“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12.

Today your LORD (יהוה) God (אלהים) says:

Admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is My will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22. And the beatitude in our Life Lesson today ties in with that. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12.

Prophets are often persecuted for they speak My Words to people who often do not want to hear what I am saying because their deeds are evil. A worldly carnal man does not accept the things of My Spirit, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. To understand My Words in revelation light you must see with your heart. And I mean a born again, living heart that understands spiritual things. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” 1 Corinthians 2:12-13.

I have sent you magnificent leaders and prophets endowed with My Spirit like Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Peter, John, Stephen, and Paul, and many have been blessed and brought to Me by their words, even now, and have praised and appreciated them but all of them were also maligned, persecuted, disobeyed, and rejected by many. But they all kept on track with Me to their death and beyond. Not just on track but running with joy unspeakable filled with glory. Why? They knew Me and above all wanted to glorify Me with their lives and bring others to experience My goodness, power and presence, that is, My glory, as well. They considered everything rubbish but to know Me once they had experienced My presence. In My presence there is fullness of joy. In Me you live in the glory. In Me you have rest. In Me you have peace beyond understanding. But the only way you get there is by living in love, living in My Word, which is living in Me, with Me, and through Me. Not by your power and strength, but by My Spirit.

“Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city.” Matthew 23:34. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” Matthew 23:37.

But above and beyond all My magnificent leaders and prophets, which I have never ceased sending even until now and will keep doing, I gave you My Son. He is everything and you find everything in Him. He came to serve and save all people from the beginning to the end of tie. He only spoke My Words and did My works. He came to set you free and reconcile you to Me and yet He suffered more persecution and insults than anyone ever has. He had no sin in Him and was the purest man that ever lived upon the earth but He was called a sinner (“So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.” John 9:16), possessed and mad (“The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.” John 8:48), having an unclean spirit (“The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by the devil,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” Mark 3:22, 30), a drunkard and a glutton (“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Matthew 11:19), a blasphemer (The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Luke 5:21; Mark 9:2-3) (The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” John 10:31-33.), and a Sabbath breaker (Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” John 9:16.) And finally they hired false witnesses to accuse Him of blasphemy, and even though their testimony did not agree the High Priest determined Jesus guilty of blasphemy when He quoted the prophecy of Daniel which was about Him and they should have recognized it as such.

“For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent. Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’” Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent. The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers [ae]received Him with slaps in the face.” Mark 14:56-65. And then they proceeded to take Jesus to the Roman government officials to falsely accuse Him of treason and have Him put to death. And yet Jesus was the very one who had told them to give to Caesar what was Caesar’s and to God what was God’s when they tried to get Him to enter into that trap. Matthew 22:21.

And Jesus warned His followers, even to this day, “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Mark 13:9-14.

And that is the key, the witness of the Holy Spirit in and through your spirit to the world. The early followers were persecuted, had their goods taken and their homes confiscated by unbelievers in authority, were thrown in prison, and had to give testimony, but you could not stop them. They could not help but be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit that they had been counted worthy to be known by all as believers who would not stop and would not back down no matter what threats or intimidation the devil used others to inflict upon them. And daily the numbers of believers increased. Courage and joy in the face of persecution will draw others to the good news that has set your heart on fire and made you unafraid to face death. In fact, Paul said it was hard for him to choose, for either way he would be with Me and it was better to be in My Kingdom instead of being in the world. Though in jail numerous times, and left for dead when a crowd stoned him, Paul kept getting right back up and pursuing his assignment to enlighten the eyes of those trapped by Satan in the realm of darkness, which even if “free” in the world and avoiding prison, you are more of a prisoner, held by sin, than he was a free born again man. He became more than a conqueror. And the same was true of My beloved John, they tried to kill him, even exiled him to a certain death on the barren island of Patmos, but they could not stop him. He knew how to get in the Spirit and he took the time on Patmos to write the book of Revelation of the things I showed him there. And he returned to preach for many more years until his assignment was completed and well done.

Jesus has given you My Word and the world has hated you for it, just as they did Him. “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:13-19.

And the people who persecute you, also persecute Me. When Paul, then known as Saul, was on his way to Damascus and Jesus appeared to him to give his life a different direction in which to apply his great zeal for My Word, Jesus asked Paul why he was persecuting Him. “And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” Acts 26:14-15. By persecuting My followers, the Body of Christ, you are persecuting Jesus Himself. And I do not take that lightly.

When people today question My goodness and judge Me by evil that happens in the world, they are persecuting and blaspheming Me, the source of only good and blessing from the beginning. They fail to understand Scripture and My power. They do not understand their dominion authority and that by their words things are taking place on earth. And if you are aligned with the devil it is his will that will be done.

I called Jeremiah to speak My Words as a prophet to the nations. I told him not to be afraid of them, even when the stood stout against him and refused to hear My Words, for I was with him to deliver him. I told Moses the same. I told Gideon the same. And I told Paul the same. And Paul would brag of the many persecutions and trials he had come through preaching the gospel, declaring that I had been faithful and delivered him out of them all.

I told Jeremiah, “Behold I have put My Words in your mouth.” And with My Words, what was he to do? The same that I do with them. “ Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:10. Like the mission of Jesus, he was to undo the works of the devil and plant My Kingdom on earth. And that is your mission too. You may think like Jeremiah you cannot do this and are not qualified, but I told him how he would do it, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.” Jeremiah 1:12. That is My Covenant with you, My Words in your mouth and My Spirit upon you. Isaiah 59:21. “And they overcame him (the devil and those he uses) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” Revelation 12:11.

