Persecution

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And so with that, let me dive into the morning message. Okay, I want to take away from the worship, but we’re in a series together called Bless This Home, and we’re taking this message to the last series. Excuse me. This is the last part of the message that we’re diving into together, and we get our title from what’s called in Scripture, the Beatitudes. It’s in Matthew chapter five and the Beatitudes. If if you’ve never learned why we call that section of Scripture the Beatitudes. The word beatitude is a Latin word, and it literally means blessed are you. And the Beatitudes comes to us in Matthew chapter five through chapter seven. Jesus is delivering to us what they refer, what’s referred to in Scripture as the sermon on the Mount. It’s the first message we really have recorded in Scripture that Jesus is proclaiming the first sermon he’s ever preached. And and some will say it’s the greatest sermon ever preached. My hope to you is as we dive into this portion of Scripture together, we’ve just looked at just a first, first few verses of Matthew. Chapter five is that you come to love and appreciate what Jesus is stating in these first couple of chapters in the book of Matthew, Jesus is a king and he’s come to proclaim his kingdom. Anytime a king presents a kingdom, or a ruler presents to the people what his kingdom is about. The question we want to ask is is what is that kingdom going to look like if I become a part of that kingdom, can you tell me what it will mean for me in my life? I love the way that Jesus begins his sermon on the Mount.

As a king presenting his kingdom. He starts with the idea of blessing. If you become a part of my kingdom. And I become your king. Blessed are you. The Bible defines the word blessed as this to be happy. To be filled with joy. If Jesus is your king, the results of that is your life is blessed. And the idea that we’ve been pursuing together is that within our homes, we we don’t want to be just a Christian family because Christian means anything. Today you can make it mean whatever you want. But what we desire to be is a Christ centered family. And the thought that Jesus is sharing with the people, listening to him at the sermon on the Mount is, if you follow me in my kingdom, you’re blessed. And and the application we’re making for us is within our own homes. Because if it works within Jesus’s family, it should work within our family. And if we pursue what Jesus is communicating here about his kingdom within our homes, our families are blessed as well. What is the difference between a Christian family and a Christ centered family? Well, Christian family can mean anything, but a Christ centered family makes Jesus Lord over everything.

I begin and end their life with this question. Lord, what is it you desire for us? When Christ becomes the center of your family, your values are different. The way you spend time in this world is different. The way you spend your money in this world is different. The way that you treat people becomes different, because the desire within your heart is to honor a king and his kingdom, rather than your own. We’ve looked at topics together. Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are you who make peace a priority within your relationships and especially in your home. And Jesus communicates to us, beginning in verse three, these eight beatitudes that introduce to us what is kingdom is about saying to us, if you understand these terms, you will be blessed, you will be happy, you will be filled with joy. This is what I am about. This is what my kingdom is about. This is what you were created for. And Jesus gets to chapter five and verse ten and the last section of his beatitude. This final beatitude takes up three verses. And Jesus saves his most difficult beatitude for last. And he says this blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.

For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. And Jesus saves the hardest beatitude for last. But he promises this great reward of the kingdom of heaven. And the idea of persecution. This passage of Scripture doesn’t just mean you’re tortured or you’re beaten or abused. The idea of persecution in the Greek text has this thought of pursuing. When you follow after Jesus, people pursue you and begin to harass you because of your faith in Christ. And I got to say, as Americans. We don’t like persecution. As a matter of fact, we we don’t like anything hard. When it gets hard, we ask the question. How can we make it convenient? How can we survive persecution? You open up the Bible, the very first story that you encounter right after Adam and Eve is about Cain and Abel. Abel pursuing a life after God, and Cain strongly disliking his love for the Lord. And it’s in his face. And Cain so much despises that that he persecutes his brother to the point that he kills him. Persecution is always around us. In our lives today. It’s difficult in certain points to live for the Lord. In our society today. If you honor your virginity, you’re considered odd and as an oddball and can be persecuted in our society. People can persecute you for all sorts of things, like honoring the Lord and the idea of sports. Rather than allow your kids to engage in sports that participate on Sundays, you say, you know church is more important, and so you might hold them back.

Or rather than dress like you work on a street corner, dressing in modesty. Refusing to believe lies like life is all about you. Whatever makes you happy. That’s what God made you for. I think God wants you to be happy. But I think ultimately what God’s design you for is a relationship with him. And in that you find blessed. When you choose certain situations and predicaments to honor Christ because you are a Christ centered individual, the result of life could be that you become persecuted. And can I tell you, when we follow Jesus within our lives, it’s not about a list of rules of do’s and don’ts. I don’t go to movies and I don’t do particular things because I don’t find it pleasing to the Lord. I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t go to movies. What I’m saying is it’s Christianity is is is not a life of do’s and don’ts. It’s not about what you’re not doing. It’s not about what you are doing. It’s about who you’re pursuing. And when you pursue the Lord with your life and you make your life about honoring Christ, then you don’t worry about what it is you’re not doing in this world. You worry about, or you think about honoring the King. He is your king. He represents his kingdom. Your desire is to honor that.

