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Posts Tagged ‘persecution’

Verse 11: “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.”

I was recalling the first time I went through the Corinthian books, and I saw a small notation on this passage. I did a series before on the 4-1-1; verses of the New Testament that were chapter 4, verse 11. But God struck me with some insight on all those references He led me too.

As much as we don’t like to repeat ourselves…well, I’ll put it the way a Christian brother put it to me through a devotional one time. He detoured off the main point to “chase a rabbit…but this is a good rabbit to chase”! This was the post from the 4-1-1 series, and is even more appropriate today.

Paul above is describing what he and his fellow apostles are going through in proclaiming the faith. Many Christians were persecuted in the days of the Roman Empire, not just by the Romans, but by the religious leaders who rejected Jesus.

Well, yeah, that’s way back then…that doesn’t happen in the 21st century now.

In the words of the stereotypical addicted gambler, “want to bet?”

Ask the Christians in northern Iraq today who are being hounded out of their homes by Islamic militants.

Ask the Christians in heavily Muslim countries who are targeted and martyred just because they are Christians.

Ask Christians in the United States: have someone make a statement that is somewhat derogatory toward any other religion and watch the outrage and backlash on the news…let the derogatory remark be about Christians and listen to the silence or the apathy.

Persecution still happens today to Christians. Take heart; Jesus said in Matthew 5:10-12: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Something to think about today.

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Verses 56,59,60: “and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son Man standing at the right hand of God!” And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

The mob.

I’ve seen actions taken by a mob that would not usually be taken by one lone individual. I have seen rational people on TV reports merge into one collective effort to spread chaos and violence, when ordinarily none would by themselves. I’ve seen groups of fans celebrate an athletic victory with good-natured cheering and yelling, but suddenly get out-of-control and raucous. I’ve seen groups of people oppose each other, when the conflict should’ve been peaceful demonstration and lawful enforcement, spiral into madness. Why? I don’t know…I wish I did.

The mob.

The Bible records that the Christian church will be persecuted in the last days; we see signs of persecution now. Only God knows what the future holds; He’s been in the past, He’s here in the present, and He’ll be there and already know the future.

What if you knew that you were about to deliver the last message you’d ever speak…what would you say? I pray that I would do as Stephen did, and have the courage and the faith to preach Jesus, to look forward to His glory, to prepare at death to see my Lord and my Savior in Heaven…and to ask God to forgive my perpetrators any wrongs against me, without malice or revenge in my heart.

To quote an old cliché: it’s always darkest before the dawn…but here comes the Son-rise!

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verses 8-12: “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.”

I have an outline header in my Ryrie Bible here for this passage entitled “The Circumstances of the Ministry”. Paul had his share of persecutors who would dog him wherever he preached. He’s describing here what he goes through in the ministry, and is sharing that with the Corinthians in his letter. But he even counts it glory of even suffering what he does, as long as he is doing it for Jesus. He remembers and draws analogies here to what Jesus suffered for us during the crucifixion.

Most of us truly “have it easy” when we compare our lives today to what Paul went through. But there are missionaries today in parts of the world who suffer or are under threat of the same hard persecution that Paul endured, yet they share the gospel of Jesus though it may cost them their lives. Remember them and pray for them today.

When times get tough for you, please remember the words of one of my favorite praise songs:

“When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams,
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes,
When you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fears,
Don’t let the faith you’re standing in, seem to disappear!

Praise the Lord! He can work through those who praise Him,
Praise the Lord! For our God inhabits praise!
Praise the Lord! When the chains that seem to bind you, serve only to remind you, that they fall powerless behind you
When you praise Him.”
–Praise the Lord

Have a blessed day!

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