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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Persecution and Perseverance
We (Journey Church) just concluded a study of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12).  It ends with "blessed are you when you are persecuted...".  As I was studying for our House Church meeting this week, I read Hebrews 10-12 and was convicted and challenged.  I was reading to answer the question "How do we endure persecution?".  Here is what I learned (Hebrews 10:32-12:29)...

1.  Stand your ground.  Like you did when you were first convinced Jesus was Lord!
2.  Be confident.  Let your confidence be found in Christ.
3.  Do God's will.
4.  Live by faith.
5.  Believe!
6.  Throw off everything that hinders and all sin.
7.  Run with perseverance the race that is before you.  Not someone elses race.  Not wishing for a different race to run.  Your race.  The one God created you to run.
8.  Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
9.  Remind yourself of what He (Jesus) endured and how He persevered.
10. Endure hardship.  Treat it as discipline from God.
11. Be thankful.
12. Worship God.

In case I get to feeling sorry for myself, God gave me a list of people to refer to (Hebrews 11):  Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jospeh, Moses' parents, Moses, the Hebrew people, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. 

So when I complain and feel sorry for myself because I am over weight as a result of my overeating and now have to diet and exercise, I can compare that to being sawn in two, beaten, starved, chased, killed, tortured.  What the heck do I have to complain about?  What priviledge, what excess God has lavished on me.  How can I complain about a little discomfort when I talk about my faith (and I use that term loosely in light of the company God has asked me to keep)?

I have more than I need.  More than I can consume.  What is preventing me from being the disciple of Jesus Christ I am called to be.  Shame on me!  Shame on my immaturity!  Shame on my lack of discipline!  Shame on my puny faith!  To paraphrase Hebrews 12:12 (with Job 38:2-3 in my rearview mirror)... Stand up like a man!  Act like a disciple of Jesus Christ!  You are the son of the King.  A member of the Kingdom of Heaven.   God is God.  He loves me.  Act like it!

So, bring it on.  Whatever it is, bring it on.  Let all Hell loose.  It doesn't matter.  GOD IS GOD!  I am his adopted son.  God is for me.  What can separate me from His love? (Romans 8:31-39)  NOTHING!  Now get out there and live the Kingdom!
1:03 pm edt 

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