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05 Blessed are the Persecuted

Conrad Vine
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Conrad Vine

President of Adventist Frontier Missions

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  • June 19, 2020
    9:00 AM
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Well I'd like to give you all a warm welcome on this beautiful morning at least here in Varian Springs the sun is shining in the jew is a good thing on the grass and it is a privilege and a pleasure to wake in to God's mercy to awaken to a world where the oxygen is fresh The grass is green and while I've been asleep last night God has been providing for life this morning when I got up this morning we serve a gracious Heavenly Father and it's my privilege to share with you today the final of our journey through the Beatitudes in Mark chapter of Matthew chapter 5 we look so far at the overall structure of the Beatitudes in Luke 6 and Matthew 5 and we've worked our way through the Beatitudes one by one and say we're going to be looking at the last 2 Beatitudes in Matthew 5 verses 101112 and as we open our Bibles and invite you to buy your heads with me where the where you are at home online when you're here in the congregation and will ask for God's blessing so shall we pray Oh Heavenly Father we thank you for the way that you lead us through life and Father I thank you that in these Beatitudes we finally come to where Jesus himself is personally mentioned I thank you father that the promise is that Jesus is with us in the midst of the most terrible difficulties we may go through and so father today in our troubled world I pray that Jesus will be present in our lives in a very personal and real and meaningful way today a father ask that your spirit will speak to our hearts that you will soften our minds you will remake our hearts you guide our feet and you will change the way we live as a result of going through this beatitudes and following Jesus in the path he's laid out for us thank you Father for hearing this prayer in the name of Jesus I ask a man. So these these 2 Beatitudes at the end of Matthew 5 you see the 1st one up here they have to deal with persecution and say I'm going to be talking about the topic of persecution this is not an easy topic to talk about. But I know that in different parts of the world today persecution is very real and so this is a very painful topic for many people many if people that I've been privileged being a pastor for They've arrived in the United States or they've arrived in England from countries where they experienced a very real persecution and so I'm going to be talking about what is a sensitive topic there are many people in our pews who come through extreme persecution and they come and sit in our pews and if we don't ask them to tell us stories to let them share what has happened to them they carry a lot of pain and suffering within their hearts and this beatitude of Jesus it speaks to those who have gone through persecution and to those who have yet to go through persecution and so the 1st these beatitude says this blessid are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven just as the 1st beatitude starts out Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven those who have open hands before God to know that they need the grace of God to receive salvation who have no sense of self sufficient seem so the close of the Beatitudes there is the promise that those who make it through persecution they will also receive the kingdom of heaven then the next the attitude that we're going to focus on is this blessid are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account and this is the only time that Jesus mentioned within the Beatitudes here in the midst of the final beatitude on my account and then it says for your reward is great in heaven from the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you up until this point all of these Beatitudes can be explained in Old Testament terms we've already seen repeatedly that Jesus is drawing them. The attitudes of centuries summaries of Kingdom living from the Psalms particularly Psalm 23 in Psalm 24 but now for the 1st time in the Beatitudes we find Jesus and in this passage here the phrase on my account it tells us the one Jesus is interested in is our person loyalty to him to God is not so much interested in me looking for persecution for the sake of being persecuted but God understands that his children may go through persecution because of their personal connection with Jesus Christ because I choose to follow Jesus Christ and because the world hated Jesus Christ and because the world crucified Jesus Christ therefore as his followers in solidarity with him I understand that one day persecution is going to come my way and Jesus was not just executed by the Romans because of what he taught he was also executed because the of the fact that he lived out his teachings and at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says the wise are those who put his teachings into practice and the early followers of Jesus if you look in Acts chapter 234 and 5 they were not persecuted so much because of that in a convictions they were persecuted because they put the teachings of Jesus into practice. If you look in Matthew 5 and verse 10 it says Blessed are you those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake the early church was persecuted because they stood up for righteousness within their society Matthew 511 and on my account they were persecuted because they proclaimed Jesus as the risen Lord in Jerusalem to the rulers who just crucified Jesus and Matthew 512 they live the same way that Jesus did the early church in Acts chapter 2 through 5 shows a body of believers a community in