Journey Through The Bible Hero

JUNE 7, 2021 DEVOTION

1 Kings 2:1 – 3:2, Acts 5:1-42, Psalm 125:1-5, Proverbs 16:25

“They (the Jewish council) called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and in their homes, they continued to teach and preach this message: ‘The Messiah you are looking for is Jesus.’” (Acts 5:40-42 NLT)

In Acts 4:1-31, we learned how the disciples were warned not to teach or preach about Jesus, and yet they continued to do so. In today’s text we learn that the apostles were beaten for continuing to witness their faith in Christ, yet when they were released they continued to tell people: “The Messiah you are looking for is Jesus.”

Question – “Why do many Christians continue to tell others of their love for Jesus and faith in the Lord even when they are rejected and persecuted by others?” One, we have to talk about those that we love, and when Christians really love Jesus, they can’t help but talk about Him. Two, when we tell others about the Lord we are obeying Jesus’ command to be witnesses for Him (Acts 1:8). Three, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we will have the boldness and power to witness for Him regardless of the circumstances or the criticism that awaits us (Acts 1:8, 2:1-11, 4:29-31)! The Bible declares that everyone who “stands up” for Jesus will experience persecution (Matthew 5:10-11, 2 Timothy 3:12).

Second Question – “Why do people persecute Christians?” Christians throughout history and around the world have been persecuted for their love for and faith in the Lord. Why is this?

In Matthew 5:10-12, Jesus said: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are those who are mocked and ridiculed and lied about because they are My followers. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven.” Jesus said that Christians are persecuted because we live righteous and godly lives. The word “righteousness” comes from a word that means “to divide,” and the behaviors and lifestyles of real Christians are divisive because they are different from those admired and practiced by people who are not Christians. When Christians are living godly lives, the world will dislike, reject and persecute them (2 Timothy 3:12).

Second, Jesus said that we would be persecuted because we are “His followers.” It’s hard to believe, but the world hates Jesus Christ. Now, the world doesn’t hate the baby Jesus, nor the Jesus that healed the sick and fed the multitudes. But the world does hate the fact that “Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil” (1 John 3:8). The works of the devil are addictions, pride, immorality, greed, lying, etc. Jesus stands against those things, and those who stand for them will also hate the Lord and those who love the Lord. Jesus Himself said in John 15:19-20: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you. A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” Christians suffer because we live different lives and devoted lives.

Third Question – “How are we to respond to criticism, persecution and rejection related to our overt faith in the Lord?” Jesus said that we are to “rejoice” (Matthew 5:12) like the disciples did (Acts 5:40-41), and that we are to love the people who hurt us (Matthew 5:43-45). The Bible teaches that we are to share the gospel even more fervently in the face of persecution, and that the Lord will bless us and utilize our faithful and faith-filled witness to bring help, hope and healing to many others (Acts 8:1-8).

As you pray today: 1) Thank the Lord for His encouragement regarding the persecution and criticism that Christians sometimes have to endure; 2) Pray for the Lord to give you a desire and anointing to be a bold witness for Him wherever you go; and 3) Pray for Christians around the world who are encountering severe persecution, praying for their safety and for the furtherance of the Gospel.