We’ve spent weeks laying groundwork, setting forms, and pouring asphalt, so to speak. Today, we’re going to see what scripture tell us to DO when the proverbial rubber meets the persecution road and loving Jesus endangers the people and possessions most precious to us.
I pray none of us suffers the unthinkable torture and loss reported in the news today, but with Christian liberty eroding at an alarming rate in America, the reality is, we could. The enemies of the cross hate Jesus in us here to the same degree they hate Jesus in Christians in other more hostile areas of the world. Their unified agenda is to silence us and stop the gospel, even if it means extreme measures. Tweet this!
Remember, first and foremost, our hearts must be entwined with eternity. That’s the how to do the what to do, which the Bible covers in such abundance that we’ll talk about our minds and hearts today, and in subsequent blogs, we’ll get into the will and the mouth.
Seven Steps to Securing the Heart and Mind
- Abide in Christ.
Without Christ, we can do NOTHING (John 15:5), including standing firm in the face of persecution. We must abide in Him – live and breathe and have our being only in Him, and Him in us. Tweet this! Remain in constant communication with Him. Remain in His word. Remain in fellowship with His children. Remain in His presence.
- Know who you are in Christ.
If Christ is in you, “the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17). We are God’s children and heirs, and greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world ( 1 John 4:4). “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5). In Christ, we are overcomers! We win. Jesus is greater than our persecution, and our faith in Him is our victory. Tweet this!
- Receive and walk in the peace of Christ and refuse a troubled heart.
Jesus promises and admonishes: “My peace I leave with you. My peace I give you; not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). We are not to be troubled (Matthew 24:6) because He is the Prince of Peace. Jesus is Peace. And “even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed,” Peter insists in 1 Peter 3:14, so “do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” In the same way, Paul maintains, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). The peace of Christ guards our hearts and minds against runaway emotions and thoughts. It comes by being His, knowing His word, walking in His ways, and believing His promises. Tweet this!
- Have the mind of Christ.
Earlier in Philippians, Paul instructs us, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
We might have to walk through some painful and trying times, but it will never be more than what Jesus suffered on our behalf, to give us a hope and a future. To extend forgiveness and give us eternal life. Jesus will never require more of us than He was willing to give for us; to have the mind of Christ is to be willing to do whatever He asks, even to suffer and die for Him, knowing we are His and His reward awaits us. Tweet this!
- Focus on building a treasury of heavenly assets in the day called today.
Here’s what Jesus tells us to do in order to set our minds and affections on things above, not on the things of this world: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). In Matthew 10:28-29, He further directs us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Stay in this day. Don’t let your imagination run away with you and all the possibilities of what’s to come or the affairs of this life. Stay engaged in the moment you’re in and the task set before you knowing eternally valuable treasures are not found in earthly storehouses. Tweet this!
- Fear God, not man.
A key to untangling ourselves from the affairs of this life is severing all ties to the fear of man or our desires to please or be accepted by others. Jesus clearly warns us, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Likewise, while on trial for disobeying the high priest’s orders to cease teaching in Jesus’ name, Peter and the apostles declare, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Jesus is the One with the power to grant forgiveness of sins (verse 31). Man cannot control us or determine our eternity. God does, and that’s who we need to fear and obey. Tweet this!
- Learn contentment knowing you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
To the degree that we can do nothing without Christ, we can do all things through Him, because He is our strength! Tweet this! Contentment isn’t a natural state; it’s acquired. We can learn to be content in Christ in all circumstances, even the hard ones (Tweet this!), just like Paul: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).
And that, my sweet friends, is what to do with our hearts and minds. Next, we’ll look at what to do with our will when faced with persecution.
If you’re just joining us today or want to refer back to other blogs in this series, click Unshakable Hope in the Face of Persecution. And, you can get all new blogs directly to your inbox by click the SUBSCRIBE graphic below. As my free gift to you, you’ll receive a download of my eBook Holy His: Hope for a Life and a Nation Wholly His, the perfect companion to this series. In six weeks of scripture-packed study, Christians will learn to experience the fullness of God’s promises through obedience to His word, and find hope that is an anchor for our souls, sure and steadfast, no matter what. The result? Lives that are powerful platforms for preaching the gospel – the only true and eternal answer to our personal and national crises. Every Christian needs to read this book! Be sure to get yours, and then spread the word!
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Lord, prepare our hearts and minds for whatever our futures hold. Thank You for Your peace that abides in us as we abide in Christ. Thank You for giving us the mind of Christ. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven as we become more wholly Yours, fearing You and not man, because we know we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION:
- In John 15:5, Jesus explains, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” To abide in Him is to live and breathe and have our being only in Him, and Him in us, to remain in constant communication with Him, in His word, in fellowship with His children, and in His presence. Consider your time and the bulk of your thoughts. Where do you spend most of your time abiding? If in Christ, what does that look like in your life? If not, what can you see you need to change in order to abide in Him?
- When Jesus tells us in John 14:27 not to let our hearts be troubled or afraid, it’s because He knows He gives us His perfect peace. When we feel threatened, Philippians 4:6-7 tells us what to do for peace to guard our hearts and minds: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Based on these scriptures, what can you do the next time fear approaches? I’ve heard it said, “When fear knocks and faith answers, no one is there.” Why is faith so important to peace?
- Jesus warns us in Matthew 10:28, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Who is He who is able to destroy the body and soul in hell? What do you think it means to fear God and not man? First Timothy 2:4 tells us, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” Are there areas of your life where you fear man and find yourself entangled in the affairs of this life?