which social and gender and economic barriers were being torn down systematically and men and women were able to live in harmony with one another and as a result of this they faced social ostracism exclusion from the synagogue floggings imprisonment stoning execution crucifixion and slave and the break up of their families the loss of their homes and their businesses. And yet to his persecuted followers Jesus promises at the end of this god of this Gospel that I am with you always even to the end of the age no matter where you are no matter the persecution you may face there is the promise that I will be with you to the end of the Age So in your Bibles to Matthew Chapter 10 Jesus discusses the reality of persecution in some detail Matthew chapter Matthew's Gospel actually has 5 sermons in it and those sermons are broken up by stories of miracles Matthew Chapter 10 is one of those sermons that Jesus gives in the fivesome to gives in Matthew it's gospel and if you want a great exercise today maybe go through the Gospel of Matthew and identify the 5 sermons within the Gospel of Matthew well here in this particular sermon in Matthew Chapter 10 Jesus discusses what it means for his followers to go through persecution Matthew 10 verse 19 let's read that it says when they hand you over do not worry about how you want to speak to what you want to say what you want to say will be given to you at the time Jesus promised to speak for his disciples at the crucial moment we are not to worry about what we are to say but Jesus promises to speak for his disciples persecution in verse 21 says their brother will betray brother to death and the father his child and children will rise against parents and have them put to death so the 1st kind of persecution Jesus talks about will come within our own families. The 2nd kind of persecution Jesus talks about is in verse 17 where it says beware of them for they will hand you over to councils and to flog you in their synagogues so as the 1st kind of persecution was within our family in verse 17 persecution will take place within the family of faith that is within the Jewish synagogues where the early believers were initially congregating and then in verse 18 you'll be dragged before governors and kings because of me as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles in Matthew 5 invent this verse 18 that we go beyond the biological family we go beyond this community of faith and now persecution be expected from the world at large those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and our response to the rejection and persecution of the world around us will determine our relationship with God just look further down in this chapter 10 verse 32 everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others I also acknowledge before my Father in heaven but Whoever denies me before others I will also deny them before my Father in heaven Jesus is very clear about this that if we are to deny Jesus in times of persecution then we have no part in the kingdom of heaven but if we stand true to our faith and we stand true to our fidelity to Jesus when he says on my account then we have the promise that Jesus will stand by us and we have the promise of eternal life so. If we ask ourselves for a moment what is the reality of persecution today is there persecution is it happening in our world it may not seem like it if you're living in a relatively relatively relatively free Western country but the reality today is that persecution is increasing all around the world I see this in my role with Adventists run to missions on a daily basis just I was just sharing with my colleagues as we came out today there's been no Adventist Church in Syria for the last 50 years and because of this covert we've been preparing sermons in Arabic and now there is for the 1st time in 50 years a congregation meeting in Syria we praise the Lord for that but they have to meet in secret for fear of persecution they're afraid of al Nusra their freedom Al Qaida their fraid of the Alawite surveyed of multiple armed groups who they know would kill them if they know that these young people of accepted Jesus Christ had 2 great sources of information on the persecuted church you see them there on the screen persecution dot com that was established by the voice of the martyrs who was founded by Dr pastor rich of our brand who spent years in the Romanian concentration camps of the Ceausescu regime in the sixty's and seventy's and then open doors USA That's another an evangelical group that tracks the numbers of people who killed for their faith around the world on a daily basis persecution happens today for a variety of reasons some governments persecute because the claims of Jesus are higher than the claims of the civil state when you have a secular state such as North Korea they do not want the claims of Jesus to have a higher place in the hearts of their citizens than the claims of the state of self so you find that kind of persecution in communist north or a tear in regimes Sometimes you have persecution because Christians are a minority and there is a dominant religious group that has no interest in seeing Christian survive I'm not going to mention the world religions by name here but we can imagine what I'm talking about here the un Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 guarantees freedom of religion to all citizens on earth it says there that everyone has the rights of freedom of thought conscience and religion and this right includes religion to change his religion or belief now there are parts of the world today where you have id cards issued by the government and you can be born on the id card it says Christian and if you want to you can change that to say another faith but the dominant faith institutionally