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I cannot help but be inspired by the recent witness of Christians persecuted by Islamic extremists.  The 21 Coptic Christians who were beheaded in Libya as they affirmed that Jesus is Lord rather than renouncing their faith.  Stories of children who before they were murdered by ISIS said, “We love Jesus.”  Stories of family members of the slain praying for their persecutors and offering forgiveness.  The verses of Mark that we are going to explore were written for Christians who would experience such horrible atrocities.  There are catchwords linking the sayings together to make it easier for memorization.  Catchwords like “in [my/your] name,” “causes to sin,” “fire,” and “salt,” string these sayings on the nature of discipleship together.  So these are sayings that persecuted Christians can memorize to remember how to be disciples in such difficult times.  But if you are tempted to assume therefore that these verses don’t apply to you, consider this: you are disciples of Jesus who do not now have to endure the hardships that your brothers and sisters in Christ in other parts of the world have to experience — if Jesus can teach them how to be effective disciples in these verses then how much easier should it be for you to learn what it really means to follow Him?


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