Blessed are those who are persecuted for Him
Those who belong to God have realized their need for Jesus. Many of us saw the emptiness of life apart from Him. We believed His word, confessed our sins, received his righteous life, and are now being transformed into His likeness. By His life in us, we may share His character, participate in His work, and manifest His love wherever He sends us.
Others who love our King become our friends -- our brothers and sisters in Christ. Those who reject Him (a growing majority) reject us, if we are like Him. The beatitudes, which show us the characteristics of a Christian, culminate in this final joyous testimony to the normal life of the believer:
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, f or theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven....”
For those who have “set their minds on that which is above” (Col. 3:1-3) and seek “a city... whose architect and builder is Cod”, the message of Phil. 1:29 is both happy and sobering: “For you have been called, not just to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
Paul’s longed to know Jesus Christ personally and intimately, live by His resurrection life and to share His suffering. (Phil. 3:7-10) As heavenly citizens, we live in a foreign land — we are different. Will we choose to conform to this world and please its people, or will we be the loving (though sometimes convicting and disturbing) righteousness of Jesus Christ on earth and please Cod? If we choose the latter, there is no limit to the joy we will experience in the presence of our King now and forever.
My Lord, even if it means rejection and pain, I want to share your life and work every moment. Live your righteousness through me. Let there be no offense from me but that of the cross —a response to your purity, not my selfishness. Like you, I choose to “run the race with perseverance... for that joy that lies ahead.” (Heb. 12:1-2) Thank you for making me one with you for today and for all eternity.
FIRST DAY: Read Matthew 5:10.
1. Who are His blessed ones? What does Cod promise them?
2. If He has blessed you with His pure and righteous life, what kinds of persecution might you encounter.
3. Verse 12 gives us a key to victory over our circumstances. What can you do when you face persecution? (What happens inside you when you do this?)
4. Why can you “be glad” when you are rejected and suffer the pain of any form of persecution?
SECOND DAY: Look again at Jesus, your example and your life. He, the most gentle, loving, kind and righteous person who ever lived, was “despised and forsaken, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. (Is. 53:3) Why? In the following verses, discover (1) who would be offended by His life in you and (2) why they would be offended. Consider what God might be saying to you in each:
THIRD DAY: Read John 17:13-26. Here Jesus prays to His Father concerning His friends -- including you who follow Him in this age. (v. 20)
1. According to vs. 14-18, what is your relationship to the world?
2. An amazing commission is given in v. 18. What is Jesus telling you?
3. How has He prepared you? (See all His provision for you in vs. 22-26)
4. (Personal) Will you go with Him? Tell Him your response.
FOURTH DAY: Read John 15:18-27.
1. Again look at your relationship to the world. What further insight is Jesus giving you here?
2. In vs. 18-19, what consolation does He offer those who are rejected by the world for His sake? (Are you encouraged by this? Why?)
3. Why does the world reject our King and His representatives? (See v.20 and John 3:19-21)
4. Who is the Helper Who comes to live in you? What is His function?
FIFTH DAY: Read Luke 6:22-35. Jesus spoke these basic truths of kingdom—life often as He traveled across the country. This sermon, quoted by Luke, was given at a different time and place than the one in Matthew, yet the contents is similar. In this section He tells about victory in the face of rejection and persecution.
I. (Personal) Can you identify in any way with the condition described in v. 22? Explain.
2. What attitude toward present difficult circumstances and future blessing is expressed in v. 23?
3. (Personal) Look at the warning in v. 26, What might you examine (by the light of the Spirit) in your own life if “all men speak well of you”? (Could something be missing?)
4. Verses 27-35, show a radical Christian response to hatred and injustice. Which verses are significant to you? Why?
SIXTH DAY: Review Matt. 5:12. We are not to “rejoice and be glad” for persecution, but rather for what God promises those who are willing to share His life, work and suffering (which will include rejection with Him — perhaps even from our own people in the church).
1. Romans 8:16-18, is a beautiful statement about your relationship with God. (Notice how you are related to each person of the Triune God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) What is God’s call and promise to you here?
2. Prayerfully read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. What is Paul’s attitude toward suffering? (For deeper understanding of his suffering, read 1 Corinthians 11:23-29. Notice the “light” or “mild affliction” Paul suffered for and with Jesus.)
3. According to v. 18, what must you do in order to receive the blessing of the promise. How can you do this? (If you do this, you will always be ready to rejoice when you meet with persecution)
4. Having heard His call and promise, what is your response to your King?
The Secret of Abundant Life: Lesson 11
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