TODAY'S WORD FOR Monday, April 27, 2020:
Harass persistently; make suffer; to oppress; torment; torture.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE:
This beatitude, found in Matthew 5 (above), is a realistic and vivid description of mature Christians. They are reviled and persecuted because they love the Lord Jesus Christ, and have been given the righteousness of God.
How are mature Christians to respond to such persecution? They are to rejoice and be exceedingly glad, because when Christians are persecuted it is proof that they are being a testimony to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s truth is offensive to those who do not believe in Jesus as Savior.
Christians who are persecuted for their faith can rejoice because they also know that a great reward awaits them in heaven where there will be no more persecution.
In this beatitude Jesus was saying that we will be blessed when our commitment to God provokes persecution. Jesus also tells us that persecution brings us into God’s kingdom. Persecution strengthens our faith and strips away our superficial values and desires.
The Christian church was persecuted from its beginnings. The apostles were arrested and tried for preaching Christ and for doing miracles in His name. Some were beaten nearly to the point of death. They would not let anything stop them from preaching the gospel. Instead, they kept on preaching and rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. (Acts 5:33-42)
Jesus understood and knew persecution because He was persecuted. He knew that those who followed Him would endure suffering and persecution. Some would be mocked, ridiculed, criticized, ostracized, and treated with hostility. Some would be slandered, cursed and lied about. And some would be martyred. These are all forms of persecution and Jesus experienced them all.
The one who lives and speaks for righteousness and lives and speaks for Christ can expect to be persecuted for the sake of the gospel. Persecution is a paradox. Think about it. The person who cares and works for the true love, justice and salvation of the world is actually hated and fought against. How deceived is the world to rush onward in its madness for nothing but to seek the worldly pleasures of life on this earth for maybe 70 to 80 years, if that long.
Believers are forewarned that they will suffer persecution because they are not of this world. We are different and we just do not fit into the world, and we should not desire to do so. We are not part of the sinful behavior of the world; therefore, the world reacts against us as believers in Jesus.
The world is full of evil and sin but the believer is stripped away from this cloak of sin and covered with the cloak of righteousness of God. God’s righteousness is revealed through the believer to the world.
The world does not know God so they want no other god than themselves. The world conceives God to be someone who fulfills earthly desires only but believers know God as a supreme being and their Father, who meets all our needs and fulfills all of our right desires. Our righteousness must come by what God does in us not by what we can do by ourselves.
The believer’s attitude toward persecution needs to be one of joy and gladness, a feeling of special honor, a special consolation, and a fulfillment of the effectiveness of the Lord’s presence in their life.
Count yourself blessed every time people put you down because of some word you spoke or deed you did in the name of Jesus. Count yourself blessed when you are persecuted because of your belief. Count yourself blessed if people speak lies about you concerning your faith. It is evidence that they are feeling conviction for their sin and God’s Holy Spirit is speaking to them, calling them to repentance.
When the truth of the gospel comes too close for comfort, the non-believer is uncomfortable around you. All heaven will applaud when we stand up for what we believe and show to others our belief in God.
Our memory verse for this week is found in Romans 6:23.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Thank You for teaching us through this beatitude the significance of persecution and how we need to be prepared to face it when it comes our way. Keep me close to You as I study Your Word and communicate to You in prayer so that I can stand strong in the face of whatever persecution that comes my way.
These Family Devotional thoughts are written by Dr. Ken Phillips, Executive Director of America's Hunger
Solution, and his wife Dottie. Ken has had ministry positions
with The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, World Vision, Youth For Christ, World Opportunities International,
and World Bible Society. He also has consulted for more than 30 Christian ministries in management and stewardship
development. They have published a book called No Problems Only Situations that discusses the journey of their family.
Ken and Dottie have been married for 60 years, and have 6 children, 20 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren. Their
second book, TODAY'S WORD, includes 365 daily
devotionals and is now available for only $10.
Ken & Dottie Phillips
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