Today (November 2, 2014) our congregation joined others throughout the world in observing the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. We began with a sacrament charge by Seventy Gary Whiting in preparation of our partaking of the Lord’s Supper together. Brother Gary spoke on persecution based on Jesus’ words found in John 15, words that Jesus spoke just prior to His betrayal and His being led away to be crucified.
These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you. The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. (John 15:17-21)
In his sermon, brother Gary spoke of three reasons for persecutions:
1) Persecutions serve to try us.
The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the wayside, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which receive the word on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness, and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time; and afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they who receive the word among thorns; such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they who receive the word on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit; some thirty-fold, some sixty and some an hundred. (Mark 4:13-17)
2) Through persecutions the word of God is spread and multiplied
Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them; and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. … And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. (Acts 11:19-26)
3) Persecutions bring blessings into our lives
Blessed are all they that are persecuted for my name’s sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. For ye shall have great joy, and be exceeding glad; for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:12-14)
Gary also reminded us that Satan, who is the enemy of our souls, uses tactics to bring about overt as well as covert persecution in an effort to destroy a Christian’s witness if not to destroy their lives. While direct, overt persecutions are usually easy to spot, covert persecution is not so apparent at times. For example, we may feel threatened by seeing others persecuted.
You can hear Brother Gary’s message in the recording of our service beginning at around 6 minutes and 45 seconds on audio player:
Following the administration of the sacrament, we then offered prayers for persecuted Christians throughout the world beginning with watching a video entitled “Liena’s Prayer” produced from Voice of the Martyr’s.