Devotions

Category Archives: The Beatitudes

Reviled • Devotion #6: Promises and Treasures

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

The concept of suffering for the name of God is often something that is a struggle for many, including myself. We often think that when we become a follower of Christ that we are going to have a great life on Earth and that things are going to go our way. Usually, when things do not go the way we want and we struggle, our blame goes towards God. The truth of the matter is that this is something that is never promised to us. Instead, it is promised to us that we are blessed when we do suffer for the name of the Lord.

There is a sense of boldness that needs to come from the believer. Instead of running from the opposition, we are to stay strong and be bold for the Lord. When we are following God and living our lives the way that He has commanded us to, the enemy will begin to target us. Satan sees the light of God shining in our lives and he is going to do anything and everything in his power to exterminate this light. People will try to test our character and lead us out of the path of light and lead us towards darkness. We are meant to stand firm against this adversary and push the name of God. Arthur W. Pink states, “Having deliberately chosen to suffer with Christ rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, we shall also reign with Him, according to His own sure promise.”

This is something that is not for the faint of heart. This is a time in our life that we cannot make it through on our own. It is during times like these that we must lean on God for guidance and for Him to give us the strength and endurance to persist. This is a time that if we try to enter this fight alone, we will crumble and succumb to the temptation of the enemy.

In my own life, I struggled with this. We live in a world that around every corner we are being tested and tempted by the enemy. This is not something that stops at any point until we are in the presence of our Savior. I remember my time in college and seeing and hearing things that would continuously test me and try to pull me away from the plans God had laid out for me. It was not easy to stay strong and resist, but the ending of this verse serves as a great reminder that when we do remain strong, we should rejoice and be glad because the treasures that are waiting for us in Heaven are much greater than any “treasures” we think that we can receive in this world.

Reviled • Devotion #5: Prophets, too

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

Rejoice and be glad when others revile, persecute, and speak evil of you. Wow! If that is not completely counter-culture, I do not know what is. Yet, is that not who Jesus was? He often lived the complete opposite of everything that this world values and stands for. We live in a broken, sinful world. Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” However, as followers of Jesus Christ who have experienced the life change that comes through knowing Him, we know that we no longer have to live in our sin, nor are we held back by the chains of death.

When Jesus shares this passage here on the mount, He takes the opportunity to teach a real, and sometimes hard truth about what this new life through Him looks like – a life that has been justified through the blood of Christ and the new life we enter into. You see, if we truly enter into a relationship with Christ, our life is going to change. It will be a life change that will radically change your life for the better. However, just as true with many changes in life, there will be growing pains and learning curves. One of these learning curves is persecution. The fact is, that once we take on the identity of Jesus, this broken and sinful world will not accept us in the same way it did before. Why? It is because we are no longer conforming to the things of this world as Paul writes in Romans 12:2, but we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ.

Therefore, this is why Jesus tells us that we are to rejoice and be glad when we are reviled, persecuted, and people speak evil against us for His sake. We know that the reason this will happen is that we are truly following the heartbeat of Christ and becoming more and more like Him as we daily grow closer to Him. Jesus adds one final note saying how this persecution and hate we as followers of Christ receive is nothing new. In Matthew 5:12 Jesus says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” I truly believe Jesus said this as an encouragement to us. First, it is to know that we are not alone. Second, it is so that we will look to the Scriptures for encouragement and see that our brothers and sisters before us who were counter-culture and lived a life pleasing to the Lord, experienced the same persecution and hate that we experience today over two thousand years later.

Reviled • Devotion #4: Great Is Your Reward

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

Here in Matthew, the word blessed is the Greek word “Makarios,” meaning “happy” or “fortunate, and often indicates someone who is favored by God.” How would being persecuted make a person fortunate or happy?

For many years, I worked in a place where it was tough to be a Christian. I did not go around proclaiming to be a Christian, but as we worked together my co-workers saw that my life was centered around serving the Lord and trying to live a Christ-like life. However, if I said or reacted to something in a negative way, there was one person in particular who was quick to remind me that I was “supposed” to be a Christian. He often gave me a hard time and called me names that were meant to be hurtful. Sometimes it felt pretty lonely to work there. For a while, my password at work was courage, because that was what I needed every day to go and do my job.

Those days were nothing when we look at the kind of persecution that the first Christians experienced. History tells us that almost all of Jesus’ twelve disciples were martyred. John was exiled to the isle of Patmos for preaching the Word of God. We read of Paul, who was beaten, stoned, and imprisoned multiple times for his faith. All through history, we find accounts of Christians who risked their lives and were persecuted for believing and telling others the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Though some days were challenging at that job, the Lord blessed my life and I grew in so many ways during those years. It was then when my husband got saved and we got connected in the church. I became involved and began to teach in women’s ministry, and at work, I developed wonderful friendships with my coworkers and industry peers. Prayer got me through, and the Lord was always with me. Even on the hard days, I was fortunate and happy to work in a position that gave me the chance to encourage and help others when they were often facing uncertainty in their lives.

