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Strong Faith

Strong Faith

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "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 5:10-12 (NKJV)
Every Christian at some point within their walk will face the challenge to remain strong in their faith and the sharing of their personal testimony when facing persecution for their beliefs.  It can be someone mocking or insulting us, and even discriminating against us because we have professed our faith in Jesus Christ.  As a result of this persecution, some can choose to back-down in their Christian convictions rather than stand fast in "Strong faith."

The Lord knew that this test would happen within the lives of every person who'd refer to himself or herself as a "Christian." The persecution that some will face can range far beyond the verbal or embarrassing and sometimes confrontational exchange of conversation too - it can mean physical confrontation or possibly even death for some.  And yet, Jesus still encouraged His disciples (followers) to stand fast against this persecution, and to "Abide" in Him - promising that He would then Abide in us as a result (Jn. 15:4-7).  He them gave us clear commandments as how we were to respond to persecution.

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)

I would never diminish any persecution suffered by anyone regardless of how minimal others might think it, because God honors all persecution.  But I would like to share the persecution that was endured by the Apostles of Jesus Christ with you.  I wanted to do this to show you what the men who walked with Jesus were willing to endure and suffer - and to show how their "Strong faith" came from spending time with our Lord.  

1.    Matthew:  Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound.

2.    Mark:  Died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.

3.    Luke:  Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.

4.    John:  Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.

5.    Peter:  He was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.

6.    James:  The leader of the church in Jerusalem was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller's club.  * This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.

7.    James the Great: Son of Zebedee was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader
of the church, James was ultimately beheaded at  Jerusalem . The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.

8.    Bartholomew:  Also known as Nathaniel Was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.

9.    Andrew:  Was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: "I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it." He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.

10.    Thomas:  Was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the sub-continent.

11.    Jude:  Was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.

12.    Matthias:  The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot was stoned and then beheaded.

13.    Paul:  Was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.

Hey Christian, Let's make sure we spend time with the Lord every day, because if we could know Him like the Apostles did, I can't imagine what we would accomplish in our lives.

STUDY QUESTION: What can we learn about persecution from the Scriptures contained within this devotional?

PERSONAL INVENTORY: Are you willing to face persecution for your faith in Jesus?

APPLICATION: You don't have to go out and make a spectacle of yourself to show that you love Jesus, or forward every email to prove it either - just be willing to share the gospel with whomever the Lord prompts you to share with, and live your life in the way Christ would have lived.

Father, Thank You for empowering me to be a bold witness for the Christian faith.  I pray that You would continue to use me in whatever manor You choose.  In Jesus precious name, amen...

Be Blessed, Pastor Scott

Copyright ©2017 by Pastor Scott Wright.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Bible text from the New King James Version is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214-1000