Monday, January 15, 2007

Acts 14:19-22

19Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. 21They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,"

Being a Christian is not historically the equivalent of joining a social club and going to parties. Serving God is serious business and fraught with hardship and suffering. Look what it says in Acts, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God". Why do we think that when we follow Christ that all will be roses? Why are we told by many today that if we become a Christian we are more likely to have a blissful, comfortable, life that is filled with material wealth and comfort? This is completely contrary to the Bible and the experiences of the apostles and the early Christians. We are promised suffering and hardships if we are to serve God and enter His Kingdom. Look at how committed Paul was in his service to God. After being stoned in Lystra, he didn’t stay away from the city. Rather, he returned to minister to the new disciples in that city. This reminds me of a faithful brother in Christ, Gary Witherall, whose wife was brutally shot and killed in Lebanon. He didn’t write-off the people of Lebanon and the middle-east. He is still committed to ministering in Lebanon and the region. He has gone back to “encourage them to remain true to the faith”. We are called to total abandonment in our service of God. Even when it is hard and when it hurts.

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