Lessons Of A Lifetime

Persecuted For Righteousness
Or
Enduring Hardship Without Fear
Sunday May 24, 2020

Scripture To Consider:
“When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!”

“Therefore, do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore, whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will deny before My Father who is in heaven.”           Matthew 10.23-33

Something To Consider:
Jesus began this teaching with these words, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.” Not if they persecute you, but when they persecute you! Persecution for righteousness sake against the righteous comes in many forms. These twelve disciples and generations of followers since them have suffered persecution for living righteous lives in Christ. Even now in the world there is great persecution coming against the true believing saints of God.

But, in the midst of it all, God’s people are called to endure hardship, hatred, and affliction without fear. Therefore, the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2.3; “You therefore, must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Part of the will of God for true believers is to endure hardships. Will we be found as good soldiers enlisted in the spiritual warfare that has continued since the spiritual battle in the garden of Eden?

Without our enduring, there can be no victory over sin! Therefore, Paul went on to proclaim in verse 4 of 2 Timothy chapter 2; “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself [or herself] with the affairs of this life, that they may please Him who enlisted him [or her] as a soldier.” And yet, also according to Paul in 2 Corinthians 10.4; “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [they are not fleshly or man-made] but mighty in God for the pulling down strongholds.”

Therefore, we must endure hardship, hatred, and end time affliction without fear. Jesus affirmed, while addressing the 1st century church at Smyrna, by declaring in Revelation 2.10; “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer.” Jesus followed up by instructing and promising, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Something Else To Consider:
Fear cripples our effectiveness to rightly represent Jesus Christ as salt and light. As servants of the Most High God, we are not above suffering some of the same hardships that Jesus and others have suffered while here on earth. And according to Jesus, “Therefore, do not fear them.” For all things shall be revealed, good, bad, or indifferent; therefore, do not fear!

The apostle Paul, writing in Romans 8.31 asked; “What then shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Well, the truth is, that the enemy of our souls is against us, just as he was and remains to be against Christ Jesus. Satan is vehemently opposed to Jesus, His Word, and all those attempting to be obedient to His Word and who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus while enduring to the end!

And yet, we are not to fear him or his hellish horde of demonic one-time angelic beings. We are not to fear any of his evil tactics or fiery darts that may harass us while living on planet earth. But we are to fear or to reverence Him, God, who is able destroy our soul. For the enemy can only destroy our physical body but not our soul. Yes, we will as true end time believers in Jesus suffer persecution for righteousness sake, but we are commanded to endure without fear.

We are also reminded by Paul writing to young Timothy in 2 Timothy 1.7; “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but [He has given us] a spirit of power and [a spirit] of love and [a spirit] of a sound [clear thinking] mind.” Paul continued in verse 8 by faithfully instructing; “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.”

The apostle Paul was greatly persecuted for righteousness. Jesus was also persecuted for righteousness sake. Many millions of true Christian servants and prisoners for the Lord have been and will continue to be persecuted for righteousness. And in time, if we are true enduring to the end Christians who are not ashamed of the gospel, we too shall be persecuted. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” The opposition must persecute believers. It is what they do! But according to Jesus, “Therefore, do not fear them.”

A Few Final Words:
The bottom line question of our lesson of a lifetime today is, are our actions, our words, and our lives, confessing Jesus before men, women, and young people on a daily basis? Does what we speak reflect the righteousness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Does what we allow to enter our eye gate and or ear gate please and honor Christ or deny Him before others?

For in the end, our denying Jesus or confessing Jesus here on earth, according to Jesus, will determine our eternal destination and eternal well-being. For according to Jesus, “But whoever denies Me before men [women, and young people], him [or her] I will deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

Just for a moment, stop, and think about the long-lasting eternal truth of that statement made by Jesus! To deny Jesus in this earthly life, means to deny ourselves eternal life in the future. To deny Jesus, means we deny ourselves of all the eternal rewards the Word of God declares are ours as enduring to the end followers of Jesus Christ.

And yet, as true present tense believers in Jesus, as we observe all things Jesus commanded, we become heirs with Jesus Christ, and joint-heirs in His righteousness. Enduring hardship without fear as leaders and or leaders in training is our wisest strategy in the midst of persecution. For there are always others of the faith who are looking at our lives for encouragement.

Will others find the encouragement they seek from watching us in these end times? Jesus encouraged all true believers when He explained; “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him [God] who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, thank You for Your watchful eye of protection over us. Teach us to endure end time hardship and persecution without fear. In Him Always, Amen!

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