Category Archives: Persecution / Glorifying God

Create Opportunity To Share The Gospel

Paul returned to Jerusalem knowing that he would be persecuted. He did so willing to sacrifice his own life in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul felt strongly that he should return to Jerusalem and would not turn away because he would suffer personal harm or death. We should be careful not to overlook this consistent commitment from Paul. He faced many real and tangible threats for his safety throughout his missionary journeys. He nevertheless remained on message sharing the truth with even those who refused to accept it. Because of his boldness and courage and faithfulness, many were led to Christ. Paul did not wait for opportunities to share the gospel of Christ… he created opportunity.

Acts 21:10-14

10As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” 12When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!”

Sure enough, as prophecy foretold, Paul was seized and bound in Jerusalem. Paul knew this would happen because of the prophecy he received. He went anyway. Take special note of how Paul reacts to the crowd once given the opportunity… keep in mind they were beating him with intent to kill him.  He does not attempt to flee. He does not try to tell the people how wrong they were for beating him. He takes the opportunity to share his personal testimony of his prior misplaced efforts to kill followers of Christ as a bridge to relate to those who were trying to kill him. Paul is always looking for a way to bridge back to the message of the gospel by finding a way to connect with those to whom he is speaking. He never seems to miss an opportunity to share the truth of Jesus Christ.

Acts 21:27-40

Paul Seized in the Temple

      27When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the crowd and laid hands on him, 28crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30Then all the city was provoked, and the people rushed together, and taking hold of Paul they dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. 31While they were seeking to kill him, a report came up to the commander of the Roman cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 32At once he took along some soldiers and centurions and ran down to them; and when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33Then the commander came up and took hold of him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; and he began asking who he was and what he had done. 34But among the crowd some were shouting one thing and some another, and when he could not find out the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35When he got to the stairs, he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob; 36for the multitude of the people kept following them, shouting, “Away with him!”

      37As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38“Then you are not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39But Paul said, “I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people.” 40When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect, saying,

Acts 22

Paul’s Defense before the Jews

      1“Brethren and fathers, hear my defense which I now offer to you.”

      2And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew dialect, they became even more quiet; and he said,

      3“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today. 4“I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons, 5as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished.

      6“But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, 7and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ 8“And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’ 9“And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. 10“And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’ 11“But since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus.

      12“A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very time I looked up at him. 14“And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. 15‘For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16‘Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’

      17“It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I fell into a trance, 18and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’ 19“And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You. 20‘And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.’ 21“And He said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

      22They listened to him up to this statement, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he should not be allowed to live!” 23And as they were crying out and throwing off their cloaks and tossing dust into the air, 24the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, stating that he should be examined by scourging so that he might find out the reason why they were shouting against him that way. 25But when they stretched him out with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and uncondemned?” 26When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and told him, saying, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman.” 27The commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” And he said, “Yes.” 28The commander answered, “I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money.” And Paul said, “But I was actually born a citizen.29Therefore those who were about to examine him immediately let go of him; and the commander also was afraid when he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had put him in chains.

      30But on the next day, wishing to know for certain why he had been accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Council to assemble, and brought Paul down and set him before them.

I admire Paul’s courage and faith and his relentless commitment to share the truth of the gospel of Christ. Reflecting personally, I have allowed minor obstacles such as my perception of people’s opinions or resistance to the message or situational settings to discourage me from sharing the message of Christ.  I see in Paul a courage and passion I want to have and I am praying for it as well as making conscious choices to overcome any excuses for resisting sharing the message. This is not an excuse for just being openly confrontational in sharing the gospel, but rather a reminder to look for opportunity to bridge with everyone, anyone in any given circumstance in a way to place the focus on Christ. Ask for God to help in prayer and then look for creative ways to engage people in sharing the gospel of Christ. You will not reach everyone, but you will reach some… and that is worth it.

