Courage to Witness: Those Scattered

The witness of The Persecuted

And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Acts8:1

Therefore those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Acts8:4

And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. Acts11:21

Courage to Witness: Stephen

Witness to the Religious Establishment

The Religious Establishment wanted Stephen to shut up! They did not want to hear God’s Word or Truth. They could not stand the wisdom and Spirit with which he was speaking. They stirred up the people, elders and scribes against him; they came and seized him and brought him before the council. Stephen was required to give an account to them. They saw that he was full of the Holy Spirit as he preached God’s Word! He declared what God has said, and what He did. Remember, he was preaching to the religious establishment: to professed believers in God- not professed atheists. These professed God, yet they were not born from above. They were not at all regenerate nor in the Kingdom; they were not circumcised in heart. He told them the truth regarding their unbelief, sin and disobedience! He accused them of resisting the Holy Spirit and persecuting and killing God’s people whom they had betrayed and murdered. The religious leaders were enraged! Stephen continued to honor and glorify Christ! The only way they could shut him up was to kill him, but Stephen was faithful to Jesus until the end.

“You men who are stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become…”Acts7:51-52

Weak

“I now understand more of our calling. The weakest instruments are chosen to do the greatest work so that the glory might go to God.” ~Paul Washer.

Perhaps this quote is commentary on 2 Cor. 12:10. I found this very comforting. By trials, hardships and suffering for Christ’s sake, God makes us to know and feel our weakness even more. This is His loving sanctifying Grace in our lives! In our utter weakness, He then makes us useful vessels of His power and His strength for His glory. And we are content with this, delighting in our trials with joy as we experience Christ’s strength in us.

Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, I am strong. 2Cor12:10

Courage to Witness: Peter and John

The Religious Establishment wanted the apostles to shut up! But having beheld the resurrected Christ and also receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, they could not do anything other than proclaim Christ with confidence and courage!

Witness to the Religious Establishment and Rulers

And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.” Acts4:18-20

And when they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. and the high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts5:27-32


Courage to Witness: Jesus

Jesus, our King, Lord, Master, Savior, brother and friend. He IS The Faithful Witness. His very presence is with us and His courage, strength and power He gives to us. As Jesus bravely bore witness to the truth before the earthly ‘powers that be’, He lovingly demonstrated to us the exact way many of us must also be His witnesses, down through the centuries, and to the very end.

Witness to the Religious Establishment

And the high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, “Do You make no answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But He kept silent, and made no answer. Again that high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Mark14:60-62

Witness to Kings and Rulers

Pilate therefore said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John18:37-38

Martyr

Webster:
MARTYR, Greek, martus, martur, martyr, lit., witness.
1. a person who dies rather than renounce a religion. (In our case
it would be a believer who gladly dies rather than renounce
our Lord Jesus Christ.)

Bible Dictionary:
MARTYR, Greek, martus, martur, lit., witness.
Because of its use in connection with Stephen (Acts 22:20) and others
who died for Christ, the word came to mean one who paid the extreme price for
fidelity to Christ. Antipas was a faithful witness(Rev.2:13). The harlot, Babylon,
was drunk with the blood of martyrs (Rev.17:6).

Voice of the Martyrs:
MARTYR, n. from the Greek word for witness.
1. One who chooses to suffer death rather than to deny Jesus Christ or His work.
2. One who bears testimony to the truth of what he has seen or heard or knows,
as in a witness in a court of justice.
3. One who sacrifices something very important to further the Kingdom of God.
4. One who endures severe or constant suffering for their Christian witness.
5. A Jesus Freak

Verses of Encouragement: Ps.119

Even though princes sit and talk against me, Thy servant meditates on Thy statutes. v23
My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Thy word. v28
I will also speak of Thy testimonies before kings and shall not be ashamed. v46
This is my comfort in my affliction, that Thy word has revived me. v50
I have remembered Thine ordinances from of old, O LORD, and comfort myself. v52
I am a companion of all those who fear Thee, and of those who keep Thy precepts. v63
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes. v71
They almost destroyed me on earth, but as for me, I did not forsake Thy precepts. v87
The wicked have laid a snare for me, yet I have not gone astray from Thy precepts. v110
Depart from me, evildoers, that I may observe the commandments of my God. v115
Trouble and anguish have come upon me; yet Thy commandments are my delight. v143
Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, yet I do not turn aside from Thy testimonies. v157
Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of Thy words. v161
I hope for Thy salvation, O LORD, and do Thy commandments. v166
Let my lips utter praise, for Thou dost teach me Thy statutes. Let my tongue sing of Thy word, for all Thy commandments are righteous. v171-172
I long for Thy salvation, O LORD, and Thy law is my delight. Let my soul live that it may praise Thee, and let Thine ordinances help me. v175

The King on His Wedding Day

The wedding approaches. The King will be so glorious, handsome, celebrated and blessed.

Grace is poured upon His lips. Mighty with sword on thigh, He is victorious in splendor and majesty, reigning forever in His Kingdom. He defeats His enemies, loving righteousness and hating wickedness. God anoints Him with the oil of joy and clothes Him in garments with beautiful fragrances. Music is playing and He is glad.

Forget your people and your father’s house! The King will desire our beauty. Because He is our Lord, we bow down to Him. We will be glorious within and clothed in stunning beauty. We will be brought to Him. We will be led to the King with gladness and rejoicing! We will enter into the King’s palace! We will declare His name and give thanks and praise to Him forever.

Verses of Encouragement: Philippians

Versesfor to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Phil.1:21

But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. Phil.2:17

rejoice in the Lord! Phil.3:1

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… Phil.3:8

forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal… Phil.3:13-14

stand firm in the Lord, my beloved! Phil.4:1

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! Phil.4:4

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Phil.4:11

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil.4:13

Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.. Phil.1:12

Celebrate Ramadan

So what are you doing for Ramadan this year? The Jewish high holidays are also right around the corner. These holidays make for wonderful conversation opportunities. There are people from the Middle East all around you, and they have not yet heard the Good News. God has brought them here –to you–so they could hear the Truth of Jesus and join the redeemed sons and daughters of the LORD.

If you pray and ask Him, He will give you opportunities. He will also give you courage.

The Lord has filled you with His Spirit and has sent you to bring the Gospel to those who are brokenhearted over their sin. He has sent you to declare freedom and forgiveness to those held captive by the devil to do his will. He has sent you to those who are prisoners of sin, spiritual blindness and spiritual death; to proclaim Jesus: the salvation of the LORD.

Ramadan_Post_PhotoThe Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD. Isaiah 61:1-2

Related post: Mosque.  See also: Contextualization.