“So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” Acts 5:41 (NKJV)
Peter and John were tremendous men. Even though they were warned repeatedly not to speak about the good news of Jesus Christ, they continued and persevered despite the threats. Immediately after Peter and John were arrested, jailed and miraculously released, they went right back to preaching and people were responding to them. They were great missionaries and witnesses for Jesus and they filled Jerusalem with the love of Jesus. These beautiful men of God were obeying what their Lord and Master had told them to do, despite the harm and threats directed against them for doing so. They even looked at their persecution as a blessing and rejoiced that “they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name”.
I love to share the love of Jesus with people. It is one of the greatest joys of my heart to be able to speak of how Jesus has transformed my heart and saved me. But as much as I love to share His love with others, I truly do not feel as if I have been persecuted for sharing His love. Surely, I have seen people reject His offer for eternal life by making comments such as, “That is good for you but it is not for me”, but to say that I have experienced persecution for His sake is definitely a stretch.
Jesus said the words, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. If I have never experienced a deep level of persecution for sharing my heart for Jesus, does this mean that I am not doing enough to share His love with the world around me? Also, if I did experience persecution, would I, like Peter and John, think of this persecution as a blessing and something worth rejoicing about? These are questions that I have been deeply struggling with lately.
I doubt that I will ever suffer like the apostles did for their faith. It does not seem likely that I will ever be beaten or thrown in jail for speaking about the love and salvation of Jesus. But even though this is quite scary, I do want to be to be able to live as Christ has asked me to and share His love with others no matter what the cost. No matter what, it is my sincere desire to have a love for God that is so deep and so strong, that He would also count me “worthy to suffer shame for His name”.
Lord, who can compare to you? You are so incredibly awesome and your love and compassion for all of your children is immeasurable. There is none like you! You are merciful and forgiving, incredibly patient and slow to anger, you are omniscient and all powerful. It is utterly amazing that your love for me is so wide and long and high and deep, that you chose to drink the cup of my sin and suffer, so that I may have fellowship with you and live with you forever. When I think of this awesome love that you have, it brings me to tears and puts a lump in my throat. I so do not deserve it!
God, would you create in me a heart that is willing to go the distance for you no matter what circumstances I am faced with. I confess Lord, that this is scary and I am terrified to pray this prayer to you, but I trust in YOU alone so I am asking you to teach me how to carry my cross and follow you, even if it requires persecution and suffering. I will open my mouth to begin to speak but I pray that you move my tongue and give me words to speak. I pray that you take my eyes off of earthly rewards and strip away any superficial or false securities and empty things that I cling to for security in this world. Put my hope and trust completely in you and you alone. Use me as an example to show the world that YOU are the love of my life and I am willing to speak boldly of your loving mercy, grace and salvation, no matter what the cost. Set my mind on eternity! I look not to earthly rewards, God but I set my eyes on you. My heart is with you and I want to be where you are, cherishing you, loving you and praising you forever and ever.
Thank you so much for loving me. Thank you for being rich in mercy and loving me with that great love that you have loved me with, that even when I was dead in my trespasses, you have made me alive together with Christ. I am so grateful to all you have done for me and continue to do for me. My heart is so passionately in love with you, Lord! I pray this in your matchless Name.
I love YOU!