Think of it… how many go fishing even when they may not always catch fish… or hunting even when they may not always succeed? How many play golf though they may never reach par or go shopping though they may not always find what they are looking for? Why should we not apply at least as much effort, passion and creativity toward reaching others to tell them about the love and joy and peace we find in Jesus Christ?

Your challenge… should you choose to accept it…  create at least one opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus with someone where you would normally not feel bold enough to engage. For the week, create at least three opportunities. I started the challenge today… and God even gave me the blessing of a really encouraging response that I was not at all expecting. God is good.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Fellowship and Encouragement Amongst Believers

What a beautiful picture we see as Paul travels back from Ephesus to Jerusalem. We get a sense of the impact his efforts have had on the region. He travels from city to city and there are fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who greet him. They are one in Christ Jesus. They are not Jew or Greek. They do not separate based on color of their skin or based on whether they are rich or poor or male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

26For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Paul makes time to fellowship with and support each local congregation of the brethren despite being on a journey to get to Jerusalem. They in turn also take time away from their own personal lives to receive him and encourage him, even to warn him. They are all acting in one accord as followers of Christ. They show us what the body of Christ should be like, but often is not, even today.

We see different members of the body of Christ with different gifts including prophets and evangelists. Paul is even warned by Agabus that he will be persecuted if he goes to Jerusalem, but Paul shows he remains prepared to face any form of persecution to honor and serve Jesus Christ.  When Paul decides to proceed to Jersualem despite the warnings, the people still support and encourage him… relying on God’s will. They do not reject him or throw him off because he did not listen to their warning. They bring their families to escort him out of town and pray with him. They are truly one in Christ Jesus.

Acts 21:1-14

Paul Sails from Miletus

      1When we had parted from them and had set sail, we ran a straight course to Cos and the next day to Rhodes and from there to Patara; 2and having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. 3When we came in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we kept sailing to Syria and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload its cargo. 4After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. 5When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another. 6Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home again.

      7When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and after greeting the brethren, we stayed with them for a day. 8On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him. 9Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses. 10As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” 12When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!”

How does your life and the life of your family or church compare with that of the believers as demonstrated in Acts 21? Do believers come together in harmony, working together, praying for one another or is their infighting and division between different people, churches or denominations? Do churches support one another and work together to reach the community or compete against one another for how many members they can get to fill their seats? What can you do personally to make a positive difference in your local community of brothers and sisters in Christ? Pray for God’s wisdom and courage and then get started.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Portrait of One Who Lived Submitted to Christ

After meeting Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul lived a life that serves as a good portrait of one who lived submitted completely to Jesus Christ. Paul truly died to self and took up his cross to follow after Christ.

Matthew 16:24-27

      24Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.

As he prepared to leave for Jerusalem, Paul met with local elders of the church to remind them about his personal life lived as example as one submitted to Christ. It was filled with hardship and uncertainty, but also hope and joy in all circumstances. Paul provides a good summary of how we should approach our lives submitted to Christ. We do well to read carefully as if Paul were writing this to us and try to apply it in our lives today.

Acts 20:17-38

Farewell to Ephesus

      17From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. 18And when they had come to him, he said to them,
“You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; 20how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22“And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. 24“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

      25“And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. 26“Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31“Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. 32“And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33“I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. 34“You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. 35“In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

      36When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, 38grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they were accompanying him to the ship.

As we consider this portrait of living for Christ, Paul reveals several key elements we should carefully consider and apply in our own lives, not matter what our work or ministry.

  • Serve God with humility, even through trials and tears.
  • Do not shrink from teaching truth and repentance, regardless of consequences to you personally.
  • Remember that our life’s purpose is not our own when we are submitted to Christ. Our purpose is to wholeheartedly seek after the work God assigns us to further His kingdom.
  • Be on guard for false teaching and those who would draw you away from Christ. The threat comes both from those outside the church as well as from among the church. People will pervert God’s word to draw disciples after themselves.
  • Do not cease to admonish one another so that we help one another to remain in Christ and in His truth.
  • In testing for false teaching, admonishing, and living for Christ we must look to God and to the word of God as our unchanging source of truth.
  • Work hard to provide for yourself and do not covet someone else’s wealth.
  • Help the weak.
  • Pray for one another in genuine love and concern. Create a community of brothers and sisters in Christ that truly love and care for each other.

