Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10
In the seventies, a TV commercial for an automobile oil filter made this line famous: “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” The same principle—now or later—also applies to rewards promised to followers of Christ.
Jesus suggested that we have a choice when it comes to rewards: We can receive rewards now in the form of the adulation of men, or we can receive rewards in eternity from God who sees what we do for Him (Colossians 3:23-24). Jesus also said that those who suffer persecution for His sake will receive the Kingdom of heaven, that those who leave the riches and relationships of this life will be rewarded a hundred times over in eternity. Sometimes we don’t choose to give up comfort in this life; it is taken from us by persecutors of the Church. The same promise applies: God stands ready to reward those who suffer for Christ’s sake in this life. Heaven is a time when rewards will replace what was lost.
Whatever you lose for Christ’s sake—property, reputation, comfort, your good name—does not go unnoticed by God. Nor will it go unrewarded (Romans 8:18).
In the second advent [God] will manifest His glory to reward their faith. John Chrysostom
Persecuted – Dr. Charles Stanley
Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17
Stephen Cass, an editor at Discover magazine, was determined to investigate some of the invisible things that are part of his daily life. As he walked toward his office in New York City, he thought: “If I could see radio waves, the top of the Empire State Building [with its host of radio and TV antennas] would be lit like a kaleidoscopic flare, illuminating the entire city.” He realized he was surrounded by an invisible electromagnetic field of radio and TV signals, Wi-Fi, and more.
Elisha’s servant learned about another kind of unseen reality one morning—the invisible spiritual world. He awoke to find himself and his master surrounded by the armies of Aram. As far as his eyes could see, there were soldiers mounted on powerful warhorses (2 Kings 6:15)! The servant was afraid, but Elisha was confident because he saw the army of angels that surrounded them. He said: “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (v. 16). Then he asked the Lord to open his servant’s eyes so he too could see that the Lord had surrounded their enemy and He was in control (v. 17).
Do you feel overpowered and helpless? Remember that God is in control and fights for you. He “will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11).
Reflect & Pray
How can you learn to trust God’s supernatural help? How would trusting Him more change the way you face difficulties?
Fear not for God is with us and for us.
1 Samuel 18:5-16
Jealousy is a treacherous emotion. It’s poison to the believer because it opens the heart to a host of other sinful emotions and attitudes. Consequently, envy must be dealt with quickly—before it has the opportunity to take root.
King Saul’s jealousy so warped his thinking that he eventually became an embittered fool and destroyed his relationship with David. The problem began when the people praised David more highly than the king, saying, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). The king became suspicious and began watching for signs that David might be trying to undermine his royal position. Though Saul never found any actual evidence, his clouded thinking mistook any success in the young soldier’s life as reason for resentment.
Bitterness and fear festered until he was willing to take David’s life just to put his mind at ease. We could never go as far as Saul did, right? Don’t be so sure. Jealousy is a powerful emotion, and one cannot say what he or she might do if given free rein. That’s why it’s important to deal with jealousy as soon as we’re aware of it. First, we each need to examine our heart and determine if there’s anyone who elicits feelings of suspicion, bitterness, hostility, or resentment. Then, we must prayerfully submit those feelings to the heavenly Father.
Jealousy and resentment are poisonous emotions that simply do not fit who we are as children of God. Even a little venom can be dangerous, and harboring such attitudes for any period of time is too long.
“Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty.” (Job 5:17)
One of the fascinating paradoxes of Scripture (and of human life) is the oft-repeated principle that true parental love requires appropriate chastening, and chastening rightly received generates blessing and happiness. “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes” (Proverbs 13:24).
This is effective child psychology, assuming that the chastening is remedial rather than vindictive and is applied in love rather than anger. But the main teaching of such passages goes beyond parental child-training methods to the grand theme of God’s spiritual training of His children for eternity.
This thought is often expressed in the Psalms (94:12, etc.), but it is especially clear in Proverbs. “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Proverbs 3:11-12).
The classic passage on this theme is Hebrews 12:5-11, which begins by quoting the above verses in Proverbs, and eventually concludes as follows: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11).
We are “sons and daughters” of “the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18), and it is essential that we be properly trained for our glorious future as “kings and priests unto God” (Revelation 1:6). We must learn to behave in ways appropriate to our high calling as children of the King, and this requires the divine rod at appropriate times. In His closing words to the last of the seven churches, Christ reminds us again: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19). HMM
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine for reproof for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
—2 Timothy 3:16
I knew a man from India who got hold of a New Testament, was converted and started to preach, but he had no background at all. That is, he started from scratch. He did not have a Greek Orthodox or Roman Catholic or Protestant background. He just started from the beginning. He didn’t know anything about churches. He testified, “What I did when I had a problem in the church was to go straight to the New Testament and settle it. I let the New Testament tell me what I was to do.” The result was that God greatly blessed him and his work in the land of India.
This is what I would like to see in our church—the New Testament order of letting Scripture decide matters. When it comes to a question—any question—what does the Word of God say? All belief and practices should be tested by the Word; no copying unscriptural church methods. We should let the Word of God decide. RRR140
Lord, help us to lead our churches to seek clear direction from Your Word and Your Spirit. Amen.
Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.—2 Corinthians 12:9.
The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.—2 Timothy 4:17.
To His own the Savior giveth
To each troubled soul that liveth,
Peace at length.
Karl Rudolph Hagenbach.
Remember that your work comes only moment by moment, and as surely as God calls you to work, He gives the strength to do it. Do not think in the morning, “How shall I go through this day? I have such-and-such work to do, and persons to see, and I have not strength for it.” No, you have not, for you do not need it. Each moment, as you need it, the strength will come, only do not look forward an hour; circumstances may be very different from what you expect. At any rate, you will be borne through each needful and right thing “on eagles’ wings.” Do not worry yourself with misgivings; take each thing quietly.
God does not demand impossibilities.
“Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof.” Ps. 102:13, 14
Yes, our prayers for the church will be heard. The set time is come. We love the prayer meeting, and the Sunday school, and all the services of the Lord’s house. We are bound in heart to all the people of God, and can truly say, “There’s not a lamb in all thy flock I would disdain to feed; There’s not a foe before whose face I’d fear thy cause to plead.”
If this is the general feeling, we shall soon enjoy times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Our assemblies will be filled, saints will be revived, and sinners will be converted. This can only come of the Lord’s mercy; but it will come, and we are called upon to expect it. The time, the set time, is come. Let us bestir ourselves. Let us love every stone of our Zion, even though it may be fallen down. Let us treasure up the least truth, the least ordinance, the least believer, even though some may despise them as only so much dust. When we favor Zion, God is about to favor her. When we take pleasure in the Lord’s work, the Lord Himself will take pleasure in it.