Persecuted But Not Abandoned!

persecuted-but-not-abandoned

This is the last message on the Beatitudes series I have been preaching these past few Sundays at Hope Fellowship in Spokane, WA. I pray it ministers to you!

Matthew 5:1 – 12 NIV

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
The Beatitudes
He said: Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
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. 12 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 NIV
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.

Now, more then ever, Christians are hated and persecuted. We should think it not strange, but rejoice because the coming of our Lord Jesus is soon. These signs are in the New Testament and they foretell of what is to come. The Apostle Paul knew first hand what persecution was like.

2 Timothy 3:10 – 12 NIV
You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Living a godly life is a blessed life, and it is also a persecuted life. If you haven’t had much persecution in your life, maybe it is because people don’t know you are a Christian and you haven’t stood on your beliefs in front of them. If you are persecuted, you are on the right track. If you are persecuted by religious people, you are definitely on the right track.

Jesus was persecuted often by the religious people of His day. Judaism was perverted and the Sadducees and Pharisees created something that would benefit them and not the people. Jesus’ message was opposite of this. His message was of love and connection with God. It was not something new to Jesus though. He knew what His mission was when He came to earth in spite of any persecution, He fulfilled his mission.

Persecution is when someone comes under physical and verbal attack for what they believe and for how they live their life. It is as if they were found guilty in court for no cause.

He knew the world would hate him, but it was irrelevant because Jesus knew their ignorance. Jesus even told his Disciples the world would hate them because of Him.

John 15:18 – 25

The World Hates the Disciples
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[a] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’”

Persecution is something that happens to you for no reason other than you are a Christ follower.

In that same breath, Jesus started talking about an Advocate who He will send from the Father – the Spirit of truth – who will testify of Him. This Advocate would be the Disciples as well.

John 15:26 – 16:1 – 15 NIV

The Work of the Holy Spirit
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Why do I bring up all these verses? I hope I am painting a beautiful picture that we are not alone in life, and most importantly, in persecution. We will suffer persecution, the Bible is clear about that, but we don’t have to suffer alone.

John 16:33 NIV
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

The amazing news is that we as Christians already know the ending of the story. Jesus has overcome the world and we will spend eternity with Him! I believe Jesus also shared verse 33 to reassure us that even today, Jesus has overcome the world! With the Advocate, Holy Spirit, living in us, we have more power, more in site, and more help then the Disciples did during their time with Christ. They didn’t know what Jesus was thinking, but we, as Spirit-Filled believers, can tap into what Holy Spirit is saying (He hears only what Jesus tells Him) and be reassured of our life in this world and the world to come.

That is powerful to think about! Today, we have been given gifts from Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) to encourage each other in the middle of any persecution. As such, we have enough “stuff” we go through during a given day of our life, we should be encouraging one another with our spiritual gifts daily!

I believe the more we are persecuted, the more our spiritual gifts should be manifested! We need help from above everyday! We can not make it on our own. That is why Jesus sent us the Advocate!

The word Advocate means: “a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy, a person who pleads on someone else’s behalf. (Dictionary)

In the Old Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary, the word Advocate means:

1. Advocate, in its primary sense, signifies, one who pleads the cause of another in a court of civil law.

2. One who pleads the cause of another before any tribunal or judicial court, as a barrister in the English courts.

In Europe, advocates have different titles, according to their particular duties:

Consistorial advocates, in Rome, appear before the Consistory, in opposition to the disposal of benefices.
Elective advocates are chosen by a bishop, abbot, or chapter, with license from the prince.
Feudal advocates were of a military kind, and to attach them to the church, had grants of land, with power to lead the vassals of the church war.
Fiscal advocates, in ancient Rome, defended causes in which the public revenue was concerned.
Juridical advocates became judges, in consequence of their attending causes in the earl’s court.
Matricular advocates defended the cathedral churches.
Military advocates were employed by the church to defend it by arms, when force gave law to Europe.
Some advocates were called nominative, from their being nominated by the pope or king; some regular, from their being qualified by a proper course of study. Some were supreme; others, subordinate.
Lord advocate, in Scotland, the principal crown lawyer, or prosecutor of crimes.
Judge advocate, in courts martial, a person who manages the prosecution.
In English and American courts, advocates are the same as counsel, or counselors. In England,they are of two degrees, barristers and serjeants; the former, being apprentices or learners, cannot, by ancient custom, be admitted serjeants, till of sixteen years standing.

3. One who defends, vindicates, or espouses a cause, by argument; one who is friendly to; as, an advocate for peace, or for the oppressed.

Wow, so many titles for Advocate in Europe and the United States. Now, why do I bring all of them up? This is the exciting part… because Holy Spirit, our Advocate, is all that and more! He is there supporting and standing up for us in the middle of any “persecution court.”

Now, all that said, this is what I see: I see a church filled with Holy Spirit prophesying over each other, lifting, building, and encouraging each other up! I see each of us stirring up the gifts within us and using them daily. I see a church that is strong in any storm all because we come together and lift each other up prophetically, emotionally, and spiritually! We need each other! Let’s find the treasure in each of us and not the dirt! The gifts of the spirit are for Building people up, Comforting them, and drawing them near to God. It is for edification or to edify the church! Isn’t that AWESOME??? We are not to wallow in our persecution, but to find joy in it because we are Christ’s followers who have an Advocate defending and supporting us everywhere we go.

Yes, we may experience persecution, but we know Christ has overcome the world, and that means we are OVERCOMERS!

Persecution is not the only time to encourage one another in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it sure is a powerful way to look past the suffering and receive from Him help in this area.

Your sister in Christ,

Pastor Kris Belfils
http://www.KrisBelfils.com
http://www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com
http://www.KrisBelfils.Wordpress.com

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