What the Church Should Do in the Midst of Persecution (I Thessalonians 1:6-8) - Part 2
I Thessalonians 1:6-8, And ye became followers of us, and of the LORD, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost. So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the LORD not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
The parable is told of an old dog that fell into a farmer's well. After assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the dog but decided that neither the dog nor the well were worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he planned to bury the old dog in the well and put him out of his misery. When the farmer began shoveling, initially the old dog was hysterical. But as the farmer continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck him. It dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back, he should shake it off and step up. This he did blow after blow. "Shake it off and step up, shake it off and step up, shake it off and step up!" he repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows or how distressing the situation seemed, the old dog fought panic and just kept shaking it off and stepping up! It was not long before the dog, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well. What seemed as though it would bury him actually benefited him—all because of the way he handled his adversity. If we face our problems and respond to them positively, refusing to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity, the adversities that come along to bury us usually have within them the potential to bless us! Forgiveness, faith, prayer, praise, and hope are some of the biblical ways to shake it off and step up out of the wells in which we find ourselves.
2. They Persevered in the Word.
Their receiving of the Gospel had not come easily or without adversity. Despite the persecution for their faith, the Thessalonians continued to accept God’s truth, believe His promises and trust His Son. We have faced nothing compared to what these did and yet many today are abandoning their faith and going the way of the world. Many are looking for excuses to avoid church. However, the Thessalonians refused to let the difficulties of life hinder their service to the Lord. We may not face the same type of persecution as the early church, but our faith will be tested to see if we hold on to God’s Word in difficult times.
Years ago, a minister spoke to a group of newly-ordained ministers saying, "Young men, believe me, you will make more people Christians by being Christians yourselves than you will by all the sermons you will ever preach." May the Lord touch our hearts that we will develop an unhindered commitment to Him and the work that He has called us to. One of the greatest testimonies and influences of modern Christianity is the genuineness of its believers. The world and especially the younger generation are seeking something that is genuine. Serving the Lord is not without obscurity or opposition. But when obstacles come, we can rise above through the presence and uplifting of the Spirit. It is hard to be discouraged and want to quit when you are filled with joy (I Peter 1:8)!
Points to Ponder:
Questions to Consider:
PRAYER: Lord, help me hang on to You with everything I’ve got, living out my faith in You one day at a time. Never let me lose my sense of dependence on You. Keep me pressing on as I follow in Your Son’s steps, realizing it is Your plan to use my time here to grow me into someone more and more like Him. May Your will be done. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.