This morning pastor spoke on 1 Peter 3:13-16. It is a reminder that persecution should be expected and not a surprise.
Freedom of religion is such a blessing in my country and we must continue to defend that freedom, and give a defense and reason for the hope we have in Christ Jesus.
How are you preparing? When the time comes the Holy Spirit will give you the words you need. But I contend that the fear of not being prepared stops so many people from even being on the field. Rid yourself of the excuses and prepare.
At the same time we must also continue in prayer for our brothers and sisters in countries that do not allow them to worship freely or openly. This is how we fight our battles, with prayer and fasting.
Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled , but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.
1 Peter 3:13-16 NASB
I started reading the book Sharing Jesus (Without Freaking Out) yesterday. The writer asks the reader to digest the book one chapter per week. The principle in the first chapter is that “God created you for His glory, to advance His gospel with the gifts, talents, and opportunities He gave you.” It is an eight week read that also includes a study guide for small groups.
I’m not sure if this was a coincidence or not, but today as I was reading John 21 as part of my Bible app reading plan, verse 11 struck a chord in my heart/spirit.
“Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.” John 21:11 NASB
Now, sharing your faith will undoubtedly lead to you eventually asking someone to come to church with you. If you can get everyone in your small group to start sharing then that will lead to a catch of many fish. When you have a big catch you need to be prepared to handle the weight of it.
Now, John 21 is totally in contrast to Luke 5:6-7.
“When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.” Luke 5:6-7 NASB
Peter (Simon) and a few of the other apostles take part in both of these events. But what is different is the timing. John 21 is after Jesus’ resurrection and after Jesus had taught them and breathed on them the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).
In Luke 5, Jesus was calling the fisherman into service for the first time.
What does this mean, that their nets broke the first time but they did not break the second time? Well, It’s your guess and mine. However I think I have a good idea. It’s because they were now prepared and willing to be fishers of men. Now God was not only blessing them with fish to catch, but He had also blessed and strengthened the nets that caught them.
The heavy weight that comes with a large catch (a large number of newcomers to a church) can tear apart a local church if it hasn’t prepared with a leadership training pipeline with people ready to take on new roles and allowed God to guide the vision of the church through prayer. But when that church is ready and has proven that it can be faithful in preparing, seeking God’s will and acting in accordance, then the nets will not be torn.
At this point in the story Jesus has Peter confirm three times if he is prepared to shepherd the church.
“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” John 21:15-17 NASB