says to the government you cannot change from the dominant faith to Christianity on your id cards this happens in different parts of the world today and so the persecution is a reality of what is persecution look like in practice persecution today involves verbal her are harassment hostile feelings attitudes and actions involves Christians in areas with severe religious restrictions paying a very heavy price for their faith Christian persecution today involves In June 2020 beatings physical torture confinement isolation rape severe economic punishments imprisonment indentured labor discrimination in employment and education the government refusing to employ Christians because they are Christians and extreme violence perpetrated on Christian communities if we open our eyes we as Christians in the West we are so suffocated with the froth of meaning sent attainment that we're often blinds the reality that on a weekly basis entire Christian villages are being torched and then habitants hacked to death in some parts of West Africa I have been in those parts of the world I've seen the results myself it is real and it's happening on a weekly basis but as Western Christians are almost blind to the reality of the persecution is happening around our world today persecution is not an abstract construct concept it means young Christian girls being kidnapped and forced into marriages with old men against their will it means that whole communities being burned alive by. Groups like Boko Haram It means exclusion from jobs and educational opportunities in some parts of Southeast Asia it means being beheaded along the beaches of Libya for your faith by ISIS it means no access to Christian literature to Christian churches to Christian internet radio or t.v. no Christian media literature for those living under certain religious rules it means willful self self-censorship in America for those who would otherwise suggest that the straight reading of certain religious texts indicate that some religions are not religions of peace but they are religions of violent repercussions and I'm gonna And so we speak very Kathy when we speak about persecution because what we say in America and what goes out on the Internet can have consequences for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world tomorrow when I'm up might come and burn down the church because what we might say here in America today this is a reality in our world today and so we speak carefully about these matters who is they our enemy our enemy is not a human being we're blessed as Adventists with incredible insights into the great controversy between Christ and Satan our enemy is the real he is literal He is personal he is a malevolent fallen angel known as Satan who has fallen from the glories of heaven who engages relentless war against Jesus Christ through primarily attacking his children every missionary knows that Satan will attack your ministry through attacking the bodies of your children every missionary family when they sign up to so with a family have to point out to them that your children will be hurt your children will suffer your children will face demonization your children may face sexual physical assault in the mission field this is how Satan will try to drive you as a family from the mission field people will take pain in their own bodies but please don't harm my children and Satan attacks Christ through attacking his children today Satan is described in the Scriptures alternately as the ruler of the Kingdom of the air the prince of this. Worlds The God Of This World The Prince of demons The hendra the accuser the liar and father of lies an angel of light the tempter a roaring lion and in the words of Jesus in John 844 he is a murderer but despite these fearsome titles The good news is that Satan is a defeated enemy here he goes around with great wrath because he knows that his time is short he knows what the prophecies say he knows that one day he will be cast into the lake of fire Jesus or Satan fall as lightning from heaven to earth when the Apostles ministered in divine strength and cast out demons in Luke 10 and Jesus has promised us in John 1633 that same victory over Satan today the Apostle Paul experiences victory in his own life and he wrote about it to the church in Romans 828 and the apostle John promised us that Satan will finally be destroyed Revelation 20 in verse 10 and which I say how to lose or in a more frank moment burn baby burn. Satan is powerful he is cruel and he is evil but we are not to be afraid because the apostle Paul says thanks be to God He has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ and what is Paul talking about there he's talking about victory over death and death has lost its sting the ultimate curse of Satan has been broken and Christ has given us the victory and we praise God for that so how does Satan attack the church save the tax the church externally through at least 5 different means he attacks the church through civic rulers persecuting the church in the time Jesus punches part it was a civic ruler and he attacked the church in our own era Kim Jong un North Korea Ceausescu in in Romania the Castro regime in Cuba other communist countries that still exist today are still persecuting the church Satan also attacks the church the religious leaders it was the Jewish priestly class who had Jesus Christ crucified and today there are many clerics of different religions who will whip up mobs to burn down Christian homes and businesses and to destroy their inhabitants Satan attacked the early church through business leaders a classic example of there is the silversmith's of f.s.s. in Acts Chapter 19 persecuting the church and we now have in America modern day equivalent Syncrude pro l.g.b. t.q. corporations businesses