“Under Pressure, Provocation, Or Persecution?”

Posted: June 14, 2019 in Attitude, Philippians

Believe it or not, you can learn a lot about a person by discovering what makes him/her angry, what makes him/her cry, and what makes him/her laugh. Apply this to yourself.

“A real test of the genuineness of Christian profession is witnessed when one finds himself under pressure, provocation, or persecution…Our reaction to a sudden, unexpected change of condition or circumstances shows up a weakness in many of us.  Some Christians are thrown completely off balance if anyone disagrees with them, and under more trying circumstances they go completely to pieces.” – Dr. Lehman Strauss. What sets you off?

Attitude. A key to the problems of life has to do with the attitude. What is your attitude when you are suddenly stopped short of your goal that was part of your planning? Do you resent the circumstances? Do you become angry with God or with others because you didn’t get your way? Be honest. “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Is it your way or the highway? Is it God’s way or your way as one secular song suggests?

Submission. One songwriter put it this way: “Not what wish to be / Nor we are wish to go /For who am That should choose my way? / The Lord will choose for me / ‘Tis better far I know, / So let him bid me go or stay!” When facing the cross, Jesus said, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Are you interested in doing God’s will or your will? How often are God’s thoughts and ways brought into your decision making (Isaiah 55:7-9)?

Reactions. The Apostle Paul’s response of rejoicing in the Lord in the midst of his circumstances had a profound effect on some unbelievers, some believers, and even upon himself. Ask yourself, “What are others learning about me by my words, actions, and reactions?” Do they bring glory to God or do they grieve Him (1 Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 4:30; Psalm 19:14)?

Guards. Being under house arrest (Acts 28:30), Paul was chained to many, elite Roman soldiers. They were his captive audience. They observed him day and night and soon learned that he wasn’t an ordinary prisoner but was there because of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his passion to spread the Gospel to others. Many were saved by Paul’s life and the Gospel that came forth from his lips.

In Prison. Some Bible teachers believe that Paul was in prison because he didn’t heed the warnings that had been given to him by the Holy Spirit (Acts 21:4, 12-14). Even though he was willing to die for Christ, “To want to die for Christ is all wrong when God wants you to live and preach the Gospel.” – Dr. H. L. Schafer. “For as many as are [habitually being] led by the Spirit of God, these are [maturing] sons of God” (Romans 8:14).

Blessing. But even when we mess things up, God has a way of turning them around for good for His children who love Him (Romas 8:28). Paul needed a rest and some time to reflect/meditate (See Psalm 1:2; 46:10; Philippians 4:8; 1 Timothy 4:15). So he used his time to write letters to churches and individuals to instruct them and to share with them grace teaching/truths that He had received from the Lord during his time with the Lord in Arabia (Galatians 1:17). Could you write a letter, call someone, or give a word of encouragement to someone in need? (See 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4; Hebrews 10:24, 25) If you can, will you do it? When? Today?  What is really important to you – other people in need or your own personal pleasures?

Satan. He will try to convince some unsaved people that they aren’t savable and could never be forgiven for the sins they’ve committed. He often reminds Christians of past failures that have been forgiven (Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:9) and would cause us to become disappointed, discouraged, and even to doubt God and His Word. When he or demons tempt us, we must put on the armor that God has provided for us to be victorious (Ephesians 6:10-17). Do you also know how to overcome temptations that come from your sin nature, and from the present world system? Being tempted isn’t a sin, but yielding to sinful temptations is sin (“Sin is lawlessness.” 1 John 3:4; Romans 3:10, 23; 6:23).

Plans/Goals. “Make plans and set goals which are in keeping with God’s written Word. Arrange them into priorities. Plan your strategy. Submit your goals to God’s sovereign will. If God providentially hinders you from accomplishing your goals, assume that the delay was part of God’s sovereign will. This will free you from discouragement. All you’ll need to do is adjust your time table.” – Adapted from Gary Friesen, Decision Making And The Will of God. p. 239

Effects. Paul’s attitude of rejoicing in the midst of his imprisonment stimulated other believers to become more bold in their witness for the Lord (See Acts 4:13-31; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). He wasn’t discouraged because God’s love had been shed abroad in his life and this helped him overcome his fears (Romans 5:5; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 4:18).

Motives. Yes, there were some people who were proclaiming the Gospel from envy and strife, but others were proclaiming it from goodwill (Philippians 1:15; Galatians 5:19-21; Romans 1:16). Either way, he was glad that others were learning about Christ and His offer of salvation to all mankind (1 Timothy 2:4; 1 John 2:2). We should always be ready to give an answer to those who ask us about our hope/confident expectation in Christ (1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 4:2). Are you prepared to do this? Have you ever led another person to Christ for salvation? Would you like to learn more so you can do this and earn the “Crown of Rejoicing” (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20; Ephesians 4:11)?

Formula. For someone to be saved from having to spend eternity with the devil and his angels in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41, 46; Revelation 21:8) and to go to heaven to be with God (John 14:1-3), one needs to use the right formula. “Grace + Faith = Salvation + Good Works (Ephesians 2:8-10). It is not “Grace + Faith + Good Works = Salvation” (Titus 3:5). Note the difference.  Make sure the Gospel for salvation is presented clearly to them.

25 Words. These few words could result in a dying person’s or anyone’s instant salvation. “My Friend, You have sinned. But Christ died for sinners and rose again. Trust Him alone and He will save you eternally. Do it now!” – Dr. M. Kober [1]. (Read Romans 3:23; 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4; Acts 16:31; 1 John 5:13; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Proverbs 27:1; James 4:14.)

Witnesses. Jesus wants every Christian to be a witness to unbelievers so they can be saved (Acts 1:8). The devil will try to intimidate and discourage you (2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Peter 5:8), but with God’s help you can do what He wants you to do (Philippians 4:13). The Apostle Paul was willing to endure all things so others could be saved (2 Timothy 2:10). To what extent would you go so others could be saved?

Investment. Why not invest your life in others? Chuck Swindoll gives these suggestions: “Ask God to give you a sensitive spirit for identifying someone to disciple. Be on the alert – don’t scratch anybody off your list of possibilities [as long as they are still alive]. Reach out slowly and informally. Before your time together is over, make specific plans to meet again.” – Discipleship, p. 99

Questions. What makes you angry/mad? What makes you sad and causes you to cry? What makes you laugh and rejoice in the Lord? Are you truly saved or just a “professing Christian?” If you’re truly saved, are you growing spiritually, and serving God and others?  Are you regularly sharing the Gospel with the lost? Do you have all your known sins confessed to God (1 John 1:9; James 5:16; Proverbs 28:13; 29:1)? Do you want to do God’s will more than anything else? Are you struggling with sinful temptations (See 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Peter 1:3)? Are you tired of living a defeated life? If so –

Help. We’re here to assist you and others who are teachable and willing to change (2 Timothy 2:2, 15; 3:16, 17). We can be reached through our website: www.kelseypeach.com with your questions/comments. Join us on Facebook and Youtube for our Bible studies. Click on “Follow” to receive future articles as they come out. Send us your questions/comments. If this has helped you, please share it with others.

[1] Dr. Manfred Kober, https://www.faith.edu/1993/02/do-we-really-know-the-gospel/

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