Monday, August 19, 2019

Hope During Persecution

Chuckle: After several unsuccessful attempts, a mother finally reached a game warden. “Are you a game warden,” she asked. “Yes,” came the reply. “Great,” said the mother. “Could you give me some help with my son’s birthday party?”
Quote: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
As He concluded His teachings on the beatitudes, Jesus had this to say: “God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted too” (Matthew 5:11-12 NLT).
Today, around the world, Christians are being imprisoned, tortured, and even slaughtered for one simple reason – they profess their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and refuse to deny their Lord. This is particularly true in those areas with radical Islamic regimes. If you are a Christian, I’m sure you have thought about what your reaction would be if you found yourself experiencing intensely painful and life-threatening persecution. As you become aware of Christians suffering for their faith, please remember they are your brothers and sisters in Christ. They are part of our family of God, and they deserve our prayers and other support as we become aware of their needs.
It seems certain that things are going to get much worse for all Christians. When teaching about what would happen prior to His return, Jesus predicted: “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because of your allegiance to me. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:9-10 NLT). An amazing fact remains, in New Testament times, the Christian church grew and flourished while Christians were enduring harsh persecution. The following occurred around 160 AD.
One of the most inspiring examples of courage in the history of the church was the martyrdom of Polycarp, who was burned at the stake for his faith. The aged Polycarp had been arrested by the Roman authorities and brought to the arena for execution in from of the cheering crowd. The proconsul pressed him hard and said, “Swear, and I will release you. Revile Christ.” Polycarp replied, “Eighty and six years I have served him, and he never did me wrong, and how can I now blaspheme my King that has saved me?” (Cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, chapter 15.)
Jesus tells us his followers will be severely persecuted by those who hate us because of our loyalty to Christ and His teachings. But He also tells us that even during the most severe persecution we can have hope, because we know our salvation is secure. If you should find yourself pressured to give in and deny your faith in Christ, please don’t yield to the temptation. Remember the eternal benefits if we stand firm and continue to live in obedience to Christ by spreading the gospel (Good News) message with Christ-like love and compassion.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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