"Standing Firm"

The Upper Room devotional reflection for Tuesday, August 3, 2021, comes to us from Mariya Lohinova of Ukraine



Romans 1:8-17

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.

9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you

10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—

12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.

13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.

15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”


As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15 (NIV)


Standing Firm


I was raised in a Christian family in Ukraine. Unfortunately, my family and other Christians suffered under Soviet rule. As Christian children, we were persecuted in school. We studied hard but always received lower grades than others. When students began to be recruited for an atheist youth organization, eight of us from Christian families refused to join. As a result, we were locked in a classroom for several hours. A teacher yelled at us and ordered us to sign applications, but we did not bend.


After graduation, I wanted to attend university and passed the entrance exams twice. Because of my faith, my name was deleted from the admissions list both times. Despite our persecution, the examples of our parents and grandparents gave us the courage to stand firm in our faith, and they never ceased to pray for us.


Years later when things had changed in our country, my sister and I were walking in town and met the teacher who had humiliated us the most. We were astonished when he said, “Please forgive me, if you can! I always admired your strong faith but was too afraid to take your side.” I understand then that our lives had given witness to God’s mercy and protection. God’s power made us strong and enabled us to face our trials.


Prayer Focus:

Christians facing persecution.


Thought for the Day:

God’s strength and power help me to live faithfully.


Prayer:

Dear god, thank you for never forsaking your children, even in the most difficult situations. Amen. from Mariya Lohinova of Ukraine

 

Friends – Recently, when I was getting out of my car to shop in a familiar place, I heard a great deal of shouting and saw two people standing on a nearby sidewalk arguing at the top of their lungs. One of them was a business owner whose service I had used occasionally. I had come to know him, and like him and his attitude toward his customers.


I thought that I should intervene, but I was hesitant. Someone else in the parking lot said that I shouldn’t get involved because that’s “how people get shot”.


Before I could get up the courage to go over and try to calm the situation, they finally stopped shouting and went into separate places of business. I confess that in that situation, I had failed to display the courage that comes from trusting God to protect me when I am doing right, even if it seems dangerous.


I pray that those two children of God were able to reconcile their differences.

--Pastor bea