Ask yourself… “How does this teaching from Paul apply to my life today?” and then take action to make any course corrections you need to live fully submitted to Christ.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Many Come Against Christ For Selfish Reasons

Most of us who submit our lives to Christ and, out of obedience, boldly proclaim the gospel to others do so with nothing whatsoever to gain personally. We are moved by obedience to Christ and out of love for our fellow man to help them find freedom in Jesus Christ… freedom from sin and freedom from the penalty of death for their sin. It is helpful at times to remember that those who reject Christ have many different motives… and often times it they are not even willing to open their eyes and consider the miracles around them which declare the truth and the glory of God.

Acts 19:11-41

Miracles at Ephesus

      11God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. 13But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. 18Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. 19And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.

      21Now after these things were finished, Paul purposed in the Spirit to go to Jerusalem after he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” 22And having sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

      23About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way. 24For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; 25these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. 26“You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. 27“Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.”

      28When they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. 30And when Paul wanted to go into the assembly, the disciples would not let him. 31Also some of the Asiarchs who were friends of his sent to him and repeatedly urged him not to venture into the theater. 32So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together. 33Some of the crowd concluded it was Alexander, since the Jews had put him forward; and having motioned with his hand, Alexander was intending to make a defense to the assembly. 34But when they recognized that he was a Jew, a single outcry arose from them all as they shouted for about two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 35After quieting the crowd, the town clerk said, “Men of Ephesus, what man is there after all who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of the image which fell down from heaven? 36“So, since these are undeniable facts, you ought to keep calm and to do nothing rash. 37“For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of our goddess. 38“So then, if Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a complaint against any man, the courts are in session and proconsuls are available; let them bring charges against one another. 39“But if you want anything beyond this, it shall be settled in the lawful assembly. 40“For indeed we are in danger of being accused of a riot in connection with today’s events, since there is no real cause for it, and in this connection we will be unable to account for this disorderly gathering.” 41After saying this he dismissed the assembly.

Consider for a moment the “extraordinary miracles” that were taking place in the name of Jesus Christ. They were public spectacles and not private events. Word of Jesus was spreading and people were believing. There were many who responded and believed. However, there were some who were motivated by greed and others who joined in without even understanding why they were rioting… they just allowed themselves to be caught up in the moment and come against the Christians for no particular reason other than seeing others act that way.

They made no rational appeal or argument against Jesus. They were only concerned to shout for their false beliefs and not listen to any other views… even in the face of “extraordinary miracles”! They were blind and could not see… or would not see.

We see these same responses from many today. When we proclaim the truth many will come against us… but many will accept Jesus as Lord. We must take courage and proclaim Him boldly despite opposition. We must take what measured steps we can to protect ourselves while relying on God to help us, but we must never be silenced from sharing the truth of Jesus Christ.

Reason does not always win out… and in this particular scripture there was a man who calmed the crowds. It does not always work out that way, but we must place our trust in God and go about His business anyway.  We can try to adjust our strategy to communicate the gospel and how we respond to people by understanding their motivations. It was probably wise for the believers to keep Paul from going to the riot. We do not know, but perhaps they would not have been so easily calmed if they had Paul in their midst.

Truly we can also be thankful to God when we live in a society in which there is some semblance of court system to sort out conflict in a way that avoids mob rule and riots. We should actively involve ourselves in government when we can in order to protect that protection where we have it or to fight to get those rights where we do not have them.

