Matthew 10:17-18 Persecuted To Be A Witness

Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. Matthew 10:17-18

Jesus is telling the disciples that they will be persecuted. The people will hand them over to the authorities and they will be flogged. In all of this, it is done so that they may be a witness to governors and kings and the rest of the world.

Persecution is always looked at as a very bad thing to occur. No one wants to be persecuted and it is not easy to watch or hear about someone being persecuted. However, Jesus had a different view on it.

He starts out with stating that everyone who follows Him will be persecuted. The persecution would appear in the form of being handed over to authorities to be flogged. Being flogged is the process of being severely whipped with a strap that causes cuts and tears in the skin.

Jesus had been flogged before He went to the cross. As He was being flogged, He did not cry out or curse the people doing the flogging. In fact, while He was on the cross He asked God to forgive them. He showed true love.

As a believer, there will be times you will go through persecution. People will treat you wrong. They will say false things about you or twist what you say to make it sound wrong. This can be seen in today’s society when a person talks against various sinful acts that are accepted and promoted in America. Believers are called haters when they talk against certain sins.

When you are persecuted, you will have a choice. You can either strike back in anger. Or you can be a witness of God’s love and share the gospel message of love to those persecuting you. When you stand before an authority on a false accusation, it gives you the opportunity to speak to higher authorities about Jesus. It will give you the chance to speak to people who you normally would never see.

Do not fear being persecuted. God is with you and strengthen you. Use it as an opportunity to be a witness to more people. Seek God’s guidance in what to say and do when things are going bad for you.

I pray today that you will trust God in all situations; that you will not fear persecution for following Jesus; that you will be a witness of God’s love at all times; and that God will open more doors for you to be His witness.

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Jeremiah 29:7 Praying For The Enemy

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. Jeremiah 29:7

Going into exile was a difficult thing for the Israelites of Judah to do. As they are going into exile, God now tells them to settle in and serve their enemy. Then on top of that God tells them to pray for their enemy to prosper. His reason for praying for the enemy to prosper is that if the enemy prospers, so do the Israelites.

Praying for the enemy is something many Christians have no problem doing. However, it is how they pray for the enemy that is different. It is common to hear a Christian pray for his enemy that God would strike them down, or remove them. The focus is to change that person, so that one can have a better life. The problem with this type of prayer is that it is totally self-focused.

Years later Jesus would tell all believers to pray for their enemy and bless them, not curse them. Praying for the prosperity of your enemy is a blessing upon them. Doing this shows the enemy the love of God, not the hatred of people.

Not blessing your enemy will fall back on you in the same way. If the economy of everyone around you is failing, your economy will also fail. If there is no peace with everyone around you, then you will not have any peace either. If there is poverty all around you, then you will also have poverty.

No person can have peace or prosperity completely alone. It takes a community to have either. There will always be some in your community that will be your enemy–those who do not follow Jesus. If they do not prosper, you cannot prosper.

Along with physical prosperity, every person needs to know the love of Jesus. If you are praying against them and for their downfall, where is there any love in that? How will they know the love of Jesus, when all they see is hatred?

You may not always agree with your enemy, but you can pray for God to bless them and draw them closer to Him by His love and care. It is His kindness that will draw them to Him.

I pray today that you will know God’s love for your enemies; that you will show God’s love to your enemies; that you will be able to pray God’s blessings on your enemies; and that many will come to know Jesus through the love you show them.

Psalm 59:11 Do Not Kill Them

But do not kill them, Lord our shield, or my people will forget. In your might uproot them and bring them down. Psalm 59:11

Saul had sent men to kill David and David cried out to God for help. He was trusting God to deliver him from his enemies. In asking God for help, David asked that they would not be killed because then his people would forget what God had done for them.

One of the most common prayers for a lot of people is that God completely destroy their enemies. People would often love to see a bad dictator or some other evil person be destroyed to get them out of the way of living safely. Many rejoice when a bad person dies.

David had used great wisdom in asking God not to destroy his enemies. Destroying the enemy completely removes the need for God’s protection. Where there is no threat of an enemy, there is very little trust in God. The appearance of a need for God is diminished.

