Saturday, August 16, 2014

August 17, 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

How can I be sure to stand against persecution?

I was told that a group of believers were having an illegal meeting an unregistered church assembly in Russia. There came a loud knock at the door and it was thrown open by several uniformed and armed Russian soldiers. The frightened people were shocked when one of the soldier shouted, "Those of you who are not willing to die for you Jesus, leave now!" There was a moments stillness as the reality of the threat sank in. Suddenly several people quickly jumped to their feet and ran out of the meeting into the dark, but most of the little group remained. The soldiers then closed and locked the door, stacked their weapons in a corner and sat down. One of them then motioned to the pastor to continue the service saying "Now we can truly worship the Lord with you who are truly brothers and sisters in Christ."

What would you have done?

How do you know?

What would you have done?

How do you know?

Here are some thoughts for preparing to face persecution:

Acknowledge the Facts

Watching the rapid rise of violence against Christians must shock you into the reality that you may be called upon to suffer or even die for your faith.

The sooner you acknowledge that the sooner you can begin to change your mindset and your lifestyle.

While we argue that it is extreme or even crazy, Muslims are energized by the idea of being martyrs for their faith. They believe that for them death is better than life.

As Christians, when are we going to face the fact that our life AFTER death will certainly be better than the abundant life God has given us here. Everyone of us is going to die. Not one of us will get out alive. So, why should we shrink from the possibility of dying for our faith knowing what awaits us on the other side?

Acknowledge Your Fears

Admit your fears and come to grips with them. Make commitments ahead of time when you aren't under pressure. Be like Jesus, who settled His fate in the desert and in Gethsemane before He had to face the brutality and torture.

Be like Daniel who purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself or deny his God. 

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliott

Acknowledge Your Faith 

Memorize the promises of God and remind yourself of the reality of your faith. Here are a few of His precious promises:

From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;  in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;  in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—“ II Corinthians 11:24-27

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” I Corinthains 10:13

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith” Galatians 5:22

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,  that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” I Peter 1:6-9

Acknowledge His Faithfulness

God has ALWAYS been faithful to His people. Often He delivered them from their troubles while other times He gave them grace to endure because He had something better for them.

“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.  And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,  God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” Hebrews 11:34-40

If you will face the facts about your own mortality and deal with the reality of death, if you will prepare yourself for the possibility of suffering, if you will strengthen your faith and trust His faithfulness completely you WILL be able to stand strong in the face of persecution.