There is an old hymn titled, “When We All Get To Heaven.” The chorus reminds me that one day all those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior will have their great reward and will be in Heaven with The Lord for all eternity. So, stand strong, fight the good fight; people all around us need to see Jesus.

When we all get to heaven,

what a day of rejoicing that will be!

When we all see Jesus,

we’ll sing and shout the victory!

“Rejoice in that day,

and leap for joy,

for behold,

your reward is great in heaven.”

Luke 6:23

Reviled • Devotion #3: Test of Authenticity

Matthew 5:11-12 says, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” These verses make a statement that is highly contrary to standard human thinking. No one likes to be bullied, feel like an outsider, or be persecuted. However, these verses seem to indicate that we are doing something right when we encounter those situations. These verses are not telling us to go out and be antagonistic, or seek to make as many enemies as possible. No, these are verses of encouragement and endurance.

We live in a corrupt and broken world, a world that despises God and His people. When we live our lives in a God-glorifying and righteous way, we demonstrate Christ through our actions. That godliness and righteousness generate hostility and antagonism from the world. John MacArthur says it like this, “Righteousness is confrontational, and even when it is not preached in as many words, it confronts wickedness by its very contrast.” When we live our lives in a way that points to God, our righteousness rebukes those around us that are living in wickedness and sin. Being rebuked causes tension and conflict within oneself and can lead to people lashing out in anger due to this turmoil. Often times, the target of that lashing out will be none other than the source of their rebuke – you and your righteous actions. That lashing out may look like bullying. It may look like being excluded from plans or conversations. It may look like persecution in the form of lies and rumors against you.

While these things are terrible to endure, persecution is the surest and most tangible evidence of salvation. In 2 Timothy 3:12, it says: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” So you see, when we receive persecution on behalf of the Lord, we can be reassured in the knowledge that we are living a godly life. We can be encouraged that we are not suffering for an unjust cause, nor must we suffer it alone; when we gather together as a family in Christ, we have a unique ability to share these burdens with those around us and assist one another in these struggles. I encourage you to lean on your church family during times of persecution.

Avoiding persecution is easy. It is as simple as mirroring the corrupt world around us and remaining silent about the Gospel. It is easy to fall into the trap of feeling ashamed to take a stand for Christ. It is easy to remain silent and avoid persecution. We all struggle with this; it is human nature to want to be liked. The apostle Peter denies knowing Jesus three times in Luke chapter 22 in order to avoid persecution. I urge you to endure persecution and continue to glorify God with the way you live your life. The Bible tells us our reward in Heaven for doing so will be great.

Reviled • Devotion #2: Blessed Persecution

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11–12, NKJV)

Blessedness Jesus says, comes when people defame us, persecute us, and say all kinds of evil things about us. He also tells us to rejoice, to be exceedingly glad, and expect a great reward in Heaven, just in case blessedness skipped our attention.

Have you been slandered lately? Has someone said something behind your back? Have you been harassed recently or felt intimidated by anyone? How did it make you feel? Blessed, exceedingly glad, or worthy of great reward? Probably not.

Maybe we do not feel this way because the reason behind the mistreatment failed to meet the conditions spelled out by Jesus.

Condition one: According to Jesus, the accusations that are spoken about us must be “false.” It would be wrong for us to expect the blessings of persecution if everything that is being said about us is actually true. So, we must be willing to be honest with ourselves, “Are people making defaming statements and saying things about us falsely? Or are they true?” Have we acted in ways that are deserving of their words? I am sure we can all agree that no blessedness should follow if the accusations against us are true!

Condition two: Persecution must be the result of acting for “His sake,” or out of regard or respect for Jesus, for His benefit, advantage, or good. If we are all honest, each of us has an expectation of blessing but want nothing of persecution. Let us be encouraged by the “expectation of persecution” from the great 18th century Methodist preacher John Wesley. J. G. Morrison reported:

John Wesley was riding along a road one day when it dawned on him that three whole days had passed in which he had suffered no persecution. Not a brick or an egg had been thrown at him for three days. Alarmed, he stopped his horse, and exclaimed, “Can it be that I have sinned, and am backslidden?” Slipping from his horse, Wesley went down on his knees and began interceding with God to show him where, if any, there had been a fault.

A rough fellow, on the other side of the hedge, hearing the prayer, looked across and recognized the preacher. “I’ll fix that Methodist preacher,” he said, picking up a brick and tossing it over at him. It missed its mark and fell harmlessly beside John. Whereupon Wesley leaped to his feet joyfully exclaiming, “Thank God, it’s all right. I still have His presence.”

I was challenged by John Wesley’s expectation of persecution and maybe you are as well. So, I had to ask myself the following questions. “Do I expect to be persecuted?”

“When was the last time I was persecuted falsely and for His sake?” I must ask, “What about you?”



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