GREAT PERSECUTION, GREAT LAMENTATION, AND GREAT JOY

WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL

APRIL 05, 2024

TOPIC: GREAT PERSECUTION, GREAT LAMENTATION, AND GREAT JOY

BY T. O. BANSO

And there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:8 New King James Version).

In Acts 8:1-8, I found the three phrases I have used for the topic of this message – great persecution, great lamentation, and great joy. Persecution often brings lamentation but joy will be the outcome for a child of God.

Verse 1 says, At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem (New King James Version). Note the phrase “great persecution.” Because of the persecution against the church in Jerusalem, the believers, except the apostles, were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.

In Acts 7, Stephen, a deacon, had been stoned to death after being falsely accused of blasphemy. Acts 8:2 says, And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him” (New King James Version). Again, note the phrase “great lamentation.”

Because the believers were scattered, Philip, a deacon, relocated to Samaria where God rewarded the preaching of His Word with the salvation of souls, miracles, deliverances, and healing. The Bible says in verse 8, And there was great joy in that city” (New King James Version). Note the phrase “great joy.”  There was great joy in the same city that Simon the sorcerer had held the people in bondage such that they called him the “great power of God.” Philip was probably the most joyful person in that city given that he came to Samaria because of the great persecution against the church in Jerusalem. In verses 1-8, we have seen these three phrases “great persecution,” “great lamentation,” and “great joy.”

Persecution, lamentation, and joy represent three phases human beings experience. I don’t know the phase you are in now – persecution (warfare), lamentation (great weeping), or joy (celebration). Once someone enters the persecution phase, it may provoke lamentation. A whole book of the Bible is called Lamentation!

For this message, I describe great persecution as an unpleasant happening or occurrence, a terrible suffering, or a time of hostility or warfare. I will describe great lamentation as the expression of the pain one goes through in that unpleasant situation or great weeping. Great joy is the result of God’s intervention, which brings about a turnaround and celebration.

When people are going through unpleasant experiences, most people tend to believe the lie of the devil that there is no end to it. For a child of God, persecution does not last forever. Neither does the lamentation or weeping it provokes. Psalm 30:5b says, Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (New King James Version).

Read about David’s dethronement by his son, Absalom, and his humiliation by Shimei in 2 Samuel 15:30 and 2 Samuel 16:6-8, 13, and compare these scriptures with 2 Samuel 19:15-23, 39. You will see how David’s sorrowful experience (great persecution) ended in great joy. He was restored to the throne – something which his enemies never thought was possible. That was the thinking of Shimei when he was cursing David, insulting him, and stoning him and his soldiers. But he was among the first people to welcome David when he was returning to Jerusalem as king. He begged him for forgiveness. David promised not to kill him. 

Don’t worry; those who have said terrible things about you or against you, those who have ganged up against you, those who have betrayed you, etc. will all come and bow before you when God restores you to your position or promotes you. Then you will need to act as David and Joseph did, being magnanimous to forgive. David left Jerusalem weeping and walking on foot but the story changed when he was coming back. There was a great joy and his enemies were put to shame. This will be your testimony.

In 1 Kings 1, there was great joy when Solomon was made the king to succeed David, his father (verse 40). Those whose lives were endangered by Adonijah being made the king received David’s approval for Solomon to be made the king while David was still alive. Solomon was anointed king while Adonijah was already entertaining his guests, believing he had become the king. But the great joy by the supporters of Solomon threw the camp of Adonijah into confusion. The tables had turned. Those in Adonijah’s camp were the ones to fear death. The tables will turn in your favour in Jesus’ name.

You may have been going through your moment of painful experience, suffering, and lamentation for weeks, months, or years. That season is coming to an end in the name of Jesus. Your night is about to give way to your morning. If you have been going through great persecution and great lamentation, God will visit you with great joy. You will rejoice in Jesus’ name.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says, For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (New King James Version).

This should be your perspective on your present trouble as a child of God because your adversity is not forever. The Bible says you should count it all joy when you fall into trials of every sort (James 1:2). It does not say the situation calls for joy but it says you consider it a great joy. It will soon be over; your God will change your story. And you will share a testimony of great joy after your great persecution and great lamentation.

In Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4: 35-41, and Luke 8:22-25, there was a great storm, a great tempest but in the same passage, after this, there was a great calm (Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:39). Luke 8:24 says there was a calm.

You may be in the middle of a great storm now and you are thinking of jumping out of the ship. Don’t! Invite Jesus into the ship of your life if you are not born again. If you are, tell Him about the storm; don’t say He knows. Pray to Him about it. Use the authority of His name that He has given you to calm the storm. There shall be a great calm after the great storm.

When those doing business in great waters faced the trouble of stormy wind, as recorded in Psalm 107:23-30, they cried to God and He calmed the storm for them. Verses 28-30 say, Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they are quiet; so He guides them to their desired haven” (New King James Version). If you do the same, God will bring you safely through your great waters; He will give you a great calm.

God will make you rejoice with great joy, as He did for the people in Jerusalem after they had offered great sacrifices to Him (Nehemiah 12:43). Your enemies will hear about your joy. They will hear that the Lord has visited you and has turned your mourning into dancing; He has turned your situation around, and that your famine is over and your season of abundance is here. Naomi heard that the Lord had visited Bethlehem and restored abundance after its season of famine (Ruth 1:6).  

There may not be bread in your house now, as there was a famine in Bethlehem – House of bread. It may be your current experience but, as a child of God, you are on your way out of it in Jesus’ name. Be careful that you do not do anything that will aggravate the negative condition or abort the process that will result in your great joy. You must maintain the right attitude in your period of great persecution and great lamentation to enter the great joy God has in store for you.

If David had committed suicide because he was dethroned by his son, he would not have seen his glorious return to the throne! There will soon be great joy in your heart, your family, your church, your business, etc. Don’t give up. So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 30:26 New King James Version).

Remember that it was persecution that made Phillip move to Samaria. But in Samaria, the story changed; God used Him mightily. Maybe God is asking you to relocate because of your present trouble, and the decision is painful – going to start life in a new environment, a new employment, a new city, etc. But if the instruction is from God, your obedience will result in great joy for you.

You may be weeping while you are packing out of town, leaving your present employment, or leaving your family and relatives as Abraham did in Genesis 12, but it will lead to a harvest of joy, promotion, and enlargement for you. Sometimes God tells somebody to change his location, as He told Abraham, and sometimes He tells someone to stay (Acts 27:30-32; Genesis 26:1-3; Jeremiah 29:4-14). You must know and do what God says.

In closing, I command every good and godly thing that has died in your life to be resurrected and you will experience great joy (Matthew 28:8). The angel of the Lord will bring to you good tidings of great joy (Luke 2:10). Men and women who will bring great joy to your life will visit you; they will cause you great joy, not great pain in Jesus’ name.  

TAKE ACTION!

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 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 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: Father, let my great persecution and great lamentation result in great joy. Every good and godly thing that has died in my life shall be resurrected and I will experience great joy. I receive good tidings of great joy in Jesus’ name.  

(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).

T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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