Posts Tagged 'genuine faith'

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.” (Matthew 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 onto 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.

Judging Others

JESUS SPEAKING 

     “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye.” (Matthew 7: 1-3.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

    Of all the sins we can possibly commit, hypocrisy is one of the most offensive. Jesus embraced repenting murderers, thieves, and prostitutes; yet He openly loathed unrepentant religious hypocrites.  Hypocrisy occurs when someone judges or evaluates another person based upon standards they themselves are incapable of achieving.  Practicing hypocrisy is extremely dangerous because God judges His followers according to the same principles they use to judge others.  If we outwardly condemn thievery, yet secretly steal, we are condemning ourselves.  Jesus warned His disciples that such unrighteous judgments would serve only to separate them from God.  As a result, before we judge anyone, we must make certain that we have been victorious over the sins that have caused others to fall.

     Surprisingly, the first attempted extermination of the Jewish people did not occur within the boundaries of 20th century Nazi Germany.  Adolf Hitler wasn’t the first man to attempt such a hideous undertaking.  In fact, approximately 2400 years earlier a man named Haman made an effort to execute every Jew living within the Persian Empire.  He hated the Hebrews and believed they were troublemakers who deserved to die.  Haman was a high ranking official in the court of Artaxerxes the 2nd, King of Persia.  Somehow he convinced the King to eradicate the Jews; which would have included Haman’s mortal Hebrew enemy, Mordecai (another high ranking official who showed disdain for Haman.)  Mordecai had graciously adopted his orphan cousin Esther, who grew into one of the most beautiful women in all of Persia; the king became enamored with Esther and married her, not knowing that she was a Jew.  As the day of the extermination approached, Haman joyfully erected a scaffold fifty feet high near his home, from which he planned to hang Mordecai.  However, just before the mass murder was about to be carried out, Esther came forward and revealed to the king that she was in fact a Jew.  She begged him to cancel the genocidal plot.  The king compassionately agreed; creating a decree that permitted the Jews to legally defend themselves; thereby ending the sinister conspiracy. The king was also made aware of Haman’s treachery.  In a cruel twist of fate, the king ordered Haman to be hung from the very same gallows he himself had constructed to murder Mordecai.  The judgment he had so eagerly reserved for another person had been visited upon him and his entire household. 

     Like Haman, many today build scaffolds from which to hang others.  Yet such people are often hypocrites who incur the wrath of God; they condemn themselves by the very judgments they use to condemn others.  This is why we must examine ourselves daily and ask God to search our hearts and minds. If we find that the sins of others produces anger and resentment, then we must ask the question, “Am I guilty of any similar sins?”  If the answer is yes, then we need to change. We must abandon hypocrisy and embrace a right relationship with God.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, we recognize that we are unworthy servants; and that we are sinners who do not deserve Your forgiveness; yet we thank You that we have received it.  Search our hearts; if You find hypocrisy, please reveal it to us; and correct us if we have been judging others unjustly.  Take away our sinful resentments, that we may more effectively reach those who are lost. Fill our hearts with gratitude, sincerity, and humility.  We love You Father, 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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