Weren’t the Apostles Heartbroken?

The first brutal execution found in the Gospel is the death of John the Baptist. Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe the circumstances of his death and how his body was laid to rest. Jesus Himself set out to a place of solitude. Later in Acts 6-8 the powerful testimony of Stephen and his convicting oration to religious leaders leads to their subsequent violent uprising against him. After stoning Stephen,

“Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.” Acts 8:2

As the Body of Christ gained ground with leadership newly rooted through Holy Spirit authority, how would the disciples respond to the traumatic murder of Stephen? The Bible does not say ‘their faith was greatly shaken’, or that disciples took any leave to heal. In fact, two verses after burying Stephen, the persecuted believers “preached the word of God wherever they went.”

The disciples’ resilience seems personified in Acts 12, a chapter often cited and preached for Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison. However verse 2 is rarely expounded upon, rarely found in meditations. “He (King Herod) had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.” Partners before their call to Christ, these brothers became even closer as they were in Christ’s inner circle –  James and John were two of the three who witnessed great supernatural works of the Savior.

No mourning or burial mentioned here. In fact, the focus immediately turns to Peter in prison, “the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” What happened to heartbreak, grief, even confusion after wanton violence? As the purposes of God’s Word go forth to shake the world, the sufferings and eventual deaths of the Apostles seem obscured and veiled. We as believers deeply feel heartache and loss in our lives…didn’t they?

I believe that, from their call out of worldly living into the life of Christ, the Apostles and disciples walked under supernatural leadership of the Holy Spirit. Endowed with the Great Commission, they had to rise above and work past every fiery trial and grief. They did so, perhaps in these ways…

1. Their walk with the Son of God established disciplines of prayer, faith, and perseverance. The critical inner breaking through Christ’s crucifixion perhaps changed any fleshly ambitions toward God’s Kingdom while the resurrection may have deeply changed their innate fearful finality of death.

2. Their expectations of life in this world were increasingly and totally adjusted – forever. Accomplishments, possessions, and other rooted attachments – including familial relationships – no longer gripped their heart. They “loved not their lives even unto death”. Their expectation to suffer prepared their hearts for calamity.

3. Their hearts were singularly devoted to the person of Christ. The Lord’s ordained mission upon their lives rooted them with a fixed focus on propelling the Gospel truth from Jerusalem to the outer parts of the world. Their sights were solely focused on eternity. With honesty they could declare, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Were they heartbroken?  The Apostles lived through personal tragedies, torture, and betrayals.  Yes, heartbroken and grieved but with ‘eyes fixed upon Jesus’.   And, we’re called to live like them.

Our lives increasingly transform in Christ as we turn from the world and fleshly living and renew our thinking through the Bible.  Victory over sin and worldly ambition is evidenced by testimonies of ‘profound transformations’ to the quiet rebirth of those who repent and believe. However, continual walk and growth in the Holy Spirit avails us to deeper strengths. Like the early disciples, godly missionaries like Elizabeth Elliott and Gladys Staines exemplified persevering faith as they continued serving God after their loved ones were brutally killed by those they went to serve. (Dr. Graham Staines and his wife were missionaries to lepers in India. He and his two young sons were burned alive in their car by radicals.)

the staines car

“It is Jesus who is the source of every consolation and support.  God gives us the strength to be able to carry our cross and to live in His will.  Our life and our work here on earth has to go on according to His holy will.”  Gladys Staines  (Asia News 1/20/09)

Many of us believers still grapple with the snare of worldly entanglements. Others, having fully seen the futility of this world, are battling for victory over fleshly inner sin. However, an intimate circle of believers in this world must arise, a remnant who have been inwardly broken and determined to forge ahead.  A remnant determined to honor God. .

I am not yet in that spiritual ‘inner circle’ of selflessness and resiliency. But I want to grow in that direction to become a viable vessel of God, able to fulfill His call and the ‘good works prepared’ for me. If believers, especially in ‘free countries’ begin to accept suffering in our walk with the Lord, our expectation to suffer will change our priorities, values and thinking.