It’s not about do’s and don’ts. It’s about loving and living for him and relationship to him because he desires that relationship with you. And so ultimately, in the context of homes, as we’ve shared together with each other, it’s it’s not about behavior modification when it comes to honoring teaching your kids to honor this life and live for the Lord. It’s not about behavior modification. It’s about heart transformation. And we’ve said this rules without relationship lead to rebellion, especially in the heart of your children. Our desire within our kids is not to get them to do right and wrong. It’s to speak to their hearts. And when their desire becomes to be to honor the Lord, we don’t have to worry about what it is that they’re doing because they we know that they love Jesus. Rather than teach them to be good, we teach them to pursue the one who is. And Jesus says this to us. When we pursue him, when we make our life about his kingdom, it could result in persecution. And so the dilemma or the question that we can ask ourselves this morning is this when life gets hard to follow Jesus, how can we encourage our lives? How can we encourage our families lives to stay strong in the Lord? How do we prepare our families to stand in Christ when life may bring persecution? I’m going to give you three responses to that this morning. In order to honor what this text says, and encourage your families to find your homes blessed.

And the first is this. The way that we plan to endure persecution together and in honoring the Lord. Is to expect persecution when you take a stand for Christ. When you acknowledge one kingdom over another kingdom. The kingdom that you turn your back from has the tendency to get angry. And Jesus says the same thing I’m presenting you a kingdom that contradicts the kingdom of this world. And the result of the kingdom of this world is that the kingdom of this world will become angry and persecute you. Second Timothy 312 says, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Meaning if you’re not receiving some sort of criticism because of your stand in Jesus, then ask yourself, am I really following Jesus? I heard a great illustration on this. There was a parent talking about movies who had a young boy, and he comes before his mom and says, mom, I want to go. I want to go watch this movie. And the mom knew of the particular content in the movie. And she says to him, you know, I’m not going to let you go see that mom. My friends are going to go see this movie. I really want to go see it. No, I’m not going to let you see it. There’s there’s bad things in that movie. Well, mom, it’s not it’s not real bad.

It’s just a little bit of bad things in that. And and he keeps perpetuating the, the circumstance about the movie with his mom. And finally the mom says, okay, hold on a second. She goes to the kitchen, she starts to make brownies. She walks out into the backyard while she’s making brownies, and she scoops up just a little bit of dog poop, and she comes in and puts in the brownies and mixes it together and hands it to her son and says, son, here’s some brownies. I just want to warn you, it’s just a little bit of poop in it. Let’s see what you do. And the same thing is true for us in in all areas of life. What is it that we accept and find pleasing? Is it honorable to the Lord when you take a stand contrary to the world, we should expect persecution. And the idea is this. When you take a stand in the Lord. When you take a stand facing persecution. The question we always ask ourselves is. Is the stand really worth it? When we take a stand for Christ, we want to examine within ourselves. Is this stand in Christ worth it? Parents. When you encounter persecution in this world and you try to educate your children when you stand for Jesus, it may cost you something. The best way I think to do that with young people is just begin to introduce it to them in small doses.

Listen, child. We’re going to take a stand for Jesus here. This is the way people who live contrary to Jesus is going to respond. This is why we do it. Because Jesus is worth it. Introducing to them small areas of their lives in which they might face opposition, and helping them educate them on the proper decisions. To honor the Lord is helpful as your child begins to grow. I mean, ultimately, as parents, we know this regardless of what the world says, you are responsible first and foremost to God. And when you take a stand for him, contrary to what the world might teach you, they’re going to begin to criticize you. And I got to tell you, in just being honest, this might be the thing I take back in a minute, but but when you look at that situation and someone begins to critique you because of your stand in Christ, and you begin to feel that peer pressure, because of your stand in Christ, you can look at the individual who’s criticizing you, knowing that you’re you are accountable to the Lord. Ultimately, you can say, if you’ve got a problem, call me at one 800. I don’t give a rip, right? Because what God has called me to is my family. And God has called me to to work on their hearts, to know his worth and to seek his face. And when I live that way for his kingdom, his glory, and about him I live contrary to any other world’s kingdom and system.

