PERSECUTION

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PSALM 44:23-26**AWAKE, O LORD! WHY DO YOU SLEEP? ROUSE YOURSELF! DO NOT REJECT US FOREVER. WHY DO YOU HIDE YOUR FACE AND FORGET OUR MISERY AND OPPRESSION? WE ARE BROUGHT DOWN TO THE DUST; OUR BODIES CLING TO THE GROUND. RISE UP AND HELP US; REDEEM US BECAUSE OF YOUR UNFAILING LOVE. VERSE 22**YET FOR YOUR SAKE WE FACE DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE ARE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.

THE YET REMINDS US OF JOBíS ASSERTION. "THOUGH HE SLAY ME, YET WILL I HOPE IN HIM" (JOB 13:15). REGARDLESS OF THE PAIN THAT ACCOMPANIES OUR FAITH, WE MUST REMAIN FIRMLY COMMITTED TO GOD ---FOR HIS SAKE. THOSE THAT BELIEVE KNOW THAT GOD NEVER SLEEPS AND WE KNOW HE WILL NEVER FORSAKE US. YET WE OFTEN BECOME FRUSTRATED WHEN THINGS GO WRONG IN OUR LIVES AND WE CRY OUT AS DAVID AND ASK "WHERE ARE YOU?í HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED IF GOD HAS DESERTED YOU ALSO?

PAIN AND LOSS ARE SIGNIFICANT OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE GLORY OF GOD AND HIS SON TO BE REVEALED (JOHN 9; 3, JESUS HEALS A MAN BLIND FROM BIRTH)) OR WE MAY BE TEMPTED TO SEEK REVENGE BUT VERSE 22 REFLECTS A KINGDOM MOMENT THAT DOES NOT REFLECT THE VALUES OF THIS WICKED WORLD. WHEN YOU ASK YOUR CREATOR TO HELP YOU OVERCOME TEMPTATIONS OF REVENGE AND OTHER WICKED WORLDLY VALUES, YOU WILL EXPERIENCE PEACE DOWN IN YOUR SOUL.

1 PETER 4:12-13**DEAR FRIENDS, DO NOT BE SURPRISED AT THE PAINFUL TRIAL YOU ARE SUFFERING AS THOUGH SOMETHING STRANGE WERE HAPPENING TO YOU. BUT REJOICE THAT YOU ARE PARTICIPATING IN THE SUFFERING OF CHRIST, SO THAT YOU MAY BE OVERJOYED WHEN HIS GLORY IS REVEALED.

INJUSTICE AND STRESSFUL DIFFICULTIES CAN BE TURNED INTO CELEBRATION WHEN CHRISTIANS UNDERSTAND THAT JESUS ENDURED THE SAME. BUT EVEN THAT CELEBRATION IS NOTHING COMPARED WITH THE ABUNDANT JOY THEY WILL EXPERIENCE WHEN CHRISTíS GLORY IS REVEALED TO VINDICATE GODíS PEOPLE AND USHER THEM INTO HIS PURE JOY, PEACE AND LOVE. WE WILL BE LIBERATED FROM THE BONDAGE AND DECAY BROUGHT ON BY THE WICKED ONE AND BROUGHT INTO GLORIOUS FREEDOM AS CHILDREN OF GOD.

2 CORINTHIANS 11:23-27 (NLT)**THEY SAY THEY (DESCENDANTS OF ABRAHAM) SERVE CHRIST? I KNOW I (PAUL) SOUND LIKE A MADMAN, BUT I HAVE SERVED HIM (CHRIST, THE MESSIAH) FAR MORE! I HAVE WORKED HARDER, BEEN PUT IN JAIL MORE OFTEN, BEEN WHIPPED TIMES WITHOUT NUMBER, AND FACED DEATH AGAIN AND AGAIN. FIVE DIFFERENT TIMES THE JEWS GAVE ME THIRTY NINE LASHES. THREE TIMES I WAS BEATEN WITH RODS. ONCE I WAS STONED (AND LEFT FOR DEAD) THREE TIMES I WAS SHIPWRECKED. ONCE I SPENT A WHOLE NIGHT AND A DAY ADRIFT AT SEA. I HAVE TRAVELED MANY WEARY MILES, I HAVE FACED DANGER FROM FLOODED RIVERS AND FROM ROBBERS, I HAVE FACED DANGER FROM MY OWN PEOPLE, THE JEWS, AS WELL AS FROM THE GENTILES, I HAVE FACED DANGER IN THE CITIES, IN THE DESERTS, AND ON THE STORMY SEAS. AND I HAVE FACED DANGER FROM THEM WHO CLAIM TO BE CHRISTIANS BUT ARE NOT. I HAVE LIVED WITH WEARINESS AND PAIN AND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS. OFTEN I HAVE BEEN HUNGRY AND THIRSTY AND HAVE GONE WITHOUT FOOD. OFTEN I HAVE SHIVERED WITH COLD, AND WITHOUT ENOUGH CLOTHING TO KEEP ME WARM.

PAULíS BOASTING IN HIS WEAKNESS CHALLENGES OUR TENDENCY TO ELEVATE AND MIMIC CHRISTIAN CELEBRITIES WHO PROCLAIM THEIR SPIRITUAL POWER AND EXPERIENCES. IT ALSO CHALLENGES OUR TENDENCY TO WORSHIP OURSELVES INSTEAD OF GOD. OUR OWN GREATEST EXPERIENCES OF CHRISTíS GRACE AND POWER OFTEN COME IN TIMES OF WEAKNESS CAUSED BY STRESSFUL LOSS OF LOVED ONES, JOBS AND ETCETERA. HAS GODíS POWER, ABILITY AND WILLINGNESS MET YOUR NEEDS? HAVE YOU HUMBLED YOURSELF TO ASK IF HE IS WILLING?

2 CORINTHIANS 12:10 (NIV) ** THAT IS WHY, FOR CHRISTíS SAKE, I DELIGHT IN WEAKNESSES, IN INSULTS, IN HARDSHIPS, IN PERSECUTIONS, IN DIFFICULTIES. FOR WHEN I AM WEAK, THEN I AM STRONG. ** SEE HOW STRONG YOU BECOME WHEN YOU ASK GOD TO FORGIVE YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS AS WELL AS THOSE THAT TRANSGRESS AGAINST YOU!

MAY THE LORD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU! MAY THE LORD MAKE HIS FACE SHINE UPON YOU AND BE GRACIOUS TO YOU! MAY THE LORD TURN HIS FACE TOWARD YOU AND GIVE YOU PEACE!