October 7, 2021

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14).

 

Can you imagine your parent, your friend, your spouse, anyone, leading you into the woods and leaving you there just as the sound of howling wolves echoes through the trees? They bring you into the forest and leave you alone while a pack of wolves is on the hunt.

This is often what it feels like when we think of facing persecution. We can’t physically see Jesus even though He did walk this earth, but He’s sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven instead of physically walking beside us. He even said that He would send us out as sheep among wolves (Matthew 10:16), but He also said that He would send us a Helper; a Counselor, who would be with us forever. He says, “…you will know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). This is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God stays with us because He lives in us, giving each one the strength to endure in days of despair.

Messages about persecution are never popular. They make us sad and make us wonder if we’d really be faithful in the face of true persecution instead of just hearing the occasional sly comment or getting a sideways look when we say we believe in Jesus. Real persecution is danger—it’s running for your life, speaking the name of Jesus when it’s against the law, and being beaten in the streets.

This is not just what happened to the early church—it happens every day.

Perhaps the most difficult time for us to remain resilient is when persecution comes prowling. But Jesus promises that persecutions will come for those who want to live godly lives (2 Timothy 3:12). This is the precipice. This is where you decide whether you will remain faithful or be lukewarm because you’ve decided that having a burning heart for Jesus is too hard that it costs you too much.

This message is not for the faint of heart.

How do we be prepared for such things? Here in North America, we haven’t seen the real hatred for Christianity like other nations have seen. But there are wolves outside.

Every step we have taken so far has been to prepare us for the worst of days. From knowing the character of God, understanding worship, cultivating our hearts to look like Jesus’ heart, being a unified church, and practicing our spiritual gifts—each layer has been laid to provide a firm foundation. We are forming a closer bond to Him so that when tribulation comes and enemies rise, we will lean deeper into the Holy Spirit, trusting that He will give us resilient hearts, even in the midst of being thrown to the wolves.

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