Christianity 201

January 9, 2021

Persecution: A Promise and a Prescription

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds – James 1:2

Again today we have another new writer to feature. Bob James has been writing at Daily Enduring Truth since December, 2012. His goal is that the site “will lead people to grow spiritually by encountering the Enduring Truth of God’s word on a daily basis.”

Bob has been doing a series on the Beatitudes and in the two posts which follow looks at persecution — I hadn’t considered that Jesus mentions this one twice —  considering the blessing God promises and the attitude with which we should respond. You need to click on each of the headers which follow to read each at source.

In the Midst of Persecution, Look Forward

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

Persecution can take many forms, and it can occur for many reasons. Often persecution happens because of nationality or ethnic origin. While there is never a good reason to persecute people, Jesus was talking about a different kind of persecution: persecution that happened because someone was living as though they’re in a good relationship with God.

It seems strange that in a society that asks us to let people be who they want to be, those who have a relationship with the living God are often singled out for scorn. Perhaps the reason for that is that Christians see absolute right and wrong in a world that has no absolutes. Righteousness begins with our relationship with God, and it’s revealed by a life that honors God by living according to His absolute standards. That goes against the grain when the rest of the world makes the bold claim that the only absolute is that there are no absolutes.

Christianity has always gone against the grain of society, and that has engendered persecution because we’re “not like them.” Our “not like them” lifestyle should happen because we’re living for God and according to His moral standards. While that may bring persecution, the persecution will be nothing compared to the reward of the kingdom of heaven.

Oh Lord, may I always live in a way that honors You. If that life brings persecution allow me to stand strong as Your servant knowing that the kingdom of heaven is a far greater joy than any amount of pain or suffering I may endure.

Rejoicing in Persecution

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all 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.” – Matthew 5: 11,12

Jesus elaborated on His previous blessing about persecution. Perhaps we see it mentioned twice because He knew persecution would come to His followers. This time, He noted that the blessing comes when any of us are persecuted, as if all His followers should expect persecution as opposed to just those who are persecuted for righteousness sake as mentioned in verse 10. Persecution is coming and it’s coming because of our devotion to Jesus Christ.

One of the hardest parts about going through any difficulty is the belief that we’re going through the problem by ourselves. Jesus made it clear here that not only are we all going to be dealing with persecution, but it’s always happened; God’s prophets have always been persecuted. If we’re joining the prophets’ club of those who have been persecuted, then we’re doing so because we’re being faithful to God.

The early disciples recognized that they went through persecution because of their faithfulness to Christ and that it was a spiritual badge of honor. They rejoiced because they were considered worthy to suffer for the name of Christ (Acts 5:41) Perhaps they remembered that Jesus told them to rejoice when they were persecuted. Jesus warned us that trouble is ahead and that we can expect persecution, so when it comes, remember two things: 1) you are not alone in being persecuted, and 2) rejoice that you have become a member of that select group who are persecuted because of faithfulness.

Oh Lord, I have to admit that I would prefer that persecution not come. But if the choice is avoiding persecution or being faithful to You, give me the strength to be faithful to You in all circumstances.

used by permission


Second Helping: Sometimes we introduce a new author and before the six-month window is up, we see another article we wish could share. Michael Wilson has written an interesting study on the differences between the poverty with which Jesus had some acquaintance, and the funding of the ministry supporting himself and his twelve associates. Check out Was Jesus Born Into Poverty?

September 7, 2019

Straining at the Oars

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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Once again we’re featuring the ministry of Toronto area Bible teacher Gordon Rumford and his devotional website.  Click the header below to read at source.

Someone Is Watching You

“He saw the disciples straining at the oars,
because the wind was against them.”
Mark 6:48 (NIV)

Jesus and the disciples had just completed a tremendous day of ministry in which Jesus had performed a miracle that only God could do. He took the small meal of a poor boy and created enough food for over five thousand people to eat all they wished.

The miracle was so remarkable that the people tried to make Jesus king by force. They greatly desired someone with such miraculous powers to lead them to political victory over the Roman occupational forces.

Jesus would not have any part of such a political movement. He had already sent the disciples away from the scene into a boat to cross to the west side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus did not wish the twelve to have their minds infected with such political ambitions.

They were dealing with Galilean Jews in this scene and Galilee was the source of much political unrest. Various Galilean Jews had been involved in trying to set up a political uprising in Jesus’ time. So Jesus quickly got the disciples out of there.

Then He went up onto the mountain nearby to pray alone. Jesus had much to pray about just then. The crowds would reject His message the next morning. Herod Antipas, the Roman ruler of Galilee had recently beheaded Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist.

Further, the Jewish leaders, especially to the south, had initiated great hostility toward Him. So there was much to burden our Lord’s heart and cause Him to seek the Father’s help.

It was from this vantage point during the night that Jesus looked out on the Sea of Galilee and saw the disciples being threatened by a storm. Some of the disciples in the boat had made their living fishing on this sea at night, so they understood its temperamental ways. They had been in storms before but this one was so ferocious that it had all of them terrified.

We notice two very significant things as we read the account of the storm on the sea. First we must recognize that when the disciples obeyed Jesus and got into the boat to cross the Sea of Galilee they immediately found themselves in a life threatening situation. Obedience to God is no assurance of a safe and pleasant passage to heaven.

Through the centuries the witness of the martyrs has proven that following Jesus is often dangerous and deadly. There is no room for argument on this one. Right in the Bible we see the results of obedience to Jesus.

This is why it is recorded five times in the Gospels that Jesus said we should to take up our cross and follow Him. So Jesus calls His followers to die to personal ambition in order to live for Him.

Our Lord is constantly watching the journey of every follower He has, just as He watched the disciples on the sea. We never disappear from the watchful eye of the Lord.

Yes, we shall endure sorrow in this life but we may be assured that our beloved Saviour is watching and in His time shall appear for our deliverance.

…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
Psalm 30:5 (NIV)

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