WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MAY 24, 2022
TOPIC: BLESSED ARE THE PERSECUTED
BY T. O. BANSO
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10 New King James Version).
During His earthly ministry, Jesus did not hide from His disciples the truth that following Him would attract persecution. That was capable of discouraging anyone whose faith in Him was not genuine. Jesus left everyone to make up his mind whether or not to continue to follow Him.
Jesus said in John 15:18-21, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me” (New King James Version).
Jesus was persecuted, so His disciples would. After Jesus had healed a man at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath, John 5:16 records that the Jews persecuted Him for breaking the Sabbath rules and sought to kill him. They later crucified Him.
Jesus said that persecution would not be restricted to Him. His followers would suffer it also. Among other things, He told the scribes and Pharisees that He would send them prophets, wise men, and scribes. They would kill and crucify some of them and some they would scourge in their synagogues and persecute from city to city (Matthew 23:34). Luke 11:49 records something similar. Jesus said persecution was one of the signs of the times and the end of the age (Luke 21:12)
Jesus prepared the mind of those who believed and would believe in Him for persecution. Whereas most people would tell those whose loyalty they wanted to gain only good things that would attract them, Jesus didn’t do that. Even when He promised wonderful blessings to those who have left everything to follow Him, He added that they would receive on earth hundredfold blessings with persecutions and in the age to come, eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).
Jesus told His followers to expect persecutions and, true to His words, persecutions came and many believers are still being persecuted today for their faith in Him. The persecutions vary from discrimination, harassment, hatred, and punishment to death. Telling His followers how to handle persecution, Jesus said, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 10:23 New King James Version).
Earlier in Matthew 5:44-45, He said, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (New King James Version).
The natural man cannot do what Jesus said. It is counter-cultural. Persecution is not easy to bear. But it is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10 New King James Version). This may not make sense to the natural man. But many Christians have been strengthened, divinely, as they face persecution even to the point of death. They face persecution with happiness. The Hebrew word translated as blessed is makarios and it also means happy. “Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!” (Good News Translation).
The Amplified Bible renders Matthew 5:10 thus: “Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever]. Christians, undergoing persecutions, are comforted by inner peace and God’s love. God gives His children grace to undergo persecution without renouncing their faith in Him. Blessed are the persecuted.
Persecution has never stopped the advancement of the church. The church has continued and will continue to march forward amid persecution. You are blessed when you are being persecuted. In other words, you are comforted by inner peace and God’s love. Whatever affliction and persecution you’re going through is light compared to the weight of glory awaiting you in eternity. Paul says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17 (New King James Version).
Under persecution, you can trust God to comfort you with inner peace and His love. You can courageously face persecution and be spiritually alive because of your great reward in heaven. Jesus said, “Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me. Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12 Amplified Bible).
If you’re going through persecution for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. God is with you. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:9 that he was persecuted but was not forsaken. God will not forsake you under persecution. He has said He would never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He will comfort you with inner peace and His love. You will be morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness. You can endure persecution by the grace of God, not by willpower. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. But if we deny Him, He also will deny us (2 Timothy 2:12).
If you’re a persecutor of the church, stop it because you are indirectly persecuting God. Paul persecuted the church. He confessed that himself (Galatians 1:13b). But during the divine encounter that led to his conversion, Jesus didn’t ask him why he was persecuting the church but why he was persecuting Him (Acts 9:4). After his conversion, Paul, a former persecutor of the church started preaching the faith he had tried to destroy (Galatians 1:23). Stop persecuting God’s children or the church; you are persecuting God and you can’t win.
Blessed (happy) are those being persecuted for righteousness’ sake. 1 Peter 3:14 says if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed and should not be afraid of threats or be troubled. If you’re being persecuted, you’re blessed. Happy are you. “Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted” (Matthew 5:11-12 Good News Translation).
The persecution the children of God suffer is not in vain. Blessed are the persecuted, for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help me to love my enemies, bless those who curse me, do good to those who hate me, and pray for those who spitefully use me and persecute me. Father, let all Your children remain happy and blessed when people insult and persecute us and tell all kinds of evil lies against us because we are following Christ. No child of God will renounce the faith because of persecution in Jesus’ name. Let all the persecutors of the church become preachers of the Gospel.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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