I have to guard against how much I watch the news. How much I let in. I want to be informed, but my mind tends to wander to worst case scenarios. Fear threatens my heart as I try and figure out how to avoid or prepare for what could happen to me or my family. When the news hits close to home, like a recent rumor that a local gun bust not twenty minutes away from my home revealed ties to ISIS, it’s especially difficult to control my spiraling thoughts.
Can you relate?
I thank God for continually reminding me of 2 Timothy 1:7: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” The term sound mind refers to “an admonishing or calling to soundness of mind, to moderation and self-control.”
How do we get that sound mind? By the word of God! “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
The renewing of our minds is accomplished through the truth of God’s word. We must cast down “arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). The only way we can do that is to know what the Bible says and proclaim it as truth. It’s the how of persevering through persecution, because when threats confront us, we can confront them with truth. Tweet this!
Ten Truths to Embrace in the Face of Persecution
1. Jesus is our refuge; when we flee to Him to “lay hold of the hope set before us,” that hope is “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Hebrews 6:18-19). Tweet this truth!
2. God is trustworthy. We can trust Him to be who He says He is and do what He says He’ll do, because “It is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18); therefore, we can stake our lives on His promises to us. Tweet this truth!
3. We walk in the power and joy of the Holy Spirit, our promised a Helper, who abides with us “forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:15-18). It is His power in order for us to witness Jesus (Acts 1:8). Like the disciples, we can be “filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52), even in the face of persecution: “And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Tweet this truth!
4. No one can lay a hand on us unless our hour has come (John 7:30). During the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, the Jews sought to seize Jesus, but “He escaped out of their hand” (John 10:39). It wasn’t His time. When He wanted to go Judea because He heard His friend Lazarus was dead, His disciples challenged Him: “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” (John 11:8). Jesus knew it wasn’t His time. He would continue His Father’s work. We can do the same. Tweet this truth!
5. No one has power to harm God’s children if that power hasn’t been given from God. When Pilate challenged Jesus, saying, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”, Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin” (John 19:10-11). Tweet this truth!
6. Until the work God has for us to do is complete, there is nothing anyone can do to stop us. Just like Jesus continues His work in the face of opposition and threats to His life, knowing His time has not yet come, so does Paul. Once in Lystra, after healing a man who has been lame from birth, the Jews stone Paul, drag him out of the city, and leave him for dead. But it isn’t over: “When the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe” (Acts 14:20). Another time in Acts 23, when Paul preaches about the hope of the resurrection from the dead to the Pharisees and Sadducees, he is forcefully taken into custody. The next night, the Lord comes to him and says, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome” (verse 11). He could be sure he wasn’t going to die because God still needed him to be His witness in Rome.
I was talking to a dad in my Sunday school class whose daughter is working in an orphanage in communist China, and I asked him how he was faring. His response was profound: “The safest place for her is in the middle of God’s will for her.” I love that! It’s true for us and our children, too.
Even if death appears eminent, we can continue God’s work in boldness and faith until it’s God’s time for our life on earth comes to an end. Tweet this truth!
7. The end game is that God be glorified. Jesus understood this, even as He faced the cross: “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again’” (John 12:27-28). Tweet this truth!
8. Jesus was not alone, and neither will we be, for He will never leave or forsake us. He is Immanuel – God with us – and in Him, we have peace and good cheer, for He has overcome the world (John 16:32-33). Tweet this truth!
9. Whatever is of God, no man can overthrow (Acts 5:33-42). God will accomplish His will and His plan, no matter what. No matter the threat or the opposition, no man can overthrow His plans. Tweet this truth!
10. God’s grace is sufficient; His strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9; see Persecutors Can’t Shake What’s Entwined with Eternity). Therefore, as crazy as it sounds, we like Paul can “take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (verse 10).Tweet this truth!
Anchor your thoughts and stake your life on these truths. It is the how of persevering through persecution. We’ll look at what to do next.
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Lord, we need a sound mind to counter the fear of uncertainty and survive the threat of persecution. Thank you for Your truth that guides us and is an anchor for our soul. We believe You are who You say You are and will do what You say You will do. Lord, when we begin to fear and doubt, help us take every thought captive and make it obedient to Jesus Christ as we become more wholly Yours today.
FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION
- Second Timothy 1:7 tells us, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” We get a sound mind by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), learning by the word of God to cast down “arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). How might this help us persevere through persecution? When threats confront us, what is our defense?
- In John 12:27-28, Jesus says, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.’” His end game and ours is to glorify God. How might embracing this truth alter our view of and help us persevere through persecution?
- As crazy as it sounds, Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 can be ours: “And [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” According to Paul, when does the power of Christ rest upon us? What will get us through whatever suffering we might encounter?
 “Greek Lexicon :: G4995 (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Sowing Circle. Web. 11 Oct, 2014. <http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4995&t=NKJV>.