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Pope Francis calls for all Christians to unite after the execution of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya by ISIS. The male victims, wearing what appear to be orange coveralls (prison uniforms), were marched in a single-file line with their hands bound behind their backs, each with an armed escort dressed black with faces covered. Victims were ordered to their knees and a mass beheading followed. In response, Pope Francis is quoted as saying:
“Their only words were: “Jesus, help me!” They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians.” – Pope Francis
“The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. I ask that we encourage each other to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians.” – Pope Francis
The Pope is also reported to have asked that all Christians unite so that the light of Christ can reach wherever there is only darkness. (romereports.com 2-16-15)
These are sobering thoughts as Christians begin the Season of Lent which marks the start of Easter season, but what better time for Christians to unite as the body of Christ than now when we begin our celebration of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? In his comments, the Pope refers to the blood that binds Christians together, the blood of Jesus the Christ, whose blood was shed as a sacrifice for our sins, and as a means of atonement (at-one-ment) with God. The execution of Christians reminds us of our mortality, which is an important part of Lent, as we recognize our humanness and need for a Savior. Jesus saves not only by the blood He shed for us to deliver us from our sins, but also in His resurrection, which gives eternal life for all who believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord, giving Christian believers hope for healing, being saved from our sins, and victory over death.
A promise of this hope is expressed in today’s Verse of the Day shared by Bible Gateway:
ROMANS 8:35,37 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
While we are humbled by the wrongs of this world and our own sinful ways, we are encouraged by the hope we have in Jesus the Christ, our Savior and Lord. Nothing can separate us from His love.(Romans 8:35) No matter where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or where we are in our lives now, Jesus loves and saves. “We are more than conquerors through him (Jesus) who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
Also encouraging: John 3:17 Jesus came not to condemn, but to save.
Dear Heavenly Father, We can never thank You enough or repay You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to live and die for us, so that as Christian believers, we can be forgiven of our sins, given newness of life, and assured of life everlasting in Your heavenly presence. May we be humbled by our need for Jesus, and encouraged by the hope we have in Him, as we begin this Season of Lent and prepare for the celebration of Easter. I pray for those who need a Savior, that they will turn their hearts to You and ask for forgiveness of their sins, being assured of Jesus’ love for them, and asking Him to be their Savior and Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray.
For a free online subscription to receive Verse of the Day, go to http://www.BibleGateway.com