such as Pay Pal Apple the n.b.a. and airlines such as United and American who are imposing their social agenda on society as a whole we also see that Satan attacks the church through mobs to literally mobs running through the streets this happened repeatedly in the book of Acts such as a mob of festal micro black 17 in verse 5 and those mobs happen today they happen literally in the streets of the subcontinent places like Pakistan and Bangladesh and they also happen in the West with online mobs you try and speak up for biblical concept of gender or sexuality or marriage and I'll tell you from personal experience the hate mail you will receive. Leave is very painful there are these online mobsters they're just as active as physical mobs in the streets and Satan attacks us through a family's rejection by a family member goes all the way back to Abel's murder by Cain Jeremiah's own family tried to murder him in Jeremiah 126 Jesus' own family thought that he was crazy and wanted to take and lock him up in Matthew 1035 through 36 and many converts today face extreme persecution within their own families I know of many cases of women who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and they keep a picture of Jesus hidden somewhere in their property terrified that their husbands will find out for their husbands to find out they may be summarily divorced on the spot they lose access to their homes their children forever more now be forced out on the streets there are brave women around our world today following Jesus in secret in fear of their husbands Satan also attacks the church internally he attacks us to pride through self exaltation he attacks us through true guilt and there's a difference between true guilt and false guilt. I a true go I'm not sure how that came out the true guilt is when Satan accuses us in our own hearts of our sins and our mistakes and one reason this that this strategy of Satan is so sect of is because we know it's partially true we are indeed sinners and there is much that Satan can accuse us off when he accuses us we know in our hearts of those accusations are true and what he says to us says this is what you did how could God forgive such a sinner as you. How can you sit in the pew dressed nicely on Sabbath the Sabbath when this is happening in your life and he tax us with with true guilt and these are often cherished sins that we have yet to confess when the Holy Spirit speaks to us he says Connor there is a sin in your life why don't you repent and go to offer forgiveness turn aside from this when a voice says to you in your heart Conrad there is this sin in your life God could never love you because of the depth of this sin that is not the Holy Spirit speaking that is Satan speaking to a hot Satan also attacks through full skilled when he cues you of things or he brings to your remembrance sins you've already confessed you have any father you receive the gift of forgiveness by faith and Satan brings these things up and in those cases the best Christian response is to quote To quote the promises of forgiveness in scripture that no I have confessed this 1st on one line is a great example that he will if we confess our sins he was faithful and just will cleanse us of our own righteousness and so Satan taxes through fear if men suffer from pride in my experience as a pastor I may be of the dominant emotion that women tend to suffer from his fear fear of loss fear from being alone fear of abandonment fear of how they're going to be protected in a time of chaos and fear is is a is a very powerful motivating force is not often articulated but it is it is not very powerful force and Jesus has a lot to say about this in Luke 12 through 4 through 5 the enemy can only harm. But he can't hurt our eternal destiny and so Jesus commanded us to set our priorities straight and speaking for those who are filled with fear he says Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul rather be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell and the really the other way that Satan attacks the church particularly the Western church is true materialism and we think that being blessed financially we think if I have a lot of money a lot of possessions and God has blessed me well. Maybe that is the case the challenge with material wealth is it is easy to forget God in the midst of our wealth I remain in church leader in the late seventy's who lived through Ceausescu's persecution had this to say he said in my experience 95 percent of the believers who face the test of external persecution will pass the test but 95 percent of those who face the test of prosperity will fail the test. Like Fire money is a good servant but a destructive master materialism is a seductive power and it will cause people to do almost anything the hearts of the wealthy often hard to harden to the needs of the poor Mammon is a pow seeks to dominate us it is an insatiable God and by God's grace it must be overcome this is why we turning a faithful tide and giving sacrificially is not just a gift of gratitude to God It is an antidote to materialism in our lives and so I encourage you if you are struggling with materialism if for no other reason return a faithful tithe because you will experience the antidote to the draw of materialism in our lives so may I ask ourselves today do we see this kind of persecution rising say in America well I just want to reflect for a few minutes on what's happened in the last 3 months during this pandemic. Would persecution comes from America could persecution come to America well I would suggest this morning that as we look at what has happened around us all of the ingredients are now in place for persecution for God centime people what are some of those ingredients or this is what has happened this is