Blessed Are The Persecuted
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way. - Matthew 5:10-12, NLT
1. Makes me more like Jesus.
… these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. – 1 Peter 4:13b, NLT
2. Deepens my faith.
Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! - 1 Peter 4:16b, NLT
3. Brings rewards.
If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. – 1 Peter 4:14, NLT
When you face opposition:
1. Don’t be surprised.
Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. - 1 Peter 4:12, NLT
2. Don’t be afraid.
… trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. – 1 Peter 4:19b, NLT
Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear. – 1 John 4:18a, NCV
3. Don’t be ashamed.
But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. – 1 Peter 4:16a, NLT
4. Refuse to retaliate.
So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right ... – 1 Peter 4:19a, NLT
5. Respond with a blessing.
Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? … But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. - 1 Peter 3:13, 16a, NLT
… Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. – Luke 6:27b-29a, NIV
The Apostle Paul warns believers in 2 Timothy 3:12 (CEV) that “Anyone who belongs to Christ Jesus and wants to live right will have trouble from others.”
1. Read John 15:18-20 in your Bible and put it into your own words. How might opposition make believers more like Jesus?
*And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil. – John 3:19, NASB
2. Read John 3:19 (above). What – or Who – is the Light? Why did men love the darkness rather than the Light? What is God’s judgment of these people according to Jesus?
*Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. – John 12:24, NASB
3. How do you feel about the persecution of Christians around the world? How have you or anyone close to you been impacted by disapproval or rejection because of your faith? Next read John 12:24 (above). Discuss how this verse gives you hope to help you more confidently and fearlessly proclaim your Christian faith.
*For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12, NLT
4. Ephesians 6:12 teaches believers that our battle is not against flesh and blood – but rather against “evil spirits in the heavenly places.” How might this truth affect our compassion for – and witness to – people who oppose our faith?
Stay away from stupid and senseless arguments. These only lead to trouble, and God’s servants must not be troublemakers. They must be kind to everyone, and they must be good teachers and very patient. Be humble when you correct people who oppose you. Maybe God will lead them to turn to him and learn the truth. They have been trapped by the devil, and he makes them obey him, but God may help them escape. – 2 Timothy 2:23-26, CEV
5. What can we learn from 2 Timothy 2:23-26 above about handling opposition to faith in Christ? How do these verses say we should witness to others?
Although he was abused, he never tried to get even. And when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he had faith in God, who judges fairly. – 1 Peter 2:23, CEV
6. Think of a real-life example of how you may have handled persecution in the past. Based on Jesus’ example (1 Peter 2), what should you have done differently?
*Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the hope You give us in the midst of the opposition we face. We know we will face trouble from others for believing in You, but we pray that we can use this trouble to deepen our faith and become more like Jesus. We pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.