As you grow in a relationship with Jesus you will begin to recognize when God speaks to you. This is not an audible manner like we read about in some stories of the Bible, rather it is often an idea, an impression, or something like a strong urging from within that causes you to stop and consider something that you know must be from God. In the book of James, James wrote that every good and perfect thing comes from above. Jesus said that the Devil comes to steal, kill and destroy and that the demonic realm will never urge anyone to do something that is clearly revealed as good and right in God’s word as presented in the Scriptures. Jesus also said that after he ascended to Heaven, he would send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all the things Jesus taught. There’s an expectation that God the Holy Spirit will communicate with Christians as we grow in Christian maturity and that these communications will never oppose or violate what God has already revealed. Learning to hear the Holy Spirit speak to you is a practice of learning what God has already said and learning to discern your own earthly desires from heavenly ones (desires that God says are good to have).
In an extra Sunday morning message, Sherry shared a recent encounter with the Holy Spirit and talked about how she responded to what the Spirit prompted.
As the church grew from twelve disciples to thousands of believers, they met persecution from many groups. At first, it was the religious leaders of the community. These leaders were concerned that this new teaching of Jesus of Nazareth was full of error and leading people away from the one true God. They started by warning the Christians to stop preaching the gospel, but when the Christians continued to spread the good news of God the religious leaders became more violent – even to the point of murder. As the church grew in size and influence in spite of the religious persecution, the government leaders began to take notice and oppose Christianity. In the same manner, in order to appease the ruling parties of the community, the civil government began to arrest and even execute Christians.
Where is God when good people are persecuted and killed for doing what He commands? Just as the first church learned, so must we; God is right here and active. Even when faced with persecution and death, the power of the Holy Spirit continues to go before us and accomplish exactly what God wants to be accomplished. Our job is to stay close to God and walk with Him through the trials and tribulations taking the good news of Jesus to whomever will listen.
Persecution is real, scary and causes problems for the persecuted. Yet, God uses persecution to grow and strengthen his people. If persecution leads to scattering, then the gospel has an opportunity to scatter too. Like a farmer planting a crop, seeds are scattered across the field so that a new crop will grow.
Not only does the good knowledge of Jesus go with the scattered people, but so does his power. Christians are not only equipped with knowledge about Jesus but are also equipped with the very power of Jesus. Living by faith includes the use of spiritual power; the power of God provided to you by the Holy Spirit of God. The same power (the whole package) that was available for Jesus to use is the same power every single Christian has. We just have to believe that and learn to use it.
The power of Jesus was spread into the whole world because the original Church was persecuted in Jerusalem and the Christians were forced to scatter. Their joy of Jesus, their belief that he forgives and saves us from our sins and their trust in his healing power never disappeared. They took it all with them and continued to tell their story.
If persecution causes you to run and hide, then you’re thinking of it in the wrong way. Persecution may cause you to run and get out of town, but as you go look for ways to take the gospel with you. Persecution does not create happy times, but it creates circumstances for the power of Jesus to change people’s lives.