Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blessed are Those who are Persecuted Because of Righteousness, for Theirs Is the Kingdom of Heaven

Hi Friends~

Well, the hurricane has passed over Florida.  At our home we had minimal damage...but we are fine.  The ability to use my computer during the storm has been cut down to nothing the last few days, and it isn't exactly sunny out right now.  I'll see if I can get this posted before today's storm hits.

Please join us as we pray for the people and property that are in, and will be in the path of Hurricane Isaac.  Even when they turn to Tropical Storms PLEASE take them seriously.  About 1/4 of our garage ceiling was put in a vacuum with the roof, and then the ceiling was smashed through to the ground.  No one was hurt.  And, we can get it taken care we are very fortunate.  Others may not be as fortunate.  Thank you for praying with us for others.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." 
(Matthew 5:10-12)
Today I am sharing from the writing of Pastor Janey L. Demeo. She wrote an article on this Beatitude that was published in 2003 in the November/December edition of Discipleship Journal. Here are some of her thoughts:
"How can persecution equal blessing?  I remember wondering.  How can someone anticipate future rewards when experiencing unjust pain now?"  I was too young in my Christian walk to know how to grapple with these Verses, so I simply tucked them away in a corner of my mind.
I moved to France with my husband, where we founded the Nimes Theological Institute.  In recent years (remember this was written in 2003), the French culture has grown increasingly hostile to the Gospel, and we have suffered persecution.
One of the most dramatic attacks resulted in four cars on our campus being fire bombed.  Other forms of persecution have been more subtle, but no less demoralizing.  In spite of our affiliation with many well-known, mainstream theologians, our school was erroneously cited as a cult by the French government.  Consequently, students and church members have been ostracized, maligned, and denied jobs.  In this context I've had the unlooked-for opportunity to revisit Jesus' teaching and to ponder more deeply the connection between persecution and blessing.
Sometimes I still wonder:  Where's the blessing in this?  Other times, I remember that my friend's love for Christ Jesus had been tested and purified through torture.  He was blessed by a deep awareness of his Savior's victorious, indwelling presence--a foretaste of the kingdom to come.  There- in, I believe, lies the secret of the blessing Jesus promised.
The word blessing signifies an inner well-being that's independent of our circumstances.  We may not feel blessed when we're under attack.  But, if we can focus on the joy set before us--as Jesus did--remembering that unmerited suffering reaps an eternal weight of glory, we'll be empowered to persevere.  (Heb. 12:12)
As I have found myself thrust into fierce Spiritual opposition, I have begun to experience the unlikely blessing that accompanies persecution.  Slowly my eyes have been opened to see how this Beatitude embodies our hope.
If we are growing in Christ, unjust affliction will eventually come our way:  "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also" (Jn.  15:20)  The more we manifest Christ, the more we become candidates for persecution "because of righteousness."  If is, after all, the righteousness of Christ in us that is being attacked.
When Pastor Demeo shared about not understanding how persecution could equal a blessing at the beginning of this excerpt, I was reminded of something I would like to share with you:
That is that the more I read the Bible...over and over each year...the more He reveals to me.  Sometimes He shows me an example that makes it more clear to me.  Sometimes it is as if I never read that section at all.  The biggest occasion was when I was Jewish and He unsealed my eyes, and made everything so true...THE TRUTH.  No doubt about it. (I was dared to read the Bible, so I prove him wrong.  Boy, was I surprised!)  I had never thought of Jesus as anymore than a teacher, a wise man who existed.  That is what most, if not all Jews believe.  Well, when I was Saved...I believed everything He said, everything He told about!  It was as if He had taken the cement off my eyes.  Or like in the Bible where He gives the man sight again.  My eyes were opened THAT much! 
So, the more you read, the more you pray and listen for a response...the more He will make clear to you.  And, yes, you can even pray to have a better understanding of a part of the Bible or a closer relationship with Him.  You can talk with Jesus about anything!  I almost always start my reading time with a quick prayer asking for clear understanding of what He wants me to get out of what I will be reading that day.  Try it.  And, we will be happy to pray for you also, if you put your request in the comment section.  If you would like to be a part of the He IS Able Prayer Team, please leave a comment or email Traci.  My email is on the side bar.
Please also, pray for those who are severely punished for reading the Bible, having one, gathering with Christians, or praying.  For the persecution we read about is still in existence in a horrible way around the world.  We have readers from all over the world...many from countries where they would be thrown in jail for reading Scriptures.  Please pray for their safety, and for their desire to take in His Word  to grow and grow.
I am so glad you are here...and I hope you learned as much about the Beatitudes in the past weeks, as I have in the past few months studying them.  May God bless you.
He IS Able!
Traci Starkweather

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to post about God's word! We can never hear enough.
    Being persecuted is never fun. It's not something we look forward to. In our country we're not persecuted like some of the other countries-for that I am thankful. I think our faith is tested a lot. Whatever test we're given-I want to pass! I want to be all God wants-I pray he uses me & my life!

    Hugs to you & your family. Praying your having a great week!


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