Wednesday, July 19, 2017

BEATITUDES - Persecution 2

Persecution is a targeted effort to exterminate, drive away or subjugate a people based on their association with a religious, ethnic, social or racial group.

75% of the world’s population lives in areas of severe religious persecution. There are 196 countries in the world. 60 of those countries practice some form of extreme opposition against Christians today.
This persecution ranges from harassment and discrimination to beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, imprisonment, slavery, and even death.

Number one among nations who practice persecution is North Korea. When you run a totalitarian state you can’t allow anyone any freedoms in any area of life.

Out of the next 59, fifty of those countries are Muslim-controlled. If your religion can’t allow competition, you have to get rid of the competition.

In our country, we have social persecution which is a clash over conflicting social standards. Those who hold traditional values, Biblical values are now being challenged by those who want a completely secular society. To change a society, you have to get rid of whatever influence tries to interfere with that change. The tactics in this battle are designed to silence the voices of those who oppose.

You see it every day. If someone cannot win their argument logically, they begin making outlandish accusations, twist meanings of words and make indefensible statements. Are you still beating your wife?

Anyone with an opposing viewpoint is immediately given a name:
  • If you are concerned about inner city unrest or crime or support the police you get labeled a racist.
  • If you want secure borders and restricted entrance into our country from terrorist-supportive nations, you are xenophobic.
  • If you oppose the LGBT agenda of same-sex marriage or just open bathrooms because of your Biblical beliefs or even concern for safety, you are homophobic.
  • If you see the influx of radical Muslims as a threat because of their desire to impose their beliefs, laws and practices in our country as they have throughout the world, you are called islamophobic.

Your fear (phobia) indicates your ignorance and that you hold a bias that prevents you from understanding.

Don’t worry, there are those prepared to correct these fears. It is a movement called the New Morality. With each generation there have been those who have tried to stretch the fabric of what is acceptable so a society can embrace changing morals and practices.  Brian Camenker, with Mass Resistance, said, "As a Jew, I see what happened to Jews in the 1930s and 40s is much the same thing that is happening to Christians now. There's an organized movement to demonize Christians." Maggie Gallagher, with the American Principles Project, said, "What we're seeing very clearly is an effort to target Christians legally when possible and then to humiliate or deprive them of social respect.”

April 23, 2015, Hillary Clinton shared this insight: “All the laws we’ve passed don’t count for much if they’re not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper.”

I thought, of course, she meant the Bill of Rights. When our Constitution was written, certain questions were raised about the extent of the power of this new government. Some feared it would erase individual and states’ rights. Others felt the government would surely never do that. So the compromise was a collection of limitations for the government, Rights for the American people.
To remain a free society, these rights must be upheld so the wishes of a few cannot overtake the convictions of the majority.

But Hillary couldn’t leave it there. She continued, “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

In other words, for a secular world to work, this New Morality must silence the distracting opinions of those who oppose any change.

Years ago in Burleson, the school board was in a battle over creation curriculum. It even attracted the attention of the ACLU who sent an attorney to scare everyone into submission. Someone said that it had always been true that a teacher could share her opinion in discussions and even the ACLU couldn’t stop that.

A baker and his wife are in a legal battle in Colorado because they refused to make a cake to celebrate a gay couple’s wedding reception, even though they offered any other baked good. Just not a wedding cake. Why? It could set the stage for religious views intruding further on laws designed to make society more civil and more open.

A farmer in Michigan was banned from the farmers market in Lancing, because he put on his Facebook page that he believed marriage was between a man and a woman. The city developed a policy to exclude Steve and others like him from selling in the farmer’s market.

Southern Poverty Law Center (an extreme liberal organization) has labeled the Family Research Council and the American Family Association – both highly respected religious organizations – as hate groups.

In Hawaii, this sign now must be placed in all Crisis Pregnancy Centers: This clinic does not provide abortion services or abortion referrals. Only ultrasounds performed by qualified healthcare professionals and read by licensed clinicians should be considered medically accurate. Hawaii has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services including all FDA-approved methods of contraception, prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women.

Opinions held because of Biblical beliefs will be the attack zone by those wishing to stop the interference from those of us who hold traditional, Biblical values. The reason is to silence the voice of any who stand in the way of America becoming a totally secular society.

Back in Roman times, to legally execute a person by Roman law, the charges must be read to him. These were read to a Christian leader: “You have lived a sacrilegious life, and you have gathered around yourself many vicious men in a conspiracy. You have set yourself up as an enemy of the Roman gods and of their sacred rites. And our pious and most religious emperors Valerian and Gallienus, have been unable to bring you back to the observance of their own sacred rituals. Therefore, having been apprehended as the instigator and ringleader of a criminal conspiracy … you will be executed.” 

What was his crime? Being a Christian who lived in allegiance to Almighty God and surrendered that allegiance to no other person. His Christian beliefs would not let him burn incense to Caesar and declare Caesar is lord. So those beliefs and the practices that came from those beliefs were against the law.

What if it became against the law to pray in public? What if the penalty was prison, or worse, be executed?

What did Daniel do? Daniel 6
·         He stayed faithful.
·         He accepted the consequences.
·         He entrusted His life to Almighty God.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus [through which we have eternal life, the love of God and the promises of the Father], so that the life of Jesus [the heavenlies—the presence of God with us] also may be manifested in our body. (2 Cor 4:7-10)

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt 5:10-12)

1.       Being persecuted for righteousness sake is a blessing not a punishment.
2.      It is a means by which God can demonstrate His faithfulness in remarkable ways.
3.      The battle surrounding us is not ours to fight but His.
4.      Our role is to remain faithful to the truth, even if being faithful comes with consequences.

5.      If faced with a choice between Jesus and the world, choose Jesus.

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