Monday, April 7, 2014

How to Conduct Yourself Under Persecution

Yes, my friend, you are highly favored of God.  He has an incredible inheritance that is awaiting you in heaven.  You may have to go through hell to take possession of it, but be assured that it will be worth it. The Bible tells us that "eye has not seen; nor ear heard; nor mind imagined the things that God has planned for the people who love Him" (paraphrase, mine 1 Cor. 2:9)!

I am currently studying the book of 1 Peter. This book was written by Peter to the scattered Christians throughout the Roman empire just prior to the intensification of persecution under Nero.

I cried when I first read through this book; although I have read it many times before.   It hit me this time that Peter was anticipating his own death, and this book was written to encourage the believers in how to stand firm in the true grace of God (which is salvation) under persecution.

I know you've all read accounts of the atrocities that occurred during this period of history...i.e., using people as human torches to light up their barbecues and cook-outs, boiling people in oil, tearing off their is not for the fainthearted!

And so, beloved Peter, tells them (us) these things to help them stand firm in their (our) salvation under persecution. You say, so why should we know  these things, we are not under persecution.  One only has to read the news or articles in any publication to see that things are setting up where almost anything can and will be held against Christians, and with the knowledge that men have now, who knows what levels of torture people will be put through.

I have read many things about experimentation on the brain, and as a person with a brain anomaly, I can think of nothing worse than mind control or some sort of brain torture.

That being said, here is Peter's advice:

1)   Put away all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander.  It doesn't matter what they do to you, just keep your eyes on Jesus; focus on how HE went through His torture and death and ask Him (in the words of  Kay Arthur) to stamp eternity on your eyelids.  Ask Him to help you see everything (through eyes that are eternal) what is eternal - not temporal!

2)  Like little babies, long for pure spiritual milk so that you may grow up into what God has intended for you when you take ownership of the inheritance that is being held for you in heaven.  You don't want to be like an immature person who is handed great wealth upon the death of a family member and just goes out and wastes it.   You want to know how to live within that inheritance; how to make use of it wisely.

3)  Remember, Jesus is a living stone and He was rejected by men, too, but He was and is precious and chosen by God.  You, too, are a living stone, being built into a home for Christ, in order that you may be a part of His priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus, and you are precious and have been chosen by God. Now how important is that in the plan of God?  Very.  You are important to God.  Stand firm.

4)  You, thank God, are a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people who belong to God.  When you recognize that, you cannot help but proclaim how excellent He is that called you out of darkness into His light is!!!  How can you not stand firm when you realize His GREAT purposes and intent for you in eternity?

5)  At one time, you were a no one, without mercy and heading for eternal death.  Now, thanks be to God, you have obtained mercy and are a child of the most high God!!!

6)  DO NOT, I repeat, do not, allow the passions and desires of your flesh take you back to where you were.  Be self-controlled, and stand firm.

7)  No matter what is going on around you, behave honorably so that when others speak against you as having no honor, people will say "no way!  that one wouldn't do that"!

8)  Remember, your good deeds (prepared for you to do by God before the foundation of the world - see Ephesians 2:10) will bring glory and honor to God on the day of His appearance!

9)  Give proper respect to the authorities!  Yes, this means all authorities, "good" authority and "bad" authority, for it is put in place by God himself.  The thing you don't do is:    don't break God's laws.

10) Live free, doing good to all.

11) Give honor to everyone.  Especially love those that love Christ.

12)  Endure graciously.   If you are punished for doing bad things and endure graciously, what credit does that give you?  But if you endure graciously when being punished for doing good things, this gives you great credit in God's eyes.

13) These are the things to which we, as believers in and followers of Christ, have been called.  He suffered; we suffer.  He committed no sin, no deceit, He did not revile or threaten, but He continually entrusted Himself to God who judges justly, and we are to do the same.

Lord, God, Father of All, it is my prayer today that whatever I say and do, it will bring you glory and honor.  I pray that this writing comes from you and not me.  I pray that the one that you want to reads it would come and be brought to enlightenment about you.  Open the eyes of their  heart, Lord, that they may know what is the hope to which you have called them, that they may know what the riches of your glorious inheritance, and the immeasurable greatness of your power is toward us who believe, and to know that the GREAT power that you used in raising Jesus Christ from the dead is at work in us who believe.  I pray this in Jesus' mighty, powerful name.  Amen

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