In these end days, our victory depends on God as the source of counsel, healing and wisdom. To survive fiery trials and serve our King, and to keep us from falling, we must learn how to pray and study His word so that He may lead us through every heartache step by step. Only through the power of God’s word and the Holy Spirit can our minds be healed and renewed. Our short days on this earth must matter for His eternal Kingdom. Through Christ in us is this possible….

“Lord, lead us. Teach us to open our grief and confusion to You and trust you completely.  Speak to our hearts as You heal us and walk us through calamity, teaching us through Your word.   Show us how to be vessels for your Holy Spirit in this world. Build our character through suffering and a testimony through our trials so we will have it as a treasure more precious than gold to honor you. Thank you Lord.  In Jesus name, Amen.”

REMEMBER APRIL 24th AND FIGHT THROUGH THE NIGHT –

a call to all night prayer on behalf of brethren and others suffering today under the same evil sword.

One hundred years ago the Ottoman Empire launched a systematic plan of genocide against the Armenians and other minorities within Turkey.  At least 1.5 million Armenians perished in horrifying ways, hundreds of thousands dying in death marches from Turkey to Syria.  Painful open wounds remain, generation after generation, as Turkey continues to deny these atrocities, employing political influence and futile media campaigns.

The demonic spirit of murder lives on however, as persecution continues to sweep across the Middle East – perhaps until every Believer in Christ and Islamic non-conformist is vanquished or ritualistically tortured and killed.

Every true believer feels anguish and anger.   The call of God is unmistakable and undeniable.  We must access the power of heaven through prayer – fighting demonic attacks with supernatural resources. 

Ordinary prayer rarely breaks through such darkness.   The enemy is disciplined and trained – inspired by and devoted as minions of hell.  To unburden my heart for the brethren, I sought an all night prayer meeting to join with believers crying out to the Lord.  I could not find one (which doesn’t mean there weren’t any).   During my own prayer, I sensed the Lord’s leading – stop looking for one and be one yourself.   

I INVITE ALL TO JOIN IN THIS NIGHT, FRIDAY, APRIL 24, AT ANY GIVEN POINT.  LET US BE INSPIRED BY HEAVEN, DEVOTED TO OUR LORD – THE DELIVERER – UPHOLD THE BRETHREN AND CAUSE DAMAGE TO THE KINGDOM OF DARKNESS. 

Keep the Word of God open and review the battles of the Old Testament, the tumultuous cries and triumphs of the Psalms and the victories in Christ through the New Testament as encouragement.  The Book of Acts demonstrates the presence of God through persecution and suffering and His miraculous interventions through prayer.

I am prayerfully offering the following schedule to bring order to the night and alignment with the burden of Christ for His followers:

9pm to 10pm, (EST):  Prepare to meet with the Lord.    Find a “place of prayer” where we may quiet our spirit and separate from distraction.  Into the battle bring the Word of God and if possible, a tablet, computer or materials available as resources.  Sing the Psalms, access and sing worship to the Lord.   Pray…

  • for ourselves, the unpersecuted, whose battle is often complacency and unbelief.
  • for a heart cleansing, make confession for anything within us that may be a stumbling block
  • for the Lord’s leadership, that His burden will prevail in our heart, that we may join in His battle and share in His victory
  • that the presence of the Lord will be with us and His Word a living inspiration for us as we pray

10pm to 11:30:  Prayer for suffering Christians and others in fiery areas such as Syria, Iraq, Egypt and parts of Africa.  In lieu of visual aids, search ‘persecuted syrian christians’ and others to put faces on our brothers and sisters.  Review Christian news posts to pray for prevailing attacks and crisis.   Pray…

