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Intercession: Praying for God’s People

Text: Acts 12:1-19


The Opposition to Christianity (historical & current day examples)

Herod arrested Christians with the intent to mistreat them. (Acts 12:1)

Nero persecuted Christians beginning in 64AD

Schisms in Christianity resulted in continued persecution (4th Century)

The Reformation resulted in further persecution (16th Century)

Today in many lands state sponsored persecution is practiced for political, economic, or religious reasons

Globally many Christians are under threat from other religious groups and radicalized mobs in their communities.


Footnotes:

Nero: In the summer of 64, Rome suffered a terrible fire that burned for six days and seven nights consuming almost three quarters of the city. The people accused the Emperor Nero for the devastation claiming that he set the fire for his own amusement. In order to deflect these accusations and placate the people, Nero laid blame for the fire on the Christians. They were taken captive and made the subjects of sport. They were covered with the skins of wild beasts, and tormented by dogs until they died, or they were crucified. In one other notable record they were doused

in oil and lit on fire in the evening to provide light during a party at the emperor’s palace gardens.


4th Century Persecutions among Christians: This era of division among Christians saw much conflict among them, each party vying for power. Many of the conflicts were resolved through the first seven ecumenical councils, but divisions within the church resulted in significant occasions of power struggles and persecutions. When the Roman Empire declared Christianity as the state religion in 313 AD the political enemies of the Roman Empire began to persecute the Christians that remained within their lands. This was especially evident in the region of Persia (present day Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and others.)


The Reformation, initiated by Martin Luther and others, led to the persecution of Catholics by Protestants, and Protestant Christians by Catholics. Likewise, governing authorities would often use their power to persecute the adherents that did not fit their own beliefs in favor of the position which advanced their power.


Today (in 2020) In just the last year: there have been over 260 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution

Nearly 3000 Christians killed for their faith (up 500 from the year before)

Nearly 10,000 churches and other Christian buildings attacked

Another nearly 4000 believers detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned


Globally: In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (95% Christians) but between Dec 25, 2020 and Jan14, 2021 over 100 Christians were shot or hacked to death with machetes by a radical Islamic group.


On January 3, a mob of 15 to 20 Hindu extremists attacked Christians gathered for worship at Heavenly Gospel Mission Church in the Shahjahanpur District of India. The extremists beat the Christians, including women and children, with wooden batons, church chairs, and other objects they found at hand. These extremists used false allegations to harass Christian leaders and justify the physical assaults on Christian communities.


Sources: Persecution.org & Opendoorsusa.org


What to Expect

Matthew 24:9

Tribulation, martyrdom and hatred

Revelation 2:10

Suffering, imprisonment, tribulation and death

Luke 21:12

Beatings, persecution and imprisonment

You may not be experiencing this yet…but others are!

Footnotes:

Matthew 24:9 Then they will hand you over to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.


Revelation 2:10 Do not fear what you are about tosuffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.


Luke 21:12 “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, turning you over to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors on account of My name.


What to do (examples for us)

Acts 12:5--Prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God

Romans 12:14--Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

1 Corinthians 4:11-13--Up to this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and roughly treated and homeless; and we labor, working with our own hands; when we are verbally abused, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we reply as friends; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.


Our Part in Adversity

Pray fervently to God

For strength For faith

For deliverance For faithfulness

For endurance For God’s will to be done

For patience For God’s glory to be evident


Believe in the power of God In this account the church’s prayers were answered

and Peter was delivered.


Footnotes:

Acts 12: 12 And when he realized this, he went to the

house of Mary, the mother of John, who was also called

Mark, where many were gathered together and were

praying.

What if …

we took seriously the call to pray for God to act

we were fervent in our prayers

we believed God would answer our prayers

we prayed, really prayed, whenever we gathered