Posted by: pastortomvabeach | April 23, 2019

Thought For The Week April 28, 2019

Peter wrote, Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (I Peter 4:12-13)  The context a few verses later reveals that the trial and suffering to which he referred were persecutions that had arisen against Christians.

Jesus, Himself, said you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. (Mark 13:13) and God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. (Matthew 5:11).  Because of this, it should not shock us when something like what happened on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka occurs.

Yes, the cruelty and brutality of this malicious act is shocking to our senses and elicits our deepest revulsion and horror.  As a follower of Jesus, I simply can’t imagine someone with enough hatred inside to justify in their mind not only blowing themselves up but wantonly killing innocent people who have done nothing to them.

That part is shocking but the fact that it happened and is happening all around the world was never surprising to Jesus’ followers.  The reality is that preaching Jesus has always, even from the infancy of the church, been offensive.  That’s why the apostles and early believers were killed and that’s why, to this day, Christians are being martyred for their faith, driven from the public square, and vilified in many circles as evil.

We, in the United States, have not yet been exposed to the full effects of Christian persecution but there are many signs that it won’t be far off.  Preaching the Bible is labeled as hate speech in many circles.  Christians have been sued or otherwise taken to court for exercising their faith in the marketplaces of life.  The direction our culture is headed is towards a day when many kinds of persecution will no longer be a crime but practicing our faith openly will be.

The cowardly and venomous act of the Islamic terrorists in Sri Lanka might be a wake up call for some Christians but it really should not be since Christianity is the most heavily persecuted faith in the world, so we should already be aware.  What we can learn from this is that we must stand with our brothers and sisters around the world in faith, sadness, and, even more so, in passionate resolve that we will continue to trust in Jesus regardless of what the world throws at us.

Historically, Christianity has thrived and grown the most during the worst periods of anti-Christian activity.  Satan thinks he can stop the march of Jesus Christ in reaching those who need His love and forgiveness by doing violence against the church, but he is mistaken.  The devil is not on the offensive, the church is!  Jesus said, the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.  We know that when persecution against the church increases, it must be because Jesus is making a difference and the devil is on the run.

So let’s pray for our Christian family in Sri Lanka, let’s mourn and grieve with them, but let’s also determine to continue to trust and live for Jesus while we Make Jesus Known as much as we possible can.  Our weapon is the Word of God and prayer and the love of Jesus for everyone even our persecutors.  Peter said we can rejoice insofar as you (we) share Christ’s sufferings, and It is no shame to suffer for being a Christian.  Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! (I Peter 4:16).  It is pretty easy to act on those instructions when we are not the ones under such severe persecution so let’s pray that those who face such suffering may be able to be strong in the Lord and that we may do the same, when and if it happens to us.

Remember, Jesus is alive and He loves you in every circumstance.  He is always there with and for you.  Just a thought.

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