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Worthy to Suffer

Acts 5:41-42 (NLT) The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.”

When is the last time you rejoiced because you were suffering for the name of Jesus? Ever? Would you respond with rejoicing if you were being persecuted for Christ? What was it about the apostles that made them respond with cheer when suffering? They felt it to be their honor that God would count them worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus… worthy! Is this the same Jesus? I thought God wanted to just bless us and give us things and keep us safe, right? Don't most ministers promise a great life if we accept Jesus? Suffering isn't great on my scale, what are they talking about?

John 16:33 (NLT) "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

We are promised to go through trials, but we have no reason to fear! The more difficult your situation, the closer you should be getting to Jesus. If you pull away from God during the difficult times, you are missing out on that abundant life - peace surpassing your understanding, joy overflowing, faith ever-increasing, rivers of living water flowing out of you! We must learn to fully trust in the One who chose to die for us, there is nothing too difficult for God to handle. Now, God doesn't throw us into a dangerous situation and laugh and say "suffer!" Not at all - He is with us during the hard times and the easy times - but we do have an enemy waging war for our soul and this is when we learn to become "bullet-proof" (if you will) - when attacks come, they won't even bother you because you are living for Jesus and He gets glorified through it all.

Think of it this way, if you have children, you love them so much and want the best for them, right? So would you say the best thing for them is to be safe and just stay inside their entire life, avoiding cars, riding bikes, skateboarding, sledding, skating, jumping on a trampoline, playing sports, etc.? Of course not, that's ridiculous! You know they will miss out on the joys of life, having fun with friends and family. So when they play, there are times they will get hurt but they will grow and learn from it all. Babies don't stop trying to walk after they fall, they whine the first few times then they realize they can do more and walk a little further and they giggle and laugh and love this new found freedom as mom and dad frantically put away everything that is not baby-safe.

My point is this, do not become so spoiled in living "safe" that you cannot withstand a day of persecution, whether it be a stranger yelling at you for sharing Jesus, a friend backstabbing you out of the blue, or someone mocking you for a blessing you receive… all of these insults are rooted from something much deeper than what is on the surface. This should cause us to sincerely pray for those who are against us and genuinely believe for their salvation. After all, what we experience here in America, is nothing compared to what our brothers and sisters are suffering in many countries. Remember them in prayer. They have been counted worthy to suffer!

Romans 5:3-5 (NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

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