Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Lesson On The Persecuted (Beatitude Series Part 8)

"Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs." Matthew 5:10

Who of us has been persecuted for our faith? We see it in other countries across our world, as people must make a choice, much like the disciples. It's a choice of living out our faith. In many cases it's a choice of life or death.

Many times family will not accept us because of our faith. We can lose friendships because of Christianity. But friends, that doesn't mean we give up. It means we live our lives in prayer. It means we live in such way that through each word and action Christ's love is seen.

Sure, I've been called names. I have been gossiped about because of my walk in faith. But I have never faced real persecution as others have. So, that brings me to my question at heart. Am I then truly living out my faith for all to see? That's a hard question for me. Have there been times where I have hidden my faith? I really don't think so, but then if I rephrase the question to, "Has there been a time where I just didn't move when the Lord asked because of fear or has there been a time when I made the choice to remain quiet when I should have spoke?" I must answer those questions with a yes.

Paul never held back. He shared his faith with all he met. Everyone who crossed his path knew of his faith. I think Christ should be upon our lips in every conversation. Should I stand in front of my local post office, Bible in hand, and shout scripture to all coming in for their mail? If the Lord calls me to, yes, I should without fear and with trust. Until, Christ calls me to do so, I can still share His Word by walking in His love, to every person I meet, friend or foe.

"You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For what is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11-12

Before I can be persecuted I must be living my faith for the world to see. I cannot hold back. I cannot live a hidden faith. My relationship with Christ is personal, but to live out my faith, is to bring glory and honor to Him. That means moving out of my comfort zone. It means making myself available. It means allowing the Lord to create in me a living vessel to share His message and love.

Persecution can be physical or verbal. Are there people who do not like me because I am a Christian? You bet.  Being a Christian doesn't mean your perfect. Goodness, I am far from that. I am a sinner in need of grace. I am a work in progress. I am daily trying to give my life to Christ and surrender myself to His will and purpose for my life. It's not always easy, but His strength makes it possible.

Sacrifice is a choice. Now, with sacrifice, I must ask myself, "Do I give until it hurts?" Meaning, do I feel it when I give or do I just give easily? The more sacrifice, the more faith. I think that's where we see the persecution happening in other lands. People of faith are willing to give all. Am I always willing? To be honest, I must say, no. I hold back. I limit God. I keep my hands closely wrapped around what is important. It is my daily prayer to be used of God. To let go and let God is not just a nicely wrapped Christian phrase. It's an anthem for the Christian life.

"Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

I am to walk without fear. I am to live each day with intention and purpose. I am to call upon the Lord for strength in my walk. I am to listen to the Holy Spirit's guidance. I am to walk with a determination to make a difference. To give my all in every situation life brings forth.

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, If any one wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it. What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will reward watch according to what he has done. I assure you: There are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Matthew 16:24-28
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