  • even in the very moment for their physical protection.
  • for their provisions, that our Heavenly Father provide even more than they need to share with others. Pray that we may be the means thru which provision is made.
  • for a supernatural outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them…that they may be clothed with courage from God and a peace that surpasses all understanding.
  • for supernatural strength to endure torture, that their faith may stand strong as a living testimony of our crucified Christ who overcame death and reigns for all eternity
  • for personal visitation from the Lord, that they may supernaturally know His presence and understand “the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings”.
  • for those in refugee camps. While in a ‘place of refuge’, many suffer traumatic loss of health, home and family.  Depression, PTSD, ongoing grief and deprivation may plague these survivors
  • for the families of those who have been abducted and/or martyred, that their faith may be strengthened and the presence of God overshadows their hardship and sorrow
  • for the Christian leadership amongst the brethren, for the Holy Spirit to greatly indwell them and uphold them supernaturally…”that they may shine like stars” in the midst of depravity

Continue praying for those areas that may have fallen off the daily radar.   Ask the Lord imprint our hearts with the regions within Africa and Asia.  Engine search suffering believers in these areas and advocate for them.

For many under the sword, tonight may be their last night.

11:30pm to 12:30am:   Pray for the young girls and women who have been abducted and sexually assaulted.  Many, such as the victims of Boko Haram, have been forgotten by the world.  Torn from family, Islamic terrorists make daily life a living nightmare of gang rapes, abuse, and forced marriage.   Bought and sold as spoils of war, these young girls often attempt suicide to escape immeasurable anguish.  Pray….

  • for supernatural means of escape, that Almighty God will send warring angels to their side.
  • for deep spiritual and physical healing; that whatever Scripture they know may well up in them for faith to endure
  • for an inner spiritual life, through the Holy Spirit, to rise up and strengthen them with endurance from heaven, that their eyes may focus on eternity
  • for their rapists and abusers, that God Himself would render them impotent, and utterly disable them and even, in defense of these girls, send an Angel of Death upon these hellish brutes 

1:30-2:30amPray for these enemies, our enemies, God’s enemies, including ISIS, Boko Haram, and all affiliates.  Pray…

  • that they are overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, with great heaviness and oppression.
  • for an inescapable and overwhelming shame to come upon them
  • for deep grief to envelope them, that the Holy Spirit will hold up His mirror and reveal God’s view of all their dastardly deeds
  • for God to take away their slumber, that they may be mentally and spiritually hounded, tormented, put to confusion
  • that their eyes may be opened and they fall to their knees with godly sorrow and repentance AND
  • that they may be saved, rising up as beacons and heralds for God, a powerful voice over all against the work of Satan

2:30-3:30amPray for the minorities who do not know the Lord.  Many, including the Kurds, Yazidis, and Muslim sects, suffer the loss of lives, homes, entire villages.  Pray….

  • for their strength and provision. Pray that, as they may interface with true believers and see their living faith, they may be drawn to the truth of Christ.  Pray for them to know the Lord, to receive forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life through Christ.
  • that what the devil orchestrates for death and evil would be turned into glory for God. Pray that the power of God come forth through suffering and confound the enemy, leading more to everlasting life through the Gospel

3:30-4:30am:    Governments, agencies, missionaries, aid workers…..pray for ourselves, all whom the Lord might use to intervene into this suffering.   Pray…

  • for media exposure and global outcry to stir the hearts of the complacent
  • for the leadership of these groups and workers, that they may hear from God
  • for the Body of Christ to arise and awaken, shake off worldly distractions and press on in the Lord
  • for those already serving, that they may be encouraged and strengthened by the Holy Spirit.
  • for supernatural doors to open, for God to be glorified as He moves through those who are surrendered to Him and His service.
  • that we become those vessels, useful to God, to serve Him and His Body and bring honor to His name in this world.

4:30-5:00am:     Praise and worship for what the Lord is doing, praising Him before He ‘parts the sea’, before we learn of – if we ever know – His answer to our cries. He is  worthy and faithful.

I pray that, when we meet the Lord and our Brethren, we will rejoice as one body together forever.