As anxiety intensifies leading up to Nov. 3, align your spirit with the Lord of peace through the Beatitudes.
Today’s beatitude: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)
When you hear about people around the world suffering terribly for their faith – malicious threats, burned buildings, financial pressures, and in some cases, death – you may wonder, “What do we in the comforts of America know about persecution?”
A few weeks ago at Shepherd of the Hills, our sermon series was “Jars of Clay: Treasure under Pressure.” One of the themes was “persecuted, but not forsaken.” (2 Corinthians 4:9) In the sermon, I shared that persecution occurs in various forms. Let’s define persecution as “aggressive mistreatment because of faith.”
One type of persecution is systematic mistreatment, including physical danger. For Christians in many countries, persecution constantly threatens their well-being. They need our prayers.
A second type – you might call it a “low-grade” persecution – is social ostracism. Even in countries with religious freedom like ours, Christians may face harassment, mockery, and bullying because of their faith.
In the debate over now-Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, I was struck by the fact that some called into question her objectivity because she’s a person of faith. Some worried that her religious convictions (Romans Catholic) would impair her ability to judge fairly.
From everything I know about Christianity, faith should aid a person in being fair. The principles of Jesus are a help, not a hindrance, toward justice. True Christianity is the best guiding compass a person could ever desire because it’s rooted in the God of truth and justice.
A third category of persecution is purely spiritual. You can’t see it, but it’s very real. “Satan” literally means “the accuser.” All Christians are under spiritual persecution by an adversary who wants to deflate us and rip us away from God. The Bible teaches, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
The good news is that Jesus is greater than any persecution that opposes Him and threatens His followers. In the beatitude, he promises the kingdom of heaven to persecuted believers. Bottom line: Jesus’ followers persevere beyond the sufferings of this life and enter into an eternity of safety and security with God.
Persecution is a reality in this world … a passing reality. Jesus’ promise of blessing is an enduring reality.
On the topic of persecution, here are three prayer requests for you:
Today, please pray for the persecuted church around the world. Jesus, who is at God’s right hand, hears our prayers. He will not forsake any of His faithful people.
Today, please pray for those subjected to social ostracism in our culture because of their faith. Pray that they won’t lose heart but will stand strong and hold onto their Savior.
Today, please pray for those under spiritual attack, battling deception, depression, distortion, and doubts. Pray for God to bind them to His truth.
The battle belongs to the Lord! Remember that good news today if you’re feeling worried, discouraged, or fearful about tomorrow’s election. Our enemy, the devil, loves to fan the flames of anxiety. Our Lord, the Living Water (John 7:38), has poured Himself into our hearts and extinguishes flames of anxiety with His peace.
The peace of the Lord be yours in abundance today!
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