A garland of grace and a crown of beauty. Proverbs 4:9
Over the last several months, the Lord has spoken to me “I need you to be ready for persecution, my church can no longer stay comfortable and complacent in this country. I have said in my word that my church will be persecuted”.
And I probably said out loud “well, thats a little much, God…” and He went on to explain “persecution doesn’t always look the same way, Sara. I’m not talking about everyone gearing up to be murdered based on their devotion to me, but yes, that is certainly happening across the earth. But I placed you here, in the United States for this time, and in this last generation; and a little persecution isn’t bad.
You, my church, HAS TO know who they are, what they believe, and what power they have been given! I chose you, I have equipped you! My champions of faith from the past would love to be in your shoes right now. They are cheering you on, so come on, be ready, and step out in persecution. My church wants change and miracles in their lives and in this nation, but yet they are not daring to believe or respond in the same way that those in extreme persecution across the earth do.
Seek me above all else, put on my armor, clothe yourself in Christ, stand in my anointing. You are to cultivate my kingdom culture at all costs. That is nothing to be afraid of. I haven’t assembled my church for this battle to lose. I have made a way, I have infused my Spirit into you and I have equipped you with my power, but you, church, have to do your part. Quit playing it safe or doing what is comfortable.”
Most people who know me know that I like to push myself and even draw others out of their comfort zones, too. Why? Because there is no growth in comfort. We cannot be who He created us to be staying comfortable and cultured to the world. Since graduating high school, I have pushed myself into the uncomfortable and I’m so glad I do.
This past week one of our Pastors said “we have to know what we believe, church, and be ready for persecution!” And I thought “oh my! There that word of persecution is again!” The title of that message that night was “Stop the Dishonor”. The whole message was centered around “where there is no honor, there is no love. Honor and love are one in the same, true love cannot be absent from honor.”
We see this by example in the unconditional love of the Father honoring us with the holiness of His son Jesus through His sacrificial death and resurrection for our sins.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
So what does persecution, honor, and love have to do with one another?
Persecution by definition is:
⁃ to be troubled persistently, a systematic mistreatment because of ones belief
⁃ to be pursued with hostility, harassment, or oppressive treatment
⁃ a program or campaign to EXTERMINATE, to drive away, or to SUBJUGATE people based on their beliefs
Subjugate by definition is:
⁃ to BRING UNDER complete control or subjection; to conquer; to master
⁃ to make submissive or subservient; to ENSLAVE
We know that the enemy, the god of this world and it’s culture, hates us. God’s word tells us that the enemy is far underneath our feet through our placement in Christ. We also know through God’s word that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy us, but Christ came to defeat every evil work of the enemy and to bring us life even more abundantly than we can ask, think, or imagine.
We have seen that the enemy’s mission and pursuit in this world is to persecute and subjugate us. His assignments are full of oppression to conquer and enslave us. He is even known as our accuser. He hates that we have been given everything that he ever wanted, but we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. We have our advocate in Jesus himself who pleads our case and His Holy Spirit.
John 15:9-16:1 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.
I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.
If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.
The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, [you may live in this world, but you are not of this world] so it hates you.
Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.
They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me….Anyone who hates me also hates my Father…. But I will send you THE Advocate—the Holy Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.
And you must also testify about me. I have told you these things so that you will not abandon your faith.”
God is calling us to not abandon our faith. Scripture tells us that we are to stand out differently than the world, even in the face of being hated by it, persecuted for our beliefs in what God has said. To be a light in the darkness. To be salt in the earth preserving His way, His culture.
If we are christians, then we are believers. If we are believers, what do we believe? Do we just believe in the person of Jesus or do we believe in the fullness of who Jesus is?
Scripture tells us that Jesus is the very word of God from the beginning that became flesh for us. God created everything through Him in the beginning.
The Word gave LIFE to everything that was created and HIS LIFE brought light to everyone. That light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
So what could me getting out of my comfort zone and allowing the possibility of being persecuted look like in my life?
⁃ allowing myself to look, think, act, speak, and respond differently than the people around me.
⁃ allowing myself to be given empty, confused or even annoyed looks by my words of faith
⁃ Responding with words (God’s word) that isn’t the same as what others are saying or expecting
⁃ Losing popularity or social “likes”, “comments”, or even any interactions from friends and family.
⁃ Being called names and spoken to with hatred and dishonor from acquaintances and strangers for my belief in what THE WORD says.
1 peter 2: 9-10 “You are chosen by God, chosen for a higher calling, CHOSEN to be a HOLY people, Gods instruments to do his work and speak out for Him to tell others of the difference He made for you from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
But because we live in this world, we can think of being God’s instruments in a negative way because we know how people today, the world’s culture, handles instruments.. Use, Use, Use without honor or care, but scripture shows us that God cherishes and honors us, His treasured instruments.”
2 Timothy 2:20-22 “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor.
When you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be full of God’s glory [presence, power, and goodness], and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.
Run from temptations that capture young people. Always pursue to do the right thing by being faithful, loving, and easy to get along with. Worship with people whose hearts are pure.”
What about when people say “why do you think you are holier than me”. “Oh Sara thinks she is just so holy” That’s okay! I hate when that happens, too. The enemy knows we don’t like it, but it’s just a little persecution to try to make us walk out of our place. Remember persecution is systematic in nature. We can know what he is doing and continue to stand our ground.
And if you are thinking well.. im not “holy” to the world’s eyes, i haven’t been pure or made all the right choices in my life. The good news is that’s okay too!
Why would the world get to define holy when the world is NOT holy? The world doesn’t know how to define holy… but God does because He is holy.
In the New Testament, the word for holy is “hagios” which means:
⁃ set apart
That means we aren’t defined holy by our actions, we are defined as holy by someone else’s action: God’s! He sets us apart, He makes us sacred, He separates us from the world, He considers us worthy!
We read 1 Peter 2:9 that God calls us His Holy people and Deut 7: 6 also says:
“For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth, the Lord your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.”
Treasure by definition is:
⁃ wealth stored up
⁃ something of great worth or value
⁃ esteemed as rare and precious
Once we swallow and receive what that even means for us to be His, God’s treasure, we can trust and know God on a deeper level.
1 Peter 1:1-2 “I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners [set apart- separated-different from the culture of that land]. God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and HIS SPIRIT HAS MADE YOU HOLY; therefore you have chosen to obey Him because you have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.”
God considers us worthy! We are so worthy that He sent us His own son to die for our sins! There is no greater love or honor than that! Can we choose to stand for God and be persecuted by the world!?
Hebrews 13:11-16 “Just like in the old covenant, the high priest killed the animal sacrifices outside of the “holy place” before presenting the sin offering to God. So Jesus also became our sacrifice, He suffered and died for us OUTSIDE of the “holy gate” TO MAKE HIS PEOPLE HOLY, TO SANCTIFY them through His own blood.
So we, too, must go [where?] to Him OUTSIDE of the city [outside of the comfortable culture] and endure the insults he endured, bearing the disgrace He bore.
For this city [world] is not our permanent home; we seek the world that is to come.
Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name [ready for persecution].
And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”
1 Thes 5:23-24 “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, make you holy in every way; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God will make this happen, for He who calls you is faithful.”
Are you thinking, but I still just dont feel holy or precious or worthy. I have taken on the appearance of the world’s culture. Im not set apart from the world, I look just like it…
God loves us so much that He has said when we come to Him, He transforms us, He refines us.
Malachi 3:3 “He will [sift] like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify them, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD.”
Romans 12:1-2 “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.Do not conform to the culture of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Standing with you in love, Sara