Posted in Devotionals

Rejoice At Persecution!

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 1 Peter 4:12-19

In 1 Peter 4: 12-13 we are taught that going through trials and persecutions should be no surprise to us. Why is this? Because Jesus told us we will be persecuted for believing in him. In Matthew 5:11-12 it says that we will be persecuted just as the prophets before us. People will insult us and persecute us and say false things about us. But we will be blessed when this happens. Jesus says “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. In Luke 6:22-23 it says people will hate us, exclude us, insult us AND reject our name as being evil, all because we believe in Jesus. But we will be Blessed! Jesus once again says to rejoice, he says to “Jump for Joy” because great is your reward in heaven.

1 Peter 4:14 says if you get insulted because of the name of Christ you are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. That Spirit is a spirit of dignity, glory, honor, praise and worship. We know it as the Holy Spirit. That Spirit helps you to keep you focus on the prize. It helps you remember that God loves you.

In Romans 5:4 Paul explains that we rejoice in our sufferings because it produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope. And he goes on to say in verse 5 “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Perseverance is the desire to continue on no matter what. It is the steadfast effort to follow God’s commands and to do His work. It is to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity (when things are demanded from you), or warning.

If you persevere, not only will God reward you but the Spirit will intercede for you also. The Spirit will help us pray. In Romans 8:26-27 it says “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”

The Spirit can talk to God in a way that no man can. And because the Spirit is of God, he will intercede for us because that is God’s will. That is why it is so important to pray in tongues. When you pray in tongues, it is the Spirit interceding and praying for what needs to be prayed for. Things we may are probably not even aware of.

Let’s go back to 1 Peter 4:15-16. Peter says don’t suffer as a sinner, but as a Christian. In verse 16 it says DO NOT BE ASHAMED, but praise God because of who you are.

Do not be ashamed..

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17

Paul says in Romans that he is not ashamed to preach the Gospel because he knows those who believe will be saved. He knows that salvation comes from knowing God, following his word and accept Jesus. Paul knows God’s Word is for everyone no matter who you are whether you are Jews, Gentiles or Romans.. It doesn’t matter if your English, Australians, Americans.. Japanese, Chinese, Korean… Germans, Arabians, Iraqis, Indians. Italians, Russians, Brazilians, Canadians.. Africans, Spanish, Greeks, Polish, Swedish.Turkish, Kuwaiti, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Philippine, Mexican, Cuban, Jamaican. it just doesn’t matter where you come from, God’s word is for everyone including the weak, the strong, the happy, the sad, the hurting, the sick, the healed. Because Paul knows by faith what the reward is, he wants to share it with the world, with every person he meets, young and old. He wants them to know what God’s love truly is. And you should not be ashamed to share this reward either.

In Mark 8:31 Peter refused the words of Jesus when Jesus said he would be suffer many things, be rejected by the elders and the priests and the scribes, and that he would be killed, and after three days rise again. When Peter refused these words Jesus rebuked him saying “get behind thee satan” Then he gathered the people and disciples and said what good is it if you lose your soul?

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:36-38

Jesus says if you are ashamed of him and the word he carries, then he will be ashamed of you when he returns.

Ashamed in the Greek/Hebrew dictionary is epaischunomai (ep-ahee-skhoo’-nom-ahee);to feel shame for something:

To feel shame is to have a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. Maybe you don’t feel you are worthy of God’s love. If you have faith you can not truly believe that and to not share it with others is a decision you have to consciously make. It is your choice. If you truly know and have faith in the gift he gave to you, why would you want to hide it? Why not stand up and proclaim “Jesus loves me because I am a sinner!”

When you do not share the love of God with others it is like rejecting his word. You reject God’s word when you do not share the joy and the promise that has been given you. You are rejecting Jesus for not sharing the promise of hope he brings. We are supposed to put others before us and by allowing our feelings and fear rule whether we share the salvation of Jesus we are considering our needs over theirs.

In verse 17 says its time for the judgment to begin with the family of God. God has given us a responsibility to gather the sheep. We are told to share his love and share the truth of his word. He will judge us first because we are already supposed to know what is right and wrong. We are supposed to be following God’s word. We know the truth, it’s our choice if we listen or not. He is going to look at each of us and determine if we have obeyed his word.

In Ezekiel 18 God says if a wicked man turns from sin and follows righteousness then he will live and none of his sins will be remembered. They will be forgotten, washed away in forgiveness. But, if a righteous man turns to sin and becomes unfaithful then all the righteous deeds he has done will be forgotten and he will not live.

“But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? “But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die. Ezekiel 18:21-24

For this reason we are to test ourselves. A check to make sure of our actions and our thoughts are as they should be. Have we given ourselves to others and put their needs before ours? Have we loved everyone? Have we been kind, charitable? Have we spoken harsh words? Have we gossiped? Have we broken any of the commandments? Have we been Christ like? A daily check will help keep you on the path of righteousness. Sometimes we need to check ourselves more often.

Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. Galatians 6:4-5

Paul teaches us that we need to be sure of our salvation first. We need to test our actions to be sure we are following God’s word. We need to compare our self to our self and not to anyone else; just as we are not to compare anyone to our self. If you find anything that is not inline with God’s word you should repent and seek forgiveness. Realize what you have done wrong and try to do better. But do test yourself.

Notice in verse 18 it says it is hard for the righteous to be saved. That is because we are sinful in nature and we fall short continually. Many do not test themselves. Sometimes we commit a sin so small we don’t even think to ask forgiveness. One of the things we never even consider a sin is not sharing Jesus with other people. By not sharing the promise Jesus died for, then we do not truly love our neighbor as God loves us. We are hording him away and being greedy with his love, keeping it to ourselves.

19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Always remember that your reward is far greater than any trial you might have to go through. Your reward is worth whatever persecution or torment you might suffer. Always remember 1 John 4:4 “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world”. Give it to God and let only His love shine through you. And do not be ashamed to share God’s love with everyone you meet. Do not be ashamed to share the love of Jesus, and the gift he gave to us. Do not be ashamed to share the gift he gave you.

Rejoice at your persecution, laugh at the face of disaster and say “You can say anything you want, you can take my car, my house, my job, my spouse, my kids.. But you will never, never get my joy, my salvation! Because I am going to give it to God and his love will see me through. I am not ashamed of who I am!”

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I am just a person on a life journey to who knows where!

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