God is for us in every need

Chapel Devotion at Shoreland Lutheran High School
It was around the year 320 A.D. the Roman Emperor Licinius was persecuting Christians.
In Armenia, his 12th Legion, nicknamed the “Thundering Legion,” had 40 men who had been converted and now were openly proclaiming Jesus as their Lord. To force a renunciation of the Savior, those 40 were sentenced to spend the night, naked, upon a frozen lake.
A warm house, food and a hot bath were available to anyone who renounced the Savior.
If you had been there that night, during the descending darkness, you could have heard their song to the Savior. The 40 sang, “O Lord, 40 wrestlers have come forth to fight for Thee. Grant that 40 wrestlers may gain the victory!” The song became softer as, during the night, one by one, they fell asleep, and died.
Only one of the soldiers gave in. He left his comrades and went to the house where the centurion, with the execution squad, kept watch. In spite of the single desertion, the Holy Spirit used the song and faith of the 39 to touch the centurion.
Proclaiming himself a Christian, the centurion went to the ice. By morning, the cold had silenced his song, also.
Have you heard of Christian martyrs singing to their Savior? You don’t need to go back through the centuries to hear their song or see their example.
We are living in a time of great persecution! Each week, each day, new stories of persecutions are coming out of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Christian mothers in Iraq are being raped and Christian fathers are being beheaded. Their children are dismembered in the most gruesome ways imaginable. Christian churches in Egypt are being blown up by terrorists with bombs strapped to their bodies – not only destroying the church, but killing the members inside during the worship service. Christian churches are being torn down by the government in China. Immigrants fleeing persecution in Africa are drowning as they try to get to safety in Europe.
I could go on and on speaking about how Christians are being attacked by “peace-loving” Muslims, by Hindu nationals, by insecure communist governments, and even monks from the Buddhist community.
All these Christians have to do is separate themselves from Christ. Denounce Jesus and praise Allah. Deny their Savior and become Hindu. Hide their faith and lie about their religious affiliation.
But they won’t do it! Why not?
They believe God’s promise – nothing will separate them from the love of Christ!
But what about you? Is there anything that could separate you from the love of Christ? Will you sing your song of faithfulness to the Lord while you are facing severe persecution or enduring extreme hardship?
Lord willing, you may never have to face the kind of deadly persecutions that are happening in other countries. But are there other things that might separate you from the love of God?
Could a terrible accident or bad break-up or a tremendous disappointment cause you to question or lose your faith in God?
Could sleeping in or working more hours or sexual temptations pull you away from Christ?
What about the “premature” death of a loved one?
Will any of these things conquer your faith and separate you from God?
If we look only to ourselves to answer these questions, we will fail. We will keep wondering: “How do I know that my faith is strong enough?” “Will I be able to withstand such testing?” “How can I be as strong as those converted Roman soldiers or those Iraqi Christians?”
Instead of pointing us to ourselves, the apostle Paul points us to God and says that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” How can you be sure that nothing will separate you from God? Because God loved you so much that “he did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all.” If God has done this, if He has already made us conquerors over our greatest enemies of sin, death, and hell by the death and resurrection of His own Son, He will make sure that nothing in this world separates us from His love that we have in Jesus Christ!
It isn’t your faith that will get you through the persecutions or the cancer or the death of loved ones. It is the object of your faith that will get you through – Jesus Christ! If God has chosen you; if the Holy Spirit has called you; if the Son of God has loved you enough to die for you – then nothing the world can throw at you can pull you away from your Savior God!
As Jesus was on trial before Pilate, it appeared like He was conquered by sin. While Jesus hung on the cross, it looked liked the devil had finally won and struck the heel of the Messiah. While Jesus lay in the grave, it seemed like He was defeated by death. But it was on the cross that Jesus was the Conqueror! He broke death’s power when He walked out of the Easter tomb! He crushed the devil’s power when He stomped on the ancient serpent’s head! Now, through Christ, we are more than conquerors. Nothing and no one can defeat us!
Jesus endured separation from His heavenly Father while He hung on the cross. Now nothing can separate us from God’s love.
So whether your football career is over because of a torn knee or your love life is shattered because he or she loves someone else or your world is rocked by a death in your family or you face death because of your Christian faith – know, trust, and believe that you have God’s promise that nothing can separate you from His love in Christ Jesus.
The apostle Paul wrote these words to the Romans … and to you: “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-- more than that, who was raised to life-- is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39)
Let nothing silence your Christian song. Amen.

Prayer: Martin Luther leads us in prayer with his song: “Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word; Curb those who by deceit or sword, Would seek to overthrow your Son, And to destroy what he has done. Lord Jesus Christ, your pow'r make known, For you are Lord of lords alone; Defend your Christendom that we, May sing your praise eternally.” In Jesus’ name we ask it. Amen. (CW: 203)

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