March 31 Lent Devotional

The Persecuted
March 31, 2021
By Pastor Lesly Broadbent

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you,

persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

We can’t deny that a clearly anti-Christian voice and power is erupting in America. Certainly, for most of our country’s history Christians have benefited from a place of power, prestige, and privilege, but the tide has turned. Currently, it seems to be en vogue to discriminate against Christians, but not against other religious groups. But more so, there is a distinctly anti-faith bias in our country. People of any faith are ridiculed in the media, in entertainment, and in elitist circles.

This brings to my mind Paul’s words to young pastor Timothy, “The time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (II Tim. 4:3-4)  And Paul is not just talking about those outside the church who will turn away from the Truth, but also those inside the church. With the rise of churches espousing a watered-down gospel and even teaching clear heresies, we are seeing more and more lured away to an “easy” gospel, one with little or no demands.  “Just believe and God will give you all your desires,” they teach.

But Jesus didn’t sugarcoat the demands of the gospel. He seemed to believe it wasn’t a matter of “if” persecution would occur, but “when” persecution would occur. And he blessed those persecuted Christians, saying theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

On Monday you were asked to think back to a time when you have faced ridicule, discrimination, or even outright persecution because of your commitment to living out your faith. Instead of being frustrated, embarrassed, or angry because of that persecution, take a few moments to thank God for the opportunity to suffer for your faith. Pray for those who persecuted you. If you are facing persecution today because of your commitment to living out the gospel pray for your persecutors. Ask God to use your commitment and courage to bring others to the faith.
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