what we've seen literally America in the last 3 months with no acts coming out of Congress with no executive orders requiring this from the president saying what we have seen is a corrupt national media from whom truth has departed pushing a narrative an agenda whereby our civil liberties constitutional rights and religious freedoms are indefinitely suspended during states of emergency at the state level we've seen social media giants restrict in the platform any voices that question the dominant narrative we've seen dissenters to the dominant narrative being demonized by the media and by online mobs and are ascribes the worst possible motives by national political leaders we've seen gatherings for worship and evangelism have been banned in the interests of public safety and deputies have been sent by local mayors to find those gathered for worship services again on com. Situationally hotlines have been established in different States and Americans have been encouraged to report on their neighbors if they're suspected of failing to comply with the dominant narrative so called track and trace apps are being developed and they will be used to monitor the entire physical location of the population again in the interest of public health and safety giving the or forty's unprecedented intrusion into your privacy we how we all have smart tools Syria lexer Amazon's eco dot and Google's nest mini They are now used in millions of homes and phones across the United States and they have the ability to record every word that you speak and it's my conviction that they are listening to you not that some existing like what's Conrad saying today but if you start saying to your if you have a spouse you start saying I'm thinking of buying a lawn garden tractor you say that for about 2 days and suddenly on your social media adverts for lawn garden tractors will start filling your interest Ok somebody is listening we know that because you start talking about these things and the ads start appearing on your Facebook feed states attorney generals have arbitrarily revoked business licenses and business registrations denying individuals and this has shades of Revelation 13 the ability to buy sell or operate a bank account we've also seen international travel brought to a shuddering halt at the stroke of a pen almost all u.s. colleges and churches have been ordered shut indefinitely in the interest of public safety and truth is often declared as hate speech and is driven from the public square that is not things that the ingredients rent time persecution are not already in place it does not require an act of Congress this is happening at a state level and with local mayors what could it look like for Adventists in the final end time persecution or based on what we've seen with no extra acts of Congress this is not what this is what we may be facing for being true to Jesus Christ our civil and religious liberties will be revoked indefinitely the 1st Amendment freedoms freedom of speech and freedom of religion will be meaning. This will see the closure literal closure of all Adventist church buildings a lot of interest colleges conferences unions divisions an advantage densities gone we was when will not be able to gather together for worship or for prayer or for evangelism the proclamation of the gospel will now be declared as hate speech will be deep platforms on social media and cancelled in modern popular council culture our ability to buy a cell bank and travel will be suspended indefinitely for all time my mother and father live in England I cannot get to see them my treasurer who I work with his mother lives in in Croatia she's recovering from serious surgery he cannot get to see her we have people who are stranded on different sides the world indefinitely we cannot connect with our relatives our savings our IRA's investment accounts will be frozen gone forever never to be used again unable to pay our mortgages or rents will be forced from our homes and our possessions will be gone and we will be demonized across the political spectrum and across all social media as Jesus says in Mark 13 you will be hated by all men for my name's sake just as the path of the parable the Beatitudes says when you face persecution on my account will be hounded by mobs in the street and by state bureaucrats drunk on the absolute powers that the emergency declarations give them track and trace apps on our phones will trace our every movement and our smart devices will record every word we ever butter The only thing that remains is a political excuse to turn these ingredients of persecution on God's faithful people we have already seen the greedy and in action this is not some dystopian nightmare I'm describing this is reality of America 2020 the ingredients for persecution are already there it does not require an act of Congress or requires is a an emergency and our civil liberties and our religious liberties are gone just like that so how do we anticipate. How do you respond to those are I need to move on very quickly here how do you respond to those experiencing persecution while Hebrews 13 and verse 3 says this I do not remember those who are in prison as though you were in prison with them those who have been tortured his own you yourselves were being tortured I want to challenge us today educate yourself about religious liberty join your local religious liberty team this is perhaps the ministry for the age in which we are living today Secondly slow down and recognize their suffering up to 212 through 13 we alluded to this passage 2 days ago when they saw him from assistance from a distance that is the friends of Joe They did not recognize him they raised their voices and wept aloud they told their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads they sat with