Monday, April 12, 2010

Persecution & Suffering

Hello and welcome to the blog this day. Last week we started a new word: Longsuffering. This week we'll take a closer look into longsuffering. Come along for the journey.

Longsuffering covers a lot of ground. Today I'll focus on persecution and suffering. In the history of biblical days there was much persecution in the name of Jesus Christ. Is it still happening today? Of course. You've heard and seen stories about missionaries who were imprisoned and mistreated. I believe the biggest and most major type of persecution going on in America is how the public rights are being taken away. No praying in school, no Bible or sharing faith in school. No public display of the ten commandments and a whole host of stuff I am unable to begin to imagine.

How many of you are persecuted for your faith today? Sure we have free speech. I sometimes wonder how free it really is. High School athletes get kicked out of school for proclaiming Jesus. There's so much I don't think I can cover it all. I think you get the idea.

What does God's word say?
1 Corinthians 4:12
And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure;

Philippians 1:29-29
29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

1 Peter 3:13-16
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

Matthew 5:10-12, 43-44
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

2 Corinthians 4:7-10, 15
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
Well, that's a lot of God's word there on persecution and suffering. We're to rejoice and be exceeding glad because our reward will be great in Heaven when we endure for Jesus' sake. Afterall, look at what HE went through; suffered, bled and died, rising again to save our backsides from an eternity in torment. Standing for Jesus is the least I can do in thanks for what HE did for me and you.

This is where we need and must rely on the Holy Spirit. There's no way we can go this alone in our flesh. The flesh is weak. My flesh is weak. As God's word says in Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I've trusted this verse for many many years. I will continue to trust God to provide my endurance through this race. I stand firm. Clad in my armor of God ready for battle against the adversary. Will you join me?

Prayer: Dear Jesus, Father God, Holy Spirit, I lift up myself as well as my readers to You as we face a race of endurance for Your sake. I pray that we will proclaim Your salvation and bring lost souls to You. Thank You for Your word and promises that never fail us. Watch over us and make our armor of God so strong no weapon formed against us can penetrate it. You are the Victory. Praise Your Holy Name. In Jesus' name, amen.