Posts Tagged ‘Persecution

19
Jan
18

We Don’t Live That Way Anymore

Every follower of Jesus has a past. We all have a transformation story. We used to live one way, now we’re living differently. This was as true in the first century as it is now. Peter writes:

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. – 1 Peter 4:3-4 (NIV)

Notice what he says about persecution. When we live differently and we don’t go along with the crowd, we are abused and persecuted. People who live for Jesus stick out like a sore thumb. We should never look down on others or condemn them. That’s not our job. We need to make sure that we are living righteous lives that please our Heavenly Father instead of sinning with the crowd. We should rejoice when persecuted for great is our reward in Heaven.
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18
Jan
18

Done With Sin

When you decide to live for Jesus, it is indeed a huge choice with potentially painful consequences. Jesus promised that the world would hate His followers because it hated Him first. Living for Jesus can result in painful persecution. Peter talks about this in chapter 4. He writes:

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. – 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NIV)

When you start living for Jesus and are willing to suffer for Him, it means that you’re saying, “I’m done with sin.” In other words, it means that you’re going to go against the flow and live differently. You’re willing to suffer whatever consequences may come as a result of your choice. Instead of living for selfish, human desires, you’re going to live for God. The world will not persecute its own, but it will persecute followers of Jesus. Are you willing to say, “Yes” to Jesus and be done with sin?
12
Jan
18

God’s Will To Suffer?

This is going to sound strange, but have you ever thought that suffering could be part of God’s will for your life? Peter did. In fact, he points to Jesus as an example. He writes:

For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. – 1 Peter 3:17-18 (NIV)

God would rather you suffer persecution because you’re doing the right things instead of doing the wrong things. Jesus suffered through the cross because He did the right things. He lived a holy and righteous life and His own people killed Him for it. They put Him to death on a cross, but God had the final say. God raised Him back to life on the 3rd day just as He said He would. It was God’s will for this to happen because all of humanity could be saved through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Do the right things, even if it brings persecution knowing that God’s will is best.
10
Jan
18

Blessed In Spite Of Suffering

We expect to be punished when we do the wrong things. What happens when we are picked on or punished for doing what is right? We feel persecuted and not blessed. Yet Peter says that we are blessed when we suffer for doing the right things. He says:

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” – 1 Peter 3:13-14 (NIV)

Even if we are threatened by punishment for doing the right things, we should do them anyway. We should always be eager to do good and to do what is right. Regardless of the consequences of doing what is right, we should live lives of character and integrity. God will have the final say and He is the One who will bless us when we do what is right. While we may suffer for a little while on earth, we will be eternally blessed in Heaven.
27
Oct
15

Fighting About Stupid Stuff

1 Kings 18:1-15 (NIV)

After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.

Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.

As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?”

“Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”

“What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? 10 As surely as the Lord your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. 11 But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ 12 I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth.13 Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!”

15 Elijah said, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.”

 

Throughout history there have been leaders who have battled God’s people.  In the Old Testament there were the Egyptians, Philistines, Assyrians and Babylonians among others.  In the New Testament, the Jews and the Romans persecuted Christians for their faith in Christ.  In 1 Kings 18, we see that King Ahab was so wicked that he had put many of the Lord’s prophets to death, even though they were his own people.  Rather than listening to the Word of the Lord, Ahab kills the prophets of God.  One of Ahab’s servants, a man named Obadiah, loved and served God and he hid 100 prophets from Ahab.  It’s one thing for persecution to come from outside sources.  It’s a terrible thing when God’s people persecute their own.

We see this happen in the church today.  Christians will persecute other Christians because they hold a different set of opinions.  Their personal preferences are different than other peoples’ personal preferences and they’ll persecute them because of it.  They don’t put them to death physically, but they’ll murder them with their words.  They don’t lock them up in a prison, but they’ll ostracize and exclude them from the church.  All of this over preferences and opinions?  It should not be!

