Standing Firm in the Face of Persecution

Sermon Recap from Yesterday Regarding Persecution

Yesterday my wife and I participated in a child dedication at church for our 9 month old. He is usually the most well behaved child, but on stage yesterday he decided that he should blow chunks all over himself and my wife. Of course, the associate pastor who was sitting in front of us could not hold back his cackling laughter! But our pastor’s discussion of persecution was the most memorable part of the service.

Towards the end of the sermon, Pastor Harrell started discussing persecution in the west. As I have discussed before, persecution is headed to the west and we are unprepared as a nation. He agreed with that sentiment and he fears that many “Christians” will scatter with the wind when the government starts coming for us.

Persecution in Acts

As I was reading this morning in Acts 3 and 4 I cam across the jailing of Peter and John. As the beginning of Chapter 4 states:

“As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.” – Acts 4:1-4

On the next day facing the rulers, elders, and scribes, Peter had an interesting and amazing response to the accusers:

“When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this? “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead-by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders , but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:7-12

Persecution and Imprisonment in the 21st Century

It is inevitable that we will face some type of persecution in our lifetime here in the United States. As I look at the political climate, it is foreseeable that we will face persecution. This is not necessarily due to one political party but the fulfilling of the prophecy and second coming of Christ.

As we highlighted here in Acts 3 and 4, Peter and John did not back down when they faced imprisonment. For bringing thousands to Christ and healing a lame man, Peter and John were sent to prison and were later forbidden to us the name of Jesus (since everything was being done in His Name).

It is hard telling what percentage of proclaimed Christians will face this persecution boldly.

Brought before a judge, will we proclaim His Name? Will we cower facing punishment? Friends, the reward waiting for us in Heaven is infinitely greater than any promises in this world.

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Why Do I Keep Denying Him Like Peter?

If you have been a Christian for any amount of time, you have found yourself asking for God to show us what His will is for our lives and how He will use us for His glory. I have quit asking this question in prayer as I believe that I should be focusing more on studying His world and engulfing myself in the Scripture. I am like a newborn in my knowledge of God, who am I to ask about His will? His glory will be done through my life as I study and get closer to Him.

With studying His Word brings knowledge and knowledge comes confidence. I have been praying to be able to muster up the confidence to share the good news and to witness to strangers I meet on the street.

I like to think that I am not alone when I say that I have been cowardly (at best) in sharing my love for Christ and evangelizing to the lost sheep. I pray and pray and pray for opportunities, easy opportunities, to get my feet wet in evangelizing. After all, we are commissioned to go out into the world and create disciples. –We will do a blog posting on the Great Commission, but nevertheless I find it interesting that we have shifted this verse from creating disciples to creating “luke-warm believers”.

My family and I are on vacation. When I say family I mean my wife and my 8 month old son. We have just recently mastered the ability to hand him off at dinner so one of us can eat while the other keeps him calm and distracted. He gets rather jealous when we start eating and he cannot have any!

There were two ladies sitting behind us and I could not help but overhear their conversation (she was talking loudly and there might have been a dozen people in this restaurant). She was discussing how God had revealed to her to “not give up” by walking in the living room and hearing those words on the television. She was also discussing how she wonders why He saves and heals certain people but not others. I could have simply just expressed to her before we left how I would like to pray for her when we get back to our hotel, but I felt as if that was just not sufficient after hearing her concerns and questions.

I talked myself out of evangelizing to her altogether. After eating we quickly hurried out of the restaurant and walked back to the hotel before I even repented for not talking to her about God. I felt like Peter when he denied Christ three times.

I have read and studied a small amount of stories within the Bible. Like the story of Peter I often find myself wondering, “Why in the world did they do that?”. Peter denied Christ three times and I think we all find ourselves appalled that he would deny our Father while we read the story, but we do it so often in our own lives. I did it here tonight by not talking to that lady and comforting her, assuring that God is in control and just in all that he does, even when we do not understand. He was pulling on my heart and I denied it! If I want to be a good at evangelizing and spreading the gospel, I have to get better at the easy conversations. I prayed for this situation and I turned into a coward not worthy of His Grace.

What a great God that we worship and follow, that He forgives us of sins that are so appalling and vile.

God Bless and be better than me!