Every believer needs to live his life in complete dependence upon God. When things start going “good,” it is common for people to stop depending upon God. They often become self-sufficient and forget what God can do or has done in the past.

God is allowing enemies in your life for several reasons. One is to build your trust in Him to protect you. Another is to allow you to be a witness to them. And to allow you to live your life like Jesus–giving you a chance to love your enemies as Jesus did.

When you are faced with an enemy, ask God for strength to endure what is happening. Ask God to show you ways to love your enemy and be a witness to them. And do not be afraid to ask God to frustrate the plans of the enemy to attack you.

God allows people to rise up and He removes people from position. He does that with believers and with non-believers. God is in control. Allow Him to be in control with your life and enemies.

How loving are you to your enemies today?

I pray today that God will fill you with His love for all people; that you will know God’s protection in your life; that God will remove all fear of the enemy; and that you will be a witness of Jesus to your enemies.

2 Samuel 16:11-12 Ignoring The Curses Of Others

David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. It may be that the LORD will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.” 2 Samuel 16:11-12

David’s son was setting himself up to kill David and take the throne, so David and his men were on the run. As they were going, Shimei, who was part of Saul’s family, started to curse him and throw stones at him. He was angry because David had taken Saul’s place as king. Some of the men wanted to strike Shimei down for his disrespect to David, but David stopped them. He felt that maybe it was God’s hand that was causing Shimei to curse him and David trusted in God’s faithfulness.

When a person is cursed by someone, most people will strike back. They will curse the person also, or ask God to strike that person down. It is very common to hear a person retaliate in the same way.

David did not retaliate against Shimei. He ignored the cursing and trusted the situation to God, just as he did as King Saul was trying to kill him. He trusted that God would see his situation and have mercy on him.

Several thousand years later, Jesus would tell the people to love and pray for their enemies. As Jesus was being crucified, He prayed for them and did not strike or curse back. Believers are to ignore the cursing that others place on them.

There will be times that someone will be mad at you for something and will begin to curse you. This cursing usually will be in the form of talking bad about you to others. It can happen in your neighborhood, at your workplace, or even in your church. It can public or it can be done in private.

You have a choice to make. You could be like the world and retaliate in the same way. Or you could be like David and Jesus and ignore the curses, and love and pray for that person.

How will you react today?

As the world?

Or as Jesus?

I pray today that God will fill you with His love for your enemies; that God will strengthen you to ignore the cursing of others; that God will show His mercy to you; and that God will restore all that the enemy has taken from you.

1 Samuel 24:5-6 Striking Back

Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” 1 Samuel 24:5-6

King Saul was set out to kill David, even though he did not do anything wrong. David and his men had hid themselves deep in a cave. Saul had came into the cave not knowing that David was in there. His men wanted him to kill Saul immediately.  Instead of killing King Saul, David crept up and cut a piece of his robe off. After Saul left, David felt guilty and repented of what he had done, and rebuked his men for wanting to harm Saul.

It is very common that when a person is harmed, the person wants to harm the one who did the damage. In workplaces it can be seen time and again when a boss does harm to a person, that the person fights back with a vengeance. At times it becomes a physical fight, while other times it is talking bad about the boss and trying to harm him in other ways.

David had realized that even though Saul was trying to do him harm, he was God’s anointed person. He was put in position over David and David had to honor that.

There may be times in your life when a person who is over you does something wrong to you. The first reaction usually is to fight back in whatever method possible to cause damage to that person.

Every person who is in authority had been put there by God. That is regardless of who they are, where they are, and whether they serve God or not.

As a believer you must honor and love those in authority, regardless of how they treat you. Do not allow yourself to react like the world and strike back in vengeance. When you do that you will have a guilty conscience.

Have you been guilty of “cutting off someone’s ‘robe'”?

Seek to make it right and ask God to help you love and honor others, even your enemies. Do not become guilty of being like the world.

I pray today that God will show you how to love those against you; that you will always do the correct thing to others; and that you will allow God to take care of your enemies.