3 Reasons to Expect Persecution

  1. The world hated Jesus, so it follows that it will also hate us, His followers.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. -John 15:18

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. -2 Timothy 3:12

There will always be ‘hardships’ wherever we go. For example, when we commit to a new job, we accept that it will be a little rough for the first week or two, because it takes time to learn the names of your coworkers, the skills for every task, and the vision needed to benefit the company who pays you. As the weeks pass and the newness wears off, the everyday tasks will become humdrum and less meaningful than they were at the beginning. And then when you’re a few years in, the will to keep slugging through will disappear, and it’s all you can do to drag your feet to work. You’d rather be anywhere else than there! But at the end of the year, when you look back and see the fruits of your labour and you receive recognition from your employer, you overflow with gratefulness that you stayed faithful to your job and gave it your best effort!

Why don’t we apply that same level of commitment to our love life in God?

Long before His own crucifixion, Jesus predicted that the hard times that would come upon His disciples and all who would spread the Gospel. And long before it would be our turn to suffer, He meekly bore the instrument of His own death, taking mocking and all manner of injustices for our sakes!

  1. We are in the last days.

But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. –Luke 21:12

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. -2 Timothy 3:1-5

And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. –Revelation 17:6

Jesus, Paul, and John each had a vision about how persecution would be heavy in the last days. They all warned us about it, and told us how to get ready. We can’t say, We didn’t know! If Scripture predicted it, we know it’s a definite reality! We should be preparing for it as a certain event.

  1. A sign of light among darkness, good among evil, right among wrong.

But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hath my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. –John 15:21-25

Where there is good, there will always be opposition. Can there be light without shadows? People do not like to be proven wrong and shown their faults. When we come along, living our lives in faithful obedience to an unseen God Who shows up in our lives with real, tangible, daily blessings, that smacks in the faces of those who are trying to do it all by themselves. When we stand up to them for some preposterous, absurd, inner, obscure belief, I believe they see something they wish they had. When we would rather give up our lives than submit to an evil practice, it is a sign of open rebellion against their carefully constructed rules and systems.

But Jesus did not leave us with only a warning!

Coming soon will be a response to persecution.

The Waterfall

There’s a place he goes to get away. It’s down a steeeep hill, across several gullies and hills, at the end of a stream, beside a waterfall. Far, far away from the disturbance of road traffic or the sight of manufacturing plants. Hidden by acres of woods, and pocketed by ravines. When he wants to decide something, mourn a loss, think about a problem, or be alone, he sits on the rock. It’s his cathedral, where he goes to sit next to what’s in his heart. His wife knows him, lets him go, and welcomes him back. We, his coworkers hear about it through what it’s been doing lately. The waterfall’s really running right now, he says after it’s rained. Come spring, the waterfall gave me a lot of mushrooms yesterday. When it’s been dry for several weeks, I lost my waterfall. This is what completes his backwoods, redneck, funny-man character. This is part of his other side. The side that labors for hours on his exotic birds, reads a book a week in the winter, and is my steady counsel when it comes to ordering boneless pork shoulders.

So when he invited us to see this place, we couldn’t refuse. Our eyes were opened and we saw another side of him we didn’t know existed. It was stunning, and we’ll talk about it for years.

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When God Says No

God never denies us our heart’s desire except to give us something better.
-Elisabeth Elliot

Doubtful wonderings and wishful thinking
Flash like heat lightening on the horizon,
Catch me by surprise.

Cloudy mists of questions,
The tightropes of risks
Force me to turn inward.

Like a heavy grey cloud,
water, wind, descending, beating,
my heart and mind are running out of time.

Thinking of nothing else, my mind,
pondering upon consequences distant –
my yesterday becomes today becomes future.

Caring for nothing but the will of the Master,
Yet with eyes too full of conditions to see the hard truth,
Settle, my heart, for what is Divine.

-Decisions

You have come to a fork in the road. A decision lies before, imminent and demanding. Your life will become completely different depending on your choice. The beginnings of each road appear similar. What do you do?

However, as you spend hours contemplating the affects of either road, you notice contrasts. One road may seem to give you higher status, expose you to more famous people, advance your skills and give you a chance to soar. It may shine with a radiance, and lead to a land of blue skies and sunny days filled with happiness.

The further down the other one you gaze, you see that the path disappears around a wooded bend. It seems to lead deep into a forest where the sunlight is scattered and screened. Little contact is enjoyed with the outside world, except maybe an occasional clearing. It looks pretty interesting, definitely the more mysterious, and your hand squeezes the Master’s as you imagine yourself traveling that road.

Surely you have been there. Maybe you’re even remembering that time now, and how long ago it seems! Nostalgically you remember those days of concentration, deep prayers, and heart-cries for wisdom. It was a big decision! But now, as you remember it, so small it seems when you remember where you’ve been since then.

It may be right for you to take the first path. But it is equally possible the second path is the one for you. And if it is, let me speak to you. If God says no, and you do not get what you desire, listen to what I say and believe it. You have my promise that is true and trustworthy.

God has a plan and it is good.

Repeat that to yourself over and over, for it is your lifeline out of despair and sadness. When you are several steps down the road and mourning the loss of what you never had, put your whole faith into those words and launch out into the deep, trusting Him. When you have nothing else to hope for, believe in it.

It is that trust that will lead into surrender and joy. Do not fear its shaded paths — they are filled with unimaginable beauty. I promise, it will get better, but it is important that today you rejoice in God’s leadership. Ever onward, friend!