Jesus Never Said That Life Would Be Easy

You ever notice that followers of Jesus rarely make it on the ‘A-list’ in the world’s social circles? We’re seen as peculiar, old-fashioned, out-of-step, and holders of scientifically unsound beliefs. We are often cast out of the mainstream.

That’s a good thing, because at the end of time, it is not us that will be cast out:

“The Son of Man will send out His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Mt. 13:42 – 43. NKJV

Until then, on this earth, the righteous will suffer:

“And you will be hated by everyone because of [your association with] My name, but it is the one who has patiently persevered and endured to the end who will be saved.” Mt. 10:22 AMP

It is because of our emulation of Christ (i.e. standing up for what is righteous) that we are made to suffer. And yet, these trials are part of God’s crucible, where He purifies His children, preparing us for eternity:

In this you rejoice greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials and suffer temptations, so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Pt. 1:6, 7. AMP

God is exhorting us, through the apostle Peter, saying that regardless of what life is throwing at us, we should respond in joy – knowing that God is building our faith in Christ. When we do that, we are bringing a positive increase to our heavenly account and are glorified for our endurance.

God never said that life would be easy. However, through Christ, He fills you with His boundless love and joy, and covers you on all sides with His mercy and protection – empowering you to transcend your trials, as you complete your journey. Indeed, God is pleased with your efforts:

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows, while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 1 Pt. 2:19, 20. ESV

Christ suffered for us; and we honor His sacrifice when we follow His example:

…because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth;” who, when He was reviled did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Pt. 2:21 – 24. NKJV

In our gratitude, we acknowledge what Christ submitted Himself to, so that we can be healed from our sin. He made the ultimate sacrifice, laying down His life so that we could be righteous in the presence of God.

So, in doing our best to emulate Him, we too can face un-righteousness with resolve, yet doing so with a loving example, that will encourage others to follow our commitment:

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 1 Pt. 3:13 – 16. ESV

For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 1 Pet. 3:17 NKJV

It’s not a matter of if you will face trials in this life, it’s only a matter of when. But God will bless you through it:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Pt. 4:12 – 14. ESV

Love no matter what. God glorifies you when you suffer for Him; and you are repaid with eternal love. During any trial, count on God, because He is with you:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares about you. 1 Pt. 5:6, 7. NKJV

Also, take comfort in knowing that your brothers and sisters in Christ are all fighting the good fight along with you:

Resist him (Satan), firm in your faith, know that the same kinds of sufferings are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Pt. 5:9, 10. ESV

During our walk with Christ, we will all suffer – ultimately at the hands of those who serve Satan. The devil does not want anyone to land in the loving arms of God. We understand that our earthly sufferings are borne upon us from the futile puffs of breath pathetically blown by this angelic outcast, who does not want to suffer alone.

We love no matter what. We know that our Savior will separate the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats; and He will take us with him. Faith overcomes. Love always wins…

Goodnight and God bless.

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Are You Bold for Jesus?

After Jesus ascended to His Father, the apostles returned to Jerusalem, whereupon they formed the first church of Jesus Christ with an initial group of 120 people, all of whom received the power of the Holy Spirit at the same time. This empowerment rendered them with the ability to ‘speak in tongues’ – in this instance, to be able to preach the gospel in various languages to travelers from different countries that were in the city.

Some outside observers accused the church members of spewing drunken gibberish. The apostle Peter rebukes them, and then uses this occasion to speak up for Jesus – delivering the very first Christian sermon. He begins by telling the crowd that what they have been witnessing is the Holy Spirit at work in Christ’s followers – the supernatural spreading of the gospel to the multitude. This event constitutes the commencement of the ‘last days’ before the end of time and Christ’s return for the redemption of God’s children.

Then, Peter dresses down the non-believing Jews for their complicity in Christ’s crucifixion. Convicted, the crowd asks him how they can right their wrong. Peter answers with the gospel’s central message:

“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Acts 2:38, 39. NASB

Peter was bold for Jesus; and 3000 people were added to the church that day.

On another day, Peter (along with John) was about to enter the temple when he came upon a crippled man who was begging for alms. The apostle responded:

“Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Acts 3:6 NKJV

And he did! Peter was again bold for Jesus. He made himself available for divine use, by having faith in the name of Jesus. And he told telling a gathering crowd that it was God that did the healing through Jesus – glorifying His Son.

Peter again convicts the crowd for their denial of Christ, which led to His death. Yet again, out of his compassion and His boldness for Jesus, he offers them salvation:

“Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance…Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing my come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His Holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:17 & 19 – 21. NKJV

The church number swelled to 5000.

We too must be bold for Jesus, to re-extend God’s invitation – letting everyone, both the unknowing and the rebellious, that salvation is just a confession and repentant prayer away, asking Jesus for salvation…

Peter and John were dragged before the Sanhedrin to explain by whose authority they were preaching and healing. Peter declares that their authority was from Jesus. The Sanhedrin forbade them to preach anymore about Christ. But Peter and John did not let go of their boldness. They replied:

“Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19, 20. NASB

All of the apostles are now working miracles. Subsequently, the high priest had them arrested. Yet that very night they were freed by and angel, who encouraged them in their boldness in preaching the gospel.

Again, they were hauled in front of the high priest, but they stood firm:

“We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.” Acts 5:29, 30. ESV

“Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:31, 32. NKJV

This time they were scourged, and then let go. How did the apostles feel about that?

So they departed from the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Acts 5:41, 42. NKJV

Not only were they happy for not backing down from the ‘Great Commission,’ they felt great joy in the opportunity to suffer for Jesus. In fact, it encouraged them in their boldness.

During this time, there was also a disciple from the church, named Stephen who stood boldly for Christ:

…a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit…And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Acts 6:5, 8. NKJV

He was also arrested for expressing his faith in Jesus, and then accused of blasphemy. He threw the charges right back at his accusers:

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” Acts 7:51 – 53. ESV

And just when Stephen was finished, the Holy Spirit provided him with a vision of Jesus standing exalted at the at the right hand of God in heaven. Then he boldly declared that vision to the court.

For that, Stephen was stoned to death, making him the first martyr for Jesus. Yet even with his final breath, he was emulating his Savior – praying to God for the forgiveness of his executioners.

Are you bold for Jesus? You are entrusted with lighting Christ’s lamp, showing people the way out of the darkness. If you convict them of their sin, it is a bold endeavor to free them from it (without judgment). You are saving lives.

First, we convict if warranted. Second, educate with regards to what death without Christ will look like, and then offer the salvation message with love. What they do with it is between them and God. What you are doing is being a good and faithful servant.

We stand bold in our spiritual gifts, drawing upon them to bring home the lost. Jesus also told us that when we open out mouths to testify of Him, the Holy Spirit will fill us with the words that we need to say. Always be prepared to be used by Jesus.

We do that by living out the word of God, by teaching it, and by placing our obedience to it above all that the world would have us do. The world will be a better place, you’ll have more people to love in heaven, and you will live a better life now and for eternity.

Are you bold for Jesus? Can you be? Sure you can…

Goodnight and God bless.