think of a couple examples in the Bible where the church parade the prison doors were open more empty and they walked right out the chains fell off while God is still doing those miraculous things today our God is still alive and he still work in my Even his church guess what that judge did Andrew preached to became a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ that’s why I compare him to the Apostle Paul Andrews what Andrew’s woes were not over he was forced to join the military his nation was at war but in the military of this communist nation he continued to preach the gospel he began baptizing many converts in the military the officials declared that they would have to kill the believers in order to stop the spread of the Gospel under sets conditions they continued to preach we are now under those conditions why are we out there like Andrew. They weren’t open to the Christianity my friends as far as I know our country is too open to Christianity right as Con as we were talking about in Sabbath school we still have that right we still have that privilege if we aren’t using it do we have it we need to use it we need to use the rights that we have to preach the gospel. So they put Andrew on death row the conditions were so inhumane they only got to eat once a day they only had access to a toilet once every three or four days the rooms they kept them in were four by four and that was not one person in each room that was many persons they had to sleep on top of one another it was so crowded they tried to convince all of them to leave Christ Andrew said that they would take them outside lay him down with no shirts on stripped them down in the desert sand lay them on their bellies and tie their feet and hands together behind their backs and what they call the helicopter he said many perished many perished because they couldn’t withstand it physically they died. All they would had to do was say yes I did not Christ they would have untied him let them go but many refused they died for their faith Andrew miraculously survived did he survive the torture and eventually escaped from the prison and lived to tell a story there were many many many stories similar to these time would not allow me to go and share them all but amazing stories that people refused to reject Christ even in the face of death many did not survive but there were many good news stories that also read in this and these amazing stories stories about these brutal people witnessing the faith. The unwavering faith of these believers it moved their hearts it changed their hearts there had been thousands who came to the Lord because of the unwavering faith of these believers when I see someone who it would not reject the one they believe in even at the face or the threat of getting their heads chopped off it moved them it touched their hearts it broke their hearts it changed them a Protestant reformer once said The church is an ample which has worn out many hammers says no prison can contain our witness no censorship can contain our love and no hatred can contain our forgiveness that’s what we are in us what we need to be persecution is causing faith to grow in many countries persecution is causing the faith to grow and it’s revealing the true believers it’s revealing those who truly do believe it’s revealing those who won’t reject Christ it’s causing the church to become stronger as casual Christians fall away leaving only those who are truly committed to Jesus Christ remember what Jesus said in verse twenty four for whoever desires to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for a mosque sake will save it you want true life you want real life be willing to give your natural life to say that which is most important to save your soul in no way am I wishing that we have had would have to experience says persecutions as they are experience in Africa or in other places but I hope that their stories inspire us to help hope they inspire us to help those are in need you might ask well what could we possibly do for those that are on the other side of the world for starters we could pray and fast truly pray and fast and I don’t just mean a casual prayer on your way to work Lord please be with the people in Africa the being persecuted. I mean serious prayer and fasting for these people we could pray that they remain strong in their faith we could pray that they remain fearless in their witness for Jesus Christ that they remain winsome in a bound in love and forgiveness of their oppressors that they sense the nearest near Innes of God and the confort of the Holy Spirt as a endure these horrible things we can pray that the Holy Spirit will bring to mind the scriptures along with Psalms and hands and spiritual songs so like Paul they will be able to sing and rejoice even amidst of their wounds and there are things that they are enduring the god will protect them from physical and psychological abuse bringing healing to those affected in these ways pray that they exercise the gifts of the spirit and display the fruit of the Spirit pray that their persecutors will come to faith glory to God what a revival did all these Bokhara people would come the faith that ISIS would come to faith and turn from their ways that’s how we get revival pray and his evil people will turn to the Lord Jesus Christ pray that the church will grow and be undetected by the authorities we can also let our political meet leaders in this country know about our concern for those that are oppressed for the Christians or press write letters make phone calls and we can give find a reputable trustworthy organization that defends these people that is dedicated these people and give as godly Jew open doors as one there’s a particular song that everybody is probably very familiar with the twenty third Psalm but I picked one verse out of that song verse for ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me your rod in your step they come for me. My friends do we know that we have it in our heart to know that he is with us no matter what we have to go through no matter what evil may come upon us maybe follow us he is with us he will never leave us nor forsake us we do not have to fear what man can do because our God is with us as I neared the end I want to read the martyrs oath to you this is moving this is what the martyrs pledge I am a follower of Jesus I believe he lived and walked among us was crucified for our sins was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures I believe he is the king of the Earth we know who the king of the Earth is and it’s NOT say it’s our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Amen who will come back for his church as he has given his life for me so I am willing to give my life for him I will use every breath I possess to boldly proclaim his gospel whether in abundance or need in safety or peril in peace or distress I will not cannot keep quiet his unfailing love is better than life and his grace compels me to speak his name even if his name cost me everything even in the face of death I will not deny him and should shadow and darkness encroach me I will not fear for I know he is always with me through persecution though persecution may come I know my bad it was not against Flash but against the forces of evil I will not hate those whom God has called me to love therefore I have will forgive when ridiculed show mercy when struck and love when hated I will close myself with meekness and kindness so those around me may see the face of Jesus reflected in me especially if they abuse me. Wow especially if they abuse me I have taken up my cross I have laid everything else down I know my faith could cost me my life but I will follow and love Jesus until the end whenever and however that end may come should I die for Jesus I confess that my faith that my I’m sorry I confess that my death is not to achieve salvation but in gratitude for the grace I have already received I will not die to earn my reward in heaven but because Jesus has already given me the ultimate reward in the forgiveness of my sins and the salvation of my soul for me to live is Christ for me to die is gain in Jesus’ name amen to make a big copy that put it on the wall and all to read it every time a come to the door in verse twenty three of Lupe Chapter nine he said he said to them all if anyone desires to come after me let him be nigh and self take up his cross daily and follow me here’s the most important question for us today are we willing to live for the same Jesus that so many are willing to die for I’m preachin myself are we willing to live for the same Jesus because it’s the same Jesus died on a cross for all those are being persecuted in a press that died for us are we will we had the freedom in this country we can go downtown insist praise and preach and I can share Scripture and I don’t have to be for for all that the scum of the place are going to come and arrest me where they are and they might. And throw me in jail but I don’t have the fear that they’re going to take me out Tommy up in a helicopter and see if i OS revive it I know I don’t have that fear I don’t have to worry about so much willing to live for the same Jesus that so many are willing to die for I’m going to leave us with that questions will I pray that we are that we all are and not increase my faith more help my faith to be that strong help my unbelief help me to have the faith to stand up for Jesus even the face of death Amen.