The Future Is As Bright As The Promises Of God

Posts tagged ‘persecution’

Stand Firm In The Face Of Persecution

“. . . they will lay hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated because of My name.” Luke 21:12-17 (NASB)
Jesus made it clear that to be one of His disciples was to invite persecution. He warned them that they would be arrested and taken before the authorities for questioning. Ironically, this persecution would present the disciples with the opportunity to witness to their persecutors. And most important of all, God would not be far away. God would be there, through His Spirit, giving them the words to say.
Later, Peter and John found themselves in such a position. Arrested and forced to stand before the Sanhedrin to answer questions, Peter and John served as witnesses to the power of Jesus and proclaimed that He was indeed the Messiah, crucified yet raised from the dead. When commanded to stop speaking of Jesus and to forsake their faith in Him, they spoke boldly, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)
The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). What was true in Paul’s day still holds true today. Contemporary disciples will face various kinds of persecution if they seek to live a godly life.
The sufferings of the disciples would be a testimony, proving to Jew and Gentile the depth, the reality of their faith, the power of God which strengthened them. Today, when faced with persecution, Christian patience shows the mighty influence of the grace of God. It testifies for God more effectively than words.

Rejoice Always And Give Thanks

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)
Paul is not preaching what he did not practice. In everything–even in persecution and shame, humiliation, heartache and pain, in jail or out of jail–in every thing give thanks: “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for his sake” Philippians 1:29 (NASB).
It is easy to be thankful when everything goes well–when all the children are healthy and there is money in the bank; when we have a new car, and the home is paid for; when we have plenty to eat, and everybody speaks well of us. Anyone could give thanks and praise God under those conditions. But the Thessalonian Christians were being severely persecuted. They were being tried and tested on every hand by zealous Jews, Greeks, and Roman authorities. Like many first-century Christians they faced the likelihood of stoning, beatings, torture, crucifixion, and death. Yet in spite of such trials, Paul said, “In every thing give thanks. You are suffering temptation, you are afflicted, despondent, your heart is breaking–but in spite of it all, be thankful!”
Very few of us have ever suffered for the sake of the Gospel. Sometimes we speak of being persecuted; but compared with the persecution of Paul and the early Christians, we know nothing of persecution.
In 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 Paul tells his personal story of suffering for Christ: “Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced dangers from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced dangers in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked long and hard, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches” (NLT).
Yet–with such a personal testimony of persecution, Paul could say, “In every thing give thanks!” Paul practiced what he preached; he knew what he was talking about. He knew by experience what it meant to endure suffering and persecution for the sake of the Gospel.
Regardless of what we may suffer or be called upon to sacrifice, we know that Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Knowing this tremendous truth, we should be thankful and rejoice, even in the darkest hours.

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