him on the ground 7 days and 7 nights and no one spoke a word to him for they saw that his suffering was indeed very great sitting in silence with somebody letting them tell their story not denying or questioning the truth what they're saying this is a powerful federal Putin mechanism for ministering to someone who just come out of persecution we have refugee Adventists in the here in the state of Michigan they come from parts of Southeast Asia they are often hidden but if you come visit them in their homes or invite them to your home and say Tell me your story you will his stories of heroism that maybe you've never heard before people who enjoyed years in camps or prisons indefinitely in prisons in other parts of the world and they said humbly in your in your room and they are not filled with anger but they're filled with gratitude to God that they made it out of the persecution with their faith intact the 3rd thing we can do is to speak up on behalf of the voiceless give justice to the weak in the often maintain the rights of the lowly in the destitute rescue the weak in the needy deliver them from the hand of the wicked speak out for those who cannot speak for all the rights of the destitute we are not called by God to be a comfortable middle class church we are not told by God to assume that because things are. Ok with me that means everything is Ok with everybody else weak worship God according to our conscience that is the 1st commandment and in turn God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves thus we cannot talk about freedom of conscience and religious liberty and be silent by a single parent struggle to survive day to day while the victims of human trafficking and brutality and economic inequality and environmental degradation and family breakdown sit in silence and suffering in the pews next to us we are called to speak up for those who cannot speak in the falsely in scripture a call to offer practical support and comfort if one member suffers all suffer with it if one member is on it all rejoice together with it many years ago I was the sexy treasure the Middle East Union covering the Middle East a legal and financial issues and I loved my work but the thing that stands out in my memory was one day a young lady came to church in the city where I was and she was covered with bruises around her neck and her up a chest and she wouldn't say anything and she came for a few weeks and eventually we figured out that she was a victim of human trafficking and she was allowed to come to church on the Sabbath morning but then she was put back to work Sabbath afternoon and so we decided what was going to do about this and so we asked her for a copy of her passport which she gave us and then we said to her we have bought you a ticket to your homeland your parents will be meeting with a meeting waiting for you when you arrive in your homeland if you want to get out we will drive up outside the brothel where you are being forced to work you literally walk out the front door into the car will take you to the airport with a police escort and that's exactly what happened that young lady made her way home that is what it means to offer practical support and comfort it was kind of terrifying because she was we were taking her from the grips of the Mafia but we sent her back to her family and in my mind that was the single best thing I did what I was a sect a treasure of the Middle East Union we are not to turn a blind eye to those caught up. In the midst of suffering I have a daughter and if my daughter were ever caught up in a living hell I'd ask you is do the same for her as well so how do you prepare for persecution ourselves Adventist eschatology tends to focus on the sequencing of timelines and roadmaps the 2nd coming we talk about things like the closing probation the ceiling of the saints Jacob's time of trouble and the time of the n.t. o.t. and the end of time the o.t. as a theologians call it to the most common statements that we hear relating to persecution of this number one persecution will never happen here and number 2 we never thought that persecution would happen here and those are the 2 most common statements you hear relating to persecution and yet the Apostle Paul tells us in 2nd printings 13 through 4 you see it on the screen there he said Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ the Father of mercies and God of all consolation who consoles us in our affliction so that we that is the persecuted church may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God What Paul is saying here is that the Free Church and hear America we so consider ourselves part of the Free Church we are except we are called to learn the lessons from the persecuted Church of what it means to go through persecution we are called to listen deeply and respectfully and to learn from Christians who are going through or have gone through persecution so that we can be ready for it ourselves the Free Church needs to learn from the persecuted church we cannot just pretend because we live in the Free Church that the persecuted church does not exist or they have nothing of value to offer us we may think that we may send the money to help them out but more importantly they can share spiritual truths to help us out to prepare for when we face persecution So how do we prepare for persecution will Intellectually I know that I will experience persecution spiritually am I ready for persecution and pastorally. Have I prepared my congregation and my family for when I am gone one of our workers in a.f.n. comes from Southeast Asia her father disappeared into a Communist prison cell indefinitely in the seventies and he was after many years and one day he reappeared at home the family had to continue for years not knowing where their