Last week, we talked about the end-time wealth transfer. God is going to shift the wealth of the world into the hands of those who are advancing the Kingdom of God in these last days.
Two weeks ago, the Lord gave us a prophetic word to make sure we are positioned and ready for this transfer of wealth. Here’s what He said:
“There is great provision for my people. I need you to receive it and not reject it. You are the ones that I can trust with it because your hearts are pure, and your motives are right. You will know exactly what you need to do with it.”
As I said, we are not just talking about these things. We are going to experience a manifestation of the promises we talk about in this series. Has anyone already experienced an increase in wealth?
Has anyone been experiencing some challenges lately? Maybe it feels like the enemy is giving you quite the beating? Or maybe you are getting persecuted by family and friends?
Well, I know it’s not what you hoped for, but it’s an indication that you are on the right track. That’s why, today, we’re going to talk about an unwanted end-time promise: persecution.
2 Timothy 3:12 NLT – Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
Notice it says, everyone. That means you are not exempt.
All those preachers who told you that living a godly life would be a walk in the park were lying to you. The truth is, living for God is a battle. But it’s a battle worth fighting.
Here’s the good news. After you’ve built up some endurance, you are able to face these challenges with joy and peace.
At first, these challenges bother you. But as time goes on, you start to welcome the challenges because you know they make you stronger in your faith.
You are probably wondering if we are even in the same series anymore. Last week I was telling you that wealth is coming your way. This week I am telling you persecution is coming your way.
Well, they are actually interconnected. Take a look:
Mark 10:28-30 NLT – Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said. “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution.
That was all sounding so great until the last part. Yes! You are going to get a hundredfold return for the things you give up in order to advance the kingdom of God. But it is going to come with persecution.
Example of the Prosper/Persecution Pair
I can verify this scripture. I’ve been living in God’s promise of wealth for many years now. And very few people actually rejoice about the blessings of God in my life. Most people fuss about it.
“I can’t believe he lives in that house. I can’t believe he drives a blue Jaguar convertible. Why is he the one leading the church? He’s not qualified for this. How is his business so successful?”
I got one answer for you: I am living in the blessing of the Lord. Do you know how I know? Because I am not good enough to have done this on my own.
That’s why, if the Lord asked me to give away my Jag today, I’d give it away. It’s not mine anyways. It’s His and He is graciously letting me enjoy it for a time.
So, I bring you good news. If you choose to live a godly life and receive God’s blessings as a result, you will experience persecution. And the more blessed you are, the more you’ll be persecuted.
Are you feeling encouraged yet?
Well, you should be encouraged. When persecution comes your way, you know you are on the right track.
I know I’m encouraged because even though you are being persecuted for following the messages I preach every week, you are sticking with it. This means you are fertile ground!
In Mark chapter four, Jesus tells a parable about a farmer planting seeds. The seeds fell in one of four locations.
Some fell on a footpath, and the birds ate them. Others fell on shallow soil and sprouted up quickly, but since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.
Some fell among thorns and were choked out. Others fell on fertile ground and produced a great harvest.
Jesus then went on to explain what the parable meant. The farmer planting seeds represents someone who teaches the Word of God to others. In this case, I am the farmer.
Let’s take a look at what each location represents:
Mark 4:15-20 NLT – The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away.
This is a good explanation of people who are woke. They don’t even consider the Word of God for one second.
The Rocky Soil
Mark 4:15-20 NLT – The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.
We’ve all been here. We hear a powerful word on Sunday morning and leave excited. But as soon as we face problems or persecution because of it, we give up.
This is why I am so encouraged. Even though you are facing problems and persecution, you are not giving up!
So even if this used to represent you, it does not anymore. You have some roots, baby, and you are going to survive the storm.
The Thorny Ground
Mark 4:15-20 NLT – The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.
We covered this last week, and it is something we all need to look out for.
Quit worrying about your needs being met. Take those thoughts captive. Don’t allow them anymore. Stop fretting, stop worrying, and stop striving to meet your own needs.
God knows you need these things. But the only way He can get them to you is if you stop obsessing over your own needs and instead obsess over the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Like Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”
The Good Soil
Mark 4:15-20 NLT – And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
Whoa, buddy. It’s harvest time! This is you! Week after week, you hear and accept God’s Word, and you are producing a great harvest!
Look at someone next to you and say, “You are producing a great harvest!”
When persecuted, rejoice!
I am so thankful for all the persecution I’ve experienced over the past two years. Because now I can stand here and tell you, when you are persecuted, rejoice! You know you are on God’s side.
Closeness with God comes with a byproduct of persecution from others. But it is far better than the alternative of trying to please people and losing your closeness with God as a result.
When troubles come, rejoice!
I’m also thankful for all the challenges I have faced throughout my life. Because I can now stand here and tell you, God is faithful.
You know, we are not only promised persecution, but we are promised troubles in this life. Here’s how Jesus explains it:
John 16:33 NLT – I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
Some of you are chin-deep in these trials right now. The car broke down. Things are tense at work. Inflation is destroying your budget. Sickness is trying to overcome your body.
But take heart, because Jesus has overcome the world, which means you are going to overcome these trials. Here’s what the Apostle Paul would tell you:
Acts 14:22 NLT – They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.
Yes, we are going to suffer hardships. But they will lead us into the Kingdom of God.
Why are hardships allowed?
Four out of my five kids started swim lessons this past Monday. It’s the type of lesson that teaches them survival skills in the water.
The first day, they all went in kicking and screaming. They didn’t want to swim without their floaty! They didn’t want to go under the water! And they wanted mommy and daddy to come to rescue them from their mean teacher!
So there Beth and I sat beside the pool, watching our kids struggle and listening to their cries. But we did not intervene because we knew the outcome of the struggle.
Not only will they overcome their fear of the water, but they will gain the skills necessary to keep themselves alive.
If they never faced the struggle, they would remain vulnerable to the water. The water would just be waiting to overtake them at its first opportunity.
But now, they have overcome the water. The water holds no power over them because they know how to float and swim.
If the Lord is not rescuing you from your trouble, it’s because you are going to learn how to overcome your trouble so that it can never trouble you again.
So, when troubles come, rejoice! Because it’s not going to take you out. It’s going to transform you into an overcomer.