Persecution, and Oppression Presented by Steven Schiller
Eph 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
Eph 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
As a congregation grows, it is likely to face various challenges...
The devil would certainly love to hinder us in our work - e.g., 1Th 2:18
How he does this may not always be evident, as he is a great deceiver - 2Co 11:3
-- Through simple and seemingly harmless diversions, the devil can lead us astray
We must therefore take up the admonition to "Hold fast..." - Re 3:11
Accepting any challenges the devil might throw our way
Knowing that our efforts to be "steadfast" are not for naught - 1Co 15:58
[In this lesson we will look at some challenges that any congregation must meet to serve the Lord faithfully...]
WE MUST REMEMBER WHAT OUR WORK IS
TO EQUIP THE SAINTS FOR MINISTRY (EDIFICATION)...
We are to provide for the spiritual growth of each member - Ep 4:11-12
This is how the body continues to grow - Ep 4:15-16 3 Thus we are to provoke one another to love and good works, the very reason we are to assemble together - He 10:24-25
-- Is each one of us doing what we can to help other Christians to grow?
TO SOUND FORTH THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST (EVANGELISM)...
Like the church at Thessalonica - 1Th 1:8
Through individual and collective efforts, we must "sow the seed"
As our building fills, it becomes tempting to slack off, but we must either expand or swarm (have some leave to start another congregation)
-- Is each one of us doing what we can to spread the gospel?
TO PROVIDE FOR NEEDY SAINTS (BENEVOLENCE)...
The original purpose behind the collection - 1Co 16:1-2
Even if there is no need locally, there may be needy saints in other places
-- Is each one of us doing what we can to see that needs are being met?
[The work of the local church goes far beyond providing a place where people can simply worship from week to week. We should be preparing ourselves to work! Will we meet the challenge? Another challenge we must face...]
WE MUST LIVE ABOVE PETTINESS
EVEN GOOD CHURCHES CAN BE HINDERED BY PETTINESS...
Notice Paul's concern for the church at Philippi - Php 4:2-3
When churches loose sight of their primary purpose, they are ripe for being torn apart by selfishness, gossip, and factionalism
WE MUST KEEP A PROPER SENSE OF PROPORTION...
It is disastrous if we begin to "major in minors", to blow problems all out of proportion
We must see the largeness and importance of our work in comparison to our own personal problems
Every church has its problems, for we are imperfect people
Remembering Paul's exhortations in Php 2:1,2,3,4-5 will certainly help
[What a sad thing it would be to have a congregation hindered by pettiness. Yet so many congregations do allow it to keep them from growing. Will we accept the challenge never to allow pettiness to so affect us? It will be easy to meet that challenge, if at the same time we meet another one...]
WE MUST MAINTAIN GRATITUDE FOR OUR BLESSINGS
WE HAVE MUCH FOR WHICH TO BE THANKFUL...
We have many physical blessings
Our families, friends, homes, health
Our freedoms, jobs
We have many spiritual blessings
Salvation in Christ, the forgiveness of sins, peace of mind
The love of God, the strength of the Holy Spirit, the hope of heaven
As a congregation:
Free from turmoil, free to worship
Filled with love and unity
Blessed with good facilities, signs of numerical and spiritual growth
Great potential for both individual and congregational growth
WE SHOULD BE NOTED FOR OUR "ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE"...
Note how often Paul exhorted the Colossians to be thankful
Giving thanks to the Father - Col 1:12
Abounding with thanksgiving - Col 2:7
As the peace of God rules in your heart, be thankful - Col 3:15
Giving thanks to God - Col 3:17
Be vigilant in prayer with thanksgiving - Col 4:2
As individuals, and as a congregation, let us never become "unthankful"
It is a step toward depravity - Ro 1:21
It is a sign of perilous times - 2Ti 3:1,2,3,4-5
There are many other challenges that congregations may face...
Such as persecution for the cause of Christ
Or natural calamities that may devastate our community
But in most cases, even those challenges can be met and overcome if we...
Remember what our work is
Live above pettiness
Maintain gratitude for our blessings
With a will to do what the Lord desires of us, and with the "attitude of gratitude" lifting us above any sense of pettiness that might drag us down, let us do our part to answer the prayer of Paul:
"...to Him (God) be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ep 3:21)
If not a Christan what does the future hold? If you would like the prayers of the church or help to obey God please let it be known. We can help answer your questions