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Held and Protected — 10 Comments

  1. A miracle of God

    The Thessalonians had come from the depth of heathenism. Now they were persecuted and afflicted by their former countrymen. Commonly, outward pressure of this kind would crush all joy, faith, endurance giving way to despondency.

    But just the opposite occured. Paul says: "Your faith is growing abundantly and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing." (2 Thessalonians 1:3 RSV) The word "hyperauxano" means "beyond measure". In connection with faith it says that their faith is growing limitlessly. Inspite of persecution they had accepted the gospel with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:6)

    This is a miracle of grace. The apostle encourages other churches pointing at this supreme manifestation of transforming and uplifting grace (2 Thessalonians 1:4). Persecution and affliction may confront us in different degrees. Every believer has his cross to bear daily (Luke 3:23) So we need this transforming and uplifing miracle of grace every day.

    Winfried Stolpmann

  2. A question..... The persecution that came to the early church was not due to their becoming more focused on themselves and having the perfect life, but was due to their undying desire to let others know their magnificent friend, Jesus. They could not stop talking about how he served, and loved, and overlooked their ignorance. There were many Jews who by our standards were not like the world.... perhaps?... who looked right, talked right, ate right, and worshiped right. But, they were not persecuted. Perhaps.., an odd thought, they WERE like the world. Were they caught up in status? lording it over others? looking out for their own interests? taking care of me #1? making sure there was a distinction between the "haves and the have nots" spiritually and finacially? Worldliness perhaps is not about living in or out of a particular christian cultural style. Perhaps it is in the paradigm one has about themselves, others and their purpose in life.
    Just a thought.

    • Those are great thoughts and questions. I think sometimes we do get wrapped up in "fitting in" and doing and saying the right things, but our hearts aren't involved. It's important to remember that as that time comes we will be more and more different in thought and word and action. The difference will become more and more pronounced until there is no middle ground. I want to be on God's side, even if it means I don't fit in with the people around me.
      Thank you for your thoughts.

    • Penny, I think your question regarding the Jews at Christ's time is "right on." They missed the King of Glory because they had the same interests as "the world," even though they lived in a very different religious culture.

      Should be a lesson for us.

  3. Lilliane, thank you for this thought-provoking post. You wrote:

    History shows that when Christians are comfortable, the church becomes stagnant, but when Christians are challenged through persecution, affliction, or other trials, the church grows.

    And that's easy enough to see in the world right now. The prosperous West demonstrates slow church growth and stagnation. The areas of the world where life is much more difficult show much greater growth and more life.

    This year I've also observed how the Seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) keepers in Samoa have reacted to a mild form of persecution practiced by their church which now keeps Sunday. Lance Cutts, one of the lay leaders in Apia, Samoa, probably won't mind my quoting him when he wrote, "The more difficult things become, the more precious Jesus is to us." In fact, he says he wouldn't trade the difficult times for easier times, if he had the choice, because he would miss the closeness of Jesus.

  4. Thank you lilly I needed that. There are too much middle ground in Christianity today. I think God has a standard and by his grace we should aspire to it.
    And like Daniel we would bring more glory to and save more of our fellow men from out of the confusion of Bablylon.

  5. I had a bit of a revelation yesterday, when the preacher did a wonderful bit of bible study linking the persecution in Thessalonians with Acts Chapter 14. The "light switched on" for me when he said that another translation of the word for "to persecute" was "to pressure". Like Lillianne I cannot describe any of my experiences as persecution, but I am very familiar with the idea of pressure. While I am not saying that persecution and pressure are the same, I am all to familiar with the temptation that pressure brings on one.

    We are continually subject to pressure. Sometimes that pressure is to be quiet when one should speak up. Sometimes the pressure is to hide our Christianity because we feel embarrassed. Sometimes the pressure is to "walk on the other side of the road" when we should be stopping and sharing with others.

    Pressure, both subtle and overt is something that we all have to deal with, and maybe in the absence of life-threatening, livelihood-endangering persecution we need to apply these persecution verses to the pressures that we experience to think/behave in a way that does not reflect our relationship with Christ appropriately.

    • You are so right, Maurice. The pressure to ignore the Holy Spirit when His leading seems inconvenient or uncomfortable is probably much more subtle and dangerous than overt persecution. The danger is, if we have not practiced listening to the Holy Spirit's urging when we are safe, we will not be able to follow it when the outcome might be much more dangerous!
      Thank you for your comments.

      • I happened to stumble on this site and its been a delight to know that it was not an accident but I needed to be shown where I stand and to pray ernestly to make a change to stand up for God. Thank you.


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