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16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 All men will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By standing firm you will gain life.
Jesus warns his followers of a time when, because of their faith in him, they will face betrayal, hate, and even death. He tells them to stand firm in their faith because in standing firm they will gain life. Jesus speaks these words with great confidence and authority. He even appropriates the very words of God (Isaiah 40:8) as his own when he says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."
Response & Action:
I have never yet faced the kind of persecution Jesus warns about in these verses, but someplace in the world today Christians are suffering because of their faith in Jesus. I must pray for them and prepare my heart and mind for the very real possibility of persecution at some time in my future. The world is a volatile place where things can shift dramatically and unexpectedly.
I must follow Jesus with my heart, soul, and strength today—acknowledging his lordship and authority—if I am going to be ready to stand firm in him in times of trial and hardship. I must embrace Jesus' words and promises with the same confidence he speaks them to me. I will hold to the words of Jesus as the very words of God Almighty. In faith, I must live with the conviction that if I stand firm in Christ, I will gain life.
O God, you are my hope, my strength, and my deliverance. The escapes from death belong to you. You scatter your enemies and overcome the darkness with light. You bear my burdens, you save me, and you sustain me. By your power and grace, O Lord, help me to navigate difficult times and dark days. Help me to stand firm in you. Give me your peace and guard my heart and mind. Give me confidence for life through faith in Christ. Blessed be his name! Amen.
Spiritual Formation Verses: Psalm 68:19-20
19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. 20 Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.
The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance
by Thomas R. Schreiner and Ardel B. Caneday