Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith. (Heb. 10:22)

The twenty-one men who were executed by ISIS on a lonely beach were Egyptian Christians. The only reason they were chosen by the terrorists for beheading was their identification with Christ. They were offered the chance to renounce their faith, but all refused. Some cried out to the Lord for help. Others sang hymns. All were brave to the very end, knowing that the Lord would reward them for their perseverance. Perhaps, during the moments that followed their final breaths, these courageous believers joined “the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God” (Rev. 20:4).

The writer of Hebrews declared that the blood of Christ assures our entrance into the holiest place in heaven. This assurance gives us the boldness we need to face any enemy of the gospel with a heart of love and desire for them to be reconciled with God. Nothing in this world can fully cleanse a guilty conscience—not the most sincere apology, making amends, or the most sacrificial level of restitution possible. Only the blood of Jesus!

As we pray for the persecuted church around the world, let’s be sure that our own hearts are ready to face those who are hostile to the gospel—and to show them the love of Christ, even in the most desperate situations.

Endure suffering as a follower of Christ with grace and patience.

Doug Schmidt is a freelance writer and editor; he is also on staff with his church as the small-groups director.