Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Ye Gates Lift Up Your Heads"1 (Lyrics)
From my kitchen window, I enjoy the heavy, low-flying, distinctively coloured, quiet, slow-mannered pair of wood ducks that like to rest on their webbed feet awhile on the horizontal branches of my big, old maple trees almost every morning for a couple of weeks each spring. Their visits are short, for they enjoy water, too, so they're soon off to the water-filled dugout beyond the corner of town.
One morning, I stared at the neighbour's big, orange cat, a veteran birder, prowling like a lion up the side of a scruffy maple, higher than most cats go. What was he after? Then, I saw the wood ducks just above him. Ohhh! And they flew just in time. The cat descended.
Peter warns Christians, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings" (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV). How true, not only 2000 years ago, but today! Christians are among those suffering from unscrupulous pursuers acting on the devil's false beliefs.
"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" says James (James 4:7b). How should we resist? We might resist by sponsoring some people's move to safer Canada. But even though this could have far-reaching, positive results, it seems to be help for so few, among so many in dire need in the world. We can also resist in accord with God's will through knowledge of the Word of God, and by praying in accord with the Spirit of God. Remember Jesus teaching His disciples to pray to His heavenly Father: "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).
Also, through the Word of God, we discover the will of God. "All Scripture," wrote Paul to Timothy, "is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
A guideline that we find in the Scriptures in various forms is, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." With it, is "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31), and Jesus' words, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12).
What would you and I want fellow Christians of the world to do for us if we were sitting in a shelter half-starved and not knowing if enemies were coming upon us before morning? (We might at the same time remember that many Christians of the world are compromising their health by getting too fat!)
We can support Christian organizations that offer both physical and spiritual help. We can find ways to help suffering people within their own countries. And we can pray for "all those in authority" (1 Timothy 2:2a NIV) in all countries.
Prayer: Lord God, cause us to have compassion and to pray at all times. Help us to pray for those who will not pray. Cause us to pray for those undergoing all manner of suffering. We pray especially for those boldly proclaiming Your name as Saviour and Lord in places where they might lose their lives for doing so. Shelter them under Your mighty hand. Help us to remember that You, Jesus, have promised to provide a way of escape. Amen.