Acts 13:52 Joy Amidst Persecution

And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:52

When trouble hits a person, most people get depressed or discouraged. During attempts to accomplish something, it is common for a person to run into some roadblocks. Often this discourages the person and he gives up in order to try something different.

Joy is rarely seen in a person in the midst of major problems. Instead of joy one will see anger, frustration, depression, or fear. The focus or desire is often lost or given up.

As the disciples were preaching the gospel, many Jewish leaders were against them and pushed them out. The disciples left the area with joy and with God’s Holy Spirit.

The world does not like to hear the gospel message of Jesus. There are also many ‘believers’ in the church who get offended at hearing the full truth in God’s word. It means that they are wrong and must change. These people will often push out or persecute true believers who are preaching the whole of God’s word.

Just as the world gets depressed and discouraged, many believers will also get depressed and discouraged under persecution. This occurs because people have the wrong focus. Too many believers expect an easy, problem free life as a believer. Jesus actually promised the exact opposite.

Those who are going through trouble and persecution can have joy knowing that they are walking the path God has for them and that God is with them. During persecution, the believer can pick up and move on to the next location to reach others who are willing to listen. They do not need to stay stuck in one place, wallowing in despair of failure.

The joy of God’s salvation and presence gives the believer strength to move on despite all troubles.

As you are a witness for Jesus there will come times of trouble or persecution. Do not allow yourself to be discouraged or to give up. Look to God for your joy and strength.

Remember how much persecution Jesus went through for you. Remember that Jesus promised persecution. But also remember that God has promised you eternal life in the end with no more suffering.

Walk with joy and God’s Holy Spirit moving forward to a new place. Find new places to be a witness. Seek out others who will listen. Do not stop or give up. God is with you.

Today I pray that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that you will be a witness for Jesus; that God will fill you with His joy; that you will be filled with God’s Holy Spirit; and that God will give you strength during persecution and troubles.

Acts 8:4 Persecution Can Work For The Good

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Acts 8:4

When problems arise due to belief or choices made, many will abandon the beliefs. Others will choose to move away. When they move, they will carry with them their traditions and beliefs to wherever they move.

Some will keep those beliefs in the new location. Many will abandon the beliefs, because they do not want the same problems in the new place. They are seeking a new identity, rather than being bold with who they are.

After Stephen was killed, the persecution against the church increased greatly. Many believers moved to new locations to escape the persecution. Wherever they went they continued to spread the gospel message.

Persecution is something Jesus had promised will occur. Very few people look forward toward persecution and try to avoid it. It is often seen as something completely bad.

It is common to hear of believers complaining of persecution for their beliefs. They rise up and fight back, rather than just keep spreading the gospel message.

While it is terrible to go through persecution, it can get people to move to somewhere new. The moving will open new doors to spread the gospel message. Regardless of where a believer lives, there are people who need to hear the message of Jesus. Rather than staying and complaining about the persecution, one can seek to find new people to tell the message to.

God is willing and able to use persecution for His good. If the persecution had not occurred in the New Testament, the message of Jesus would not have spread to the whole world. As believers choose to keep preaching the word of God wherever they go, the church will continue to grow and have an influence in this world.

Everyday you will go to some place that has people who need to hear the gospel message. You may have times where you have to move to a new location for some reason. Regardless of where you are or why you are there, spread the gospel message. Seek to stay true to who you are in Jesus and let others know about Him.

Do not fear persecution and hide and be silent, but allow God to use it to be His witness in this world. Allow God to move you to new places to let new people know about His great love and salvation He will provide.

Today I pray that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that God will give you strength in persecution; that you will spread the gospel message wherever you are; and that you will allow God to use you to be His witness.

Acts 18:6 When Rejected, Move On

Walking Away

But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Acts 18:6

Paul had went to the city of Corinth and was preaching the Gospel message there. He was trying to reach the Jews for Jesus. Many of the Jews opposed him and became abusive. Instead of fighting them, he shook off his clothes and moved on to another group of people.

It is very common for someone who is trying to change the mindset of a group of people to be opposed. People do not like to be told that their way of thinking is wrong and most people do not like change.

While most people do not get abusive when being presented a new way of thinking and acting, there are some who do. It is difficult for people to change traditional ways of acting or thinking.

A believer who is working on fulfilling the great commandment to tell others about Jesus, will eventually meet up with people who will oppose him. And sometimes that opposition will get abusive.

For the believer, this opposition can not only appear with those outside the church, there are some inside the church who will oppose him for what God is leading him to say and do. Just as it is in the world, it can happen in the church. People in the church will become abusive in defending their beliefs or actions.

Instead of fighting back or becoming abusive, the believer needs to shake off his clothes and move on to another person or group. Do not fight as the world does and become abusive. Do not be demanding. In these types of actions, there is no love.

If you have not faced this yet, there will come a day when it will happen if you follow God with all of your heart. People will oppose you and become abusive. Do not let it worry or get you angry. Move on to someone else. Keep doing what God wants you to do.

Allow God to work in the hearts and minds of the people. Make sure that you are doing what God wants you to do. It may be rough, but it will be worth it in the end.

