“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.“ – Hebrews 13:3
Once in a while I read something that really moves me. This devotional reflects one of those cases, which explains why I am deviating from my normal routine.
American Pastor Saeed Abedini – a U.S. citizen imprisoned for his Christian faith – has written a heartbreaking letter from his prison cell in the Rajai Shahr Prison in Iran. This letter reminds me of our previous study of Philippians where Paul writes to the church in Philippi from a Roman jail. I am going to excerpt parts of the letter. If you wish to read the entire letter you can find it here: http://media.aclj.org/pdf/Christmas-Message-2014.pdf
These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.
Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God….It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy. Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.
He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah! So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.
Pastor Saeed Abedini
Paul said, all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution in 2 Timothy 3:12. And 1 Peter 4:12-14 adds: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” And Jesus gave us our reward for persecution in Matthew 5:10: ”Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
1. Pray for Pastor Abedini that God would be with him and that God’s grace will be sufficient for anything he will face.
2. Pray that God would bless and protect all those serving Him in dangerous places around the globe?
3. Pray that Northstar can help connect the dots in God’s grand design and pull us in the direction He would have us go in helping the whole world find and follow Jesus.