husband and father was this is the reality of persecution we know we're going to experience persecution are we ready for that persecution now we prepared our families not children in our congregations for the times when we may be out of circulation so there are some biblical responses to persecution that we can we can see in the scripture and I'm going to drive these from it from stories we find in the Bible the 1st of these are the teachings of Jesus Jesus says but I say to you who here love your enemies do good to those who hate you bless those who coach Coast's you and pray for those who spitefully use you repeatedly we hear of conversion stories of persecutors of the church who are so impressed by the demeanor of the persecuted disciples that the persecutors themselves are converted the most famous example in history is the Apostle Paul he was a Jewish jihadi killing Christians and yet when Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus it says it hurts you to kick against the goads which means Paul even while you are killing Christians the Holy Spirit is working on your heart this is a common testimony from any form of jihad these and post uses of the church even today. We can flee. It is a Biblical response to persecution to flee we flee when it is clearly the will of God such as Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt when instructed by an angel to do so to avoid the slaughter of the babes of Bethlehem Jesus also commanded his followers to flee from one town to the next if they were persecuted we have much of our wealth tied in material goods maybe we should be starting to think about how can we have portable wealth rather than material wealth that some people groups in history who reduced all their wealth and things like diamonds because they know they will face persecution and they go from one country to another and still maintain their wealth when our wealth is tied up in physical property it becomes a god to us and like Lot's wife when looking back all the time we are reluctant to leave it behind and willing to compromise to keep our material wealth in the bigger response to persecution to stay and endure it this was modeled for us by Jesus and self in the garden and get 70 in Luke Chapter 22 now the Biblical response is to hide literally to physically hide Rahab hitherto spies many modern day Christians are forced to either hide or to hide others during times of persecution back in the mid ninety's I was in Tajikistan there was a civil war between communists and jihadists and that one of the jihadi leaders wanted to kill westerners there about $100.00 westerns in the country at the time and so what did I do and I was a target they were hunting Westerners they caught 4 of 5 Westerners they were all brutally killed including one lady I worked with they blew up with a grenade so what was I to do while I head I hid with an elderly man for 3 months I didn't go out of the house for 3 months he was a dear old saint in the lot he'd survived communism he'd survive the jihad is he survived a lot of life is thrown at him and he hid me for 3 months and what Jihad leader was killed now we could relive much the safety again. We can boldly remain as the sultan lights of the Worlds the teaching of Jesus in Matthew comes immediately after the beatitude on persecution in most of our Bibles we come to the end of the Beatitudes then there's a break and then it's. Something like salt of the earth yes but if you take out the the paragraph break Jesus says Blessed are you when you count and the next thing he says is you are the light of the world and you are the salt of the earth which means that in context we shine for Jesus the brightest in times of persecution we are a preserving influence for Jesus the most when we stay and shine for him in response to persecution because salt preserves and light dispels and when Christians flee their preserving and lightning influence disappears from society we affirm a nonviolent response you can see some of the the text that on the screen for your time is almost up here and sometimes we are called to lay down our life this indeed is a legitimate response to persecution and he special for those indeed to lay down their life for their faith revelation to in verse 10 we can exercise our legal rights the Apostle Paul regularly exercises legal rights as a Roman citizen to him to survive whatever was coming his way we can we are not to be surprised the apostle Peter counsels us not to be surprised that we face persecution 1st Peter $412.00 through 13 and we are commanded to rejoice in our sufferings and in all things wine because God is allowing us to go through it and it got allows us to go through a trouble he will not be a he will not be slow in giving us a means to escape the trouble as well 1st beautiful 13 and flip eons for for we to pray with thankfulness we had to pray in all situations going to Philippines for 6 including in times of persecution which we refuse to be ashamed for our faith we're not to high but we have. A heavenly Father if anyone suffers a Christian let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God in this matter we are to trust in God's abiding present presence Romans 831 through 39 nothing will separates us from God and his personal love for each one of us. So I want to conclude we have some questions here and what areas of my life I consciously building on the teachings of Jesus we've gone through the Beatitudes Monday through Friday this week I want to challenge you the wise build their lives on the teachings of Jesus do not just hear these talks about the Beatitudes but seek to live them by the grace of God ask His Holy Spirit to guide you in how you can put these Beatitudes into practice secondly how we responding today to the reality of