Beyond the Gospels: Acts

Today’s Scripture: Acts 14:19-28
[No Bible? Click the link above to read online at BibleGateway.com.]
Paul and Barnabas made a return trip to all the newly established churches, in order to bring encouragement. They told them…

Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God
has to go through plenty of hard times.
Acts 14:22 Msg
Hmm… Do you find these words encouraging as a Believer? They strike me as a little hard!
But Jesus basically said the same thing to Ananias regarding Paul: …I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name. 
Where is the encouragement in this? The encouragement is in knowing the truth.
To enter the Kingdom of God is to enter into a war… a world war. There is a spiritual battle raging around us and when we receive Jesus as Lord we become enemies with the world.
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?
Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself
an enemy of God.
James 4:4-5 ESV
The reverse is also true: friendship with God is enmity with the world.
There are many well-meaning Christians… or confused Christians… who encourage others to sign up for the Kingdom of God because of all the blessings. And yes… there are many blessings. But not as understood from a worldly perspective.
As a Believer, if you expect easy money, trouble-free relationships, and a perpetual clean bill of health, you are in for a rude awakening!
Jesus said: 
The blessings we can expect are:
Signing up for God’s Kingdom ensures plenty of hard times, but you know what? Either way you’ll have hard times! This world is broken and stuff happens.
I find encouragement in Paul and Barnabas’ words because it is truth. Plenty of hard times will come to those signed up for God’s Kingdom, yet in Christ it’s all purpose-full and it’s all for our good and His glory.
Don’t be blind-sided by difficulties. Be prepared to face them with Him.
Lord, with You I can face every difficulty. Amen.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect,
that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4 ESV
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