Persecuted

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

As we have seen week after week when the Lord Jesus came they hailed Him as the King of the Jews and they were waiting for Him to come and build a kingdom on earth. But they were wrong because Christ brought a kingdom in the hearts of men, a peacemaker Christ was. So He ends with blessed are those who are persecuted, because the poor in spirit will be persecuted, those who mourn will be persecuted, those who are meek, those who are hungry and thirsty after righteousness, those who are merciful, those who are peacemakers will be persecuted. Why is this, it’s because these are the complete opposite of what the world testifies. The world says your to be great in the spirit, it says don’t mourn just get over it and move on with life, it says don’t be meek people will walk all over you, don’t worry about being pure just enjoy yourself, it says don’t hunger and thirst after righteousness, hunger after lust, money and immorality, whatever makes you fill good. If you truly live for Jesus you will live the opposite of the world and the world won’t like that. John 15:18-20. It’s not the way we preach that they hate, it’s our Christlikeness that people hate. It has always been this way. Paul tells Timothy, Yea and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. You can move from Abel who was slew by Cain because He brought the right sacrifices, to Moses and those that grumbled and complained those that resented him for bringing them out of Egypt. You can look at Joseph to David to Elijah as he runs and hides from Jezebel. The prophet Jeremiah was beaten and executed. The prophet Isaiah was sawn asunder. Stephen was stoned. John the Baptist was beheaded. Nero fed 1000’s of Christians to the lions and burnt them at the stake. And today many around the world are being persecuted for their faith but reality is those that live Godly will suffer. Thomas Stott 200 years ago said the wicked hate the holy image of God and those that bear it. I read recently of a story of a Romanian Pastor who knew what it was to rejoice and have joy in his persecution. He was tortured, he was imprisoned, mercilessly they put him through excruciating pain and yet, in his cell he testified that he experienced great joy. He was locked in solitary confinement and day by day he was taken by the captors who cut chunks of flesh from his body. Then, when he would return to his cell where he was starved almost to death, he would lay there and he would pray to God, and he would testify that in the midst of that there was times when the joy of Christ would so overcome him that he would pull himself up and shuffle about the cell dancing in the spirit. So remarkable was his joy that on his return from prison, when he got home to his wife and his children, the first thing that he did was had a day of fasting as a memorial to the joy that he had been given through persecution. As I end you may think it’s strange that Jesus passes so quickly from peacemaking to persecution. But as we come to learn from life, however hard we try to live peacefully or to make peace through reconciliation, some just refuse to live in peace with us and some take the initiative to oppose and slander us. We must live with the fact that persecution is simply the clash between two value systems. But God has called us, selected us to represent Him in enduring and even overcoming persecution as part of our witness for Him. Romans 8:18.

The world never burned a casual Christian at the stake.         John R. Rice

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