At all times, however, we should pray for God to help us in proclaiming the gospel and responding to both receptive and hostile audiences… whether we face crowds of 5000 or a single person.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Some Will Not Listen To Reason

Surely all of us have encountered resistance at one time or another from someone that just refused to use reason and logic in dealing with situations in life. Sometimes it can be about really trivial things and other times it is about matters literally of life and death. People get entrenched in a position and become unwilling to listen and consider logic and reason… even when you point out that they are contradicting themselves! They simply refuse to acknowledge that they are even possibly wrong. If they can’t win the discussion with facts, they just get belligerent or violent… resorting to emotional responses.  These behaviors we experience in the world around us are also revealed in scripture. We should not be surprised by them… though they can be very frustrating.

Acts 19:8-10

8And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

Ultimately, you can not force someone to acknowledge reality through the lens of logic and reason. When we find ourselves facing emotional, irrational, perhaps violent opposition we must then decide how best to proceed in going about the Lord’s work. Sometimes the answer may be to stand our ground and hold firm to the truth and sometimes, as in Acts 19:8-10 above, it is best to take some reasonable steps to enable us to safely and effectively continue what we have been called to do. Paul chose to withdraw after many months from the synagogue, but he did not stop his mission. He taught elsewhere for two years and many across Asia heard the word of the Lord. Wonderful to note as well… Paul did not hold a grudge against all Jews, but rather he continued to share the gospel with Jew and Greek alike.

Are you facing opposition like this in your personal life? Prayerfully consider if you should take some reasonable steps to change the dynamic and neutralize the opposition you face. Then listen to God’s response no matter which way He answers… whether to remain “as-is” or to make some changes. Remember, if God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:31

31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?  

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Lord Is Good To Those Who Wait For Him

It is easy to get discouraged at times when we feel as though we are doing what God has commanded, but we do not see the results coming as quickly as we expect. We trust Him, but then we also expect to see results and quickly. We may find encouragement in reminding ourselves to be patient and trust in God while we continue to do what He has commanded. His ways are not our ways… they are better.

Isaiah 55:8-9

      8“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.

      9“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

As we continue to submit to and follow God in our lives, we come to realize that not only does God do things differently than we expect in terms of “how”… but often He does things differently in terms of “when”. We tend to be impatient and look for quick results. It can be discouraging at times, but be encouraged and place your trust in God and in His timing.

Lamentations 3:25-26

25The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.

26It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the LORD.

Isaiah 40:31

31Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Even Moses was discouraged  when things did not turn out well at first (Exodus 5)… and God actually told Him ahead of time that Pharaoh would not let the people go until God compelled him to do so (Exodus 3:19-20).

Exodus 3:19-20

19“But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. 20“So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.

Exodus 5

Israel’s Labor Increased

      1And afterward Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.’” 2But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” 3Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God, otherwise He will fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” 4But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you draw the people away from their work? Get back to your labors!” 5Again Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are now many, and you would have them cease from their labors!” 6So the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters over the people and their foremen, saying, 7“You are no longer to give the people straw to make brick as previously; let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8“But the quota of bricks which they were making previously, you shall impose on them; you are not to reduce any of it. Because they are lazy, therefore they cry out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ 9“Let the labor be heavier on the men, and let them work at it so that they will pay no attention to false words.”

      10So the taskmasters of the people and their foremen went out and spoke to the people, saying, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I am not going to give you any straw. 11‘You go and get straw for yourselves wherever you can find it, but none of your labor will be reduced.’” 12So the people scattered through all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. 13The taskmasters pressed them, saying, “Complete your work quota, your daily amount, just as when you had straw.” 14Moreover, the foremen of the sons of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not completed your required amount either yesterday or today in making brick as previously?”

