April 1 Devotional

The Persecuted
April 1, 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.

In the early church it was expected that Christians would be persecuted, and they were. The first and second centuries were dangerous times to proclaim faith in Jesus Christ, but the early church never gave up. Trials, tribulations, and suffering were an expected part of living out the Christian faith.
 
What about now? We’ve already seen there is very little or no actual persecution of Christians in the United States. When there is no tension between the church and the world that means one of two things. First, it could mean the world has been completely converted to Christ, and we can celebrate. Or second, it could mean the church has completely watered down and compromised its message, and we better be concerned. So, when you are not facing persecution it may simply mean you are not being faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. This seems out of line with what we are taught. We are taught that persecution of and opposition to Christianity is a bad thing, a sign of the demise of our culture, but looked at from this light we can see it is a blessed thing. Facing persecution and opposition for being a Christian is a cause of hope, not despair or cynicism.

Read these words of Jesus found in Matthew 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Those who endure to the end; those who remain steadfast in the faith; those who remain faithful even in the face of horrific persecution and suffering, will be gathered together when Jesus comes in His glory. They will indeed inherit the kingdom of God. May you be found steadfast and faithful even in the face of adversity and trials.
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