Monday, October 06, 2014

Letters From Prison--No Spirit Of Fear

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A spirit of fear is gripping many in America as headlines continue to reflect a culture out of control.

Headlines amplify the fear:

"How Did He Get In?" 
"Mishandling Of Ebola Patient Prompts CDC Alert to Hospitals" 
"United Trying to Reach Passengers From Flights Affected..." 
"Family On Lock Down" 
"Health Officials Yet To Clean Home Despite Protocols..." 
Rand Paul: "Can you imagine if whole ship full of our soldiers catch Ebola?" 
Dallas Hospital: "We Apologize For Failure..."

Paul wrote his last letter from prison. In it he displayed a mellow wisdom, but wrote of perilous times and perilous men. He spoke of apostasy and social corruptions. He identified the challenges of the day---the reasons one could be frozen by fear.

In his second letter to Timothy he also identified the profound triumph of his spirit in the face of all opposition.

He wrote, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear..." Soon after he would die by a Roman sword.

A young pastor, the father of two children, remains in prison because he is a Christian. He too has written a letter. This letter is to his 8 year old daughter on her birthday.

Paul, the great Apostle and Saeed the 21st Century Christian pastor posses the same spirit in the face of life's greatest challenges.

Perhaps you've read Paul's letter. It's not likely you've read Saeed's.

Pastor Saeed Abedini wrote this letter to his daughter for her 8th birthday which was September 12, her 3rd birthday without her father. He continues to be held in an Iranian prison, said to be the cruelest in the world, because of his belief in Jesus Christ.


My Dearest Rebekka Grace, 
You are growing so fast and becoming more beautiful every day. I praise God for His faithfulness to me every day as I watch from a distance through the prison walls and see pictures and hear stories of how you are growing both spiritually and physically. 
Oh how I long to see you. 
I know that you question why you have prayed so many times for my return and yet I am not home yet. Now there is a big WHY In your mind you are asking: WHY Jesus isn’t answering your prayers and the prayers of all of the people around the world praying for my release and for me to be home with you and our family. 
The answer to the WHY is WHO. WHO is control? LORD JESUS CHRIST is in control. 
I desire for you to learn important lessons during these trying times. Lessons that you carry now and for the rest of your life. The answer to the WHY is WHO. The confusion of “WHY has all of this happened?” and “WHY your prayers are not answered yet” is resolved with understanding WHO is in control…LORD JESUS CHRIST, our GOD! 
God is in control of the whole world and everything that is happening in it is for His good purpose, for His glory, and will be worked out for our good (Romans 8:28). Jesus allows me to be kept here for His glory. He is doing something inside each of us and also outside in the world. People die and suffer for their Christian faith all over the world and some may wonder why? But you should know the answer of WHY is WHO. It is for Jesus. He is worth the price. And He has a plan to be glorified through our lives. 
I want you to read the book of Habakkuk. He had the same question as you. But see that the Lord answered him in Habakkuk 2:3, “the vision comes and doesn’t delay on time, wait for it.” Mommy and I always had big desires to serve Jesus and had great vision to be used for His Kingdom and for His Glory. So today we pay a cost because God, who created us, called us to that. 
And so I want you to know that the answer to all of your prayers is that God is in control, and He knows better than us what He is doing in our lives and all around the world.
Therefore declare as Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-­‐Nego did in Daniel 3: 17-­‐18! 
17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” 
And learn and declare as Habakkuk did that even if we do not get the result that we are looking for, God is still good and we WILL praise His Holy Name.
Habakkuk 3:17-­19 
17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— 18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. 
Then my dear beloved daughter Rebekka Grace, I pray God will bring me back home soon. But if not, we will still sing together as Habakkuk did HALLELUJAH, either separated by prison walls or together at home. 
So, let Daddy hear you sing a loud Hallelujah that I can hear all the way here in the prison! 
I am so proud of you my sweet courageous daughter. Glory to God forever, Amen. 
Kisses and Blessings, 

Saeed's letter is inspiring. Paul's is inspired.

It is the infallible Word of God, preserved by the Holy Spirit.

And it was written to you. And me. Today.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner...for this reason I suffer these things, nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that day."

Be Persuaded. Be Strong. Be Thankful.