persecution of Christians worldwide are encourage you to check out persecution Doc dot com and open doors USA dot org where you can learn more about the reality of persecution and become involved in your local religious liberty ministry I truly believe this is a ministry for our area today are we ready for persecution ourselves this involves cutting away the gods of this world we cannot serve both God and Mammon as Jesus says later in a sermon on the Mount in Stalin's concentration camps the gods had a trick for ensuring the compliance of their prisoners they knew in the early 1950 s. if you gave a prisoner one personal item maybe a comb or tooth brush the fear of losing that one item was enough to guarantee compliance from the prisoner through that 10 or 15 year prison sentence came much in the hole that one material possession has on a human being is time for us to disassociate ourselves and to turn away from the gods of this world the material gods that we all have around us because if we are not careful those gods will snare us and we will turn back as did Lot's wife. And what promise or invitation is Afrin God for us in these Beatitudes Jesus is calling us to live as he lived not just to hear the words of the Beatitudes but to put them into practice his calling us to be merciful to be peacemakers to be pure in heart to hunger and thirst after righteousness and in this passage he is calling us to stand true for him personally whenever we face persecution and some of the last words Jesus ever spoke to us are found in the Book of Revelation there are some promises there so those who overcome the persecution they face I want to conclude this discussion this week with you on the Beatitudes with a promise of Jesus to those who overcome in the face of persecution this is what Jesus says to him who overcomes I will give to eat from the Tree of Life which is in the midst of the paradise of God so that I say amen to him overcomes he shall not be hurt by the 2nd death I lost my cousin to cancer a few years ago she was early thirty's she's face the 1st death by God's grace she will overcome the 2nd death to him overcomes I will give him some of the hidden manna to eat and I'll give him a white stone on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it a new name represents a new character I look forward to seeing what miracle God does for me in the heavens made new and he Hova comes and keeps my works until the end to him I will give power over the nations he shall rule them with a rod of iron they shall be dashed to pieces like the Potter's vessels as I also have received from my father and I will give him the morning star I look forward to the day when I'm interested with the saints of God with the dominion of Jesus Christ the dominion of the Son of Man in Daniel Chapter 7 the saints of God will be trusted with an eternal Dominion because we have tasted and seen that God truly is good we know what mercy and forgiveness really taste like He who overcomes shabby clothes in white garments now. Blots I will not plot out his name from the book of life but I will confess his name before my father and before my angels I will confess Jesus to day before whatever I am tribunals I may be hold an employment tribunal a legal tribunals because I know that in so doing I have the promise that Jesus confesses my name in heaven above He who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God and He shall go out no more I'll write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of My God or the New Jerusalem which comes down out of heaven from my God and I will write on him my new name a beautiful promise that we will be pillows of God throughout eternity. And finally to him overcomes I will grant to sit with me on my throne as I also overcame and sat down with my father on his throne so beautiful promise to those who enjoy whatever persecution is world has to offer mediately after concluding the Beatitudes and I think we have 30 seconds left here so I'm going to take those 30 seconds. I mean legally when it comes to a time allocation immediately after talking about the Beatitudes and immediately after about persecution Jesus says the next words he says are you are the salt of the earth you are the light of the world is my prayer that this is not Jesus hope for us tomorrow this is his description of who we are today bless and said Jesus all those who are persecuted for my sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven that is live the teachings of Jesus let us put them into practice and one day when Jesus comes again will hear those wonderful words well done good and faithful servant I invite you to bow your heads with me as we close this session and perhaps Oh Father God I thank you for the teachings of Jesus Well I thank you that whether we live in Africa Asia Europe or the Americas that these teachings apply to each one of us. But none of us can say that we are beyond the reach of these simple words with profound meanings father's we come to the end of time when the world is looking for a manifestation of the glory of God I ask that our lives will be transformed that we will live these Beatitudes we will express them in our daily lives and that people will see that we are representatives of Jesus Christ Himself I pray Father the not time of post to Sion as and when it comes knocking on our door that we will also find that Jesus is knocking on our door and that he will walk through us to the flames as surely as he walked with the 3 Hebrews to their fiery furnace. So Father dismisses now with your blessing the name of Jesus I out on. This media was brought to you by audio for a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermon leave it to w.w.w. audio verse or.

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