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Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Why & Greatness isn't Free

Today I was reading in my old World Studies book when I flipped to the pages where it spoke about World War II Russion history.  I know I've probably read it before, but do you know how when you are actually hungry to learn?  You take every little piece and chew it a little before swallowing. 
And so that is what I did as I read this from the World Studies by Bob Jones...

"The troubles of Christians in the Soviet Union are illustrated by the story of the Russian Baptists.  In the 1800's the czars had allowed some German Mennonites to settle in Russia.  These were the descendants of the Anabaptists of the Reformation.  To attract these farmers to his country, the cxar allowed them to practice their own religion instead of Russian Orthodoxy.  In the mid-1800's some of these Mennonites were influcenced by the Stundist revival.  The name of this revival comes from the German word stunde, meaning "hour."  Much of the revival took the form of special hours of Bible study and prayer. 

Many people were converted and many Christians spiritually strengthened through these hours of study and prayer.  The czar also allowed some German Baptist missionaries and English missionaries to work among the immigrants.  These believers often considered themselves both Mennonites and Baptists...communists began to crack down on all Baptists and other Protestants. Many Baptist leaders died in prison camps..."

"During WWII, when he was trying to win over the churches to his side, Stalin encouraged these different Protestant groups to form the Union of Evangelical Christians--Baptists(1944). 
Later Khrushchev's government demanded that this group follow certain guidelines.  They were to limit evangelism, for example, and not to baptize anyone under the age of thirty.  These requirements split the Baptists.  One portion wanted to go along with the government.  The Communists recognized their organization, and they became known as the "registered churches". 

"Others would not sacrafice their beliefs in this way. They became known as the "unregistered churches" and began to meet illegally.  The Communists treated the unregistered churches harshly.  Their leaders were arrested and imprisoned.  Ministers found themselves in jail cells with murderers and rapists. 

"The registered churches did not suffer so harshly.  Yet even they faced constant government regulation and interference with their churches..."

What were your feelings as you read this snippet of history?  Interst?  Disgust?  Surprise?  I felt all of the above and more.  As I read this, I kept wondering what it would be like to be persecuted like that for my faith.  We don't have to meet in the woods to worship, or I wasn't taken to jail for being baptized for being under 30.

And yet, the persecution still exists even in America, doesn't it?  If I was to think of the worst persecution I have suffered yet, I wouldn't say phyiscal persecution, but I would say spiritual persecution. 

You see, anytime anyone in the entire world decides, "I give my life up to the Lord for Him to use me for Great Things", then automatically this huge target appears on your back. Yes, it's true!  It's like it's hanging there, begging people to pull out their arrows and shoot you.  That sounds fun, right?  But I should know, whenever I beg God to use me, I never asked for fun, I asked for greatness

And greatness isn't free, it doesn't just come to the wimpy, but it has a high pricetag, and only those willing to pay for it get it. 

Those Russian Christians had a lot to loose.  They could have worried about all the pleasures they might loose if they defy the Communist government and stay true to their faith.  They could have given in and decided the result of being free, of doing great things, wasn't worth the price, and that they were "going to give in anyway".

But that isn't what they did.  They threw their short-term pleasure in the trash and grasped for the Greater Thing.  They remembered why they were in prison, and that was because they were simply paying the price for a very, very great thing.  To be able to know the Truth about God, the freedom to know Him so that they might be saved!!  Is there any Greater Thing?

 
So when you struggle this week with pursuing the Great Thing that God is calling you to, remind yourself of the Why. 
The Why never did change...and never will.

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Thank you,
A Sister In the Lord Jesus,

Samantha Anne

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"Now, therefore," Says the Lord, "Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping.."

"Now, therefore,"  Says the Lord, "Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping.."
Joel 2:12