Today's Word of Encouragement
Tuesday, May 02, 2020
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10).
I watched a video published earlier this year that stated Christians were not persecuted in the first and second centuries A.D. as was once thought. While some for died for secular, political, or moral reasons, they were not persecuted for being Christian. It reminded me of similar reports regarding the Nazi persecution of the Jews during WWII - it was just propaganda manufactured to gain Jewish sympathy. Evidence proves otherwise.
Persecution is not something Christians seek unless there is something seriously wrong in their thinking. It was not something Jesus wanted, but He knew it would come because He knew it's part of Satan’s plan to destroy the Kingdom of God on earth. True Christians want to live in peace and to be peace-makers, and many have suffered persecution for it. OpenDoors International reports, “. . . Christian persecution around the world is one of the biggest human rights issues of this era.” In their 2020 World Watch List, Open Doors reports:
• Over 260 million Christians are living in places where they experience high levels of persecution.
• 2,983 Christians have been killed for their faith.
• 9,488 churches and other Christian buildings have bee attacked.
• 3,711 believers have been detained, arrested, sentenced, or imprisoned without trial.
Jesus said, Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).
He defined persecution as being reviled (defamed, taunted, rebuked), persecuted (pursued with hostility, driven away, harassed), and having evil things said against them (slander, falsely accuse) ‘for the sake of righteousness’, and on ‘His account’. God does not bless Christians or churches when they act weird, go rogue, or take a stand for some political, social, or philosophical cause. Only when they stand up for Jesus Christ, for holiness, for the true gospel is the blessing of God exteded. When a Christian stands for Christ and His Kingdom, the world will stand against the Christian and the church. Satan will see to it. History proves it.
The reward? The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who suffer for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom. That is proof they are Christian and are already citizens of the Kingdom.
“Father, I know Your heart grieves over the way Your servants are treated by the people of the world. Although I have not known such persecution, I also know such treatment can, and eventually will happen here. Keep me focused on Jesus and His gospel. Keep me sensitive to those who suffer for their faith in Jesus. Keep me faithful to the ministry You have called me to, no matter the consequences. This world is tired and weary of evil and is ready to be liberated. My heart echoes the cry of John the Apostle, Come, Lord Jesus. I pray Your return will be very, very soon. Amen.”