It’s about experiencing his goodness. Because Jesus said, blessed are you. When you make it about his kingdom. You can do this in all kinds of areas in your life. And we don’t define it here in church. We don’t. We don’t make the black and white the right and wrong. This rule and that rule you need to follow what we say is pursue Jesus. Jesus is strong enough and powerful enough to work on your heart, to dictate your life far better than anything that I’m going to tell you anyway. I was listening to an individual talk about ways in his life that he did this. One of the things that he brought up was the area of of Halloween. We don’t have a stand on Halloween like in our culture today. It’s the day that kids dress up and get candy. And then I rob the candy and I get fatter myself. Well, when you study the origins of Halloween, they’re not very honorable. And so this man said, you know, I don’t tell people whether or not they should or shouldn’t obey Halloween, I don’t care. But what I decided was I wanted to teach my kids what it means to stand for the Lord. And so I picked Halloween as a day to do that at our church. If you know, we every year we do an outreach on Halloween. And so one of the things that we look at is should we avoid things and hide from it, or should we help reform our culture in it? And so we do things on Halloween to help reform our culture, to see Jesus.

That’s what we do. And so you can you have the freedom to choose whatever you want. But he chose on Halloween just to be different. And it teaches kids the reason why we’re different and to look at the history of Halloween and what it really meant back in the time when it was first celebrated. And so he decided to teach his kids to honor the Lord in that they just go to Chuck E cheese, because if you go to Chuck E cheese on Halloween, there is no one there. And it’s like the Kids Kingdom and so cheap. Dad goes with money on Halloween drops 50 bucks and the kids just go crazy. But it also gives them as a as a father, the opportunity to teach his kids what it means to stand for the Lord. It’ll be different in culture for the sake of Christ. And so the question that we ask is, if you aren’t really being persecuted for Christ, are you really following Christ? Expect persecution. Because you serve one kingdom over another, it makes you different. But the glory belongs to the Lord in that. And the second is this. Endure it. Endure it because he’s worth it. First Corinthians 412 says this when we.

We are cursed, we bless, and when we are persecuted, we endure it. You think about the things in life that we go through and the endurance that we put up to get to a particular end? Right when I was a kid playing football season would start. I knew how every season started. Half the kids were throwing up before the practice was over. But there was this dream in your head as a young child, of beating the other opponent and winning the championship every season, no matter how bad your team was, you always had this hope. And so spring training comes around and you endure it because the prize is worth it. And we do it for all, all sorts of things in our lives. When work is hard, we endure it because the prize of the financial gain or providing for our family is worth it. When we go to remodel the home, the look of your new home, the the work you put into it, it’s worth it. You have kids. They’re not easy. But they’re worth it. We endure because the prize is worth it. And the idea in this passage of Scripture and in Matthew chapter five is that when we examine the Lord and we, we, we seek after him with our lives and we endure persecution. He says, blessed are those who endure persecution for righteousness, for yours is the kingdom of God. And he’s saying to us that you have looked at God’s kingdom out of all the kingdoms, that you could represent, all other ideals and philosophies and theologies and whatever you want to hold to.

You’ve looked at Jesus and His kingdom and said, in comparison to all else, he is worth it. And in that I endure. Hebrews says this about Jesus. For the joy set before him. He endured the cross. His mind was always on the prize. Paul said it this way. Philippians chapter three and verse seven at various points he said, but whatever were gains to me, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I might gain. Christ, I want to know Christ. But one thing I do forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Paul endured horrific things in his life because Paul saw the worth of Christ. John Piper, one of the one of the great pastors of our time today, joined up with this phrase. He says, God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him. I mean, if you really want to live for Jesus in this world, you’ve got to fall in love with Jesus. And the best way to fall in love with Jesus is just begin to spend time with Jesus.

Listen, if you want to teach your kids to endure above the hardships of any other kingdom that might be pressed upon them. Teach them and fall in love with Jesus. It’s not about behavior modification. It’s about speaking to their heart and allowing the Lord to grab a hold of their heart. Maybe in your home. It starts like this. Parents, you begin to pray for them. Or maybe as married couples, you begin to pray for each other. Or maybe you feel like home’s going great and you begin to pray for your church family. But demonstrate in this world the love that you carry for Christ. You endure it because he’s worth it. And unless you’re focused upon the worth of his kingdom, your endurance runs short. You endure because he is worth it. We think about the persecution that we might face in this world, helping us as well to put it into perspective. Is good and healthy for our lives. When you consider our bubbles and our self. A lot of times we go through hardships. We get stuck on this me ism bubble where everything’s not going that well. And but when you compare the way things are going for you, compared to the way that things are going for everyone else, life in America just ain’t that bad. Considering what Jesus has done for you, that you might experience relationship with him, coming and giving everything.

