Persecutors of the Church?

SCRIPTURE  FROM:   Acts 9:3-5 (GNT)

TEXT:  As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” he asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you persecute,” the voice said.

OBSERVATION:   I would suggest that you click on the Scripture reference and read the context in which our Scripture comes from today. You will find that the above verses are actually displaying a miracle in the life of Saul, one who was out to murder and/or arrest every Christian and worshiper of Christ. In fact, when God intervened, Saul was on his way to the synagogues at Damascus to disrupt the Christians by arresting them and taking them back to Jerusalem. Although we see God make a total change in the life of Saul, we are also reminded of persecutors of the church – perhaps even today?

APPLICATION:   Did you click on this devotional hoping that I would give you a list of the persecutors of God’s church today? You might be disappointed, because what I believe that God wants to challenge us on today, is to make sure that we have no indicators of being persecutors ourselves. Oh Brother Ed, you have really gone overboard now, for we are workers in the church, so we would never persecute the church. Friends, here are some subtle ways that I believe we persecute the work of Christ today:

  • Supporting the Pastors of your church – these men, and possibly women, battle with the same time constraints that the rest of us do. They receive more criticism in one month than we probably receive in a lifetime. They are often expected to stretch each dollar further than mankind has ever been able to do it. They are on duty 24/7, yet expected to be fresh and at their best every time they stand before us. If you are to be a true supporter of God’s servants – pray for them and their families; support them through constant encouragement; listen close enough to their sermons that you may want to question them on a point raised during their delivery; Lift them up before your friends instead of tearing them down. These things might be more like promoting God’s work, instead of tearing down or persecuting; by finding fault complaining; not attending church; not tithing so that God’s work might go on; etc.
  • Volunteer – if you are supporting the work of Christ, volunteer to help get more done each day in the ministry. Offer to help around the church office or property; offer to call shut-ins or visit the sick or hospitalized. Idle hands will lead to ridicule, or persecution, way quicker than building up a greater desire to promote the ministry of Christ;
  • Be an encourager – Let the pastors and lay leaders know that you are praying for them. This builds up. This gives you something positive to do instead of leaning to ridicule or persecution. Send notes of encouragement. Specifically pray for someone hurting, working for the Lord, or needing encouragement, then tell them that you prayed for them.

Friends, we can either be a worker, supporter or encourager in the world, or we could be a persecutor, ready to tear down everything and anything God puts together for good. Where do you fit?

PRAYER:   Lord, I believe our default character tends to be more of a complainer or discourager. To tear down and destroy. Yet Lord, when we stop and consider that the Son of God came to earth and humbled Himself through death on the cross at Calvary, for the benefit of undeserving sinners such as I am, and you are friend. How can I but love You, my Savior and my Lord? Oh that the love of God may shine through His humble servants this day and every day, so that others may see every indication of Jesus, and never an indication of persecution of His master plan for us while here on this earth. AMEN!

FOOTNOTE: There are two more pages on my blog that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’.  If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please click on the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog could indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to Nuggets From God’s Word and read more, or you may freely to subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Sebring, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!

 

Be Kind to God’s Messengers

Monday, 2016-07-11

Scripture

Bible Reference: Acts 26:10–11; 13–14

Bible Text: 10 ….. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. 11 Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities.

13 …. as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. 14 We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’

Bible Translation: New Living Translation (NLT)

