“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” —Matthew 24:21-23

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’  “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it”. —Matthew 10:34-39

            Wow!  What strong words from Jesus are these!  What is He saying to us?  This is definitely a challenge to our commitment level to Him!  Is Jesus the top priority in my life?  Are there other things that I have as priority over Him?  Do I even see my own life as a priority over Him?  How is it that Paul could say—  

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” —Philippians 1:20-24

            Paul had his priorities right.  Whether He was to live or die Jesus was of most importance— more important than his own life and had rather depart (die) and be with Jesus.  Or as even Joseph said— “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Hebrews 11:26). 

            We here in the West have little practical understanding of these passages above.  But we have brothers and sisters in other areas of the world who are being martyred today because Jesus is most important in their lives.  Just recently there was a group of believers killed.  That is real hatred.  Let us keep in mind what Jesus said— “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” (Matthew 24:9).  This hatred of believers is occurring in the world today.  Let us not be unaware and let us not think it will not happen in the West… in due time it will on a greater scale.  If we do not understand this then we are denying what God’s Word warns us of.  Just be aware… be wise… be faithful…

Dear Father may I stand faithful when persecution arises.  Oh, that I would cling to Jesus until I die.  May this be so by the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Your Son, my Lord and King— Jesus!

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