Whatever Christ may ask of you is nothing in comparison to what he has already done for you. Who? Consider the blessing of endurance. When you endure and sacrifice for Christ, your intimacy with Christ increases and your passion for him grows because your faith has cost you. I look at this persecution in life that any of us may face, and I think, blessed are we. Why is that? Because persecution for us gives us an opportunity to say, do I really think Jesus is worth it? Do I simply follow Jesus because it’s convenient and helpful? Or do I follow Jesus because I see his worth in my life? He’s worth it. Persecution gives us the opportunity to divide the line in the sand. You know why some people serve Jesus and others simply just attend a church. It’s because the people who serve the Lord see the worth of Christ and want to demonstrate it in this world. You do it because you know he’s worth it. You show up on Saturday and you build a building because he’s worth it. Or whatever else in this church that we’re doing is because he is worth it. Endure it because he’s worth it. Last point is this. I think this is probably the most important point that we have to help our, our families to be encouraged to follow after the Lord. And that’s this the reason that we were able to stand for Christ when we face persecution is that we have created a family identity in his kingdom.

Chapter five to chapter seven. Jesus goes up on this hill after receiving the disciples and this congregation of people that’s just following after him, and he really proclaims his first message about what his kingdom represents and what Jesus is doing for the people that are gathered on this hill and listening as he is shaping a kingdom identity about what he is, he is and what his Kingdom represents. Could you imagine? Jesus comes along and they say, we know I’m going to. I’m going to build a kingdom. What’s your kingdom about? I don’t even know whatever you want to make it about. It’s just a kingdom. You think about how far that would go. A bunch of mediums running around, and sometimes we treat family the same way. What’s your family about? I don’t know, I don’t know, but Jesus comes in in Matthew chapter 5 to 7 he says, listen, I’m a king. This is my kingdom, and this is what it’s all about creating a identity in the kingdom of Christ. The way we endure persecution is that our family receives an identity in the kingdom of Christ. There was a recent study I was reading about peer pressure. And the way that young people struggle with peer pressure. And how families can help to defeat the peer pressure young people go through. And and the study was saying this, that family identity defeats peer pressure, meaning where family identity is weak.

Peer pressure is strong. And where family identity is strong. Peer pressure is weak. When you look at Jesus and you understand what his kingdom is about, and therefore what you’re about because of what his kingdom is about, it gives you a perspective for living in this world. This is what I do because this is what I’m about. It’s not about right and wrong. It’s about what I’m pursuing. When your family has identity in that. Peer pressure becomes weak when your family sees their identity, sees their mission, sees their purpose. Your kids handle life much better. Leave me to ask this morning. If you were to go before young people today or before your spouse, someone in your family and just ask, what’s our family about? What would they say? We’re a family about vacation, or we’re a family about fun, or we’re a family about granite countertops and new cars and amusement parks and sports. There’s a clever saying that says eventually this life will pass, but what’s done for Christ is what will last. Building a kingdom identity and your family. Helps your family endure the hardships of persecution. Peter says this, I think in the book of First Peter, chapter three and four is one of the best communications on enduring persecution in the Bible. From chapter four and verse 13, it says, but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing.

So it also had the revelation of his glory. You may rejoice with exaltation. Well, Peter is reminding us of as is. Keep the party start or keep the party going. Excuse me. Start it and keep it going. Look at Jesus. Look at his worth. Look at his kingdom. Don’t lose perspective on that. Keep celebrating because one day you’re going to walk into the gates of heaven. You’re going to see the Lord and face to face, and you just keep celebrating. Just don’t let that party end. Make your pursuit about him. It’s not about what you’re doing, what they’re doing, what you’re hearing them do, the peer pressure they’re putting on you. It’s about looking to his kingdom and his glory and goodness and celebrating that both now and forever. Amen. The way that we endure persecution. Maybe we could even just say peer pressure. We help our family create an identity. I love. I think it’s a blessing to us whenever we arise in circumstances that seem difficult to follow Christ. Because it gets to the root of our heart. It shows us immediately really where we’re standing in our loyalty to Jesus. It gives you, as a parent, to examine everyone’s heart. When you’re enduring hardship to follow after Jesus, you might be facing peer pressure or alienation as a group because it helps you as a family to see collectively where you are in your love for Jesus. So how do you stand for Christ and hardship? First, as you recognize, by standing for his kingdom, you oppose another.

And you will face persecution. Second, you recognize that you will have to endure it, but the way that you endure it is that you recognize in your life his great worth. Meaning your eyes are on the key. The third is this. You create an identity. You help your family see their purpose for being created under God and their identity in him and living for him. Because the result the Bible tells us is this. Blessed are you. Happy are you? My hope and prayer for us as a church family. Is that not only does Matthew chapter five speak into the lives of our hearts and into our homes, but really all of what Jesus communicated. In these next few chapters, we examine as Jesus gets up on this mountain and he begins to proclaim His Word to us, we really take time to look at what His Kingdom is all about. And then our hearts desires that we begin to imply that into our homes that we see the Lord moving within our hearts. Because what God is after isn’t behavior modification. He’s after heart transformation. Jesus wants your heart. And so if you remember these last few weeks. Blessed are you when you hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are you when you pursue peace in your homes and in your lives. Blessed are you when you endure persecution. For yours is the kingdom of heaven.

Peace