Last week we talked about how the hard times which come our way as Christians are powerful opportunities to grow in Christ and unique chances to prove our faith to a lost world. But many verses of Scripture speak of a very specific kind of struggle which the Christians of the early church were experiencing—trials which came as a direct result of their love and obedience to Christ. Trials which threatened their reputations, their way of life and their very lives.
Persecution in the ancient church didn't start from the top (the government), it originated at the bottom ... the people that surrounded the new Christians. Day by day we see this same persecution growing in our lives. How are we as Christians supposed to respond? And how can we ever have the courage to take the sort of abuse the church took in the first centuries?
How Many of you have watched a fellow Christian fall away from the faith in difficult times in their life? They’ve either lost faith in God’s existence or worse, lost faith in God’s goodness and love for them.
God has clearly told us there will be times of trouble and suffering in our lives as Christians, even stating these sufferings will increase because of our choice to serve Him. God does not always bring testing and hard times in our lives, often it is a direct result of evil in this world, or a result of the effects of a fallen and cursed creation, or a direct attack from Satan, or even sometimes it is a self-inflicted effect of not living a devoted life to God and His precepts.
When was the last time that someone truly impressed you? Whether it was something you read or saw, or it was someone in your life—what did they do to impress you? Was it their abilities or skills? Was it their attitude? Their kindness and helpfulness? Why was it impressive? Because you admired their qualities and wished you had them? Because you realized the character or effort involved? Because it showed what that person must be made of at their core? Have you ever consciously tried to impress someone else? Why did you want to impress them? What did you do to impress them?
To impress someone means, according to Merriam-Webster: "to affect especially forcibly or deeply : gain the admiration or interest of". Who we worry about impressing shows where our hearts are. Do we even know what it takes to impress Jesus?
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