      15Then the foremen of the sons of Israel came and cried out to Pharaoh, saying, “Why do you deal this way with your servants? 16“There is no straw given to your servants, yet they keep saying to us, ‘Make bricks!’ And behold, your servants are being beaten; but it is the fault of your own people.” 17But he said, “You are lazy, very lazy; therefore you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’ 18“So go now and work; for you will be given no straw, yet you must deliver the quota of bricks.” 19The foremen of the sons of Israel saw that they were in trouble because they were told, “You must not reduce your daily amount of bricks.” 20When they left Pharaoh’s presence, they met Moses and Aaron as they were waiting for them. 21They said to them, “May the LORD look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh’s sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

      22Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You ever send me? 23“Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all.”

Often the immediate results we face when we begin a mission for God do not appear to be successful or turn out the way we expect. We do well to remember to be patient and continue to obey God’s instruction, put our faith in Him, and wait upon His timing.

Are there any areas of your life where you are discouraged? Always good to humbly and prayerfully consider if you are obeying what God instructed you to do. If so, continue to come before Him for help and continue to obey His instruction… and wait upon His timing for the results. God is never late… He is never early… He always completes something precisely when He intends to.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Pray for Deliverance From The Worldly

I invite you to pray with me today for deliverance from those around the world who attack and persecute true followers of Christ. Many are the political leaders that reject Christ with their hearts and actions, even while their lying lips claim the name of Jesus to fool people into following them. Arise O Lord and confront the wicked who seek only after the things of this world. Raise up revival amongst your people who behold You in righteousness and truth.  Let this revival sweep across many regions and nations and across the globe. Deliver us as Your followers from the wicked and worldly in political office and leadership at all levels. Raise up a generation of godly men and women who will stand for you in righteousness.

Psalm 17:13-15

     13Arise, O LORD, confront him, bring him low;
Deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword,

      14From men with Your hand, O LORD,
From men of the world, whose portion is in this life,
And whose belly You fill with Your treasure;
They are satisfied with children,
And leave their abundance to their babes.

      15As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;
I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

God Will Encourage And Support Those Who Do His Will

When we choose to submit to Jesus and listen and obey Him in our life, He will not leave us. Jesus knows exactly where we are and what we are thinking and doing at all times. He knows our motives as well as our actions. So when we commit ourselves to share the gospel with others, we must rely on Him to open their eyes and hearts. We can also rely on Jesus to encourage and support us as His followers as we do our best to share the good news with others.

In Acts 17, Paul has been chased out of Thessalonica and Berea by Jewish people hostile toward the message of Christ. He then traveled to Athens and Corinth. Paul was giving his best effort to obey Jesus’ command to share the gospel with all the nations. He met much rejection and even violent persecution along the way. He would move along, but never give up. Surely he must have been fearful at times and getting tired of constantly facing the wickedness of those who reject Christ. God understood where Paul was emotionally and met Him in  Corinth to provide support and encouragement… and rest.

Acts 18:5-11

  5But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue. 8Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized. 9And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” 11And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Perhaps many of us are not facing physical persecution like Paul, but clearly we will all find ourselves facing times of stress and conflict if we choose to share the gospel faithfully and boldly. At times it may seem like there is much stress and little rest. Be encouraged, continue serving God boldly, and bring your concerns before the Lord. He knows where you are and may already know how and when He will bring you rest to help you prepare for the next part of your journey with Him. He can also help you to endure through the difficult times while you continue in His service.

Isaiah 40:28-31

   28Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.

      29He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.

      30Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,

      31Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Support Those Who Proclaim The Gospel

Missionaries around the world and throughout time surely know well that sharing the gospel is not for the faint of heart. It is a glorious task we conduct for our Lord Jesus, who commanded us to share the gospel with all the nations, but it is at times quite challenging. Take time as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to appreciate, thank, support and pray for those around, or missionaries you know of that are far away, that are boldly sharing the truth of salvation through Jesus alone with others. The encouragement and sometimes direct supporting actions from fellow believers can be a great help to those sharing the gospel.

Acts 17:1-15

Paul at Thessalonica

      1Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” 4And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. 5But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and attacking the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people. 6When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; 7and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” 8They stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things. 9And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them.

