Rejoice in Persecution

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mathew 5: 10 – 12.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                From the time of the resurrection until today, true believers have always been verbally and physically persecuted for their faith.  Of the original 12 disciples, 11 were violently murdered, and the twelfth was imprisoned for life.  Throughout the centuries, the body of Christ has suffered affliction; millions have been martyred; many more have been discriminated against, despised, and socially ostracized.  Jesus said, “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.”  Because persecution is a sign of genuine obedience, many are able to take pleasure in adversity; in the midst of hardship the faithful are not without a sense of peace; for to endure pain for Christ is to experience great joy, and to suffer and die for him is to understand what it means to truly live.

                Throughout the fourth century, the Roman Empire was actively persecuting professing Christians.  In the year 320 A.D. a group of believing soldiers from Rome’s twelfth legion paid the ultimate price for their faith.  The Emperor Licinius decreed that every Roman soldier was obligated to offer sacrifices to the pagan Gods.  Forty Christian men refused to obey his command; in turn, they were immediately ordered to disrobe. After being marched on to a frozen lake they were informed that they could return to shore at any time, as long as they were willing to obey (the officers had even prepared hot baths for those who chose to relent.)  As they froze, the exposed soldiers huddled together and began to sing songs and to praise God; in their hour of suffering they expressed overwhelming joy.)  One by one, they perished.  Sadly, a single solitary man did relent; but astonishingly another soldier who had been observing the spectacle was so moved by what he had seen that he instantly gave his life to Jesus Christ; he removed his clothes and walked out on to the ice to join his dying brothers.

                Persecution is a part of genuine faith.  Those who oppose God, will oppose those who follow Him.  Obedience can produce much suffering.  When we suffer for righteousness, we can rejoice and be glad, knowing that we serve the Living God.  We must take up our cross; we must speak the truth; we must love without question, and give without stipulation.  We must walk by faith and avoid compromise.  In so doing, God will strengthen us in the hour of our greatest need; He will comfort us; He will give us victory; and we will inherit the riches of His Eternal Kingdom.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, as we undergo trials give us strength and fill us with Your Holy Spirit; that we may rejoice in suffering and persecution.  May we always praise Your Name; in good times and in bad.  May we never compromise; may we never be conformed to the image of this world.  May we live for righteousness and may we die for virtue.  Father, we love You, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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