I pray today that you will know what God wants you to do; that God will give you strength and wisdom to do His will; that God will give you favor with the people; and that God will guide you when to move on to other groups of people. 

Mark 14:27-28 Hope After Failure

Hope After Failure.jpg

“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: ” ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Mark 14:27-28

Jesus had just predicted His death again, and also predicted that the disciples would abandon Him for a time. He does also say that He will meet with them again after He has risen.

Failure is something that everyone experiences at some point in their life. Each person has a different amount of failures and types of failures. Some keep trying many times and go through many failures. Many quit after a failure, giving up all hope of succeeding. Or they change what they are trying to accomplish.

Thomas Edison is known for saying that with each “failure” it was not a failure but a success. He then knew one more way not to do something.

God knows that every person is human and will make bad choices. They will fail at times in following Him with all of their heart and life. Jesus knew this about each of the disciples. They would deny Him and walk away in fear.

However, Jesus was still willing to accept them and work with and through them. Despite the failure, He planned to meet with them afterwards and move on, rather than giving up on them.

A lot of people have made mistakes and failed God, then quit trying to serve Him because they are such failures. They lose hope in being able to be saved by Jesus.

Salvation is not dependent upon how you live your life, it is dependent upon your belief that Jesus saved you and will save you. Take a look at the lives of the disciples and see how often they failed Jesus, and yet He still loved them and worked through them. He met with them afterwards and did not scold them for failing Him.

Do not cut yourself down when you fail God. Go to Him and repent and accept the forgiveness Jesus provides. Jesus is waiting for you. He is going ahead of you to meet with you when you are ready to meet with Him in your Galilee.

There is still hope after failure. It is not the end, until you take your last breath in this life. Believe in the hope Jesus provides you.

I pray today that you will know the hope Jesus provides; that you will know the forgiveness Jesus provides; that you will keep striving to serve God; and that you will trust in God with all of your life.

Packing Up And Moving On

There is a family who belonged to our church that had made a good impact on our community over a short couple of years. They had come into the area, from out of state, to run a boys home.

This boys home, Still Creek Ranch, is one where troubled boys could be sent to try to get their life back on the right track. It is Christian based and has its own school for teaching and training the boys. At the ranch, the boys learn to grow gardens and take care of animals, while learning about God.

The couple who ran the ranch, had chosen to become members and attend our church. They were always faithful to be at church and had a heart for God. Their focus was on God in everything that they did. They held a standard in their own lives that would mirror God’s standard.

It was only about two years ago that they came into our life. During that time, we had done several things together and talked many times about many different issues in life. Both, my wife and I, and this couple have had to go through various challenges in life and saw God work through them with great blessings.

About two to three months ago, this couple felt a call from God to move out of state to another ministry in New Mexico. This was something difficult to accept.

Many questions were asked as to why would God move them away. From the outside it did not make much sense. Everything appeared to be going great.

After talking with them, we found out that God was moving their hearts to a different type of ministry. The doors were slowly closing where they were. Although they felt that change was about to occur, they were not looking for a new ministry or for change. They just trusted God and kept doing what God placed them there to do.

As they were doing their ministry, God placed it on the heart of someone else to call them to a different ministry. It would be in a different state and would be doing a church plant. This was something brand new for them. After a lot of prayer, they felt that this was the direction God was leading the. Once this decision was made, the doors opened more for the new ministry and started to close where they currently were.

This last weekend was the weekend for them to pack up and move to the new location. My family was blessed to be able to help them load their moving truck up for the move. It was an event that took all day to finish.

It was a blessing to us to be able to help them load up their truck. During the time of loading we were able to talk about various events in our lives, and memories of the time shared together. We were able to share many more testimonies of how God had blessed us in miraculous ways. At the end were able to pray God’s blessing, provision and protection in this new journey in their life as we sent them off.

As hard as it is to see them leave, we know that God has great things in store for them. Often in life people like to settle down in one place and never move again. It is comfortable staying in one place where you know everyone and everything. Change is never easy and rarely is it fun, at least at the beginning of the change.

However, change can bring on new blessings. If they had never went through change and came to our area, we would never have had the chance to meet them. The blessings of knowing them and their children would never have occurred.

As much as we would love to keep them here, they have new blessings to pour out on other people somewhere else. There are new lives to be touched in an area that I cannot reach and I must be willing to let them go and do that ministry.

Letting friends move on is hard, but it does not mean the end of a friendship. The friendship will still remain, through phone calls, emails and Facebook. We will always be connected by God and prayer. We can touch each other through prayer.  Ultimately there will be a reunion when Jesus returns and we all meet up again in heaven, if not here on this earth.

We look forward to hearing about how God will bless their ministry and about the lives that will be touched in the new location.

If you have never had a friend move on, there will come a day when that will happen. Allow your friends to move forward in the will of God to make a change in this world. Not every believer needs to be in one location. Allow everyone to go where God has a place for them. Do not be selfish and want to keep the person tied down to you alone. Share them with the world.

Always remember that God is with them and will never leave nor forsake them. And God is with you and will never leave nor forsake you.