STAND UP AND SPEAK UP!
By Norman Watson

In Today’s Bible teaching and the song, there is a common thread to “lift our voice and pray,” and we see this thread throughout the Bible. Paul in 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (CSB) says “I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and his kingdom: Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, exercise self-control in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Today let us also hear and do what God said through Paul in the Bible passage that we just read in 2 Timothy 4:1-5, let us be His voice as the Holy Spirit leads and directs us and to be the Ambassadors and Warriors that He has called us to be.

Your Will Be Done (CityAlight)

Your will be done, my God and Father
As in heaven, so on earth
My heart is drawn to self-exalting
Help me seek Your kingdom first
As Jesus walked, so I shall walk
Held by Your same unchanging love
Be still my soul, O lift your voice and pray:
‘Father, not my will but Yours be done.’

How in that Garden he persisted
I may never fully know
The fearful weight of true obedience
It was held by him alone
What wondrous faith, to bear that cross!
To bear my sin, what wondrous love!
My hope was sure, when there my Saviour prayed:
‘Father, not my will but Yours be done.’

When I am lost, when I am broken
In the night of fear and doubt
Still I will trust in my good Father
Yes, to one great King I bow!
As Jesus rose, so I shall rise
In ransomed glory at the throne
My heart restored
With all your saints I sing:
‘Father, not my will but Yours be done!’

As we go forth, our God and Father
Lead us daily in the fight
That all the world might see Your glory
And Your Name be lifted high
And in this Name we overcome
For You shall see us safely home
Now as your church, we lift our voice and pray:
‘Father, not my will but Yours be done!’

FOUR-STAGE PROCESS OF PERSECUTION
By Paul Estabrooks from Open Doors International

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8
Jesus’ basic communication theory in Matthew 12 is that people speak and act from the overflow of what is in their heart. Jeremiah and others remind us that the heart can be exceedingly wicked. One of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s famous statements is “The line of good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”

Christian persecution within a country or state rarely happens suddenly or in isolation. It is most often a process. Some years ago Rev. Dr. Johan Candelin, who headed the World Evangelical Alliance’s (WEA) Religious Liberties Commission recognized this and devised a three-stage process of what happens leading up to persecution becoming entrenched in any society. He labeled the three stages of downward spiral as disinformation, discrimination and persecution. Dr. Candelin later expanded it to a six-stage process with each of the three having a passive, then active, aspect.

Dr. Jim Cunningham and I included this process in the first edition of Standing Strong Through the Storm (SSTS) and in our seminars.
Some academicians and wordsmiths found it problematic to label the third stage with the same word as that of the process. So we began to wrestle with this issue from a sociological, historical and biblical perspective. We found interesting academic parallels. For example, in 1996, Professor Gregory Stanton, President of Genocide Watch, proposed an excellent model of an eight stage process of genocide. There are interesting similarities between this downward spiral and what psychologist John Gottman has labeled as the four most likely predictors of divorce.

When we accepted Jesus’ four verb definition of persecution in Luke 6:22, we then found four clear biblical steps in understanding the downward spiral in the process of persecution: opposition, disinformation, injustice and mistreatment. We will look at these four steps forming the acronym ODIM individually over the next four days.

Why is this important to you and me? Just today I read again the poignant words of German theologian Martin Niemoller written after he had been imprisoned for eight years in concentration camps as the personal prisoner of Adolf Hitler:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

And then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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