Philippians 2:17 – But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. (NIV)
The one sure thing about Paul was that he never minced his words. He was in jail, isolated from the Christian community, and he was facing execution. He knew that his number was up, but it didn't stop him from writing to young churches about their faith, their witness, and their purpose. Most people would be terrified of the prospect of being beheaded, but Paul described it as a sacrificial act, reminding the new Philippian Christians that the price of believing in Jesus could cost them their lives.
On my pulpit, I've attached a picture postcard of Martin and Gracia Burnham, the two American missionaries who were kidnapped by terrorists in the Philippines. Whilst they were being rescued, Martin was killed. Below the postcard, I've written out these words: "Remember the price of preaching the Gospel." It serves as a reminder for me on Sunday mornings of the high price of martyrdom that millions of people have paid across two thousand years, and are still paying in other countries today. We should never take our faith for granted. We should never forget those who have laid down their lives so that others may be given everlasting life.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You have raised up many saints across the generations and throughout the nations. Even today, someone, somewhere in the world, will die for his or her Christian faith. Help us to be true to You and faithful to the message of the gospel. May we shine like stars in the universe, as we witness to Your life, work, and mission here on earth. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.