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What would you do if the cities in your country were leveled by missiles or enemy bombers?
How would you react if an earthquake cut off all communication water and electrical sources?
What would you do if a group of terrorists held you hostage?
The need for turning to God has ever been more urgent!
In the United States, we have experience very little sacrifice and suffering in comparison to Christians in other nations. For most of us, any persecution that may have undergone has been minor.
Christianity has been popularized. Christian bookstores sell thousands of Christian books. Well-known people openly profess their Christian belief. However, I believe that the popularity will end as secular materialism becomes increasingly prevalent in our educational system. Already we have experienced the curtailment of prayer and Bible study in our schools, and our young people are paying the price. Christ warned His followers that to believe in Him would not make them popular and that they should be prepared to face affliction for His sake. Anti-abortion supporters have been jailed or mistreated. Parents who have opposed objectionable material in our school classrooms have been called extremists, or worse.
But can these difficulties be compared with the persecutions in countries where Christians not only have been jailed but also tortured or killed?
The Bible says that all who want "to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."
The fact that we are not being persecuted for Christ's sake is an abnormal situation.
Are we so used to the luxuries of freedom that we would be unable to stand up to persecution?
Most of us would do no more, no less, than we are doing right now. Some of us who wear our Christianity on our sleeves probably would be the first to surrender. Many others would like the Apostle Peter who declared, "Though all other deny Christ, yet I will never deny him. But he did. Three times. Still others, having stored up resources of strength and power, would be strong and courageous and would say, as the Apostle Paul did, "My power is made perfect in weakness."
Our Spiritual Survival Kit
If we want to have resources in our possession for a day of disaster, we need to have a spiritual survival kit: God's storehouse of supplies for us.
But we must meet some requirements before we can receive the abundance:
First, we need to make sure of our relationship to God.
We must be prepared to meet God at any moment.
Isn't it strange how we prepare for so many things except meeting God?
Getting to know God and being able to call on Him is the first step in storing up for the storms.
Getting to know God is more than treating Him as a casual acquaintance - its developing a deeper relationship with Him every day.
Second, we need to learn how to walk with God in our daily lives.
Have you ever been asked, "How is your walk?"
Some Christians will know immediately that you are asking about their walk with God, but others may say, "Well, I do about two miles a day."
I know people who seem to be holding the hand of God throughout life's journey. I also know people who are lagging far behind.
In the Old Testament there are vivid examples of people who walked with God. Abraham walked with God and was called a friend of God. Noah walked with God , and when the Flood came, Noah was saved. Moses walked with God, and when the hour of judgement fell upon Egypt, Moses led his people to victory Daniel walked with God, and he was saved from the lions' den.
God does not always pull His children out of deep water. Peter was crucified upside down; Andrew was tied to a cross for three days before he died; John was a prisoner on a desolate island; Bartholomew was beaten; Thomas was murdered. These men walked with God,. And today we too have access to that same strength that the apostles did.
Third, we need to read and memorize Scripture.
We have heard many stories about Christians who, while in prison camps, had no Bibles but who had portions of Scripture committed to memory. One Christian in a prison camp for three years said that during his imprisonment, his greatest regret was not having memorized more of the Bible. People have told me that in their suffering, they sometimes could only remember small parts of Scripture.
Several years ago my wife, Ruth, had a terrible fall. She suffered a concussion and was unconscious for nearly a week. When she regained consciousness, she had lost a great deal of her memory. Most disturbing to her was the bible verses she had learned throughout the years. The Bible verses of a lifetime were more precious to her than any of her material possessions. One night, when she was praying., she said, "Lord God, take anything that I have, but please bring back my Bible verses." Immediately this verse came to her mind: "I have loved thee with and everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness, have I drawn thee." She did not remember having memorized that verse, but God brought it back to her.
She has continued to memorize, and one of those passages is Romans 8:31-39. I urge you too to memorize it and hide it away in your heart. When persecution, trouble and adversity arise, these verses will give you hope and strength.
What a great storehouse we will have when those thoughts are in our hearts!
What verses have you stored up for the future?
Fourth, we need to make prayer our priority.
We live in a materialistic world, but it seems as if we pray only during a crisis, and then between crises we neglect to pray.
But we have so many battles going on that we should be a people of prayer!
Our government needs our prayers. Our leaders need our prayers. Our schools need our prayers. Our youth need our prayers. Our families need our prayers.
Are we prepared spiritually as individuals, as a nation, for the increasing attacks upon us?
We have "spiritual forces of evil" at work in our world. Depravity seems to be increasing every year. We need to be in prayer against those "powers of darkness."
In the Bible is an account of prayer being used as a weapon against a wicked ruler. Sennacherib, an Assyrian leader, had boasted that he would defeat God's people and would take over their land. His propaganda machine was powerful. He sent messages to Israel, taunting the people about their weakness and boasting of his strength. In the arms race of their day, the Assyrians were definitely ahead. But Israel's king, Hezekiah, was a man of faith. He knew that on a purely human level the Assyrians could destroy Israel. But Hezekiah had a secret weapon. He fell on his knees in prayer. Look what happened: "The Lord sent an angel who annihilated all the fighting men and the leaders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. Sennacherib withdrew to his own land in disgrace. The Lord saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem .He took care of them on every side."
Miracles have happened when God's people have turned to Him in prayer.
God does not always deliver us out of catastrophe, but He promises to be with us throughout.
God's Storehouse for Us
Even after many years of severe restrictions, the Church in China has survived.
How can this be? Because of small groups of believers who, though often driven "underground," have managed to meet regularly with the Word.
Despite the concerted effort to destroy all the Bibles in China, some copies survived. The small groups of Christians meet around the Word and are nurtured by the Bible and by verses that believers have memorized.
Even in prisons and labor camps Chinese Christians have let the flame of their faith burn brightly, and they have been used to lead other Chinese to Jesus Christ.
And consequently, even under persecution, the number of Christians has multiplied.
What about us?
Are we preparing for the storms of suffering?
Or will we be caught without resources?
The best way to prepare is to deepen our spiritual lives, to deepen our life in the Holy Spirit.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is an ongoing experience. When Paul wrote, "Be filled with the spirit," he conveyed the idea that we keep on being filled with the Spirit, like and ever-flowing spring. We have God's storehouses available to us at all times. When the resources are needed, they are there for us.
So be prepared.
When the "day of evil" comes, we will not be controlled by the circumstance around us; rather, we will depend on the resources of God.
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