"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  "Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.  "Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Young, beautiful, intelligent--Maria Durant had it all. That is until she was imprisoned for talking about her relationship with God. 17th Century France, with all its religious intolerance, was not the place for a vivacious Christian woman like Maria. Or was it? For 38 years she suffered for Christ in a prison cell while her peers married, had children and relished their grandchildren. Life passed her by.
Eventually she died a martyr's death. The enemy thought he silenced this witness, but he didn't. Though dead, she continues to inspire those who go to the place where she was imprisoned to read the single word she scratched on the dungeon wall Resistez--resist!
But that was 17th Century Europe. That kind of travesty of justice could never happen in the 21st Century, right? And it certainly wouldn't happen in America, the home of the free and the land of the brave.
In October 1998, David and Diane Reiter of Denver were ordered by the city to stop their weekly prayer meetings in their home. They could only meet only once a month. Even though they are complying with all municipal regulations, a city administrator determined that he did not want any religious activities in their neighborhood. The Denver couple are presently appealing the decision in a federal court. (ReligionToday.com Aug. 4, 1999)
This March, Chris King ran for president of Harvard's student council on the platform of, among other things "values-driven leadership." A fellow Christian, Meagan White sent out an email to members of the Harvard-Radcliff Christian fellowship requesting prayer for his candidacy. When news that King was a Christian became public, the school newspaper came out against him because King's "... ties to religious groups have raised concerns among students." (Baptist Standard, March 10, 1999)
Last April, government officials removed a display of the Ten Commandments from a public building in Manhattan, Kansas. The hand engraved granite table had hung on the building for over 40 years, but the ACLU and the Americans United for the Separation of Church and state threatened a law suit against the city if the display remained. The city fathers choose to bow to threats instead of listening to the 4,000 residents that signed a petition asking them to leave the display alone. (FALWELL CONfiDENTIAL, APRIL 30, 1999)
On April 2, In Seattle, Washington a twenty-five-year-old pregnant woman was kicked off a public transit bus in the pouring rain. What was her disruptive behavior? The bus driver overheard her talking with a fellow passenger about the Lord. (AFR News, April 9, 1999)
Thank you for reading the free preview of this
sermon. The full
manuscript is available to Premium
use these resources in their ministry.