Easter 2009: Reflections on Easter, Persecution, Faith & Prayer

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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 524 | Wed 08 Apr 2009 

By Elizabeth Kendal  

'For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.' (1 Corinthians1:18 ESV) 'But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.' (2 Corinthians 12:9,10 ESV) 

It has always been the way of man-made religion that salvation be achieved through works. Contrary to this, God in his grace freely gives salvation to those with nothing but faith, which is itself a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8,9). When we are helpless, God is gracious and mighty to save.  

God's ways are not our ways,
And his thoughts are not our thoughts.
By HIM the weak do shame the strong -- the poor the rich -- the fool the wise.
By HIM the humble carpenter from Galilee,
Though crucified does rise,
Confounding Roman guard and Pharisee.
By HIM the lamb has victory.  

That which is true of salvation is also true of life. Contrary to all worldly wisdom, God calls us to a life of faith. This is a critical message for our times, for the Church is entering dark days when faith will be tested. His warning as always is: 'If you do not stand firm in faith, you will not stand firm at all. (Isaiah7:9 ESV)' 

Islam has advanced phenomenally. The jihadists are ascendant. Hindutva is forging ahead in India. Immorality and false religion are on the rise the world over and those who enjoy their sin and error are increasingly intolerant of those who espouse Biblical principles. The call is increasingly for 'peace at any price' -- so those who threaten violence are constantly appeased and empowered, increasing the likelihood of violence. Economic hardship will doubtless trigger conflict in many societies. In totalitarian states such conflict could be hijacked by regimes intent on winding back openness to prolong regime survival. All over the world, persecution of the Church is escalating.  

Despite all this, God's way is still the way of faith. Dear believer, never despise prayer by viewing it as a lesser form of advocacy. It is the greatest and highest advocacy of all. A faithful believer in prayer is an advocate in the court of the highest authority in the universe: the court of the Sovereign LORD God Almighty, who is also our Father and our friend. Indeed, God in his wisdom has ordained that his love, justice, power and glory be revealed through the answering of our prayers.  

May our faith not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:5).  

I offer all my life to Thee,
That Christ's life might reflect through me.
His crown of thorns, his scourging and his cross;
His love, his grace and resurrection power.
May this pathetic worm -- poor mortal,
Be refreshed by Easter's memory;
Though helpless in myself I have Christ's remedy,
For he has shown the way, and made provision for me.
Forgiven, cleansed, empowered;
We follow him to glory via Calvary.
Obeying, trusting and enduring,
Until we rest with him for all eternity.    


* the Holy Spirit to increase the faith and empower the witness of  all those who are suffering on account of Jesus Christ. May  their faith and witness confound demons, amaze angels and be  used by the Spirit of God to bring many more into the  Kingdom. May this renewed faith impart comfort, peace and hope  in divine measure.  

* God in his mercy to bring a revival of faith to churches in  every nation, so the Church might be preserved and built up and  the Lord might be glorified in all the universe as he answers  the prayers of many.  

Previous RLPs may be viewed at      http://www.ea.org.au/ReligiousLiberty/PrayerPostings.aspx 

This RLP was moderated by Ron Clough. 

There will be no RLP Bulletin in the week after Easter.