Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Persecuted

And now the cry of the Israelites has Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:10-12 NASB

Today we finish our study of the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. The final Beatitude is:
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Our world has changed drastically even from the time this sermon was last preached. In our soft comfortable world, Christians have suffered very little.  Now that is changing.  Now it is more than just being made fun of because we hold to a different “goody-two-shoes” standard than the rest of the world.  There are Christians being beheaded because they love Jesus.  And with a hood on their heads and a machete to their throat, they still are not denouncing Him.  This is persecution to the extreme and it is here and it is real. For the most part, our world is still pretty safe but it has happened on American soil.  It has become very real, very fast. 
Persecution for us and for our children is very different than what it was for past generations, becoming similar to what the Christians in Bible times sometimes faced.  Christian persecution is suffering, injury or other personal pain that is caused by one's relation to Jesus and His Word.  Christian persecution calls attention to Christ, not the one being persecuted because it is about Him and not the attacked.  Persecution is promised to all who reveal Jesus.  When Christianity is lived fully, the hearts of men are revealed, revealing Him, and making one vulnerable against attacks.
When you desire to be godly in all your affairs and relationships there are two possible responses people can have who stay around you; persecution or conversion.  Sometimes this persecution comes from other Christians.  For most of us persecution will mean insult, mocking and slander.  For some there will be social or financial loss.  But for all who will agree to suffer there is the promise of God's reward - For theirs is the Kingdom of heaven… Great is their reward in heaven.
Christ’s followers do not possess the Kingdom because they endure suffering but because they are possessed of the Kingdom.  Heaven is filled with the blood of the martyrs.  The throne is surrounded by those who would die for Him.
Persecution is the great revealer of the hearts of men.  It is evidence that you are united to Jesus.  The moment Christianity seems likely to cost us something is the opportunity for us to demonstrate our loyalty to Jesus Christ in such a way that all the world can see.  Such a stand requires courage and conviction and promises great reward.

Scripture to Claim:
For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.  John 3:20-21 NASB

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