Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August 14, 2014

“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

The eighth Beatitude states that the evidence of being changed by the first seven Beatitudes is persecution will come your way!

Jesus reminded us that "the prophets of old" where persecuted because of their righteous witness and message. I can't wonder if as He preached to His disciples to prepare them for the opposition they were about to confront  did He have His own suffering in the back of His mind?

During the 20th Century more Christians were martyred that in all previous centuries combined. As a 21st Century watching the growing opposition, oppression and persecution of Christians all over the world you have suffering on your mind.

In a world that ridiculed, rejected and murdered the Son of God, how can you be surprised that you will also face persecution if your life resembles His? This doesn't mean we seek it, but neither should we be surprised when it comes. In fact, while we can’t verify all the facts, church history and tradition tells us that the disciples fared no better than their leader. Fox’s “Book of Martyrs. 

·     James was beheaded. It is said that on his way to be martyred, his accuser was so impressed by his courage and conviction that he repented of his sin, committed himself to Christ, and was then beheaded along with James.
·     Phillip was scourged, thrown into prison, and then crucified.
·     Matthew was slain with a sword.
·     James the Lesser was stoned to death.
·     Matthias was stoned and then beheaded.
·     Peter was crucified upside down at his own request because he didn't feel worthy enough to be crucified in the same manner as the Lord.
·     Andrew, Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot were crucified. Andrew was left hanging on the cross for (3) days.
·     Bartholomew was beaten with clubs, filleted alive, and crucified. 
·     Thomas was speared to death.
·     John was exiled to an island called Patmos where he died as a prisoner.

Jesus never taught a “prosperity gospel,” but rather a “persecution gospel.” He didn't teach that following Him was going to be a picnic or a religion of convenience, rather He taught that to follow Him we’d have to deny ourselves and take up our cross. The cross was an instrument of torture and persecution.

Here are three Biblical reasons why you can expect to be persecuted if you live a Christ-like life:

Righteousness Expresses Jesus

"But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Romans 3:21-26 

When you give yourself to follow Christ, He begins to reveal Himself through you in the form of righteousness. So those who are offended by Christ will be offended by Christ in you.

Righteousness Endorses Absolutes

"The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds." Psalms 145:17

Many these days are offended by the notion of absolute morality, and the righteousness of God confronts them with their own unrighteousness. If God is holy and righteous as the Bible declares and if they are not believers in God they are therefore, unrighteous. That is offensive to them and they will despise the righteous.

Righteousness Exposes Unrighteousness

When you shine a light into a dark damp basement every cockroach, spider, and rat will scurry from the exposure brought by the light.

In  same way, when the holy light of God's Word pierces the darkness of an evil world, that evil is exposed by the light.

The Bible says unrighteous people prefer darkness rather than light so their evil won't be exposed. When their deeds are exposed by the light of God's righteousness they will seek to extinguish that light.

Truth is the enemy of the lies of Satan and he will oppose it. Light is a threat to the darkness of evil and all the power of evil will be unleashed against God's light. So, anyone who chooses to walk in truth and light will meet with persecution.

How will you choose to walk today?