Paul at Berea

      10The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. 13But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there as well, agitating and stirring up the crowds. 14Then immediately the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea; and Silas and Timothy remained there. 15Now those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left.

Those that share God’s word and those that support them are all part of the harvest of the lost for the kingdom of God. So, too, both face trials for their work. Evil people who reject Jesus Christ will go to great lengths to attack and persecute those who are boldly proclaiming truth of Jesus Christ. It is not enough for them to reject God, they must justify their position by stopping others from believing. We see these people still today, threatening Christians with anything from physical violence and death to lawsuits for standing up for Jesus Christ. We must never let this stop us from fulfilling the command of our Lord Jesus to proclaim the gospel to all the nations.

Take a few minutes and identify a few people that you see boldly proclaiming the gospel that you can commit to take time to pray for consistently. It can even be someone in the workplace. It does not have to be a formal pastor or missionary. Are there other ways you can help them through acts of service or support or even just consistent encouraging words? Has God brought missionaries across your path that may need funding to continue His work? Prayerfully consider how you can help. You do not have to go far away to help share the gospel far away. Sometimes you can simply help those who do.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

How Shall We Act When We Are Persecuted?

Jesus warns us that in order to follow Him, really live for Him and proclaim the gospel publically and boldly, we should expect to experience persecution along with great joy. We are certainly not better than our Lord Jesus and He faced much persecution… we should expect it as well, if people can actually tell that we are followers of Christ.

John 15:18-21

     18“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21“But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.

It can be very frustrating and even emotionally and physically painful to be persecuted for Christ. There are many variations of persecution we may receive ranging from mild anger and bitterness towards us all the way up to physical harm. How we are to react in order that we honor Christ may depend on the situation, but we can learn a lot from reviewing the Biblical example of the prophets, disciples of Jesus, and Paul.

Acts 16:16-40

      16It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” 18She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.

      19But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities, 20and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, 21and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.”

Paul and Silas Imprisoned

      22The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. 23When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; 24and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

      25But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

The Jailer Converted

      31They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. 33And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.

      35Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their policemen, saying, “Release those men.” 36And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The chief magistrates have sent to release you. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out.” 38The policemen reported these words to the chief magistrates. They were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, 39and they came and appealed to them, and when they had brought them out, they kept begging them to leave the city. 40They went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.

We will not always face such harsh persecution as Paul and Silas. However, take notice that they reached the jailer and his family for Christ precisely by acting boldly in a way that is different than those of the world. Instead of reacting with anger and letting the jailer kill himself, then run away… Paul and Silas showed kindness and grace by calling out in time to save his life, even though it appeared at the time that they would have to remain in prison. This behavior was so different from what the jailer expected, so selfless, that it opened the door for Paul and Silas to share the gospel of Jesus effectively and reach the jailer’s whole family.

At the same time, Paul and Silas knew their rights within the government for not be treating in this way and they stood up for their rights as Roman citizens when they had the chance to do so.  They in no way condoned the awful and unlawful behavior of those who persecuted them.

Prayerfully consider any areas in which you feel others are treating you badly because you live your life visibly different from the world, following Christ. How can you respond in a way that may open doors to sharing the gospel? (Hint: You seldom open doors to share the gospel with non believers when you act the way the world expects based on evil or selfish motivation.)

In my personal walk with Christ I have had to make personal choices to avoid responding with anger and bitterness when others verbally or in writing “attack” me for no good reason, other than my desire to live according to the commands of God in the Bible.  They do not come to discuss and learn or share perspectives. They “attack” because they don’t want to even consider that their view is wrong. My prayerful consideration in these non-violent situations is that by responding with patience and kindness rather than raw anger I may get their attention… by demonstrating behavior that is different from the world.  I know I will not always see the potential impact of this action in others, but I experience the righteous fruit of obedience to Christ in my own life when I choose to respond that way and I know there is at least the possibility that I may break down barriers that lead someone to experience the joy of Christ.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.