Archive for the 'Persecution' Category

Praying for the Persecutors and the Persecuted

FRIDAY

What is your first reaction when someone wrongs you? Do you get angry? Do you want to get back at them? Do you retaliate? Sadly, we in America know our rights and demand them – often to benefit self rather than to seek the glory of God! There are many countries where responding to personal wrongs as we do in America will result in greater personal bodily harm, especially if it is the government of that country behind the personal wrong. There are countries in the world where Christians are targets of wrong doing. Are you aware of the number of countries where Christians are not protected from persecution when they express their faith? The answer can be found by going to www.persecution.com.

NAU Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,


NIV Matthew 5:44 But I tell you: Love your enemies {44 Some late manuscripts enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you} and pray for those who persecute you,


KJV Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

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Suffering for Righteousness

THURSDAY

Have you ever reached out to love someone in the name of Christ only to be met with scorn? I know several people within eastern Europe who attempt not only to speak the words of Christ (e.g. the Gospel) but also attempt to be the hands of Christ. But while their efforts are sometimes appreciated, most of the time it is rejected. But this should not surprise us because Jesus taught us:

 
NAU Matthew 5:10
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 
NIV Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 
KJV Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

 And Paul taught the same to his young pastor protégé, Timothy:

 
NAU 2 Timothy 3:12
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

 
NIV 2 Timothy 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

 
KJV 2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

 
Are we living godly in Christ Jesus to attract the same kind of attention?

Joy in Persecution

WEDNESDAY

 
There is a young man in one of the former Soviet countries that has a police record.  He was in high school at the time. He was in a science class and the teacher asked him to explain evolution which he did. Then the teacher, knowing that he was a Christian, asked him to explain his beliefs on origins. So he did explaining his understanding of Genesis 1. He was then escorted to the principle’s office, the police were summoned, he was reprimanded and written up for his violation. This was not the first time he had responded to the teacher’s question by boldly proclaiming his faith so the infraction was all the more serious.

I learned about this student’s crime on one of my visits. I was with this young man’s ministry leader. We were on our way to minister and my friend said we needed to stop briefly to deal with one of the leaders in his ministry who had just been arrested. Not knowing the details I wondered how my friend could afford to have this student as a part of his ministry team. Those who are arrested are not walking worthy of the calling of Christ. I thought it even more bizarre to see the student smiling when he walked into our meeting place. The two spoke for awhile, the student nodded his head several times, alternated between a serious face and a joyful one, then the meeting was over.

It was once the meeting was completed that I learned the student was innocent and being persecuted for his faith. He was purposely put in a position to stand up for biblical truth or refuse to acknowledge it. Everyone in the classroom knew he was a believer and he was being given a choice to be bold or to cower. He chose the former and joyfully endured the ridicule of the teacher and classmates, the arrest and permanent blot on his character as well as the disappointment of his atheistic parents.

Persecution does not always result in physical pain or death but it does result to some measure in our humiliation and degradation. When it comes our way, will we embrace it and will we embrace it joyfully?

 
NAU Matthew 5:11
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 
NIV Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 
KJV Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. {falsely: Gr. lying} 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Persecution Endurance

TUESDAY

 I know of a young girl who accepted Jesus as her Savior and Lord at age 15. Her parents were less than thrilled. In fact, they were opposed to her faith using verbal and occasionally physical abuse in an attempt to remove her confidence in the cross for salvation. To these atheistic parents, it was shameful to have a daughter embrace the Christian faith and they did their best to make her life miserable for three years. Finally, in her 18th year, they gave her an ultimatum – abandon Christ or be abandoned by them. They gave her one week to think about her decision. She told them she did not need a week, that she would never forsake her faith.  They insisted she take a week to think it through. But after three days of intense pressure from her parents, they could not endure her stubbornness any longer. Since she would not forsake her faith, they were forsaking her. And so they ‘kicked’ her out of their flat with only the clothes on her back. Without money, without clothes and without a place to stay she had nothing but her faith – and her real family – those who shared her faith!  Today, two years later she is vibrant in ministry and growing in her faith. Though reviled at home, she would bless her family. Though persecuted at home, she endured. May we be as faithful if ever in the same situation.

 

NAU 1 Corinthians 4:12 and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure;

 
NIV 1 Corinthians 4:12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;

 
KJV 1 Corinthians 4:12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

Suffering For the Gospel

MONDAY

 
This week we will look at the scriptural perspective of persecution.  As I contemplate my ministry in eastern Europe I am struck by the number of young believers (mostly under 20 and between 15 to 18 years of age) who face persecution for their faith. They do so willingly and their joy in the Lord is undiminished. Most of the kids with whom I have ministered thought long and hard about making a commitment to Christ. They were aware that along with having the penalty for their sins removed eternally they would most likely be losing cherished relationships with family and friends, and face persecution from these same people.  Currently I am praying for the well being of a man in his 40’s with whom we have lost contact over the past few weeks.  He had to flee his homeland (a Muslim republic with the former Soviet Union) less than five years ago after he converted to Christianity. His father was the local Islamic leader and well respected in a larger community. He has been training at the Moscow Bible College for the past two years and graduated last May with the desire to return home and plant a church. When he returned he was not immediately greeted with hostility but several weeks ago the police came to his house and ‘beat’ him up for converting from Islam to Christianity, saying that such a thing should not and does not happen in an Islamic country. Still, his wife and children are believers and his father and mother are close to converting – a powerful testimony if it occurs of the power of God to change a heart toward Him. But, we have lost contact with him and pray that we will be able to reconnect, and that he will continue to have a powerful proclamation of the Gospel in his community. This man knew what to expect if he returned home to proclaim the Gospel. Yet, when he was in my class he expressed eagerness to share the only message of hope with his people regardless of the cost to his physical wellbeing. I wonder if we in America will be able to boldly proclaim and embrace the consequences as my brothers and sisters in Christ have done in the former Soviet Union.

 

NAU 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory cyou may rejoice with exultation

 
NIV 1 Peter 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

  
KJV 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.