IN THE NAME OF JESUS
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12
Though darkness may rule the night, joy comes in the morning. As we are taking the next steps headed towards Christmas, I firmly believe that there is a way to look in anticipation towards the end of 2020. For many of us we feel as though this has been the craziest time in our lives, but in reality, we have been tested to the core to see if we are really prepared for the battle that is coming. But I have to say if this is just the test, we all still have a lot to do before the real battle is at hand. Yes, the Church has been closed for a time and we have been able to watch as God revealed new ways to express the Gospel to the world. Some times we are caught in the same ruts and times of apathy that does not allow us to reach the fullest potential of God's Word. All throughout history, the Gospel has been multiplied more during times of persecution than in times of peace. So now is the time that we are being called to step out again and prepare to share the Gospel once again during this time of uncertainty. We have been called to share peace and joy in this time of chaos and COVID. Are you ready to claim it all in the name of Jesus?
See, when we claim it in the name of Jesus, we are professing victory over any situation and circumstance in our lives. Yes, this year of 2020 has caused us to pause and really think about all the relationships in our lives and to truly spend time in prayer. We were given the time to restore our families and rebuild our foundations for the days that are to come. Yes, we now know how crazy 2020 has been, but we still have no idea what 2021 may bring, but in the NAME OF JESUS I proclaim victory. I promise that in everything that I do, others will be able
to see, experience and hopefully receive the Gospel into their lives. So many times we have prayed for God to give us more time with our families and 2020 was the year that God provided. Many battles have been fought and many of our foundations have been shook and questioned, but the power of God will never fail or falter. I know it has been crazy, but even through the time when families are to gather together, we watched as many families were separated and helped us to long for connections again that they once took so much for granted. Even though we have not reached the fullness of persecution in America, we have been tested and tried and I pray we are preparing for the task to come.
Jesus gives us the last understanding of the beatitudes when He reemphasizes the idea of persecution. Jesus realizes what is going to happen to the disciples that are willing to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. It is not going to be an easy road. It will be filled with hurt and death, but Jesus, in the beginning, is already preparing the disciples for the true struggles that are to come in the future. The same is true for us. As we read this teaching on wisdom, I am praying that we really are able to find happiness in the times of suffering. I am praying that we are able to recognize the signs of the things that may be coming and we are fortifying our walls for the persecution that we will all face some time in our lives. Jesus was able to see beyond the present time and the wisdom in His teachings are a blessing for our future. I experienced true persecution when I was a missionary in Germany. I remember running into German skinheads who hated everything about Western culture and that included anything that was also related to church. Church was a symbol of hope and in the old East Germany, just years after the Berlin Wall had fallen, the culture was still battling between the ability to move forward and the repression that had held them down for so many years. Persecution drew them closer to their faith but the struggle to destroy anything with hope had followed them all of their lives. But once they decided to follow Jesus there was no turning back.
So as I look into the days that are ahead, I hope and pray that you claim each day in the name of Jesus. I pray that we all take the time to recognize the condition of the world and see that we are called to step into the battle and profess the Gospel in the name of Jesus. I am asking that we all step back and really see our blessings and find the joy in the struggles that we all face. I pray that we have taken the teachings of Jesus to heart as we seek to live a joy filled life. It is in our attitudes of humility that we are able to see what we have not been able to see before. Jesus offers us a paradoxical idea of life and challenges us to seek the joy
and happiness that can only be found in Him. The battle of life will continue to be one that challenges us to stretch our minds and be prepared to fight for our hearts. If we are really looking for a joy filled life, I pray that we live out the beatitudes every day. I pray that we are able to hold steady to our faith and look for ways to multiply it to others that are in the same battles we face each day. True happiness comes in the NAME OF JESUS, and I am glad to walk in the same ways of those who have gone before us. I pray that we are laying a solid foundation for those who come behind us that they may be able to build on the future of the faith. I remember singing I have decided to follow Jesus and one of my favorite verses is "though no go with me, I still will follow, No turning back... no turning back." I pray that this song will also give you assurance to know that God wins in the end and we play a part in the seeds that are planted, watered and the fruit that are harvested. In the NAME OF JESUS we are called to find true joy.