Tag Archives: persecution

John MacArthur – Attacks on God’s People

 

“Stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).

Satan wants to catch you off-guard.

Yesterday we saw how Satan attacks God’s Word. Today we will see how he attacks God’s people. Persecution, peer pressure, and preoccupation are three weapons he employs with great effectiveness.

Persecution should never take Christians by surprise because Scripture repeatedly warns us that it will come. For example, 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Yet such warnings are often overlooked in the health, wealth, and prosperity climate of contemporary Christianity.

As the greed perpetuated by such a movement continues its assault on Christian virtue, many professing believers have come to expect a pain-free, trouble-free life. When trials come, they’re caught off guard and often disillusioned with the church or with God Himself. Some prove to be phony believers, whom Jesus described in His parable of the four soils: people who initially respond to the gospel with joy, yet fall away when affliction or persecution arises because of the Word (Matt. 13:21).

Satan also uses peer pressure as an effective weapon. Many people never come to Christ for fear of losing their friends or being thought of as different. For them the cost of discipleship is too great. Even Christians sometimes struggle with peer pressure, compromising God’s standards to avoid offending others.

Another weapon is preoccupation with the world. Often the hardest place to live the Christian life is in the easiest place. For example, becoming a Christian in America isn’t the life-threatening choice it is in some parts of the world. Some who stand boldly against persecution or peer pressure might falter in a climate of acceptance. Often that’s when the danger of spiritual complacency and preoccupation with the world is greatest.

To guard against those attacks, remember that God uses persecution to mature you and bring glory to Himself. Also, make a conscious choice each day to please God rather than people. Finally, evaluate your priorities and activities carefully. Fight the tendency to become preoccupied with things unrelated to God’s kingdom.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to keep you spiritually alert throughout this day so the enemy doesn’t catch you off guard.

For Further Study

Read Matthew 26:31-56. What might the disciples have done to avoid being caught off guard?

 

John MacArthur – Paying the Price of Righteousness

 

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Matt. 5:10).

There is a price to pay for being a Kingdom citizen.

Unlike many today who try to make the gospel palatable for reluctant sinners, Jesus made it clear that following Him had its price. Rather than acceptance, fame, prestige, and prosperity, you can expect rejection and persecution. That’s not a popular approach to evangelism, but it’s honest. Also it insures that no one will try to enter the kingdom on the wrong basis.

Jesus wanted His hearers to count the cost of discipleship. He knew that many of them would be disowned by their families and excommunicated from the Jewish synagogues. Many would suffer persecution or martyrdom at the hands of the Roman government. They needed to count the cost!

Persecution did come to those early Christians. The Emperor Nero smeared many of them with pitch, crucified them, and then burned them to light his garden parties. He condemned Christians for refusing to worship him as a god, and blamed them for the burning of Rome in [sc]A.D. 64. Christians were accused of cannibalism because Jesus said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:56). They were said to be revolutionaries because they believed that God would one day destroy the earth.

The world’s animosity toward Christians hasn’t changed. You might not face the severe persecutions the first-century believers faced, but you will be persecuted (Phil. 1:29). Even new Christians often face difficulties. If they refuse to join their former friends in sinful activities, they might be rejected. If they work for a dishonest boss who expects them to participate in or condone his evil practices, they might be fired or have to quit their jobs. That might bring extreme financial hardship to their families.

God won’t always shield you from persecution, but He will honor your integrity and give you strength to endure any trial that comes your way. Praise Him for His all-sufficient grace!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Pray for those you know who are suffering hardship for Christ’s sake.
  • Ask God for the wisdom and strength to face persecution with integrity and unwavering faith.

For Further Study

Read James 1:2-4 and 1 Peter 5:10.

  • What purpose does suffering serve?
  • How should you respond to suffering?

Greg Laurie – Shallow Roots     

 

He who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. —Matthew 13:20–21

Jesus spoke of people who hear the Word of God, but it never quite takes root. These people appear to be converted and even motivated. They seem to be living on an emotional high and even try to bring others to Christ. Yet they are a picture of soil embedded with rocks. The good seed of God’s Word breaks ground and shoots up, but no fruit ever appears. No real change ever results. Theirs was not a true encounter with God.

Why did they fall away? It’s possible they built their faith on the wrong foundation. Maybe they responded to the gospel because a friend of theirs did. But conversion is not a group effort; you have to make your own commitment to Jesus. Another possibility may be that unbelief set in, causing them to begin doubting God at their first emotional low. Or, they gave up at the first sign of persecution for the gospel’s sake.

If you are a true follower of Jesus, there will be hardships, times of trial, and seasons when you don’t feel as though God is near you. And there will be times when people give you a hard time for no other reason than the fact that you say you are a Christian. So don’t build your life on a friend’s example or approval. Don’t even build it on a church. Build it on Christ.

Today’s devotional is an excerpt from Every Day with Jesus by Greg Laurie, 2013

Greg Laurie – Is There a Catfish in Your Tank?

greglaurie

Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. —1 John 3:13

I heard a story about some fish suppliers who were having problems shipping cod from the East Coast. By the time it reached the West, it was spoiled. They froze it, but by the time it arrived, it was mushy. So they decided to send it alive, but it arrived dead. They tried sending it alive again, but with one difference: they included a catfish in each tank. You see, catfish are the natural enemies of cod. By the time the cod arrived, they were alive and well because they had spent their trip fleeing the catfish.

Maybe God has put a catfish in your tank to keep you alive and well spiritually. It’s called persecution. Maybe there’s a person at work who always has eight hard questions for you every morning regarding spiritual things. Maybe it’s that neighbor who is giving you a hard time for your faith in Jesus. Maybe it’s a spouse or a family member who doesn’t believe. You are wondering why this is happening. It is like that catfish. That person is keeping you on your toes.

Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus told the disciples, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you aren’t of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 16:19).

God will allow persecution in the life of the believer. If you’re experiencing persecution, here are two things to remember: First, persecution confirms that you are a child of God. Second, persecution causes you to cling more tightly to Jesus.

When you are suffering persecution for your faith, remember, this world isn’t your real home anyway. If you persevere with a steady, peaceful spirit, trusting in Jesus to help you, your welcome into heaven will be more glorious than you can imagine.