Sermons

Summary: Persecution, and the emotions which come when we think about persecution, do not naturally cause us to feel blessed. Yet, when we stand firm in Jesus, we can hold on in strength to Jesus who is sovereign when we are persecuted.

You can listen to the full message here:-

https://nec.org.au/jesus-is-still-sovereign/

Jesus Is Still Sovereign

Matthew 5:10-12

When There Is Persecution

These past months of COVID-19 have initiated a whole range of conversations and topics – one of those topics has been persecution of Christians.

A QB church this week noted with irony … and with a subtle reference to persecution … that in outback Queensland licensed venues, RSL clubs, and hotels can have up to 20 people at one time; but churches can only have 10.

More broadly there are organisations watching with vigilance to discern if the Federal or State government uses this “unprecedented event” as a cover to erode the rights of religious organisations or freedom of religious expression.

Recently Evangelical Alliance reported that persecuted Christian minorities around the world were being blamed for the spread of COVID-19. In Russia. In China. In India. In Nigeria.

Persecution.

It has happened since the first days of the church.

Today millions of Christians around the world are persecuted.

It will keep happening until the return of Jesus.

John 15:20

20 Remember what I told you: “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.

They will persecute you. Persecution is not a matter of “if”, but “when”.

That is not a thought that leads to comfort.

As a grand-father … I think of Lydia.

I know a lot of you saw that beautiful photo on the Church Members Facebook page. My grand-daughter surrounding in lights … wonder on her face.

Thinking about a world where she could be persecuted!

Give me a COVID-19 lockdown over that any time.

They will persecute you.

Think about your loved ones as you process what Jesus is saying.

Hold onto the feelings and emotions you have.

… …

Now listen to these words of Jesus.

Matthew 5:10-12

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

When persecution takes place we are blessed.

Feeling blessed is not one of the first natural emotions or thoughts we have about persecution. That is because such thoughts are not natural. The ability and capacity to experience blessedness in the face of persecution is a “spiritual” response.

Matthew 5:10

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

It is the last of a series of sayings which we call the Beatitudes. These are the attitudes we have when we are in relationship with Jesus. When we live these attitudes … when we live the “beatitudinal” life … the world is going to push back

Blessed are the poor in spirit … those who recognise they have nothing of worth to offer God.

To them the world says …. you are delusional.

There is no god that you are accountable to. Live life however you choose. You need to listen to reason and to science.

Blessed are those who mourn … seeking forgiveness because of the magnitude of their sin.

To them the world says …. this is just the church trying to control you.

Stop putting yourself under false guilt. Stop putting your standards on others and making them feel guilty for no reason.

Blessed are the meek … the ones who are gentle in their response to others.

To them the world says …. you are just setting yourself up to be taken advantage of … you are weak. If you don’t stand up for yourself, well others will just tread all over you.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness … making their relationship with Jesus a priority.

To them the world says …. well you are just too spiritual to be of any earthly use. We don’t want people who tell us that they are praying for wisdom. Get up and get to work and give us proper answers.

Blessed are the merciful … coming to the aid of the needy and helping the fallen.

To them the world says …. don’t expect to find any mercy from others in this harsh world. We live in a dog-eat-dog society and it is survival of the fittest.

Blessed are the pure in heart … relying on Jesus as they seek to live in obedience.

To them the world says …. you are so judgemental and think that you are better than everyone else. Stop putting your standards on me and accept my moral standard without judgement.

Blessed are the peacemakers … the one who tries and introduces others to Jesus.

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