Persecution for his Faith

We see in this chapter an all-too-familiar thing:  Someone doesn’t like what Amos says about the king’s family being attacked, so he meets with the king and falsely accuses Amos of making evil plans (Amos 7:8-10).  Then he confronts Amos and tries to get him out of the picture. “Seer, go back right now to Judah.  Do your prophesying and earn your living there, but don’t prophesy anymore here at Bethel” (Amos 7:12-13).

 

How does Amos respond?  Is he intimidated?  We’re not told how he feels, but he responds by stating the call God’s placed on his life, and being faithful to it. “I do not make my living as a prophet, nor am I a member of a group of prophets.  I make my living as a shepherd, and I take care of sycamore trees.  But the Lord took me away from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’  So listen to the Lord’s word” (Amos 7:14-16).

 

Sadly, we see this persecution regularly all over the globe.  In fact, we’re even promised that anyone who wants to live as a Christian will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).  It happens to people in North Korea, stuck in prison camps because they or a member of their family chose to be a Christian, and it happens on a smaller scale – people mocking or showing anger at the way someone lives their life.  How will you respond when it happens to you?

 

Jesus and Paul give us some helpful tips.  “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).  “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44-45).  “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Romans 12:14).

 

So, will you have confidence in God’s call on your life, and be faithful to it?

Can I Recommend …?

You know some books you read and you think:  Well, that’s an interesting way of putting it, but I kind of knew that already?

At the moment I’m in the middle of studying “You’re Going to be Okay” (by Holley Gerth), and I wanted to point you to chapter 3 because I’ve never read anything like it before.  It was a bit like a science lesson, where Holley talked about the 3 parts of the brain.

First there’s the brain stem, which has 2 functions – survival and threat detection.  That’s the part that sends out alarm signals – makes the heart beat fast etc.  Then there’s the system where your emotions are, which reacts to what’s happened with feelings of sadness, anger and so on.  Finally, the neo-cortex (just behind your eyebrows) thinks deep thoughts – processing how you feel and deciding on a response.  Holley said we could break this down into stages, I.E. when we perceive a threat, stop and recognise what’s happening to us.  If we ignore it, the brain stem will send out the same message with greater and greater intensity.  Then we need to acknowledge how we feel (a reaction is inevitable, but our response isn’t), so we can go before God with our feelings and ask Him to help us deal with them.

I found that really, really helpful tonight and I hope you do too.  I’d recommend buying the book if you want to see all the detail in this chapter, and as I’ve only got to chapter 3 so far, I’m thinking there’ll be other wisdom in the ones to come.

“Unglued” Chapter 1: Afraid to Make a Change?

In case you’re wondering, you don’t need a book to follow these posts and talk to us about them, but if you would like a taste of what we’re studying, you can download the first 2 chapters for free here.

* * *

Chapter 1 is about how, through an incident in Lysa’s home, God brought to light her bad attitude to the people around her.  She looked at herself, and she knew she needed to change; she could see the consequences of not changing.  “God help me,” she says, “if I don’t get a handle on this.”

 

I found I could relate to Lysa in this chapter – firstly, that the bad reaction seemed to have been triggered by something so small.  I’ve reacted badly before, and later I’ve thought:  Why did I get annoyed so easily?  But there was a reason.  In Lysa’s case, it was that the same thing had happened over and over again, and this time was the last straw.  For me when I’ve reacted badly, there have been things in the past I’ve held onto, long after I should have let them go – feelings of jealousy or insecurity; things I thought I was over, until I flew off the handle and discovered otherwise.

 

When we’re faced with flaws in our characters, I think it’s good to examine ourselves and get to the root of them, but that brings me to the second way I can relate:  Regret.  I haven’t done any research on this, but I would think regret is much greater in Christians than in people who don’t believe.  We’re told in the Bible that we’re Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20).  That’s a very high calling, and it hurts my heart deeply to know someone just saw me at my worst when they should have seen Jesus in me, but God’s more interested in our futures than in our past failures.  How can any good come out of a situation if we stop at regret?

 

The third and final thing I relate to is her attitude to change.  Lysa would put off change because of the fear of not doing it perfectly; but, as she says, we need to draw lines again and again.  It’s just a case of making sure those lines are moving forwards, not backwards.  That helps me so much too – to think of where I’ve come from.  When I think of me 8 years ago, then 3 years ago, and then I think of myself now, I can see an improvement.  You might say:  “But people didn’t know me 3 years ago” – well, maybe not … but God did.  When you love someone, you always see the best in them, don’t you?  So, as God loves you more than any human being ever could, why wouldn’t God see the best in you?

 

Are you afraid to make a change?  Why, or why not?  Are you still struggling to get past the regret?

* * *

This is a “Faith Without Borders” post.  It’s not too late to join and share your thoughts with us on Facebook, or you can leave them here in the comments.  We’d love to hear from you, and remember to go to Jess’s blog on Friday for her post on chapter 2.