10:40 AM

10:40am (Hebrews 10:36-39) *All verses in NLT?*

(NLT) Hebrews 10:36-3936 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. 37 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”  39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

– These verses are being written to followers of Jesus Christ who were facing real persecution for their beliefs, and they are being encouraged to endure.

I read an article in Christianity Today: “The 50 Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus in 2021” (using data reported during all of 2020)

– They interviewed Afordia. She is a Nigerian Christian health care worker. Her husband was murdered in 2020 by the Islamic terrorist organization, Boko Haram. After cutting off communication networks to their village, the extremists rounded up the men and asked each one if they were a Muslim or an infidel. Her husband told them, “No, I am not an infidel or a Muslim, I am a Christian.”  Then he knelt down on the side of the road and prayed, and Boko Haram executed him.

– On October 17, 2020, four arrested Iranian Christian converts stood in a courtroom, accused of acting against national security by forming a house church. They were also reportedly accused of widespread association with missionary groups, as well as evangelical Christian groups outside the country. They were given a combined 35 years in prison, and are being held in a Tehran prison known as Iran’s “torture factory.”

Every day, 13 Christians worldwide are killed because of their faith. Every day, 12 churches or Christian buildings are attacked. And every day, 12 Christians are unjustly arrested or imprisoned, and another 5 are abducted. This was reported in the 2021 annual accounting of the top 50 countries where Christians are the most persecuted for following Jesus.

– The Nations listed contain 309 million Christians living in places with very high or extreme levels of persecution, up from 260 million in last year’s list. This includes 1 in 6 believers in Africa and 2 out of 5 in Asia. Last year, 45 nations scored high enough to register “very high” persecution levels on Open Doors’ 84-question matrix. This year, for the first time in 29 years of tracking, all 50 qualified—as did 4 more nations that fell just outside the cutoff.

– Nine in 10 Christians killed for their faith were in Africa. Nigeria leads the whole world. 

– Martyrdom rose 60%, Christian abductions rose 63%. (Nigeria leads the world in both categories.)

– In fact, 20 nations are now deadlier for Christians than North Korea.

**See the list of countries, and top 10s in each category. Notice: Pakistan, Nigeria, and India.

(This may surprise you, but America didn’t make the list.)

– My point is to bring attention to the Global Church, and the persecution that Christians are facing  around the globe every day. Also, I want to put our own situation into perspective.

– Between 10 degrees and 40 degrees North Latitude, basically Northern Africa, the Middle East, and most of Asia, is called the 10/40 window.

– This area has terrible poverty, low quality of life, little access to Christian resources, and many people groups unreached by the gospel. This is the area of the most Christian persecution.

*Here is your challenge! Set an alarm for 10:40am every day, stop and pray for these Christians!

1. Remember those who patiently endure suffering, as if YOU were suffering with them.

Hebrews 10:36-38, Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. 37 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 And my righteous ones will live by faith.

– There are many suffering missionaries and Christians in the 10/40 window, but they are not alone.

– Just like us, they can draw encouragement from scripture, and another Christian missionary who served in the 10/40 window, The Apostle Paul.

– 2 Tim 3:10-12, But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. 11 You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. 12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

2 Thess. 1:4-5, We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.

– It is easy to lose perspective, but knowing what my brothers around the world are enduring for the cause of Christ emboldens me to press on to the goal. If they can endure that, I can endure this.

Hebrews 13:3, Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.

– Don’t confuse the consequences of your bad social skills, with persecution.

Example: Waiting in line at Winter Jam, protestors with signs, complete turn off… they likely viewed the negative reactions as a badge of honor…

– 1 Peter 2:19-21, For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. 21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

– Make sure that you are living by the scriptures, or the suffering you receive will be on you!

– Remember, as a professing Christian, you are representing Jesus. You attitude could hurt the Kingdom, and the cause of Christ!

2 Tim 2:23-25, Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

Proverbs 15:1, A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.

– I see this occur in political talk, and social media. You don’t have to be right, to BE right!

2. Do not Give up, Give in, or Lose hope.

Hebrews 10:38-39, …But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”  39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

– Our persecution, yours and mine, is not a physical one. It is a psychological one.

