1 Thessalonians 3:4 Walking Into Trouble

 

Dark path in woods

In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 1 Thessalonians 3:4

Trouble is something that most people attempt to avoid as much as possible. Very few people like to walk into trouble.

When a person is driving down the road and they see a notice that there is a major accident ahead, he will often try to take a different route to keep from being slowed down or stopped. When a person is walking down a  street and see two other people arguing loudly, he will usually, quickly walk by or take a different route to stay away from the trouble.

The change of route will occur even more, if a person knows that there is someone upset with him. People will avoid those who are upset with them. Very few people like confrontation with a person who does not like them.

Paul did not change his route or back down from a negative confrontation. He was not looking at just someone being upset with him, but that there would be persecution ahead. There would be people ahead in his path that would physically strive to harm him. They would beat him and put him in jail.

Most people would turn and run the other direction, yet, Paul did not. He followed what God wanted him to do, be a witness to the people at all costs.

True believers will have to go through some persecution, sooner or later. The world hates believers and will do whatever it takes to remove them. Yet, the believer must move forward, knowing that trouble and persecution is coming. He must not back down from the path God has him on.

The value of walking into trouble and persecution is that God’s word will move forward and touch lives. The person who stands strong and true for God will be a living example of the light and love of Jesus to this dark world.

Are you avoiding talking about Jesus because you do not want to be persecuted? Are you avoiding trouble at all costs?

Or are you willing to be a witness of Jesus to those around you, regardless of what happens?

Jesus was persecuted and He promised His followers will be persecuted. Do not run from it, but keep walking forward, knowing God is in control. God can use that persecution to spread His word.

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that you will be His witness to this world; that you will not fear the trouble the world will give; and that God will strengthen you in times of trouble and persecution to be His witness. 

 

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2 Corinthians 1:5 Suffering And Comfort

sunset on lake

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:5

Suffering is a part of life on this earth. Everywhere a person looks, he will see suffering of some amount or more. Sometimes it is just a little bit of suffering, while other times it is extreme levels of suffering.

There are two types of suffering that people go through. One is suffering of sickness and general problems in life. These are because of the sin that is in this world. Sickness and problems came into this world when Adam and Eve first sinned and were cast out of the Garden of Eden.

The other type of suffering is found only in believers. This type of suffering is being persecuted for being a believer. Persecution can be very light, just words being said, all the way to being physically tortured or killed. In some areas of the world this is a common daily event for believers to suffer just as Jesus suffered.

However, unlike the world, believers also can receive comfort in their suffering. There will be times God will heal the person or solve the difficult situation. Other times God does not remove the suffering, but is brings about comfort in spite of all the suffering.

Believers have the hope and assurance that the suffering will come to an end some day. They can know that some day Jesus will return and all suffering will be removed. Having this type of hope brings comfort and peace to the heart and mind of a believer who is suffering.

This comfort is not only for the believer himself, but also to pass on to others. Comfort is to be shared with all who need comfort.

As you are going through a time of suffering and pain, focus your eyes and mind upon what Jesus has in store for you. Do not complain about or fear the suffering you may be going through. Think about the joy you will have when God brings you home or Jesus returns to bring you home. It will be an eternal joy, comfort and peace that none in this world can know now.

As God comforts you pass that comfort on to others around you. Share what God has given you and be His witness of His great love and power in your life. It will be worth it in the end.

I pray today that you will know God’s comfort in your life; that God will strengthen you in your suffering; that you will share God’s comfort with others; and that you will keep your eyes focused on Jesus. 

Acts 8:4 Keep Spreading The Word

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

The leaders of the temple and the government were putting pressure upon the Christians to give up their belief in Jesus. Persecution was rising and many people were being tossed into prison and scattered away from their homes. As they were scattered to different locations, they kept spreading the gospel message wherever they went.

When trouble occurs and a person is forced to move, it is not usually looked upon as a good thing to happen. People look at trouble as being just that…trouble and hardship. It gets even worse when it is trouble in the form of persecution.

People who are persecuted for their beliefs today will often try to fight back. When a person is ridiculed for his faith, or fired from a job because of his faith in God, that person usually tries to take the one who did wrong to court. He wants to get vengeance against the person who did wrong and make him pay for the hardship.

This type of action increases even more when the persecution results in jail time or some other harsh occurrence.

Looking back on the believers in the bible, they did not do that. Instead of seeking vengeance, they used the opportunity to spread the gospel message even more. They did not waste time on trying to take someone to court for doing wrong or persecuting them.

The believers were more concerned about getting the gospel message out to others, than they were about their own comforts and concerns. Being scattered opened new doors of opportunity for more people to hear about what Jesus had done for them.

In some countries today, the persecution is already very high for believers, while other nations it is slowly, or quickly, rising. Regardless of the level of persecution, every believer needs to take advantage of every situation to spread the gospel message.

You may or may not be under persecution, but if you must move to a new area or a new job, use that as an open door to tell more people about Jesus. Do not allow yourself to get offended about something that occurred that appears to be negative. Use that opportunity for God.

No matter where you live or work, there are people who need to hear about Jesus.

Will you keep spreading the message of Jesus?

