When you are truly persecuted because you represent a higher standard of living and love than another, you can triumph. The kingdom of heaven is about living in love in this world regardless of circumstance.
Matthew 5: 10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Persecution is a tough concept. Persecution because you represent a higher frame of living than your persecutors is not as common as some think. But it is more common than we want to believe. There are people convicted by their own selfishness that will trap those living in love and service. Love is the higher standard. Service is the higher standard. Reward comes.
Maybe an employer toughens your work and restricts your freedom because you live to a higher standard. It is common. There is no law enforceable against it. It happens. Reward comes.
Persecution does not mean having a hard life. Persecution is specific restriction and abuse. Some persecute because they have been persecuted. They live out their pain against others. Some persecute because they want control. They enslave others to do their bidding. Some persecute out of ignorance and socialization to please another in some warped sense of reality.
Maybe the legal system toughens your expression and strangles your voice because you choose to serve. It is common. The law supports it. Law may not be fair. Reward comes.
Persecution because you represent a higher standard of love and service is what Jesus represents. Sure those that wanted control came against him. Some were just ignorant. Some were serving their own misguided belief systems. But some attacked because Jesus dared to love and serve. They just could not stand to see love and acceptance that was not based on fear and control.
Maybe family sneers and scoffs and questions your motives. It happens. Live and love them anyway. You may have to stand alone. Reward comes.
Jesus stood above His persecutors. That is where the kingdom survives. Persecutors can’t take it away. It is a matter of the heart. The kingdom of love and service survives persecution and lives for another day and hour. The reward comes.
Persecuted? Keep loving. Keep serving. Live through it to the next hour. Tough? You bet it is. The kingdom is in you. There is reward ahead.
Father, what a day in which You have placed us. There are so many sources of power and control that want to restrict and contain love and service. It should not be this way.
But, Father, You know this world acts this way. You have seen nations abuse nations. You see ideals squash love and acceptance. You witness the inhumanity of people against those they cannot understand and do not wish to accept because of a higher law of love that they live in You.
Relieve those that are persecuted for righteousness and those persecuted for love and those persecuted for service. Restore their fortunes and their heart and loose restrictions. Bring reward in this life, Father. Let them see Your hand in this life, Father.
For these specifically persecuted I pray, Father. Release their love and service that they might be a blessing to the rest of us. For that is what these are, Father. They are meant to be a blessing. Release their joy to bless us. Deliver us from such evil. For Yours is the kingdom.
Psalm 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure. ESV
That’s why my heart celebrates and my mood is joyous;
yes, my whole body will rest in safety CEV
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure NIV
Every so often, you will find a verse in the original language that defies exact matching translation from different eras and interpretive groups. This one fits that description. Many times, it is because an idiomatic phrase is contained or there is such emotion and expression, it is hard to put into a single phrase. So let me expand this one.
My heart is glad and celebrates in great joy. With my whole being inside and out, I am excited and alive; my tongue must shout and declare this joy. It cannot be contained or restrained. A great sense of peace and restfulness and security envelops my body and mind and spirit. Phil’s version
Now, that is a picture of great health and well being. That is a picture of restful trust in God and God alone. That is a picture of one that has wrestled with God and found Him to be more interested in securing our hearts that controlling our actions. That is a picture of one, who has encountered fierce angers and pains and problems and illness and has come through to a new realization that the presence and leading of the Father brings us to refreshing and rest. That is a wonderful picture.
Entering in to health many times is preceded by great struggle and pain. Our habits become acclimated to the struggle. Our daily routines become expectant of the pain. A friend going through back surgery shared some of her story. The doctors instructed her that ghost pain would continue for some time. Though the surgery is successful and removes even some nerve endings, our minds are trained to find pain at times of day and particular motions. The pain is not there physiologically. Yet, the pain is there in our minds. The conditioning of ill health forms a barrier even when we are healed to enjoying the new freedom.
Breaking Conditional Barriers
In my own experience, I find it difficult to rest after an intense time of development of a business thrust or a strained season with a client. Though the situation is ended and the issues are resolved, my daily expectation of another problem wrestles with my restfulness. A wise executive once commented to me, “Even when we receive a new and different and positive answer, we hear the old negative one that is so common.” He did not say it just like that, but you get the point.
There must be a time of “glory rejoicing” to break the conditional barriers of ill health and negative situations. Celebrate. This unspeakable joy works internally for us to remove scar tissues and sensitive nerves of mind and will and emotion and body. Then we can receive the new and positive situation and answer. This transition must happen. It is a barrier breaker.
Returns at Customer Service
Discount retailers dedicate a large area for returned and damaged merchandise. It is not a happy place. There is not a lot of smiling for anyone. When you find a smiling employee working that area, your frustration is defused at having to come back to the store. The transaction becomes more pleasant. That employee is giving a rejoicing to a healing situation. The item is broken. You are receiving a replacement. That should be joyful. Yet, you lost value when you tried to use it at home and it broke. You lost positive expectation and trust. Now, the item and positive expectation must return before you can get full value.
Broken bones and aching hearts and rent emotions and lingering illness in our body cause us to lose positive expectation and trust in God. We expect nothing. Worse than that, we expect bad. We expect anger and frustration and continuance of a wrong situation. And we get what we expect until we expectantly express ourselves into a different result after the new answer of health and healing and restoration and replacement is received.
Father, there is a great life available through You and Your presence and Your word.
You are life.
You are healing.
You are “Yes” to all Your promises.
You are “Amen” to all Your commitments.
Cause rejoicing to resound in the camp of my heart. Let me release the joy of the moment that heals and conditions me to hear, “Yes, you are healed.”
Walk with me today, Father, as You heal negative expectation built on real experience with tough living. Let joys restore a new hearing and receptivity to my full health.