1812) “You Christians Are Crazy”

From Standing Strong Through the Storm daily devotions, posted at:  http://www.opendoorsusa.org

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     Satan uses and plays on one of the basic elements and instincts of our nature— fear.  It is natural for finite man to fear— especially the fear of the unknown, the fear of being hurt and the fear of death. There is nothing more Satan would like than to see us paralyzed with fear.

     Why do we allow fear to be so controlling?  On the one hand, we have past experiences that we don’t want to relive and on the other hand, we are very hesitant about what might lay ahead.  But often the events and situations creating most fear in people have no basis in reality.

     All fear is based on perception.  Thus fear has been described in the English language as an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real.”  If we could consciously remember this, it would help us to allay many fears.  But that false evidence sometimes is so convincing!  However, we must always realize that dread and fear— like other tactics of the enemy—are based on a lie.  This is why throughout the Scriptures we are repeatedly commanded—366 times—to “fear not.”  It is intensely liberating for our witness when we personally overcome the fear of death.  This allows us to focus on Christ and His kingdom.

     Living as a Christian under Romania’s dictatorship posed extreme difficulties and dangers.  Even though Rev. Joseph Tson had counted the cost and served the Lord and His flock faithfully, he feared the day that he would be called in by security.  He knew the possibility of facing death was inevitable.

     The day that Joseph feared arrived.  Security officers arrived at his home one day and took him to their headquarters.  He was instructed to sit on a chair and a gun was put to his head.  “The choice is easy,” came the commander’s voice.  “Deny Jesus or we pull the trigger.”

     This was indeed the moment that Joseph feared all through his ministry.  But suddenly the Spirit of the Lord filled his whole being.  Joseph replied fearlessly:  “If you kill me today you will do me a great favor.  All my sermons that were recorded will be in great demand because I will be a martyr for Christ.  You will help me greatly to share my messages.  You will also help me to go to my Lord quickly!” 

     The officer dropped the gun.  “You Christians are crazy,” he shouted and then commanded the officers to take Joseph back home.

     Joseph’s life was spared but in a sense he lost it that day.  “Never again did I fear what man can do to me.  Never again did I fear to lose my life,” Joseph concluded.

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Luke 12:4-5  —  (Jesus said), “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.  But I will show you whom you should fear:  Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell.  Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

Luke 9:23-26  —  Then Jesus said to them all:  “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.   What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?  Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Luke 2:10a  —  The angel said to them, “Fear not. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” 

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Our Father in heaven, as we are forgiven by you, may we forgive all who wrong and offend us.  Help us remember that no one can harm us without doing himself a far greater injury in your sight, so that we may be moved to compassion for them instead of anger, moved to pity rather than a desire for revenge.  May we not be tempted to rejoice when they are troubled, nor be grieved when they prosper.  We will not benefit from the downfall of our enemies, so we pray that you have mercy on them, and then also give us the grace to forgive them from our heart.   AMEN.     –Martin Luther