Suffering for Jesus

1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

First, I would like to thank all those who prayed for our first service back after the stay at home order was rescinded in our state. The smiling faces, the fellowship, the music, and the sweet Spirit’s presence was evident to all. Your continued prayers are much appreciated!

Today, as I read in 1 Peter, my mind drifted to the persecutions the apostles suffered in their day, and those that followed after. Foxes’ Book of Martyrs chronicles the courage of those who gave their lives for Christ’s cause. 

The legacy and heritage we have as children of the King of Kings is a bloody one. Throughout the centuries, those who oppose Christ thought to exterminate the voices that would lift His name. But, even as the Egyptians persecuted the Israelites, the same is true today.

Exodus 1:12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.”

In our lifetime, in Muslim countries, the persecution of Bible-believing Christians continues today. Gruesome videos of torture, beheadings, and horrific deaths have come out for all to see. But what was meant for evil and to strike fear in men’s hearts, has done just the opposite.

When people see that there is a cause worth dying for, they will look into it further. You cannot look into the pure, perfect Word of God and come away unchanged. 

Isaiah 55:10-11 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

It will not be stopped. It cannot be silenced. Though many have tried throughout the ages, there will always be a remnant that will remain to proclaim the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We, who name the name of Jesus Christ, will come into trials, temptations, and persecutions. Knowing that this life is just a passage into a more glorious one in Heaven, we can keep our sights on what lies ahead no matter what we face.

1 Peter 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.”

To think that we ought to rejoice when persecution comes seems opposed to what we think should happen. Peter speaks firsthand as to what this truly means. He fled for his life many a time and found that God was faithful through it all. Even when it came time for him to die, the chosen method was crucifixion like the Savior. 

Peter thought himself unworthy of hanging on the cross like Jesus did and asked to be hung upside-down. 

Persecutions like these are not happening in my country. Some have seen the rise of the persecution of Christians in your nation. Governments that outlaw Christianity has begun to hunt down believers and execute them, causing them to suffer extreme tortures and ultimately death. 

God holds in His possession, the time, place, and way that I will die. Knowing that my God holds the destiny of my soul in His hands brings me great comfort. I have a response that I give to people that ask, “How are you today?”

I will tell them, “One day closer to Heaven.”

Some respond that no one can know that. I give them this verse:

1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

I tell them that I know where I’m going, I don’t know the day. All I do know is that I am one day closer!

My response has born fruit in the opportunity to give the gospel to those that want to hear. It has caused some to stop and think about their eternity. For some, I have had the privilege to lead them to trust Christ as their personal Savior. 

It is all about perspective. Further in Peter, we read:

1 Peter 4:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

Glory in suffering and persecutions? It seems to go against our nature. 

As Christ’s return draws near, we will not escape the trials that lay ahead. It is the heart of God to allow for every soul to have the opportunity to hear the gospel and be saved before He brings the final judgment upon the earth. 

But we, who are saved, should not think ourselves exempt from the trials, temptations, and persecutions that are to come.

1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”

When we all reach the time of our death, we will have reached the precipice from which there will be no turning back. No more prayers will be needed, no more preaching to see souls saved, and no more opportunity for lost loved ones to trust Jesus as their personal Savior. 

That should move us to a sense of urgency because time is short.

Persecutions will come, God told us as much. So, when they arrive, we must embrace the purpose for which God intended.

1 Peter 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”

It is His will, the will of the One who created us. 

We need to pause and pray. Ask God for what purpose is the trial that we now face. What should be our part, and if it causes fear, doubt, or worry, ask God to help us with that.

I am always encouraged when I read these verses:

Hebrews 12:1-2 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Others are watching.

One day, we will face our Savior. It is my sincerest hope that I can meet Him, knowing I have done all within my power to accomplish His will for my life. 

Jesus ran His race. Others watching from Heaven have run theirs. May we desire to hear, “Well done,” when we finish ours.

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