– As your faith grows, and your priorities change, old friends may drift away, invites stop coming, and others begin to avoid you. Isolation is wearing!

– Things seem to be getting worse, the country seems to be in a moral “death spiral”, several Christian faiths have chosen compromise to make peace with the world. It’s a losing battle!

– This is discouraging, which leads to apathy, then indifference. This erodes our faith and leaves us without much to stand on. (Example: Islands are disappearing in the South Pacific, WW2 arial photos…)

– We will not turn away from the faith because “the pain of persecution is so great”. It will more likely be because compromise will be so easy. The desire to make our faith fit into our schedules.

– Giving in to spiritual compromise leads to watering down your beliefs and values.

– As our schedules fill with work, family, TV, and fun, our spiritual disciplines get pushed further and further down the priority list until we have forgotten about it entirely.

– 2 Tim 4:3-5, For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

– Not “them” people, US people! We are being compelled to shop around for a more convenient faith.

– Consequences for turning away are eternal. Apathy leads to apostacy, which ends in destruction.

– What starts with, “I don’t have time”, turns into, “Maybe it doesn’t even matter.” The next step is thinking, “I just don’t believe this stuff anymore.”

– The further we depart from God, the closer we approach to ruin.

– It was not the first straw that “broke the camel’s back”…

Hebrews 10:35, So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!

– You can have peace inside yourself, the Holy Spirit as your guide, and eternal life in Heaven!

– You can be strengthened and comforted by God’s word:

Isaiah 41:10, Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Isaiah 26:3, You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Psalms 37:23-24, The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

John 16:33, (Jesus said) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Conclusion:

*Patient endurance is the key response in the face of persecution, and stay in God’s will for our lives.

2 Tim 2:12, If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us.

– Do a heart check right now: 

– Have you turned away? TURN BACK. 

– Are you losing hope? REMEMBER GOD’S PROMISES.

– Have you fully given your life into the Father’s hands? DO IT TODAY.

– Alter Call –

– prayer –

Where Churches Were Attacked or Closed Most:

1. China: 3,088
2. Nigeria: 270
3. Angola: 100*
4. Democratic Republic of Congo: 100*
5. Ethiopia: 100*
6. Rwanda: 100*
7. Bangladesh: 90
8. India: 76
9. Pakistan: 68
10. Mexico: 61

Where Christians Were Martyred Most:

1. Nigeria: 3,530
2. Democratic Republic of Congo: 460
3. Pakistan: 307
4. Mozambique: 100*
5. Cameroon: 53
6. Burkina Faso: 38
7. [name withheld]: 36
8. Central African Republic: 35
9. Mali: 33
10. [name withheld]: 20

Where Christians Face the Most Violence:

1. Pakistan
2. Nigeria
3. Democratic Republic of Congo
4. Mozambique
5. Cameroon
6. Central African Republic
7. India
8. Mali
9. South Sudan
10. Ethiopia

Where It’s Hardest to Follow Jesus:

1. North Korea
2. Afghanistan
3. Somalia
4. Libya
5. Pakistan
6. Eritrea
7. Yemen
8. Iran
9. Nigeria
10. India

The 2021 World Watch List rankings:

RankCountry
1North Korea
2Afghanistan
3Somalia
4Libya
5Pakistan
6Eritrea
7Yemen
8Iran
9Nigeria
10India
11Iraq
12Syria
13Sudan
14Saudi Arabia
15Maldives
16Egypt
17China
18Myanmar
19Vietnam
20Mauritania
21Uzbekistan
22Laos
23Turkmenistan
24Algeria
25Turkey
26Tunisia
27Morocco
28Mali
29Qatar
30Colombia
31Bangladesh
32Burkina Faso
33Tajikistan
34Nepal
35Central African Republic
36Ethiopia
37Mexico
38Jordan
39Brunei
40Congo DR (DRC)
41Kazakhstan
42Cameroon
43Bhutan
44Oman
45Mozambique
46Malaysia
47Indonesia
48Kuwait
49Kenya
50Comoros

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