My Take

In some translations, the word ‘persecute’ is used several times in the few verses referenced. Here’s what that means: “to treat (someone) cruelly or unfairly especially because of race or religious or political beliefs“. I feel like God opened my eyes and reminded me that when we treat God’s messengers with contempt, then we are actually persecuting the Lord Jesus himself. This reminds me of a loving parent who feels condemned when their child is persecuted or ill-treated. So what is our lesson in this? After all, we don’t go about ‘persecuting’ our religious leaders. Or do we? How often do you hear corners of conversation that tend to chew up the sermon from your last service, or the dress code of the pastor, or the makeup on the worship team leader, or the audacity of the pastor to say what he did during his sermon? Is that complimentary of God’s messenger? Is that the precursor to a time of prayer that the group will have for their pastor? I’ve always said that one will get as much from a sermon, as they have prayed into it. Do you feel like we tend to persecute the pastor because God didn’t respond like we expected to our prayers for His messenger who stood in the pulpit? Friends, over in 2 Chronicles 7:14, God said that if we would humble ourselves and pray (not belittle or try to humble the pastor), and if we would seek His face, and if we would turn from our wicked ways, then He would hear from heaven, forgive our sins and restore our land. Notice the personal application there? Nothing about God taking care of all that we feel are inadequate, or who screw up at every opportunity. Friends, I believe that these scriptures are warning us that we have a full-time job doing all that God expects of us, so if we find that we are ‘persecuting’ anyone, then we are meddling and need to get back to the basics. Take care of self first, then perhaps we will not be near as critical of everyone else. Please don’t shrug this off as being super applicable to all of your friends. Allow God to search your heart and convict you of your sin and shortcomings. I believe you will find that there’s lots there to keep you on your knees for a very long time, including praying for your spiritual leaders.  There just won’t be time enough to persecute others. 

Prayer

Lord God, You created all things and You are above all things. Thank You for sending messengers, Your angels, to minister to folk like me, even though we tend to persecute the very ones that You send to bless us, love on us and warn us about our sinful lives. Please help us to love these ones, in spite of them not meeting all of our expectations, and in spite of our sinful desire to persecute them. I believe it is obvious that Paul was not the only one that persecuted Christians. Please dear Lord, rest Your hand upon Your children today, beginning with me, and help us to accept Your power and desire to help us succeed in this Christian life, so that we may serve You better and more fully. We are your messengers as well, please encourage us to treat other messengers in the same way that we want to be treated. May Your kingdom come oh Lord, and may we be ready and obedient in every way, every day! AMEN!

Footnote

If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog could indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to www.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely to subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!

Being Refined For The Glory Of God

May I encourage you to get your spiritual ‘Nuggets’ to start your day off right? You may be going through times of spiritual refining so that you may be drawn closer to the Lord, or brought back on track in being more like Him. Read more and be blessed!

Today’s Bible Reference: 1 Peter 4:12–14
Today’s Bible Text: Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. If you’re abused because of Christ, count yourself fortunate. It’s the Spirit of God and his glory in you that brought you to the notice of others.
The Bible Translation: The Message (MSG)

My Take Away: I found it intriguing how God covers all of life’s possible issues or scenarios in His Word. I believe that He truly intended for us to know that His Word is our central reference point in life. It’s our ‘everything’ manual! Throughout God’s Word we read where God’s people were picked on and often killed because of their stand for the Lord, and while I realize that most of us meditating on this devotional today may never have experienced persecution for the sake of the gospel, I do believe that it still goes on in our world today. I don’t believe that Peter is suggesting that we go off looking for trouble, in order to prove anything about our Christian stance, but I believe that God is getting it across to us that His very Son went through persecution, and if we are seriously trying to imitate Him here on earth, then we should expect the same treatment that He received. However, He wanted us to know that when this happens to us, it will serve to refine us, or strengthen our will to serve God with even greater determination, or remind us of why we are serving our great, big, wonderful God! The refining process always hurts, but the glory at the end of the journey is worth it all! May I suggest that you look at indicators of refining, as encouragement in knowing that God’s not finished with you yet, but that He is still very actively involved in growing and maturing you in His service, for His ultimate glory!

Prayer: Father, it almost sounds crazy that we would rejoice when we feel picked on or abused for our Christian work, but I also believe that it would seem even more crazy if we were not seeing some reaction to Your work that we do. After all, no reaction would often indicate that our work, or even our words, are not a whole lot different to what people hear every day in their jobs or even on the street. I strongly believe that if we dedicate ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, and stand up for we believe He is leading us towards saying and doing, then that will be totally strange to a lost person. Christians, please don’t take that as a bad thing, for why would an unsaved person want to hear from us if we are no different to what they hear from their unsaved buddies? Please dear God, make us more like You, even if it makes us totally different to those we may be called upon to share Your Word with. We want them to see Jesus, and for them to be impacted by Your love that was expressed so vividly throughout Your Word. We need You heavenly Father, please bless us as we go our way today! AMEN!

Footnote: If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog could indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to www.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely to subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!

2016