April 23, 2022
“And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, except that in town after town the Holy Spirit testifies to me...”
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“And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, except that in town after town the Holy Spirit testifies to me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. But I count my life of no value to myself so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:22-24
Remember Jeremiah 29:11? “God has plans for us that are not to harm us, but to give us a future and a hope.” This verse is comforting news, especially when we feel all hope is lost. But how does that jive with the Lord’s plan for Paul? Chains and afflictions aren’t positive images. Could it be that our 21st-century Christian culture has lost what it means to suffer for hope?
We are sure of four things concerning God: He is all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful, and His character never changes. That means there is NO dilemma you’ll experience that God is unaware of, isn’t standing alongside you through, doesn’t have the power to sustain you to the end, or will renegotiate His promises to you.
So, why do Kingdom-pursuant believers suffer?
You might recall that Jesus said, “A servant is no greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also.” John 15:20
There’s a promise we seldom claim with boldness! No rational person wants to suffer. To paraphrase General George S. Patton, “No fool ever won a war by dying for his country. You win wars by making the other guy die for his country!” No disrespect to General Patton or our fallen heroes, but Patton spoke of earthly wars. We are engaged in spiritual warfare, and our battlefield stretches into eternity. Death is not the end game. It is the ultimate beginning, and “Where will we spend eternity?” is a more important question than, “How will we preserve our quality of life on earth?”
Jesus conquered death so that we might serve Him with our whole lives, even unto and beyond death. The hope of the resurrection fuels the servant’s willingness to suffer in this life. Sacrificial service fuels revival.
Jesus promised, “…I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to myself so that where I am, you may also be.” John 14:2b-3
With confidence that Jesus is prepared to receive us into His heavenly kingdom, and without regard for this World, let us focus our sights on the mission at hand: To know God & make Him known, that others may know Him too.
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