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  • Writer's pictureChristy Schuette

Persecuted

June 11


I Kings 8

Psalm 71:1-8

Proverbs 15:22-23

Acts 7:51-60

Persecuted

 

“But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into Heaven.  He saw God’s glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’”  Acts 7:55-56 HCSB

 

Stephen didn’t even get to finish his speech.  He began with a history lesson, but he didn’t even get to the part where he told them all about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection before they became so angry at him that they stoned him to death.  As I mentioned yesterday, his speech changed the course of Christianity.  It began a period of terrible persecution in which Christians were forced to flee the country in all different directions and ultimately resulted in the spread of Christianity throughout the world.  Throughout history, the periods of greatest growth in the church have not happened when Christianity is accepted and easy.  The power of Jesus in the life of a Christian is most evident in the face of difficulty and suffering.  Pain and difficulty are inevitable, and the difference Jesus makes in the life of a believer is a powerful testimony that draws others in a way that nothing else can.  I had a conversation with a dear friend this morning who has had an extremely difficult year.  She is a nurse and has spent the last year working at our local hospital during the pandemic.  The long hours and emotional rollercoaster have taken a toll on her, and in addition to that her Daddy was diagnosed with lung cancer and she has spent the last few months juggling her job, caring for her Daddy, and welcoming a new grandbaby into the world.  It has been overwhelming, but at the same time she told me that she would not trade the sweetness of the intimacy she has experienced with Jesus in these difficult days for anything.  The difference Jesus has made in her life in this season is evident and her testimony is powerful. 

 

For many years in this country, Christians have had the benefit of a culture that has been greatly influenced by Judeo-Christian values.  There has been an acceptance of those values in the culture as a whole and individual Christians were generally respected and looked up to.  That is changing quickly.  The perception of Christians has gone from “good people” that we want to emulate to people who are intolerant, judgmental hypocrites in a frighteningly short period of time.  I fear that the time of persecution is at hand for us, but I am encouraged that perhaps, if Jesus does not return to take us home before, it will result in tremendous growth and revival in the Body of Christ.  The church is currently growing the fastest in Iran and China, while in the United States and Europe it is declining.  There will come a time when we will be forced to decide what we truly believe.  If we believe that He is who He says He is, then He will make a difference in our lives and those around us will be drawn to Him. 

 

 

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