DEVOTIONS AND SERMONS

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Persecution
 

1. It will come

Persecution is the natural result of following Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:12
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Expect people to think it strange that you don't live like they do - remember what you were like!

1 Peter 4:1-4
1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.
2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.
4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.


Don't be suprised by persecution!!

2. Unexpected Sources

a. Family, Jesus faed it: we will too.

Mark 3:20-21,31-35
20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.
21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."


b. Relatives and old friends - "home town".

Mark 6:1-6
1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.
2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles!
3 Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
4 Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor."
5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.
6 And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.


Luke 4:23-30
23 Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.'"
24 "I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown.
25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land.
26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.
27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed--only Naaman the Syrian."
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.
29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.
30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.


c. Religious leaders, your old church etc.

Mark 13:9-11
9 "You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.
10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.


Mark 14:53-65

53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law came together.
54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.
55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any.
56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him:
58 "We heard him say, 'I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.'"
59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?"
61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?"
62 "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."
63 The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked.
64 "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" They all condemned him as worthy of death.
65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, "Prophesy!" And the guards took him and beat him.


d. The governing authorities

Mark 15:15-20
15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers.
17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.
18 And they began to call out to him, "Hail, king of the Jews!"
19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him.
20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.


e. Walked away Christians

Mark 14:43
Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

3. How to deal with persecution

a. Pray for strength

Mark 14:26-36
26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
27 "You will all fall away," Jesus told them, "for it is written: "'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'
28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
29 Peter declared, "Even if all fall away, I will not."
30 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "today--yes, tonight--before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times."
31 But Peter insisted emphatically, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the others said the same.
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray."
33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.
34 "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.
36 "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."


b. Trust God and keep doing good. Focus on making disciples. Don't get inward focussed.

1 Peter 4:19
So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

c. Remember that you are blessed. Be happy and leap for joy in it. Focus on the positive.

Luke 6:22-23
22 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
23 "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.


d. Pray and be thankful to God

Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

e. Don't hold back. Preach the word.

Hebrews 10:35-39
35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
37 For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay.
38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him."
39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.


Other verses

1 Peter 1:6-7
6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;
7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.


Hebrews 12:1-12
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.


James 1:2-4
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.


Acts 20:24
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.