Don’t get me wrong.  There are essential issues of faith that believers need to agree upon.  Things such as Jesus’ divinity, His atoning death on the cross, salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone and the inspiration of God’s Word among others.  But when it comes to how we worship (hands raised or not raised, musical styles) or what our facilities look like (color of paint or carpet) or names of things (minister or pastor, auditorium or sanctuary), we should not allow such things to divide us.  The devil’s greatest tool is division and letting the Christian army shoot themselves over stupid stuff.  Much of what we fight over is stupid stuff.

When we are so busy fighting over stupid stuff, we don’t have time or energy to fight the true enemy and win the battle that really counts – the battle for peoples’ souls.  Let’s stop persecuting each other and start loving each other as Christ loves us instead.  It will speak volumes to the world whom we should be trying to reach with the good news of Jesus.

PRAYER: Lord God, forgive us for our infighting.  Forgive us when we persecute each other.  Forgive us when we fail to recognize the true battle we should be fighting.  Thank You for Your grace and mercy.  Help us to love each other in the church and to stop fighting about things that really don’t matter.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

16
Sep
14

Be Prepared For The Inevitable

In Luke 22:35-38, it becomes clear that the disciples still did not understand what was about to take place.  Jesus had sent them out to do ministry and to proclaim the Kingdom of God throughout Galilee.  God had provided for all that they needed while they were doing His will.  They were well received and had a fruitful ministry there.  But now, as the time approached for Jesus’ death, He warned them that things would be different.  The disciples would not be well received.  They would be treated as criminals, just as Jesus would be treated as a criminal.  Jesus quotes Isaiah 53:12 when He speaks of being numbered among the transgressors.  Just as He was crucified alongside criminals, His followers would one day be viewed in much the same way.  He tells them to be prepared, even to the point of arming themselves.  When the disciples produce two swords, Jesus tells them that that is enough of that nonsense.  His words were not to be taken literally at this time.  It was more of a call to be ready when the time came.
Those who choose to follow Jesus and to take their faith in Him seriously should expect to be treated as outcasts.  We should not be surprised when we are ostracized.  People who reject Christ will also reject His followers.  The Gospel is offensive to those who see themselves as self-sufficient.  The words of Jesus are a bright light shining in the eyes of those blinded by their sin.  The world would not accept Jesus and it still rejects Him.  As His ambassadors, we will find ourselves rejected as well.  Let us not be shocked or surprised by this.  Instead, let us prepare ourselves for the inevitable – persecution.  Let us strengthen our resolve to follow Jesus no matter the cost.  Many will fall away and lose faith because of what will happen.  Will you fall away?  Will you lose faith?  The time to prepare is now.  Arm yourself with the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God.  Take up the shield of faith.  Put on the helmet of salvation.  We need the breastplate of righteousness and the belt of truth and the shoes of the Gospel of peace.  Do not be surprised when persecution comes.  Be prepared!

Luke 22:35-38 (NIV)

35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

27
Aug
14

Stand Firm And Win Life

In Luke 21:5-11, Jesus talks about the signs that would accompany the fall of Jerusalem.  In verses 12-28, Jesus begins to talk about the signs that will accompany His return to earth.  He died on a Roman cross and was raised to life on the 3rd day after His crucifixion.  He ascended into Heaven where He sits and reigns at the right hand of the Father.  One day soon He will return to do away with sin and evil once and for all and to take His followers to their long-awaited home.  This passage begins with words of encouragement for His disciples about what would happen to them.  Verse 19 is the key:

Stand firm, and you will win life. – Luke 21:19 (NIV)

No matter what happens, we must stand firm in order to win life.  We don’t know what kind of persecution will come our way in the last days, but we know that it will.  Jesus’ words are not mere possibilities.  His words of warning are a certain reality for His followers.  We who love the Lord Jesus will be persecuted for our faith in Him.  There will be signs of His coming that many will ignore and try to blame on other things . But the fact of the matter is that when we see signs that cause others to worry and fret, we should:

…stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. – Luke 21:28 (NIV)

Jesus is coming and we must be ready to face whatever will come our way.  Will you stand firm until the end?  Will you have faith enough to win life?  Now is the time to make up our minds and sturdy our hearts.  Stand firm until He returns!
Luke 21:12-28 (NIV)
 

12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.

20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”




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