The Prophet

…for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:12b

The Prophets of Old were some very interesting men. Kings sought them out for their wisdom and insight. Some leaders tried to buy them. The good Prophets were those who told the truth as God had revealed it to them even though it might mean certain death (when you tell a King that his kingdom will soon end while you’re talking to him, you have a good chance of losing your life in short order). They were persecuted for doing what God told them to do!

We’re in good company. When God tells us to say something or do something that flies in the face of modern wisdom or common sense, it doesn’t always turn out the way we’d like it to.

When God tells a Westerner to go into Mecca to preach the Gospel, there’s a good chance that a) others-including Christians-will question that wisdom, and b) depending on how bold he is, he could lose his life.
On the other hand, if he doesn’t go when he knows he’s heard “the call,” then he is at fault.

Again, it’s a good thing to pray Muslims around the world (Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, and Iraq all come to mind. Pray that God will continue to raise up men and women from around the world to march into those often hostile lands. Then pray for their boldness and wait to hear of God’s faithfulness in answering that prayer.

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Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Matthew 5:11

Blessed you are when these things happen. God’s kingdom is an upside down world, isn’t it? We are blessed when people insult us because of Jesus. It’s never fun to be insulted. In a thousand years we could not have come up with being blessed as a consequence of us being insulted, but it is.

I probably should point out that Jesus did throw in a qualifier to the verse: “because of me.” Just because someone insults you doesn’t mean that you were in the right. For instance, you’re tootling around in your car with your “Jesus Loves You” bumper sticker. You’re weaving in and out of lanes and you cut someone off. That person may aim a few insults and gestures your way, but you’re thinking that the person must have seen the sticker and is a totally godless heathen who hates Christian. That may be, but the reason he is upset is because you cut him off. You were at fault and the godless heathen driver was just responding to your terrible driving. But I digress.

Continue to pray for the millions of Christians around the world who are facing very real, very painful persecution. Pray for their boldness in the midst!

Sudan. China. Nigeria. India. North Korea. Eritrea. Iran.  All of these countries are very worthy of our prayers.

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Praying to be Persecuted

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10

In 25 years as a Believer, I have yet to hear a sermon, a teaching, or even a devotion on the topic of “praying to be persecuted for righteousness.” We pray for holiness, patience, humility, a loving spirit, faithfulness, and a whole host of other attributes. Perhaps they pray this in other countries.

What would happen if we prayed it? How could it transform us? Would it transform us? I realize that “persecution happens.” I suspect, though, that persecution happens more when there’s a reason to be persecuted. In other words, if true revival is happening in our midst, others will take notice and before long the authorities feel they are losing control. Then they clamp down on the Believers. Persecution.

So I return to my original statement, what would happen in our lives if we prayed to be persecuted because of righteousness’ sake?

(I have added link to the left if others are interested in The Suffering Church).

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Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

Hebrews 12:14 teaches us to do whatever it costs to live at peace with all men. There’s a peace that comes from having an inner peace with God, one that allows you to sleep at night because you have been perfectly honest with yourself and with God. If you’re reading this, you probably have that peace. Quite literally, if you have made peace with God you are a son of God!

There’s another kind of peace that comes when you are at peace with those around you. Let’s face it, not everyone likes you or me. We may have enemies, even in the Christian body. But the Bible is clear that we are to make peace with those individuals. Whenever we encounter a situation that is hostile and fraught with tension, we are to be peacemakers. Listening to both sides of the story and helping to correct the situation is blessed by God. But before we do that we have to have the mind of Christ.

[I should note that I believe that the Beatitudes are very individual in application versus that of a nation. Here’s what I mean. While “blessed are the poor in spirit” could be applied to an entire nation, I believe it is to be applied to the individual man. Jesus was speaking to a group of individuals, his disciples and a host of his followers. It would be possible to make the case of applying to “a nation” if he were addressing political leaders. For example, 2 Chronicles 7:14 seems to clearly address nations when referring to humility and seeking God’s face. Obviously, this interpretation is controversial in light of current political and military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan (for Americans).]

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Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

Holiness. A good conscience and a sincere heart (1 Timothy 1:5). Saying no to ungodliness and worldly passions (Titus 2:12). Obeying the truth (1 Peter 1:22). Speaking the truth from [your] heart (Psalm 15:2)

Holiness: I think we know deep down what it is when we hear about it or see it in action. But to live it day to day, moment by moment, well, that takes a bit of time. And practice.

Perhaps, though, we practice holiness more often than we know. We certainly know when we’re not practicing it. But, it’s those in between times, the times where we’re doing or saying the right thing, but there is no earth shattering revelation or angels trumpeting our purity or lightning flashes in the sky.

It’s doing the right thing even when no one else will ever notice. That’s not all holiness is, but it’s certainly a good start.

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