I pray today that you will know Jesus as your Savior; that you will tell others about Jesus; that God will give you strength and boldness to be His witness; and that many will come to know Jesus because of you. 

Acts 4:29 A Different Prayer

Locked Up Prayer

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Acts 4:29

Peter and John had already been put in prison for preaching about Jesus. They had been released and all the believers gathered together to pray. Persecution against believers was increasing tremendously. As they prayed, they prayed for boldness to speak the gospel message.

Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, the world has been against those who believe in God. During the Old Testament times, many different nations tried to destroy the nation of Israel, until Israel destroyed itself in rejecting God. They had fallen into the pressure of the world to not follow God.

Later when Jesus came, it was no longer the idea of going against Israel, but against those who follow Jesus. Since the time of Jesus, the persecution against believers has changed in small areas. For a time one nation may persecute Christians strongly, and then later back off some, or it is usually the other way around.

In America it is appearing that persecution of believers is rising higher and higher. Many believers who are in situations of being harassed about their beliefs are praying that God would remove the problem. They want the persecution to stop and that is what their prayers are about.

Looking at the book of Acts, the disciples did not pray for the persecution to stop, but that they would be that much more bold in proclaiming God’s word.

Jesus promised that there would be persecution, so it does not do any good to attempt to pray for it to be removed. Believers are not on this earth for comfort or self. They are there to do God’s word–proclaim the Gospel message to every person. This is to be done regardless of the persecution.

It takes boldness to stand up and proclaim Jesus when under persecution. God will give that boldness, because that is what He wants a believer to do.

As you are going through tough situations and persecutions in life, pray a different prayer. Do not pray to get out of the situation, but that God would give you His boldness to be His witness and proclaim His message to this lost world.

It is in that boldness that people will hear the gospel message and lives will be changed.

What is your prayer about today?

I pray today that God will give you His boldness to be a witness; that God will give you strength to speak His words to this world; that God will remove all fear of persecution; and that God will touch many lives through your life.

Luke 13:34 Weeping For The Lost

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“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Luke 13:34

Jesus had been told by some of the Pharisees to leave Jerusalem, they did want any part of Him. He, then, wept for the city, longing to gather them up and care for them. Even though they did not want Him there, Jesus continued His mission, knowing they would crucify Him.

When people are treated badly by someone or a group, they usually will leave that person and move on to someone else. People know when they are not welcome and do not want to stick around. Very few people are willing to be hated and hurt by someone else continually.

Looking at things as the world does, it makes sense to move on, to forget the person or people you are trying to reach.

This type of attitude is also common among Christians. A believer is treated badly by someone and so they leave that person on his own. They no longer reach out to that person because of the pain being inflicted.

Jesus went to Jerusalem, knowing that they hated Him as a whole. He also knew that they would kill Him the next time He went into Jerusalem. Yet, His hearts desire was to take all of the people of the city under His arm and show them love and care.

His love was greater for them, than their hate was for Him. Jesus knew that He had something that was worth everything to give them. He wanted to give them life, abundant life, despite their not wanting it. Since they did not want what He had for them, Jesus wept over them. He shared His heart’s desire to be with them.

There may be someone or a group of people who treat you badly. Although it is easy to just walk away, it may be that God wants you to continue to reach out to them with His love and compassion.

God wants everyone to know the gospel message and be saved. You may be the only one to reach out to that person. Weep before God for their lost souls and continue to reach out to them. Do not give up on them right away.

I pray today that God will open your eyes to the lost around you; that you will have God’s compassion for the lost; that you will not fear persecution, but trust in God; and that you spread the gospel message to all you meet.

Matthew 12:18-19 No Quarreling Or Crying Out

“Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets.” Matthew 12:18-19

Some of the leadership of Israel were getting upset with what Jesus was teaching and saying. He did not fight back at all. In fact, He left the area and went somewhere else. This was to fulfill a prophecy by Isaiah stating that He was chosen. Jesus had God’s Spirit upon Him and He would proclaim justice, yet not quarrel or cry out in the streets.

People are very quick to cry out abuse or some other crime when they are persecuted for being a believer. When a person loses a job because of his open belief in Jesus, many will call for a lawyer and try to fight back. They cry out in anger and vengeance against the world.

All over the nation people are rising up in anger against some types of sinful practices being promoted in the nation. They are making their voice be heard, but it is not always done in love. It is being shown in hate and anger.

Acting this way is not the way Jesus reacted to the people against Him. His trust was in the Father, not self strength or the government.

Many believers forget that the world will act like the world, like Satan. They are living in sin and do not know any better. Believers, however, are living in a different realm. They are in the realm of God and His love. There is supposed to be forgiveness and compassion.

Looking at a non-believer living the way he does should bring tears to the eyes of every believer. That person does not know the way to truly live life. He does not know the joy God can bring him.

When the world is against you or you see the world not living for God, do not show anger. Show His love and compassion. Actions will speak louder than words. Jesus did not cry out when they pounded the nails into His hands. His love is what will draw all men unto Him.

Don’t quarrel and cry, but show love and compassion. The world will see it and want it in the end.

I pray today that you will be filled with God’s love for people; that you will not fight the world that is against God; that God will guide the words you speak; and that you will be His witness in this world.

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.