July 22: “On Suffering and Following Jesus”

6 Minute Read + Scripture readings

Today’s Bible Reading:

Judges 5
Acts 9
Jeremiah 18
Mark 4

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Acts 9:15–16 (CSB): “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for this man is my chosen instrument to take my name to Gentiles, kings, and Israelites. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

In Americanized Christianity, we associate following Jesus with blessings. We assume that if we are obedient to the commands of Jesus, then we are going to have good things happen to us.

While many within conservative Christianity agree with me that the “Prosperity Theology” advocated by folks like Oral Roberts, Joel Osteen, and Kenneth Copeland, is wrong, it still sneaks up in how we view life and particularly tragedy.

When we are serving the Lord and believe that we are being obedient to Him, don’t we question Him when our car breaks down, or when there isn’t enough money in the bank to pay the bills, or we unjustly lose our job? If the tragedy is bad enough, we may find ourselves saying things like: “Lord, You know that I’m not perfect but I’m sure more godly than some of Your other followers. And yet they seem to be enjoying life while bad things keep happening to me. Lord, this isn’t fair! Why are you doing this to me?”

The very fact that we could think such thoughts testifies to the fact that we assume that the Lord is bound to only give us good things if we are following Him. If bad things happen, we feel like He has committed an injustice.

Yet, the verses I have chosen for today make it clear that biblical Christianity is often much, much different than Americanized Christianity.

Acts 9:15–16 (CSB): “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for this man is my chosen instrument to take my name to Gentiles, kings, and Israelites. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’”

To be sure, there WILL be rewards for obedient service to the Lord. But, while we may experience some rewards here on earth, this isn’t the final judgment. It is when the saved stand before Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ that we will finally be rewarded for doing good. Until then, the Lord reserves the right to allow bad things to happen to us while we are serving Him, maybe even BECAUSE we are serving Him.

So, don’t lose heart, friend. Follow Jesus with all Your heart. Realize that bad things will happen. But, you haven’t crossed the finish line yet. When you do, He’ll make all things right.

* * * * * * * * * *

Lord Jesus, when I read what You said to Paul, I am reminded of something else You said. In John 16:33, You said: “… You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” Help me to think this way. I don’t like suffering but I certainly don’t want periodic suffering to cause me to question Your love for me. Help me to endure whatever it is that You send (or allow to come) my way and look forward to the day when I get to be with You forever. Amen.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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