God of our fathers, Whose almighty hand
Come, we that love the Lord
I heard the voice of Jesus say
Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly dove
A mighty fortress is our God
Saviour again to they dear name we raise (v 1 and 4)
Thanks we give and adoration (79:2)
Scripture: Matthew 5:10-12
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
4 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
This is the final blessing in the Sermon on the Mount. It is long and of a different form. By this it is highlighted.
People find it hard to think of persecution as a blessing.
People tend to go out their way to avoid suffering. They see suffering as being on the wrong side of God.
In fact there is a group of Christians who teach that suffering is the result of sin in your life. This thought was around in the bible as well. Take this case: The blind man...who sinned the man or this parents that he was born blind?
This is a list of the marks of a disciple of Jesus. That's what the Sermon on the Mount is.
In North America we tend not to see a lot of persecution. We tend to live lives that don't make us a target as well.
So how do we handle that.
How do reconcile how we live our lives according to this mark of being a disciple?
Brothers and sisters around the world are persecuted, why should we be any different?
What does Jesus mean here when he talks about persecution? Is it just threat of death, physical harm or imprisonment?
The word persecution here is broad based: revilement, slander, being pursued, hurt, killed, etc.
Not all persecution is blessed. The persecution in mind here is that which is experienced through righteousness sake. As righteousness grows in us it rubs the world the wrong way. And so the world fights back against us.
The world wants us to just be like them.
They might at first be surprised, but that turns to anger and being maligned.
Jesus says we are blessed if it happens as the result of following him. This is real righteousness.
Peter healing a man, preached Christ. Arrested and later released being told not to preach Christ anymore.
Jesus warns us....we are not to suffer for being a murderer, a thief, an evil-doer or a mischief maker. Mischief-maker is one who meddles into things none of their business. This kind of suffering is not part of being blessed in our persecution.
Jesus calls us to mercy, humbleness, righteousness for his sake, peacemaking, mourning sin, hungering and thirsting for righteousness...etc.
How can we rejoice when we are reviled for such things?
It is a hard one.
Jesus says rejoice because
...theirs is the kingdom of heaven
They shall be comforted
They shall inherit
They shall be satisfied
They shall see God
They shall be called sons of God
Theirs shall be the kingdom of heaven
..... better things are coming. This is what our focus should be on.
Paul saw this. He knew what lay ahead so he feared not. He knew it was but a momentary affliction. Better is coming. It will last forever.
We can see this when the Spirit helps us to see it.
God's glory rests upon us. God does not forget his people. They are his regardless of what others do to them. God says You are mine...and to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.
Know that if the world hates you, if hated Christ first. It is just a sign of who you belong to.
So fear not those opportunities that God presents to you.
Open your mouth. They reject not you, but they reject Christ within you and it is reminder of whom you belong.
Blessed are YOU! When people are mean because of me says Jesus.
Blessed are you!