God Strengthens You

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Baptistry in St. John’s Basilica Ephesus Turkey was built in the 6th century A.D. in the time of Emperor Justinian

2 Timothy 3:12-17 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Job 1:1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job.  This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.

Genesis 6:9 This is the account of Noah, Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

Note:  Job 1:1, and Genesis 6:9, both give us a definition of the word righteous or upright, as a man (or woman) who fears (respects) God, and shuns (turns away from) evil.

Read Acts 6:1-15, Acts 7:51-60 (Note that during Acts 7 Stephen recounts the old testament relationship of the jews to God up until Acts 7: 51 where Stephen berates them on God’s behalf for being stiff-necked, At this point the members of the Sanhedrin get pretty upset and attack Stephen, even though this was the Holy Spirit speaking through Stephen.  In Stephen’s speech he reminds the jews how powerful and great God is and that God created everything, and has worked on the relationship with the jews all along, but that they have let him down repeatedly. Stephen was strengthened and uplifted to show God’s glory and endure persecution with the grace of God evident to all who witnessed his persecution and death.  This is a great example of God strengthening someone through a great personal trial, and harsh experience.

There are many people still being persecuted in this world for their Christianity, on one level or another….even some unto their death.  There is a group called Open Doors if you have further interest in finding out more about this issue. 

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Supporting Others in Their Faith

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This is the Great Theatre at Ephesus where Paul stood and spoke to the Ephesians about the Gospel.  He was so effective that a man who sold idol statues caused a riot because it affected his business (Acts 19)

Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (KJV)

**Paul’s first converts in each house church became Elders and were to preach the Gospel to others and live as an example to the new converts.  Paul fasted and prayed for each of these people, turning them over to the Lord for support of their conversion.  He offered advice and corrections, as needed, but relied on God to build and maintain their faith.  He wasn’t responsible for MAKING them stay Christian, Paul left that to God, but he didn’t desert them completely – he maintained contact through letters and occasional visits.  Training and growth was his focus.

Read the book of Ruth.

This story illustrates Naomi as the faithful of God, who converts Ruth a Moabitess woman from an idol worshipping country to love God, and then loves Ruth enough, that when it is time to return to Bethlehem, she is willing to leave Ruth behind with her own family.  Ruth, however, chooses to accompany Naomi and live the life of a stranger in a strange land.  Naomi, is faithful in guiding Ruth in the customs of the land, and continuing to build Ruth’s love of the Lord, by demonstrating her love for Ruth.  Naomi’s life was full of sadness, and tribulation.  She lost everything that she valued, except for God,  and was forced to return home to a life of poverty living off the generosity of local farmers. (Leviticus 23:22 and Deuteronomy 24:19)  God rewarded her faithfulness by giving her the position of grandmother, when she had no hope of ever having anymore direct descendants.  He rewarded Ruth for her faithfulness by giving her a good marriage.  He also made Ruth and Boaz a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ, his son.(Matthew 1:1-17)