Despite the fact that our culture generally has an aversion to hardship and adversity, it is clear from Jesus' teachings that if we choose to 'take up our Cross and follow him', we can expect difficulty and persecution. Consider that passages we have heard today and what Jesus had to say about anticipated persecution. How does Christian persecution manifest itself in 21st Century Britain? Do you feel you are in some way persecuted for your faith? What comfort can be taken from Jesus' words on persecution?
What we can we legitimately expect of God in moments of persecution? How is it possible to be truly joyful in the face of lies, slander, discrimination, detainment, violence, or even death?
Look more closely at the present day persecuted Church: click here to visit the Open Doors website.
"God's desire to bless is absolutely outrageous. Nothing can stop Him. he has set himself with immovable intent to bless mankind. His longing is that Jesus shall have many brothers. That's us. before we knew Him, he loved us. he designed us for a purpose wrapped up in blessing. Heaven, our ultimate destination, is full of blessing and we are invited to pray for the coming of Heaven on earth right now" - Roy Godwin, 'A Grace Outpouring' (2008)
2. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness - Calvary separates us from the world
John 15:18-21 - If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love it's 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...if they persecuted me, they will also persecute you...because they do not know Him who sent me
Matthew 10: 16-17 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. But be aware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in the synagogues
Matthew 20: 23 Jesus answered and said "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the Baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him "We are able"
3....for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven...
Romans 8: 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the Glory which shall be revealed in us
1 Peter 4:14 If you are reproached in the Name of Christ, blessed are you for the Spirit of Glory and of God rests upon you
Matthew 10: 19-20 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you
4...rejoice and be glad...
1 Peter 1: 6-7 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may result in praise, glory, and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed
November 1st - 'All Saints Day'
Revelation 17:6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.