Advent: “Worthy to suffer…”
Through January 6, I’ll be posting devotionals with an Advent and Epiphany theme to focus our minds on the nativity of Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!
Original image by Japheth Mast via Unsplash
“The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.”
Acts of the Apostles 5:41 NLT
The Book of Acts is filled with examples of how the first followers of Jesus lived their lives. In Acts 5, the early Christians are living communally in order to help others and spread the Gospel, and we find Ananias and Sapphira losing their lives as punishment for lying to God. The Apostles are bustling about, healing many people in Jesus’ name, which of course brings on the wrath of the Jewish high priest and his officials — the Sadducees.
After throwing the Apostles in jail, an angel of the Lord releases them and they’re right back teaching about Jesus in the temple! This really angers the Sadducees, who tell the Apostles to stop evangelizing. A wonderful retort from Paul and the others follows: “But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross. Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.”
The Sadducees are now furious and want the Apostles killed. A respected Pharisee steps up and urges restraint, saying that this movement of Christ-followers will most likely die out on its own and if it doesn’t, then it is from God so killing them would anger God. Instead, the Apostles are flogged and told not to speak in the name of Jesus…
Today’s verse finds the Apostles rejoicing that they’ve been found worthy to suffer disgrace (and pain!) for the name of Jesus. Can we, as modern followers of Jesus, rejoice if we’re persecuted or mocked for our belief? With God’s help, we can!
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Almighty father, I would love to pass through this worldly life without hardship, suffering or persecution. I realize that this is a selfish and unrealistic request, but I come to you with complete honesty. Knowing my selfishness opens my heart to my brothers and sisters who are in need and being persecuted today, so I pray that you can deliver them and open my eyes to help them. As I support these fellow believers, please strengthen my faith for times when persecution, hardship, and suffering may come my way. Lord, give me unshakeable faith in Jesus no matter what happens in my life. AMEN.
Acts of the Apostles 5:29-32 NLT