Thursday, April 11, 2013

Devotions: Facing Persecution

Scripture Reading  Acts 5.12-32


In the history of this world, those who have believed in God have often found themselves outnumbered. Many tried to shout down their faith, to repress it and to destroy it.  

Noah and his family were the last of the righteous on earth. Surrounded by wickedness and violence, Noah persisted in serving God. Peter says he was a "preacher of righteousness" in an ungodly world (2 Peter 2.5). 

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and ended up in Egypt. He had no companion in the faith as he continued to put his trust in God. 

John the Baptizer was beheaded. Jesus was sent to the cross. Peter and John were thrown into prison. Stephen was stoned, James was put to death, John was sent to Patmos, Paul was beaten and stoned. 

Christians should not be surprised that there is opposition, disdain and outright hostility to the proclamation of the Gospel. Christians should expect it.

They should also not become angry or discouraged. In Psalm Twelve David says there are those who say, "With our tongues we will prevail." Yet he also says, "The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth" (vv. 4, 6).

Paul faced fierce debates in the synagogues that sometimes turned violent. But rather than scream, rant and rave as the world does, Paul was calm and sure:  "Let God be true and every man a liar" (Romans 3.4).  Peter responded to those who threatened him: "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5.29).

Christians have always known that when you have the truth you don't need to preserve it with abusive threats and physical violence. You just need to believe it, tell it, and live it.  It stands on its own, and we stand with it by God's grace.  Amen.  


Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;
Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day.
Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be;
They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.


Dear Lord, save us from all the enemies of the faith:  Our own sinful flesh that prompts us to be spiritually lazy; The sinful world around us that either entices or threatens us to turn away from You; and Satan, who is the beginning of all evil. Help us to stand with those who have stood before us - faithful to You and Your word. Help us to love our enemies as You love them. Grant that through our faithful witness they may be saved.  In the name of Jesus, Amen.

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