“...the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Mark 4:19
This morning I woke up and quick read over my emails on my Blackberry on my way down to pray. One of the emails I received though changed my entire prayer time because of the grief my heart was stricken with after reading through its contents.
Here is what I was sent:At least 200,000 North Korean citizens, including many of our Christian brothers and sisters, suffer under brutal conditions in six confirmed labor camps for political prisoners.Among the camps are …
- Camp 14, which is known as a “complete control district,” meaning its 50,000 prisoners will work there until death.
- Camp 22, which is about the size of Los Angeles in area and is thought to be used for human experiments. It also holds about 50,000 prisoners.
- Camp 25, a camp controlled by the North Korean secret police and believed to hold felons, religious leaders and spies and their families.Very few North Koreans have survived detention in a labor camp. Although the average sentence is 15 years, the average life expectancy in a labor camp is only seven years. Up to three generations of entire families have been detained in government efforts to “root out class enemies.”With your help, The Voice of the Martyrs continues to penetrate the “Hermit Kingdom” with the message of Jesus Christ. Workers along the border and inside the country face the continual threat of arrest and the subsequent consequences. Yet additional workers are now in training to help with this dangerous work.
You might be thinking, “What does this email have to do with the verse at the top of this blog and its title?” Well, after my prayer time and then later my study time, I was really convicted this morning that although we should be praying for the strength of these men, women, and children who are in these camps - for them to not only feel the presence of Jesus in each of their days but also to see Him in every trial they face so that their testimony and convictions may stay strong- more so we should be praying for those who turn their eyes away from these atrocities and prefer to fill their lives with the “cares of this world” and “the deceitfulness of riches”.
Praying for the work that Voice of the Martyrs is doing in bringing in the good news of Jesus to save the North Koreans also from the deceitful lies their country and leader have blinded them with is crucial. Praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are building a testimony that will one day be held against Satan as he is tried for all of the injustices he has wielded on this earth over his reign is essential. But we must also not forget to pray that we do not get caught up in the “cares of this world” or the “deceitfulness of riches”, making our own testimonies ineffective. We too, through the life God asks us to live in following Him, hold a piece of evidence in our testimony which will condemn Satan to the pits of hell for eternity.
Read what Revelations 12:11 says in this effect:
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
But, if we allow the things of this life and the greed of our hearts to take over the truth of the word which has been planted in us, then we have set our steps on the path toward “unfruitful” living now and in the great trial against the enemy of God and His people.
Each believer is asked to walk a different path, but the goal of our paths, the Giver of our paths, and the One who helps us endure our paths is the same, Jesus Christ. Each path has a purpose greater than any of us can imagine and as we walk where God has asked us to walk we MUST trust in Him alone and the eventual revelation we will one day receive regarding the life we were asked to live.
...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith...” Hebrews 12:1-2
Yes, we need to pray for those in North Korea and in the other parts of the world who are being persecuted every minute of every day – that is our duty to share in their sufferings. But let us not be deceived that they are the ones who alone need prayer. Our eyes and hearts can so much easier turn away from Jesus and His purposes in places where persecution does not exist and all the more those who are deceived into complacency are likely to deny His name than those who are living their lives to die for Him.