Now in the beatitude we are considering, I not only tell you that you are blessed if maligned and persecuted because of Me but I go on to give you the key to deliverance from such situations. Paul and Silas knew it in the prison in Philippi. Acts 16:25-34. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego knew it in the fiery furnace. Daniel 3:51-94 (New American Bible, NABRE). Jehoshaphat used it in the face of certain destruction by three enemy armies coming to take Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 20:20-30. And David knew it as Saul and the army of Israel sought to kill him as he hid in dark caves. Psalm 57, Psalm 63, Psalm 34. And if you want to have the chains fall off you in prison, come out of fiery furnaces whole and not even smelling like smoke, take down myriads of enemies without even lifting your hand in battle, and come out of dark caves to a palace you would be wise to learn the key that I give you in this beatitude. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:12.

Sing praise in a prison and the chains fall off and the gates open. Sing praise in the caves as the enemy searches for you with a whole army and you will never even suffer a scratch. Sing praise as you march out before three enemy armies united to kill you and take your treasures, and they will ambush each other until all are slain when you get there and you take their treasures. Sing praise in the fiery furnace, and I will come down and walk through the flames with you and you will not even smell like smoke! And all these truly happened. And do not forget that joyful shouting took down the walls of Jericho.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom (remember the Red Sea when they chased My people to enslave them or kill them?) Cush and Seba in your place. Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you.” Isaiah 43:1-5. I honor those who honor Me, and the best way to honor Me is worship and praise, the voice of thanksgiving, in the face of a full on attack by the enemy. Remember you are not fighting flesh and blood, that is, the children of men, OH NO, you are fighting against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places, against that fallen angel now called the devil and the ones he took with him who are now the unclean demonic spirits. But the good news is, Jesus defeated him, though he is still loose upon the earth until the end of the period of the seven seals is fulfilled, that is, Adam’s leasehold, and then he knows it is over and he is locked in the pit of hell forever.

Your best weapon against the forces of darkness is worship in spirit and in truth. That is why I seek them. They can take down an entire army and leap over a wall, like David sang in Psalm 18. That is praise in faith using My Word. I sanctify you, consecrate you and set you apart for glory by My Word.

And you must forgive to receive your great reward, do not be mad and offended when maligned or persecuted in your family or at your workplace or school. REJOICE at the great reward they are giving you the opportunity to obtain with no work on your part except not to get angry or offended and answer in kind. Instead have compassion for them for they have been taken captive by Satan to do his will. And try to lead them from darkness to light. Jesus has given you the same mission he gave to Paul, to go to “the Jewish people and the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.” Acts 26:17-18. And this gave Paul a heart full of compassion for those who do not know Jesus and are fighting against Him, for that is where Paul had been when I personally rescued him. And it made him sing praise, even in prison. It kept him in the atmosphere of Heaven even upon the earth, where all things are possible. And his singing at the midnight hour in the darkness of the innermost prison not only set him free but every prisoner in there and the jailer and his whole household. The generous, praising church at Philippi was planted that night.

You see this forgiveness for those who persecute you and the rejoicing in Stephen. He was a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, a servant of the early church, who witnessed to Jesus to the Jews and their response to the good news he brought them and the wisdom which he spoke was to stone him. But Stephen rejoiced because as he suffered this he looked up to Me and I opened the magnificent glory of Heaven and he saw the one he loved standing at My right hand and he did not ask for deliverance, he asked for Jesus to receive him immediately and Jesus did as he requested. By your words you decide to stay or go, so be careful about saying you want to die if you really do not want to do so now. And he prayed that I forgive all those stoning him as well, which I did and gave the grace of conversion to each one there, including Paul, then known as Saul, who concurred in the stoning of Stephen and stood them urging it on. When Paul got stoned later on he had a different request, though he would have liked to depart he decided to stay on as he was very badly needed to bring the good news to others because of the great revelations I had given to him which he was to share. But the minute he got approval from Me that his mission was done, as I also finally gave to Peter, he wanted the crown of martyrdom, which I gave him. Peter wanted this as well for he kept wanting to make up for telling Jesus he would die for Him on the night He was betrayed and instead denying him. That is why Peter was not even praying to get out of prison when Herod put him there to kill him for preaching Jesus, he was still seeking to make good his promise to Jesus, but the church was not about to let him go yet and prayed fervently on his behalf. So I sent the angel to deliver him out till his assignment was done. And then he got his heart’s desire.

Daniel faced persecution and always came out unscratched. But others did not. Why? I tell you in the book of Hebrews, “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, NOT ACCEPTING THEIR RELEASE SO THAT THEY WOULD OBTAIN A BETTER RESURRECTION.” Hebrews 11:32-35. The martyr’s crown.

Up to you. Most of you, however, have never know the kind of persecution known by many who sent before you and passed on to you the beautiful precious faith in which you now stand in Jesus, but you will have persecution and maligning if you stick fast to My Word. Even if it is just being made fun of at work or rejected by those who say your beliefs and actions are judging them and are not showing “love.” I never asked anyone to love sin. You can love the sinner but you must have a heart of love that will exhort the sinner so he can be saved. Even if you are accused of “hate speech” and prosecuted for such. Be like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and NEVER back down where My Word is concerned.

I am with you. Never be angry, REJOICE, and I only know you are rejoicing if you are singing praise with thanksgiving. “Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.” James 5:13. I would just like to add that in his last imprisonment before martyrdom in Rome, when he had told Timothy it was time for him to depart this life and go for his crown, Paul was careful not to sing praise. Selah. Look up at Me and smile and your face will never be ashamed.