Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 31 - Times of Persecution

Hebrews 11:35-38

As humans, when things are not going our way we often think to ourselves, “Why me?” Sometimes when we go through difficult times, it feels like we are the only ones ever to go through what we are going through. I feel like this section of scripture is a reminder to us that the suffering that can come from following Christ is something that has been happening for ages and it is not an isolated incident. In fact, the Bible points out to us that persecution is likely to come. Let’s look at what the Bible has to say about persecution and how our faith can help us through such difficult times.

First look at 2 Timothy 2:12; it says, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Paul did not write this as a discouragement, but as a reminder to keep growing in Christ, so when the persecution does come we are ready. The writer of Psalm 119 speaks of persecution that comes for no cause other than to try to set a trap of sin. Please read Psalm 119:81-88. The author writes of his faith in God’s Word and that is where he will find his ultimate salvation; and he talks of continued obedience to God no matter what his circumstances are. We don’t know what the author was going through, but it seems from this section that he was dealing with persecution on an emotional level and dealing with physical threats. In verse 84, we read, “How long must your servant wait?” Look in Revelation 6:9-11, we see that physical persecution and death may be a part of the Christian walk and the author was not the only person to ask the question, “How long?”

Jesus, who was not immune to persecution, spoke these words of encouragement for us in Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” We have a hope far greater than what this world has to offer. That hope empowers us to do what Jesus asks of us next in Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” That’s not easy, but it helps us to forgive those who are mistreating us.

Have you been persecuted because of your faith? Pray for those that hurt you because that is what God expects.

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